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Darwin deployment -

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Broadcast: 28/12/2011

Reporter: Sara Everingham

US troop deployment has broad significance in Australia's history. Darwin may also experience
economic benefits from the influx of troops.

Transcript

SCOTT BEVAN, PRESENTER: Since the US president Barack Obama announced an increase in the American
military presence in northern Australia there's been plenty of debate about the strategic
implications for this nation.

The deployment begins next year and will eventually see 2,500 marines on rotation through the Top
End.

So what does this all mean for northern Australia, in particular Darwin?

Sara Everingham reports.

(US marines in training)

CORP. BRANDON BAGGETT, US MARINE CORPS: We're a contingency force that's deployed all around the
world. Our saying is any time, any place.

We're sort of like an overseas swat team when you do close quarters ballistics and tactics based in
small areas that require split second tactical decisions.

SARA EVERINGHAM, REPORTER: Today these US marines are showing Australians what they do best.

US MARINE: Put your hands behind your back!

SARA EVERINGHAM: This specialised counter terrorism team based in Japan is practising the quick
recapture of a building while taking fire from inside.

CAPT. DEREK REY, US MARINE CORPS: We practise these particular tactics in the event that there's a
kind of a building or compound that we would have to recapture.

Our motto is deter, detect and defend against any kind of terrorist or security threat.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In this scenario the Australians are playing the role of terrorists attacking an
American embassy.

CAPT. CHRISTIAN JOHNSTON, 5TH BATTALION, ROYAL AUSTRALIAN REGIMENT: Our subject of expertise is in
patrolling, field patrolling, heading out into the bush land for protracted periods of time and
patrolling, looking for the enemy, all that kind of stuff.

The marines that we've got coming over with us, they're the sort of counter terrorism urban
experts. So there's at least one major skill there that we're going to really pick up our level and
we can also impart some knowledge in terms of patrolling with the Americans.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Today's exercise only involves about 100 soldiers and marines but the scale of
joint exercises in the Top End is about to change.

JEFFREY BLEICH, US AMBASSADOR TO AUSTRALIA: It's not going to be immediate but it will probably be
within the next 12 months that you will start seeing some new infrastructure in place and more
people coming through and so that should be good for the Darwin economy as well.

BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: We work together so well it's often said you can't tell where our guys
end and you guys begin.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Last month US president Barack Obama dropped into Darwin just after announcing an
expansion of the US military presence in northern Australia. From mid next year a starting number
of 250 US marines will rotate through the Top End and there will be more joint exercises in the
region.

The president also paid tribute to Americans who have served here in the past and to those who died
during the bombing of Darwin.

BARACK OBAMA: In a sense it was here, in Darwin, where our alliance was born, during Australia's
Pearl Harbour.

NEWS FOOTAGE OF DARWIN BOMBING (archival): In the air, Darwin's only defence lay with Kittyhawk
fighters of the United States 33rd Pursuit Squadron.

SARA EVERINGHAM: During the first wave of Japanese planes that attacked Darwin on 19th February
1942, 10 US Kittyhawks and their American crews were the only available air defence.

NEWS FOOTAGE OF DARWIN BOMBING (archival): A lone Kittyhawk remained in the air during the raid,
shooting down two Japanese aircraft.

DEREK REY: The marines have had a significant history here in Darwin. Obviously this was a large
staging point for the Pacific campaign during the Second World War so it will be interesting to
kind of trace our lineage back to that time.

TEACHER: Its main use was by the US forces and in particular the US marine corps.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The marines visiting Darwin are also on a cultural exchange and were keen to find
out the role their predecessors had played here during the Second World War.

WARREN SNOWDON, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE, SCIENCE AND PERSONNEL: Darwin's always been an important
defence centre and with the army presence in the north project which started in the late 1980s that
was a harbinger of things to come.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In recent decades there's been a growing defence presence in Darwin. Six and a
half per cent of the Northern Territory's population is made up of Defence Force members and their
families.

CHRIS YOUNG, NT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Resources sector is about 25 per cent of local domestic
product but it only employs about 4 per cent, 5 per cent of the population. Defence and public
sector spending that's employing 10 or 11 per cent of the population.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The number of US marines rotating through the Territory will be small compared to
US bases overseas but business is still hoping for economic benefits.

CHRIS YOUNG: If the personnel are given some time to unwind before they reposition themselves
somewhere else they spend money, they go to the pubs, they go to the clubs, they go on tours, they
buy souvenirs.

BEN WADHAM, SOCIOLOGIST: Oh well, there are always two sides to it aren't there?

SARA EVERINGHAM: Sociologist and former soldier Ben Wadham says while the defence build up can
bring economic benefits it's not always straight forward.

BEN WADHAM: One of the things that we see when soldiers in these sorts of towns come back from
deployment, for example, they tend to work hard and play hard so they engage in a range of
activities which civil society might see as anti-social.

SARA EVERINGHAM: While the detail of the deployment is still being worked out, the economic and
social impacts are uncertain.

US MARINE: All I'm going to do is I'm going to drop even with him.

SARA EVERINGHAM: These marines say their training here has been invaluable.

US MARINE: Use that elbow to break that arm.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Daily temperatures have been running in the mid 30s and it's the steamiest time of
year in the Top End, making these drills a test of stamina.

US MARINE: I'm going to make that pain even worse.

DEREK REY: As US marines we train to operate in any clime and place and this is definitely one of
the more extreme climes that we've faced and we're dealing with it and adapting and overcoming.

SCOTT BEVAN: That report from Sara Everingham in Darwin.