USA Space Force eyes prime Australian real estate for future warfare

Visiting senior US military officers believe Australia is a "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow", as they eye off this continent's "prime" geography for future space operations.

General Shaw has warned a conflict in space in the next few years is a very real prospect, saying potential adversaries have already shown they can successfully shoot down satellites.

Australia's own Defence Space Command was only formally stood up in March, but General Armagno says this country already has the natural advantage of its southern-hemisphere geography and potential launch sites close to the equator.

Internal briefing reveals NT government approached defence on nuclear submarines

The government will not say exactly what it has considered or proposed to Defence, but says it is reviewing the Northern Territory's "suitability and readiness" as plans for the nuclear-powered submarine fleet progress.

Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison was asked whether the deployment would put the Northern Territory at greater risk from potential adversaries.

She said the territory had "a very long and proud defence history" and listed the upgrades and new construction of new facilities currently underway in the Top End.

"I think territorians are very comfortable with that, they understand our strategic location and generally are very supportive of that defence investment," she said.

To help maximise defence investment in the Top End, Labor created the Canberra-based position of Defence and National Security Advocate to lobby government and industry on the Northern Territory's behalf.

The current advocate, defence analyst Alan Dupont, has previously argued for a Nothern Territory role in the transition to nuclear boats, which may not be ready before Australia's current conventional fleet needs replacing.

a Defence spokesperson said "the development of maritime services and support in Darwin harbour" was covered in "regular, productive discussions with the Northern Territory government on a range of initiatives".

Sending a signal to China, USA deploys B-52s to Tindal

The USA Air Force is planning to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Tindal air base near Darwin, as fears grow that China is preparing for an assault on Taiwan. 

"It's a great expansion of Australian commitment to the United States' war plan with China," says Richard Tanter, a senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute and a long-time, anti-nuclear activist.

"It's very hard to think of a more open commitment that we could make. A more open signal to the Chinese that we are going along with American planning for a war with China," Mr Tanter says.

Pine Gap is also undergoing a major upgrade

USA marines leave Darwin after successful MRF-D 2022

The Yanks have bade farewell to the Northern Territory with the end of the 2022 Marine Rotational Force – Darwin.

The Territory hosted 2200 US military personnel in the MRF-D’s 11th rotation, which began in March, for the relationship strengthening exercise.

There were a multitude of activities undertaken this year, including Exercise Koolendong, a bilateral warfighting exercise held in the NT and Western Australia.

MRF-D Commanding Officer and regimental commander for the historic 5th Marine Regiment Colonel Chris Steele said the US and Australia were “committed to ensuring a secure, stable, and inclusive Indo-Pacific”.

MRF-D 2023 is expected to begin next March.

USA Marine Kymani Powell pleads guilty to assaulting woman in Landmark Hotel

Police & Courts

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An American Marine who drunkenly groped a woman in a Territory nightclub has promised to hold his mates to account and prevent future seedy assaults.

Kymani Powell appeared in Darwin Local Court on Friday to plead guilty to unlawfully assaulting a woman at the Landmark Hotel on Roystonea Ave, on April 30.

Prosecutor Marty Aust said the Connecticut man “forcefully groped” his victim, who was unable to defend herself in the popular nightclub. 

“This was an uninvited, unwanted intrusion on an intimate area of her body by a stranger,” Mr Aust said.

Defence barrister Mary Chalmers said 21-year-old  Powell had struggled with being separated from his family, and was appalled by his own actions.

“It was … an ill-advised lapse in his otherwise exemplary character.”

Chief Judge Elizabeth Morris found him guilty, but did not record a conviction. Powell was also fined $150.