Marines leave for 6-month deployment to Australia

Effort is part of rebalance in the Pacific

CAMP PENDLETON - About 900 Marines said goodbye to friends at family at Camp Pendleton on Tuesday, headed for the northern territory of Australia.

"This is really part two of what will be a four-part process to build up to a full Marine Air Ground Task Force of 2,400 marines and sailors," said Lt. Col. Kevin Matthews, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines.  

This is a rotational deployment to Darwin, Australia for both nations to train jointly and understand tactics.

The deployment from Camp Pendleton is by far the largest as they will be joined with a helicopter component based in Hawaii. The rebalance to the Pacific is part of the strategy announced by President Obama in 2011.

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