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PACOM Boss Visits Australia: Adm. Samuel Locklear, US Pacific Command chief, met with senior Australian military officials in Canberra in efforts to bolster military relations between the two allies. The trip marked Locklear's first visit to the country since taking command of PACOM in March. The Australians are "a reliable partner with us in a lot of different areas," said Locklear in commenting on his July 11 visit, during which he spent time with Australian Defense Chief Gen. David Hurley. The talks included an assessment of the US Marine Corps' six-month rotational deployments to Darwin that began this spring, according to a July 12 Pentagon release. The first group of marines recently returned to Darwin after taking part in training exercises with Australian forces and several Southeast Asian nations. Locklear said the deployments are the first step in a larger strategy to grow regional military engagement where the United States can "operate with our allies and our partners and to have assurance that we are properly positioned" to deal with future challenges, ranging from natural disasters to cyberspace threats. (AFPS report by Donna Miles)