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.

USA makes $300m push to expand naval facilities in the NT

The United States military is preparing to spend more than a quarter of a billion dollars on naval construction in the Northern Territory, in a move that could raise tensions with China.

the Defence Department says it is still too early to comment on what the US military may have planned in the Northern Territory.

"The referenced document is the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorises (but does not appropriate) Defence initiatives," the Department said in a statement.

"It is still progressing through the US Congress and must be reconciled with the House version before it is finalised. It is not yet approved.

"We expect the US Department of Defense will provide details of the funding in accordance with its processes and timelines following consideration and approval within the United States Government."

The draft US legislation also outlines several other proposed spending projects in the Northern Territory including $US50 million for a "new airport parking apron for the Navy", and $US70.6 million for the Air Force at Tindall.

Australia has 'tarnished' Manus Island and military base isn't welcome, governor says

Charlie Benjamin says Australia has left people of Manus Island with nothing but ‘bad memories’

Benjamin opposes the establishment of a US-Australia military base, another decision he said was made without the consultation or involvement of Manus people.

“That’s a problem I have to deal with, and it disappoints me the Australia and Papua New Guinea did not see this as a big problem,” he said. “We are not given enough help to deal with all of this.

“So when they come and say, ‘We want to build a military base in Manus’, I say ‘I already have experience with you Australians, dealing with asylum seekers, and my people were left out’. I don’t want our people to be left out again with this military exercise.”

He said the base was clearly of benefit to Australia and the US and in response to the growing influence of China in the region. “That has to come at a price,” he said. “You can’t just come in and expect me to welcome you, and face all the social problems, while your people are safe in Australia and America. “If there is a war we are the first ones to face the missiles and you will be safe in your country.”

Report: Darwin’s Glyde Point may house new base for US Marines

The ABC is reporting senior defence and federal government officials conceded the proposal may anger China even though it would be built as an industrial port.

However if approved it could eventually accommodate “large amphibious warships” such as landing helicopter docks and US military ships.

The ABC said it approached the Defence Department and the US Embassy in Canberra for comment, but both are yet to respond to detailed questions on timing and costs.

In a statement, the department said “Defence has no plans for the development of a new naval facility in the Northern Territory” while the US embassy declined to comment.

The NT Government says it is unaware of any plans for a US war base in Darwin.

In his first official visit to Darwin in May, US Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse said US relations to Australia were expected to build in the coming years.

Gunn Point Rd recently underwent $38 million upgrades which saw the resealing of the 35km stretch of road as well as resealing of Murrumujuk Rd.

APEC Navy Base United States MAnus | ten daily

The United States has stunned many in the Pacific, announcing it will partner with Australia in developing a joint naval base in Papua New Guinea.
The revelation was delivered during a stinging speech by American Vice President, MIke Pence at the APEC Summit, warning pacific nations not to accept over-burdensome loans from China -- loans often sneeringly referred to as 'debt diplomacy.'

"Today it's my privilege to announce that the United States will partner with PNG and Australian on their joint initiative on their base on Manus Island," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier foreshadowed the announcement in an earlier speech, "Australia is stepping up. We will step up. [We are] stepping up to a whole new level."

China would see this as an affront to their strategic ambitions in the Pacific region.