9 April 2020
The Australian Government correctly decided to postpone this year’s deployment of US Marines to Darwin in light of the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
MAPW remains concerned about Australia’s involvement in RIMPAC 2020.
These exercises pose a risk to the health of the Hawai'ian people and for all personnel involved. The people of Hawai'i are rightly dismayed that the exercises have not been cancelled, and are calling for participating countries to withdraw from RIMPAC.
Cancellation of military exercises is occurring around the world. In Europe, the Defender Europe-20 exercises have largely been cancelled. A month ago, on March 11, Norway had already cancelled its “Cold Response” NATO exercise over coronavirus concerns. Last week, Sweden postponed the huge Aurora 20 exercises.
Furthermore, the UN Secretary-General has called for a global ceasefire to enable responses to COVID-19.
Military exercises for belligerent scenarios are counter to this current and prevailing need for international cooperation and solidarity.
We've written to the Minister of Defence to respect the global ceasefire, protect the health of people everywhere, and withdraw from RIMPAC 2020.
US TROOPS POSE HEALTH RISK
30 March 2020
UPDATE: US Marine Rotational Force will #StayatHome. Thank you to everyone who raised their voices on this issue.
Medical Association for Prevention of War calls for the deployment of the US Marine Rotational Force Darwin to be cancelled.
Up to 2500 US marine personnel are scheduled to arrive in Darwin within days. On 25 March, the US Secretary of Defense ordered a 60-day stop movement order for “all DoD uniformed and civilian personnel and their sponsored family members overseas” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet this significant troop movement appears set to go ahead.
Australia’s borders are closed to non-citizens and non-residents as part of our efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Australia and abroad. It is not in Australia’s national interest to allow the US Marine Rotational Force to enter Australia.
COVID-19 infections have been reported to be rising steadily amongst US military, but the US DoD has moved to withholding specific information about infections in its ranks. The DoD will not tell the Australian public if infected personnel are stationed in Darwin - a major public health risk and a violation of infection control protocols.
The movement of people whose health status is unknown through the Northern Territory poses a particular risk to indigenous communities, which are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
Our health authorities and Minister for Defence must not allow the deployment of the Marine Rotational Force to Darwin.
MAPW has contacted the US Department of Defense for comment.