The meeting comes at a time of increased tension between China and both the US and Australia. The US withdrew an invitation to China to attend the Rim of the Pacific naval exercises this year and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis warned Beijing during a speech in Singapore last weekend of consequences over its aggression in the South China Sea.
THE Australia-US alliance has never been more important, Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne said during her Top End visit on Tuesday.
Senator Payne, who was in Darwin with top US and Australian military brass, said the presence of the US Marine task force in Darwin represented a significant opportunity.
Questioned on China’s island expansion in the South China Sea, Senator Payne said Australia has been very clear about its position.
“We have encouraged all claimants – and it is important to remember there are multiple claimants – to resolve those issues peacefully in accordance with international law and according to the rules based global order,” Senator Payne said.
“We demonstrate that by our engagements in terms of freedom of navigation and freedom of over flight.
“The United States demonstrates its position according to its own approach.
THE Aviation Combat Element of the 2018 Marine Rotational Force – Darwin has arrived in the Northern Territory as part of the seventh and largest rotation to date.
This year’s Aviation Combat Element comprises eight MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
Deputy Commander Northern Command, Captain Bryan Parker, RAN, said the increase in Ospreys gave Australian and US forces the ability to conduct more complex and sophisticated training activities and exercises.
“During this year’s six month rotation, MRF-D and its Aviation Combat Element will develop an enhanced amphibious capability with the Australian Defence Force,” Captain Parker said.
The eight MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft are from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (VMM-268), based at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii.
The MV-22 Ospreys arrived at the Port of Darwin on a US cargo vessel.
DARWIN, Australia —The past casts a long shadow over this palm-lined city on Asia’s fringe. Allies upgrade facilities and Marines expand operations as China extends its reach. Darwin’s location, 400 miles from the Indonesian archipelago and 1,700 miles from the South China Sea, provides what could serve as a springboard for U.S. forces in the region.
For the U.S., Australia’s benefits go beyond confronting China. The alliance allows the U.S. to disperse forces and offset a lack of permanent bases in the Pacific outside Japan and South Korea, particularly for aircraft.
"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