US Marine troops arrive in Darwin as tensions in North Korea escalate

More than 1,200 highly-trained U.S. Marines and 13 powerful military aircraft have touched down in Darwin ‘ready to fight’ as tensions in North Korea escalate.

The first of the Marines arrived in Australia’s tropical north on Tuesday for a six-month deployment during which they will conduct exercises with Australian and visiting Chinese forces.

The annual deployment program started by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2011 is part of the U.S. ‘pivot’ to Asia at a time of increased assertiveness by China.

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Over a thousand highly-trained U.S. Marines touched down in Darwin, Australia, on Tuesday

Over a thousand highly-trained U.S. Marines touched down in Darwin, Australia, on Tuesday

Marines' commander Lieutenant Colonel Brian Middleton (not pictured) said his troops stood 'ready to fight and win the night always'

Marines’ commander Lieutenant Colonel Brian Middleton (not pictured) said his troops stood ‘ready to fight and win the night always’

The decision to send 1,250 US Marines and 13 high-tech aircraft to Darwin comes as tensions in North Korea escalate (pictured, soldiers march during military parade in Pyongyang)

The decision to send 1,250 US Marines and 13 high-tech aircraft to Darwin comes as tensions in North Korea escalate (pictured, soldiers march during military parade in Pyongyang)

‘I think that the commitment that we’ve taken to put a task force here with a conversation to get larger over the years says that we do think this is an important region,’ Marines’ commander Lieutenant Colonel Brian Middleton said after the first troops arrived in the Northern Territory.

‘Being close to south-east Asia and the Indian Ocean, the Indo Pacific position has always been important.’

The strength of this year’s deployment at 1,250 troops lags well behind the initial plan for the deployment to reach 2,500 Marines this year, but it will see the largest U.S. aircraft contingent to Australia in peacetime history.

Lt Middleton said the 13 aircraft, including tilt-rotor Ospreys, Super Cobra helicopters and Huey helicopters, triple the four aircraft in past deployments, was a ‘tangible kind of sign of our commitment to the region and to this partnership’.

He said the decision to send the aircraft pre-dated the recent escalation in tensions over North Korea.

‘Regardless, I think it is just a good move any time we can strengthen the long standing partnership and alliance between our two countries. We stand ready to fight and win the night always,’ Lt Middleton said.

U.S. President Trump has ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group (pictured) to sail to near the Korean peninsula as a show of force

U.S. President Trump has ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group (pictured) to sail to near the Korean peninsula as a show of force

 The first of the Marines arrived in Australia's tropical north for a six-month deployment during which they will conduct exercises with Australian and visiting Chinese forces

The first of the Marines arrived in Australia’s tropical north for a six-month deployment during which they will conduct exercises with Australian and visiting Chinese forces

Pyongyang launched a failed missile test on Sunday and has warned Washington against taking military action against North Korea

Pyongyang launched a failed missile test on Sunday and has warned Washington against taking military action against North Korea

U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to near the Korean peninsula as a show of force aimed at deterring North Korea from conducting more missiles tests.

Pyongyang launched a failed missile test on Sunday and has warned Washington against taking military action against North Korea.

The Australia-US-China military exercises are also aimed at Australia charting a course between its most important security ally the United States and its biggest trading partner China.

Australia has drawn rebukes from both superpowers as it tries to strike a balanced stance on the disputed South China Sea, with China criticizing Australian freedom-of-navigation flights in the area and a senior U.S. soldier calling on Australia to do more there.

It comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned the rogue North Korean regime as a ‘reckless’ and ‘dangerous’ threat to the security of Australia.

“The North Korean regime is a threat to the peace of the region,’ he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

‘It is a threat to all of its neighbours in the region, and if it were able to develop a missile that could travel as far as the United States with a warhead, or as far as Australia, then it obviously could threaten Australia and, indeed, the United States.

It comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned the rogue North Korean regime as a 'reckless' and 'dangerous' threat to the security of Australia

It comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned the rogue North Korean regime as a ‘reckless’ and ‘dangerous’ threat to the security of Australia

A suspected KN-08 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICMB) is paraded across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea

A suspected KN-08 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICMB) is paraded across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea

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