U.S. and Australia ready to bolster military ties

Raw Story (via AFP)

US and Australian ministers sought to bolster security ties at annual talks Wednesday, as the American military seeks greater access to the country’s bases in a strategic tilt to the Pacific.

Anxious over China’s growing military might and territorial tensions with its neighbours, US officials are pushing for a more visible military role across the region.

This includes expanding exercises and deploying more advanced ships and hardware to Southeast Asia.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith welcomed the deployment of US Marines this year in Australia’s north and said he and counterpart Leon Panetta were looking at opening up access to more bases and ports for US aircraft and warships.

“We look forward today to discussions about the potential for enhanced aviation and aerial access to our Northern Territory RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) bases and also in due course advanced naval access to HMAS Stirling,” Smith told reporters, referring to the base south of Perth.

Smith said holding the annual strategic discussions between the two nations in the western coastal city underlined the growing importance of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, home to vital shipping lanes and growing economies.

“Here you see the world moving to the Asia-Pacific, the world moving to the Indo-Pacific not just with security implications but with enormous economic investment and prosperity,” he said.

Before Wednesday’s meeting, which gathers foreign and defence ministers from each country, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed that the US was fully committed to its pivot to Asia over the long term, despite crises in the Middle East and fiscal pressures at home.

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  • U.S. to station space radar in Australia.

    Aljazeera, November 15

    Officials say powerful radar and space telescope will enable the Americans to track Chinese rocket and missile tests.

    The US military will station a powerful radar and a space telescope in Australia as part of its strategic shift towards Asia, the two countries have announced.

    US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta described the deal as a “major leap forward in bilateral space co-operation and an important new frontier in the US’ rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region”.

    The transfer of the C-band radar “will add considerably to surveillance of space debris in our part of the world,” Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith told a news conference on Wednesday.

    The plan, unveiled at annual strategic talks between the two nations attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will also allow Americans to track Chinese space launches, senior US defence officials said.

    “It will give us visibility into things that are leaving the atmosphere, entering the atmosphere, really all throughout Asia”, including China’s rocket and missile tests, a US defence official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

    More at the link

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