US Marine Leader in Australia Replaced over Alcohol Charge

U.S. Marine Corps Col. James Schnelle, commanding officer of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin holds a press conference at Larrakeyah Defence Precinct, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, April 23, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Andrew Piehler)
U.S. Marine Corps Col. James Schnelle, commanding officer of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin holds a press conference at Larrakeyah Defence Precinct, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, April 23, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Andrew Piehler)

DARWIN, Australia — The U.S. Marine Corps says the commander of more than 1,500 Marines in northern Australia was relieved of his duties after police caught him driving under the influence of alcohol.

Col. James Schnelle pleaded guilty in the Darwin Local Court on Monday to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.102 percent after his breath was tested by police in the early hours of Sunday, Sept. 30.

The Marines said in a statement that the 48-year-old commander was "relieved of his duties on Sept. 30 due to a loss of trust and confidence."

U.S. military forces have been stationed in Darwin since 2012 as part of the President Barack Obama administration's pivot to Asia.

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