US military presence in northern Australia will grow, former defense official says

The military buildup in Australia’s Northern Territory, which included a record number of U.S. Marines rotating there this summer, will continue as a response to growing Chinese capabilities, according to a former Australian defense official.

To support U.S. Air Force and Marine activities in the Northern Territory, Australia and the United States will invest about $2 billion on aircraft maintenance, support facilities, fuel storage and upgrades to accommodations, training areas and ranges.

The buildup in Australia’s Northern Territory will likely involve enhanced air and maritime facilities, Babbage said.

“It won’t only be the Marines,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the (U.S.) Army said they could send a couple of battalions (on a training rotation). Australia’s answer would be: ‘Of course you can come.’”