US MARINES will conduct private exercises by themselves on Australian soil for the first time under a military build-up revealed just hours after President Barack Obama landed for a whirlwind Australian visit.
The historic move increases America’s involvement in the booming Asia-Pacific region as a counter to the rise of China, India and Indonesia.
Mr Obama also made a personal plea to Australians who want to immediately end the mission in Afghanistan not to pull out too early, as he paid tribute to our soldiers.
“What I’d say to the Australian people at this stage, is given the enormous investment that’s been made – and the signs that we can in fact leave behind a country that’s not perfect, but one that is more stable, more secure and does not provide safe haven for terrorists – it’s appropriate for us to finish the job and do it right.”
Mr Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard said 250 US marines would be stationed for six months in the Northern Territory from next year, and by 2016 this would grow to 2500 marines.