Northern Australia’s value not lost on friends and rivals

It has been painfully obvious for years that our major ally, the US, major regional partner, Japan, and our major market, China, all see more strategic value in northern Australia than successive federal governments and much of our Defence establishment.

At a time when the US has been trying to reduce the burden of overseas military commitments, the “rotational deployments” of US Marine Corps troops to the Top End — now in their ninth year — are based on an American judgment that northern Australia is increasingly important to Asia’s security.

In the face of a more aggressive China with stronger military forces, the US is dispersing its own forces in Asia. While it’s right to say that 2500 marines is hardly a threat to Beijing, it’s an important demonstration of America’s commitment to Australia and Southeast Asian security.


Former Marine colonel pitches Australian-American amphibious force in western Pacific

The U.S. and Australia should establish a combined amphibious force including 2,000 Marines and a similar number of sailors based in Darwin, Australia, to build regional support for countering China’s ambitions in the western Pacific, according to a former Marine colonel.

Grant Newsham, now a senior researcher with the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, Tokyo, said Monday that the Marine Corps, which rotated 2,500 Marines through Darwin during the summer, needs to see Australia as more than just a great place to train.

Berger wrote that U.S. “forward bases and legacy infrastructure within the adversary’s weapons engagement zone are now extremely vulnerable.”

Newsham said an “Australian-American Amphibious Force” supported by amphibious ships from both nations could solve that problem. Such a force could be home-ported in Darwin along with facilities such as American schools and shops, he said.

The new amphibious force wouldn’t require stationing an aircraft carrier Down Under, Newsham said. Air support for the Marines could be provided by aircraft operating from bases in the Northern Territory or new F-35B stealth jets flying off the decks of amphibious ships, he said.

James Holmes, a strategist at the Naval War College, wrote Dec. 9 in National Interest magazine that concerns about China could boost Australian support for a permanent U.S. military presence Down Under. “Stationing military forces overseas inspires trust. In turn, an unbreakable bond between America and Australia could give China pause the next time it contemplates making mischief,” he wrote.

Call for Australia-US force to check China’s advance

Australia and the US should ­establish a Darwin-based ­amphibious force to co-ordinate efforts in resisting Chinese influence in the region, a retired US Marine Corps colonel says.

The plan would involve about 2000 US troops and up to four US Navy ships stationed close to Darwin Port, which was controversially leased for 99 years in 2015 by a private firm with alleged links to the Chinese government.

wild assertions, zero evidence. Australia faces no such threat; China is not our enemy.

Australian strategic policy expert welcomes potential for US Naval base

Ross Babbage, an Australian strategic policy specialist, has welcomed revelations of a $715 million expansion of naval infrastructure in the Northern Territory, providing an opportunity for further basing of major US Navy units as both nations seek to reorientate their forces to better respond to rising great power competition in the Indo-Pacific.

Since former US president Barrack Obama announced a reinvigorated US presence in the Indo-Pacific as part of the Pacific Pivot in 2013, Darwin has emerged as one of the key focal points for US strategic planners and the Australian Defence Force, as the nation responds to an increasingly assertive China and rapidly evolving economic, political and strategic environment. 

While the broader economic potential of Darwin is heavily under-utilised, the strategic potential of the city is equally under-utilised, particularly given the rise of Indo-Pacific Asia and China – something increasingly recognised by the USA as it seeks to re-position itself in the region. 

US air power is growing alongside Marine Corps in Australia’s Northern Territory

The Enhanced Air Cooperation initiative focused this year on fifth-generation fighter integration, aero-medical evacuation and aircraft maintenance.

Thousands of U.S. Marines on an Australian Army base this summer might be the most visible example of America’s growing military presence Down Under. But the nations’ air forces are growing equally close under a lesser-known program known as Enhanced Air Cooperation, or EAC.

The initiative, which kicked off in 2017, focused this year on fifth-generation fighter integration, aero-medical evacuation and aircraft maintenance. It involved U.S. F-22 Raptor, F-35B Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Eagle fighters, B-52 strategic bombers and C-130J Super Hercules transports.

The Air Force’s activities in the Northern Territory, along with those of the Marines, are being supported with $2 billion worth of new military infrastructure funded by the U.S. and Australia, according to the Australian Defence Force.

At RAAF Darwin, for example, $88.65 million worth of projects have been awarded to build fuel tanks, expand the airfield and erect maintenance facilities.

These and other projects at RAAF Darwin are scheduled to be accomplished by 2023

“The major motivator for U.S. force restructure and redeployment on the western Pacific rim is China. It’s as simple as that”