"There is a connection that could be made between the geopolitical competition that we're starting to see unfold in the Pacific, with China becoming more present as an actor (including military deployments that will become more regular in the future) and Australia doesn't want that gap to be filled by outside actors." ^/s
US FORCES would get the nod from a future federal Labor Government to expand its military footprint in Australia in an apparent reversal of party policy that had seen a cooling in language on the alliance in favour of a greater focus on China.
Two years ago the party’s platform draft at its national conference watered down its foreign policy view of the ANZUS Treaty, significantly dropping references to it being the “bedrock” of regional stability and a national “asset” in favour of strengthening recognition to China’s growth.
Late last year former Labor leader Paul Keating called for Australia to “cut the tag” with the US and focus more on Asia while foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said Donald Trump marked a “change point” that needed to be assessed.
But Labor’s Defence spokesman Richard Marles said yesterday there was room to work with both with America as Australia’s “most important bilateral relationship” and China whose right to rise as a power should be recognised.
The US already has a strong presence in Australia with its annual rotation of 1250 US Marines and a dozen combat aircraft through Darwin in the Northern Territory, joint intelligence facilities in Western Australia and Pine Gap near Alice Springs and regular joint training exercises.
But Mr Marles said there was scope for more and he was not buying in to some defence analysts predicting a US foreign policy “retreat” in the region by the Trump administration although said such deep national alliance debate including Trump’s policy by Tweet was a positive.
“I think the greater American commitment to East Asia, the better,” he said. “I’m absolutely up for a discussion on growing the US relationship in terms of however, whatever, it wants to involve itself with here." #FFS
Speaking of Talisman Saber’s symbolic value, Harris told reporters, "I’m pleased about that message it sends to our friends, allies, partners and potential adversaries … I think this demonstrates the importance of alliances in general and the value of this alliance in particular." On Wednesday, the commander made his third trip to Australia in roughly half a year, telling an audience at Brisbane’s Australian Strategic Policy Institute that Washington takes its relationship with Australia seriously, and that the alliance between the two countries could help stop the spread of jihadist extremist groups. Australia is a global leader in the fight against Daesh, he pointed out.
The visiting US general warned that Australia's neighbours would need assistance if they were to successfully stop the threat posed by IS-inspired militants. "I think the potential for it to spread is there, we should not underestimate it," he cautioned. "It's a different kind of a threat than North Korea but it's also a threat that moves in order to survive — it doesn't own a state so it's mobile.
AUSTRALIA’S Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has slammed North Korea after its state-run newspaper identified Darwin as the site of a possible nuclear war.
Last week, US marines touched down in the NT capital for a six-month deployment, during which they will conduct military training exercises with Australian and visiting Chinese forces.
Commanding Officer of Marine Rotational Force Darwin, Lieutenant Colonel Brian S. Middleton, said the 1250 US Marine deployment to Darwin stands ready to fight if tensions between his country and North Korea escalate into direct conflict.
But while Lieut. Colonel Middleton said US Marines were ready for battle, Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, had its own take on the Darwin arrival, claiming the United States was using Australian territory in preparation of nuclear war.
“This is the largest scale US military presence in Australia after World War 2,” the newspaper reported on Monday under the headline “America prepares for nuclear war in different overseas military deployments”.
“America is fanatically, crazily trying to optimise its nuclear war readiness.”
The Foreign Ministry of the DPRK warned overnight the Turnbull government is “blindly and zealously toeing the US line”.
“It is entirely attributable to the nuclear threat escalated by the US and its anachronistic policy hostile to the DPRK that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to the brink of war in an evil cycle of increasing tensions.
“If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the US master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK.”
It comes as Korean Central News Agency claims five million of North Korea’s youth “are hardening their will to wipe out the enemies with the surging rages at them” and were “waiting for the final order”.
Australia’s Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has laughed off North Korea’s latest claims, telling the ABC the US deployment in Darwin, the sixth and most complex US marine air-ground task force to be deployed to the Territory, has been a “longstanding government policy”.