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Come and Say G’day: USO Sends Support Down Under as Rotational Force Grows

Friday, July 26, 2013

By Joseph Andrew Lee 

Back in 1999, the Marines made a few good friends in Darwin, Australia, when they joined an Australian-led peacekeeping mission to quell the violence in the small South Pacific country of East Timor.

Since then, the Aussies and the Yanks have been strategic brothers in arms. 

The Marines are now heading toward a permanent presence in Australia, and the USO is with them in lockstep, equipped with support and comfort items including a large outdoor grill, free Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity, indoor and outdoor furniture, gaming stations, and even a 70-inch television via USO2GO and USO Holiday Box shipments.

The Marines' move to Australia will further enhance their recent sharing of experiences and enhancing of tactics, techniques and procedures.

In fact, you may have read reports about the realignment of Marines and sailors in the South Pacific. The big news this year was an agreement with Japan on base realignments in Okinawa and the deployment of rotational Marines in Darwin. The ultimate goal, according to the Pentagon, is to have 23,000 Marines strategically stationed west of the international dateline. Part of that strategy is to move 5,000 Marines and sailors from Okinawa to Guam by 2020 and 2,500 Marines — an entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force — to Darwin by 2017.

Australian rotations will primarily consist of Unit Deployment Program (UDP) Marines from Hawaii and California who'll go to Australia in conjunction with their regular deployments to Japan and Guam.

While the transition is just beginning, the USO is already ramping up its support for more than 250 Marines and sailors currently on rotation in Darwin, and plans to increase that support through the next year as the number of troops on rotation there grows to 1,100 in April 2014.

“We are thrilled to provide a way for these Marines and sailors to connect with their loved ones or to just sit back and enjoy themselves after a tough day of training in some pretty austere conditions,” said Alan Reyes, senior vice president of operations for the USO.

“The USO is uniquely able to provide this much-needed home-away-from-home service for deployed troops. … We have the scale, scope, presence, reach, and knowledge through which we’ve earned a deep level of trust from troops and their families. They trust that we will lift their spirits, and our donors and sponsors trust that we are the best way that they can say ‘thank you’ to our troops and their families.”

Photo caption: Marine Rotational Force Darwin (MRF-D) Marines celebrate Independence Day with party supplies provided by the USO2GO program. 

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