US boosts military presence in Australia

2011-11-16 14:04
Canberra - US President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday unveiled plans for a deepening of the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific, starting with thousands of US Marines operating out of a defacto military base in the Australian port of Darwin.

US troops in Darwin, only 820km from Indonesia, would be able to react quickly to any humanitarian and security issues in Southeast Asia, where disputes over sovereignty of the South China Sea are causing rising tensions.

"With my visit to the region I am making it clear that the United States is stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific region," Obama told a joint news conference with Gillard in Canberra.

Deployment of an initial company of 200-250 Marines would begin in 2012 and expand to up to 2 500 eventually, Gillard said.

The move may be seen by Beijing as further evidence of Washington's attempt to encircle China, with US bases in Japan and Korea and now troops in Australia.

"We hope that bilateral co-operation between the countries concerned will be of benefit to the peace, stability and development of the Asia-Pacific region," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei.

Some Asian nations are expected to welcome the US move as a counterbalance to China's growing power, especially its expanding maritime operations, and a reassurance that Washington will not scale back its engagement in the region due to a stretched US military budget.

"The United States hopes to militarily strengthen alliance relations with Japan in the north and with Australia in the south, with the clear intention of counter-balancing China," Su Hao, the director of the Asia-Pacific Researcher Centre at the Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, told the Global Times, a popular Chinese newspaper.

Obama to raise South China Sea

Obama's visit to Australia, greeted with a 21 gun salute, marks 60 years of the US-Australia alliance which has seen their troops fight in every major war.

"To the People of Australia, with whom we have stood together for a century of progress and sacrifice. On this 60th Anniversary of our Alliance, we resolve that our bonds will never be broken, and our friendship will last for all time," he wrote in Gillard's guest book.

The winding down of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has opened the door to greater US attention to simmering tension over the South China Sea, a shipping lane for more than $5 trillion in annual trade that the United States wants to keep open.

Obama plans to raise maritime security in the South China Sea at a regional summit on Bali this week, defying China's desire to keep this sensitive topic off the agenda.

China claims the entire maritime region, a vital commercial shipping route rich in oil, minerals and fishery resources.

But Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei hold rivals claims to at least parts of the sea and tension occasionally flares up into maritime stand-offs.

China has generally sought to avoid flare-ups over tensions with the United States and its allies in 2011.

Obama will make an "anchor speech" outlining the US vision for the Asia-Pacific to the Australian parliament on Thursday before a whistle stop in Darwin. He then flies to the Indonesian island of Bali for the East Asia summit.

Defacto base

Darwin, nicknamed the "Pearl Harbour of Australia" after a World War Two Japanese raid dropped more bombs on the city than those on Pearl Harbour, will give the US military open access to East Asia sea lanes and the Indian Ocean.

Australia says hosting US troops and the pre-positioning of US supplies in Darwin is not the precursor to a US base, but analysts say rotating more than 2 000 US marines in and out of the northern port city, and more frequent US naval visits, will give Washington a defacto base.

"The Chinese have gotten used to the fact that Australia and the United States have a very close military relationship. They expect nothing different," said Australian Defence Minister Kim Beazley.

Australia and the United States jointly operate an intelligence base at Pine Gap in the Australian outback and routinely take part in military exercises. But the Darwin deployment will be the largest in Australia since World War Two when General Douglas MacArthur moved his war headquarters there.

Analysts say Australia needs to balance its military relationship with the United States with its economic dependence on China, which is a voracious buyer or coal, iron ore and other resources.

"Economic co-operation with China is increasingly important for Australia's future development," said Su from the Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.

"On the other hand, Australia is committed to maintaining its traditional alliance with the United States...That's a security challenge for Australia. I'm sure that Australia won't take this too far."

Read more on:    julia gillard  |  barack obama  |  us  |  australia
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike

Watch this insane drift contest with four-times dirt-track World champion Karl Maier riding a speedway bike against a BMW M235i.

 
 

Men24.com

Want to start talking dirty?
Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Enjoy the view because as from tomorrow you are going to need to come back down to earth and join the party. In the meantime use...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.