Cameron Stewart writes in The Australian today about the announcement by the US Chief of Naval Operations (from his Navigation Plan 2014-2018) that he aims to ‘provide amphibious lift for US marines operating out of Australia by establishing a fifth amphibious readiness group in the Pacific by financial year 2018’.
The US Navy already has one amphibious ready group (ARG) and a carrier strike group based in Japan with the 7th Fleet. But an additional ARG in our region would allow better crisis response in the maritime crossroads of South East Asia, and possibly into the eastern Indian Ocean. The US Marine Corps plans to build a rotational presence for a full Marine Air Ground Task Force (a force of 2500 Marines with armoured vehicles and aircraft) in Darwin in the coming years. It makes a lot of sense that it would need amphibious vessels with which to deploy.