A second wave of Marines sent to Northern Australia as part of the Marine Corps’ annual training rotation has now entered mandatory quarantine, according to the Marine Corps.

The Marines will be in quarantine for two weeks, where they also will be tested twice for the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus.

Just before the newest wave of Marines showed up to Australia, Marines in the first wave of “approximately 200″ Marines were released from the quarantine facility, according to Chuck Little, deputy director of communication strategy and operations for U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. All Marines in the first wave tested clean from the virus, according to the Marine Corps.

“At the end of the day all it did was delay the deployment a little bit and force us to take a little harder look at how we were going to implement the necessary health protective measures,” Col. David M. Banning, commanding officer, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, told reporters on a phone call Thursday.

The global pandemic initially placed the fate of the 9th annual training rotation at risk, when the Department of Defense issued a 60-day stop movement order in March, hoping to slow down the global spread of the disease.

Ultimately the Marine Corps was able to continue with the exercise with a two-month delay and a significant reduction in the number of Marines involved.

The initial plan was to send roughly 2,500 Marines to Darwin, Australia, to conduct exercises alongside the Australian military. But the virus forced the Corps to reduce the force by more than half, and only plans to send about 1,200 Marines to participate in the exercise.

While the global pandemic forced the Marine Corps to severely limit the scale of the training rotation, Banning said the sudden need to adapt came with “a lot of benefits.”

“One of the things that we have to be able to do as a military is rapidly evolve to changing circumstances, whether they are changing circumstances on a battlefield, whether they are changing circumstance in the operating environment, that’s a fundamental requirement.” Banning said.

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