Australian Marines to flex muscles |

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Australian Marines to flex muscles |

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We’re following suit … US Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Force on exercises in Rockhampton / Pic: Gary Ramage Source: The Daily Telegraph

AUSTRALIA’S first batch of dedicated amphibious soldiers or "marines" will be ready to sail off to war when the navy’s new landing ship enters service early next year.

More than 1000 infantry troops from the Townsville-based 3rd Brigade are being trained in amphibious operations and up to 350 will be at sea permanently from 2014 when two massive 27,000 tonne landing helicopter dock ships (LHDs) are due to enter service as part of a new era of "power projection".

The former Royal Navy 16,000 tonne Bay Class landing ship Largs Bay, purchased by Australia for $100 million to become HMAS Choules, is the first of the three new vessels to arrive and will be ready for low-level amphibious operations next year.

"When one of these ships leaves Townsville she will have soldiers on board rigged and ready to go," Defence’s head of modernisation and plans, Major-General John Caligari, said yesterday.

The amphibious force will provide the government with a capability the nation has never had before, allowing the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to take a lead role in East Timor-style missions or humanitarian relief operations from the Pacific to anywhere in Asia and the Indian Ocean region.

When combined with the RAAF’s five C-17 Globemaster transport jets, the ADF will be able to move a force 10 times bigger than today.

Chief of Army Lieutenant-General David Morrison will soon announce which of the 3rd Brigade’s three infantry battalions will become the army’s first full-time amphibious (marine) battalion.

The battalion will be broken into three combat teams of about 350 troops each.

One team will be at sea virtually full-time, one will be in lead-up training and the third will be resting.

This force will be known as an amphibious ready element (ARE). When a bigger force is required, the entire battalion will be embarked in what will be known as an amphibious ready group that will include more than 1000 troops supported by armoured vehicles and helicopters.

Tanks and artillery, possibly supported by destroyers and jet fighters, could also be deployed if necessary.

Both of the LHDs, being built in Spain and assembled in Melbourne, will be able to carry 1000 troops and all their "enablers", including engineers, helicopters and vehicles.

Major-General Caligari said the Aussie marines would undergo intensive training.


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