By: Tom Westbrook
DARWIN, Australia — U.S. Marines deployed to Australia's northern city of Darwin reflect President Trump's continued commitment to a security "pivot" to Asia at a time of heightened tensions, the Marines' commander said on Wednesday.
Some 1,250 Marines began arriving in Darwin by plane on Tuesday for joint training maneuvers under a 25-year program started by former U.S. President Obama in 2011 as a part of his "pivot" to Asia policy.
Trump's early rhetoric demanding Asian allies carry a fair share of the security burden in the region had seen a cloud over the U.S military "pivot," but he has since committed to defend Asian allies in the face of recent North Korean threats.
"The deployment of a Marine Air Ground Taskforce to Australia certainly continues to communicate a sustained commitment to the region, I believe that's why we continue to see the growth and the evolution of the (taskforce)," the Marines' commander Lt. Col. Brian Middleton told Reuters in an interview in Darwin.
"I'm well aware of all the tensions, certainly, there's no lack of activity and things to keep either Australian or American attention in the Pacific area of influence here."
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