Mon 29 Nov 2021
Plans for US military upgrades of Australian defence bases to counter China have been highlighted in a long-awaited Pentagon study, which contains no actual major reshuffling of American forces worldwide.
- The US plans to reduce troops and equipment in other parts of the world to bring more to Australia and the Indo-Pacific
- US military will also upgrade Australian bases to counter China
- Australia signed the AUKUS military pact to improve intelligence and technology sharing between the nations
The Biden administration has released some details of its global posture review, but the Pentagon document overseen by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will remain largely classified.
“In Australia, you’ll see new rotational fighter and bomber aircraft deployments, you’ll see ground forces training and increased logistics cooperation,” US Under Secretary of Defense Mara Karlin told reporters.
“More broadly across the Indo-Pacific, you’ll see a range of infrastructure improvements in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Australia.”
Dr Karlin added that the Indo-Pacific region was a major focus of the assessment, because of Mr Austin’s emphasis on “China as the pacing challenge” for the department.
Dr Karlin said the previously flagged base upgrades in Australia should “hopefully come to fruition in coming years” and included logistics facilities, fuel storage, munitions storage and airfield upgrades.
The global posture review also directs the department to focus more on the region by “reducing” the number of troops and equipment in other areas of the world, “to enable improved war-fighting readiness and increased activities” in the Indo-Pacific.Australia could soon host more US marines in DarwinAustralia could soon be hosting more US marines and warships with Defence Minister Peter Dutton declaring he wants even greater military cooperation with our closest ally.
Many details about the repositioning of military capabilities were classified and some others had been previously announced, but the review contained no major reshuffling of forces as the US moves to take on Beijing while deterring Russia and fighting terrorism in the Middle East and Africa.
In Washington, defence analysts believe the review’s lack of sizeable adjustments to military forces in Asia shows the challenges the US faces in rebalancing resources to confront China while maintaining other global commitments.
Earlier this year, the ABC revealed senior American and Australian officials had discussed options for expanded military cooperation, including a proposal to form a new joint US marines and ADF training brigade based in Darwin.
Australia recently signed on to a strengthened military pact with the US and United Kingdom, known as AUKUS, to improve intelligence and technology sharing between the nations.
The ABC has approached Defence Minister Peter Dutton for comment on the review.