Friday, November 11, 2011

U.S. to set up base in Australia to ward off growing China threat - 11th Nov 2011

Australia is set to become home to hundreds of U.S. Marines - as America moves its servicemen to a military base on the northern tip of the country.

In a bid to combat China's increase in global military and financial power, between 500 to 1,000 officers are to form a permanent U.S. military presence at a barracks outside Darwin.

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to formally reveal the plans - which will further anchor American influence in Asia but have prompted fears the area could become a target for terrorists - during a visit to the city next week.

The U.S. currently only has a limited deployment in its long-standing ally, including the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility spy station near Alice Springs, which has coordinated air strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The move represents a potentially significant geo-strategic shift, which is said to have been under consideration for some years as Washington looks to boost its Pacific Command.

A new base will not be built in the city, instead the marines will use the existing Robertson Barracks nearby.

It is currently home to 4,500 Australian soldiers and will need to be expanded to cater for the US Marines, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

In a speech to a national security workshop today, Australian defence minister Stephen Smith said: 'This would potentially see more ship visits, more visiting aircraft and more training and exercising through northern Australia. It would also include the pre-positioning of United States equipment in Australia.'

U.S. Marines are already based at Okinawa in Japan, and on Guam, a U.S. territory 1,500 miles north of Papua New Guinea, as America's chief combat force in the Pacific theatre. The new plan would intensify the 60 year military alliance between the two countries. Read More