Defence review to boost US role in region

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by lambu, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. lambu

    lambu Regular Member

    Jul 15, 2010
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    The government has begun a major Defence review that will advise on issues including whether the rising military power of Asia-Pacific nations poses a threat to Australia. The "force posture review" announced by Defence Minister Stephen Smith will be closely linked to the US global review, which is focused on the military power of China.

    The combined reviews are likely to lead to an increased US military presence in the region and greater use of Australian bases by US ships and aircraft, and storage of equipment here.

    WA Premier Colin Barnett said he wanted a larger army presence in the state's north and suggested a major base at Port Hedland.

    "The problems of Asia are now our problems," Mr Barnett said. "We are about to see the development of the Browse Basin, which is off the Kimberley coast, so we're literally going 800km to 1000km north."

    Documents released by Mr Smith yesterday make no reference to China but the review team has been instructed to examine "the growth of military power projection capabilities of countries in the Asia Pacific".

    According to professor Paul Dibb, author of the last such review two decades ago, that was a clear reference to China.

    Since last year's Ausmin talks between Australian and US defence and foreign ministers in Melbourne, teams from both countries have been working on the detail of agreements covering the use of Australian military facilities and ports by US forces.

    Australian Strategic Policy Institute director, former major-general Peter Abigail, said the review would provide part of the story not addressed in the 2009 Defence white paper.

    It will be headed by former Defence secretaries Allan Hawke and Ric Smith. Mr Smith said the review and the white paper were not aimed at any country.

    Australia had a very important economic relationship with China but it was an important and comprehensive bilateral relationship that included strategic and security matters and regular exchanges between military officials, he said.

    "We are confident that China will emerge, as (World Bank president) Bob Zoellick would say, a responsible stakeholder; as the Chinese would say, into a harmonious environment."

    Mr Smith said the review would address the range of present and emerging global, regional and national strategic and security factors.

    The review could result in a move of the RAAF's new Joint Strike Fighters to Curtin air base in northern WA and one of the navy's three new Air Warfare Destroyers and a giant helicopter landing ship to Fleet Base West, south of Perth.

    In a speech at Canberra University, China's ambassador Chen Yuming stressed that Beijing had no hostile intentions.

    "China does not export ideology, nor does it engage in military intervention," Mr Chen said.

    Indonesian embassy spokesman Eko Junor said the review was not going to cause any anxiety in Jakarta.

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