procedures, for battle drills, things
like that are important.
I think, if you were to talk to the
government of Australia and the
Australian military, they would like
to be like the United States Marine
Corps. I think there is both an affinity and a desire to work with the Marine Corps because the Australian
Army and the Marines are pretty
comparable in the way they look at
doing business in the world. Things
like being amphibious, combined
arms, from the sea, integrated air-ground task forces, those things resonate with both services.
The Marine Corps recently
wrapped up the exercises Talisman Saber in Australia and
Dawn Blitz in California, the latter hosting for the first time a
large contingent from the Japanese Self-Defense
Forces. How do such exercises contribute to
readiness compare with training on your own?
PAXTON: Obviously, bilateral is always important to
do. We enjoy doing that. … We are starting to do things
with India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Malaysia. It’s not
just about Korea, Japan, Australia, Philippines,
Thailand, some of the habitual partners. We are dealing
and working with more people there. There are a lot of
things you get from multinational efforts, in terms of
interoperability, that you don’t always get bilateral
engagement. There is a shared awareness of techniques
and procedures. There is also an increased willingness
to cooperate and work together. Many times, the
United States becomes the glue that holds some of these
folks together and there is more interest in sharing in
both procedures and techniques, which is good.
We have done exercises with Australia for many,
many years, after 9/11 and then, particularly, after
2003 when our presence in the Pacific went down a little bit. We never left the Pacific. For us, it’s not a pivot,
it’s just a rebalance. We’re going to go back to where
we’re comfortable in training and operating.
Within the next 60-90 days, we will have three battalions [in the Western Pacific], which is the nucleus
that we want to get to, to start from so that we can have
UDP [Unit Deployment Program] battalions, we can
have the 31st MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit], and
we can start to send them on a more rotational basis, at
least company reinforced, down to Darwin to the rotational force down there, the MRF-D [Marine Rotational
There is a great training opportunity down there.
We have to be careful of the time of year because there
are some climatic issues in terms of rain and trafficability, things like that. We’re still working through pieces,
like the laydown of units and the beddown of our aircraft, but it’s a great opportunity to train with the
Australians and to get our folks acculturated and acclimated to places that they have not been before.
How will Marines be dispersed or allocated in
Guam, Hawaii and elsewhere in the region?
What new assets, like the Joint High-Speed
Vessel (JHSV), might be brought to bear?
PAX TON: We’re still working through all the tenants and
the pieces of the DPRI [Defense Policy Review Initiative].
We have a joint consultative agreement with Japan, so
we’re trying to move 9,000 folks off of Japan. We’re trying to make sure we have 22,500 or so west of the international dateline. Within those two kind of left and right
lateral limits, we’re still working through the pieces of
the laydown itself — how many and where.
Okinawa, Japan, Guam, Hawaii and, possibly,
Australia are probably the linchpins there, the hubs
and the spokes, and there could be other places. We
would like, as a Marine Corps, to have an Air-Ground
Task Force in each of those places in some way, shape
or form because that’s what gives you your reach, your
strike and your capability. It doesn’t matter whether it’s
humanitarian assistance, disaster response on the low
end, or crisis and contingency or major theater war on
the high end. Ultimately, we would like to have the
Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., left, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps,
speaks to Lance Cpl. Brandon King, a driver with Delta Company, 1st Tank
Battalion, during a visit to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shir Ghazay,
Afghanistan, April 5. Paxton and other staff conducted a battlefield circulation
to FOBs Shukvani, Shir Ghazay, Kajaki and Delaram to meet with Marines and
discuss important issues with key leaders.