The reloaded SM-2 — an air and surface defense missile — replaced one launched July 22 during at the start of the Talisman Sabre exercise in eastern Australia
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Tuesday that the US will increase its military presence in Australia in a buildup aimed at China.
In a joint press conference with Australia’s defense minister and foreign minister, Austin said that the US will increase its rotational forces in Australia. “That includes rotations of bomber task forces, fighters, and future rotations of US Navy and US Army capabilities,” Austin said.
Many countries in the region are not eager to get on board with the US’s confrontational approach to China. The prime minister of Papua New Guinea said this week that his country can’t afford to get caught between the US and China and said he told the US your “enemy is not my enemy.”
Indonesia’s president expressed similar concerns during a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in November, saying the ASEAN must not let the region turn into a frontline for a new Cold War.
Details on the rotational deployments aren’t clear, but they will likely focus on the Australian city of Darwin in the Northern Territory, where US Marines have been rotating through for years.
a Defence spokesperson said "the development of maritime services and support in Darwin harbour" was covered in "regular, productive discussions with the Northern Territory government on a range of initiatives".
Experts say a new port could replace the US military’s main fuelling station in the Pacific region after the closure of a storage facility at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii.
The federal budget allocated $1.5 billion to build “new port infrastructure, such as a wharf, an offloading facility and dredging of the shipping channel” in the Northern Territory.
Mr Dutton said in November that stability in the Indo-Pacific “requires the United States to be completely engaged in the region”. He indicated in June he was open to increasing the US marine presence in Darwin and said it was in both countries’ interest for the US to expand its presence in the region.
The federal budget allocated an extra $2 billion to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and expanded its remit to include the Commonwealth territory of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The Defence Department announced in 2020 it was upgrading the Cocos Island runway to accommodate surveillance and response aircraft.
The government is also investing $300 million in an industry precinct at Darwin for gas, hydrogen and critical minerals.
“Additional fuel storage, additional logistics, support and port facilities will enable greater flow through of American units, and conceivably stationing on a longer-term basis. Not basing, but possibly stationing at least for periods of time.
When there’s no time left to change the structure of the military, the need is to look instead at force posture