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US Marines leader in Australia replaced over alcohol charge

AP  |  Darwin (Australia) 

The of more than 1,500 US in northern was relieved of his duties after police caught him driving under the influence of alcohol, the Marine Corps said Monday.

Col James Schnelle, 48, pleaded guilty in the Local Court on Monday to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.102 per cent after his breath was tested by police in the early hours of Sunday. The reading was more than double the legal limit in of 0.05 per cent.

The of the in was "relieved of his duties on September 30 due to a loss of trust and confidence," US First Lt said in a statement.

Schnelle later issued a statement saying "one extremely poor personal decision" should not overshadow the significant accomplishments made by the latest rotation.

"A solid foundation is established; at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels, the future is ripe for continued growth," Schnelle said.

Lt Col will be officer-in-charge for the duration of the rotation, Mancilla said.

Schnelle' driver's license was suspended for six months and he was fined 500 Australian dollars (USD 353).

did not record a conviction because of Schnelle's good character and lack of previous offenses. Magistrates have discretion to spare first offenders from having a police record under exceptional circumstances.

Schnelle had been drinking in a bar in precinct and was driving to his nearby home when he was pulled over for a random breath test.

He reported to both the of Marine Forces Pacific, Lt. Gen Lewis Craparotta, and the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force, Lt Gen Eric Smith, about four hours later. They called him back "to relieve him of his command," Schnelle's told the court.

US forces have been stationed in through a since 2012 as part of the administration's pivot to The numbers are to eventually rise to 2,500 Marines.

Darwin-based Marines are subject to curfews and are restricted to taking leave in small groups to reduce the risk of social disruption in the city, which has a population of 140,000.

The largest contingent of Marines arrived in Darwin for six months in April. A on Monday did not immediately respond when asked when the 1,587 Marines were due to leave.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, October 08 2018. 16:55 IST