Everyone in world leadership of note, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, is agreeing that something has to be done about rogue state North Korea. The question is what.

War is a very bad option, so hopefully China and the US can work something out with North Korea.

ABC News Australia

US marines arriving in NT ready ‘for anything’ in wake of North Korean threat

18 April 2017

The latest rotation of US Marines arrive in Darwin

“Amid warnings that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program poses a “serious threat” to Australia, the latest contingent of United States marines to arrive in the country have said they are ready for anything.

The first group of 1,250 marines touched down in Darwin on Tuesday morning for their sixth annual dry season rotation in the Top End.

Their arrival comes as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop defended US President Donald Trump’s “they gotta behave” message to North Korean leadership after its failed missile test on Sunday.

“[North Korea] is on a path to achieving nuclear weapons capability and we believe Kim Jong-un has a clear ambition to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload as far as the US,” Ms Bishop said.

“That would mean Australia would be in reach so unless it is prevented from doing so, it will be a serious threat to the peace and stability of our region, and that is unacceptable.”

In Darwin, the rotation’s commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Brian Middleton said the force was ready, come what may.

“Any time a marine force is forward deployed, we are always on standby for anything,” he said.

He said this year’s contingent was “the most robust package” the marines had put together for training in the Top End, featuring an “ace aviation combat element” of 13 aircraft.

 

US Marines at RAAF Base Darwin

 

Over the next two weeks, the deployment’s largest fleet of military aircraft yet will be brought to Australia as part of the agreement, including four high-speed troop transporters, the MV-22 Osprey, five Super Cobra helicopters and four Huey helicopters.

The next six months will see the troops train with their Australian counterparts and other nations, including Japan and China.

Troops committed to improving Australia-US relationship

“We look forward to getting down to the business of what this is really about, it’s improving the relationship between Australia and America and we look forward to exercising, training and increasing and improving the operability between our forces and other forces in the region,” Lieutenant Colonel Middleton said.

“We stand ready to fight and win the night always, but certainly there’s been no indications from anyone that we are more or less ready based on the conversations that are being had right now.”

The rotation to Darwin was first announced in 2011 as part of the US’s pivot towards the Asia Pacific region; the agreement was signed by former prime minister Julia Gillard and former US president Barack Obama.

Robertson Barracks

 

It provides for an eventual increase to 2,500 marines to be based in the NT for half of the year.

Sergeant David Hudson said the troops were looking forward to their time in Australia.

“We did a lot of long excruciating training to be where we are so we’re looking forward to going to the next level,” he said.

China and Indonesia accept presence of US in region: analyst

Despite the escalating tensions between the US and North Korea, the marine deployment must be seen in context, said Dr Euon Graham, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

“It’s on a relatively small scale and I think that has been effectively ‘priced in’ in the region,” Dr Graham said.

“I don’t think China sees it as a strategic game-changer, and the Indonesians … who of course are closest to it – who were initially unsettled by the marine attachment – I think they have also grown used to it and accept it.”

Indeed, according to the agreement, by this year the number of marine troops was supposed to be double what it actually is – 2,500 versus 1,250.

“We’re talking about very small numbers, and there’s no sense that the marine detachment in Darwin is a jumping-off point for operational, strategic responses,” he said.

“They may be called upon to do so in future, and particularly with humanitarian or disaster relief in the region, but we’re still some way away from the initial target of 2,500 of the all-up marine team, so those sorts of numbers are not strategically significant.”

If the program plan for the US marines and their Australian counterparts changes at all as a result of the escalating tensions, Dr Graham believes it might be that the two forces will train together more regularly.”

 

US troops train in the Top End