Australia has long been an ally of the United States. But the extent of that relationship today remains largely secret. Bevan Ramsden from the Independent & Peaceful Australia Network sheds some light on it.
The Force Posture Agreement – entered into between the US and Australian Governments in 2015 – makes Australia a base in the Indo-Pacific-South East Asia for the US military, and from which they can parade their strength, intimidate and launch hostile acts against our neighbours.
The Force Posture Agreement facilitates:
- The stationing in Darwin, for six months each year, of up to 2,500 US marines; they are trained and equipped for immediate deployment and who, while in Australia, train for war in exercises with the Australian Defence Forces;
- Access to Australia’s airfields and airport facilities for US fighter planes and bombers;
- Access to Australia’s seaports for US naval vessels.
The Agreement states (Article VII):
“United States Forces and its contractors shall have unimpeded access to Agreed Facilities and Areas for all matters relating to the pre-positioning and storage of defence equipment and supplies including delivery, management, inspection, use, maintenance and removal of such pre-positioned material.
As mutually determined by the Parties, aircraft, vehicles and vessels operated by or for United States Forces shall have access to aerial ports and sea ports of Australia and other locations, for the delivery to, storage and maintenance in, and removal from, the territory of Australia of United States Forces’ pre-positioned material.”
In short, the Agreement enables the United States not only to station its troops in Darwin but to store on Australian soil, US war supplies including spare parts, fuel, weapons, ammunition and bombs and opens Australia’s seaports to their navy and airports and runways for the use of their air-force.
This Agreement makes Australia a base in the Indo-Pacific-South East Asia for the US military and from which they can launch hostile acts against our neighbours. That includes the islands claimed by China in the South China sea. Some commentators have suggested the US also has its sights set on the straits of Malacca, in order to put pressure on China by blocking its major shipping route.
The US strategy could be summed up as being a policy to contain China in order to maintain US hegemony on the Indo-Pacific-South East Asia area.
The Agreement lasts for 25 years with the possibility of extension. It may be terminated by either party giving one year’s notice. It is the most recent addition to US military bases in Australia with functions complementary to them.
Whilst the Force Posture Agreement comprises the most all-embracing and comprehensive US military utilisation of Australia as a base for its operations, the process started back in the 1960’s with the US establishing the North-West Cape submarine communications base, followed by Pine Gap.
The latter utilises spy satellites to provide vital intelligence for US war operations as well as targeting information for their notorious US drone assassination program.
Cost to the Australian Taxpayer
The initial cost of implementing the Force Posture Agreement according to the former Defence Minister Marise Payne is $2-3 billion with the costs shared between the US and Australia.
The proportion borne by the Australian taxpayer has been kept secret for “national security reasons”, said Minister Payne in reply to a letter from the Marrickville Peace Group and in reply to questions raised with the Minister by Sharon Claydon, Newcastle MP on behalf of the Hunter Peace Group.
Cost-wise, there are additional annual costs to maintain the activities carried out under this Agreement; these annual costs are also secret for the same vague “national security” reasons.
Commencement of the Force Posture Agreement
The Force Posture Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America was signed in Sydney on 12thAugust, 2014 by Julie Bishop (then Minister for Foreign Affairs) and David Johnston (then Minister for Defence) on behalf of the Australian Government, and by John F. Kerry (then Secretary of State) and Chuck Hagel (then Secretary of Defence) for the Government of the United States.
However the concept was put to a joint sitting of the Australian Parliament by former President Barack Obama on 16thNovember, 2011 as part of the US “Pivot to Asia” of its military forces. President Obama’s concept was enthusiastically received by all politicians of both major parties.
Following Obama’s Pivot to Asia announcement in Federal Parliament in November, 2011 there was immediate response to the public announcement with a gathering in early 2012 of organisations (8 at that time) with the aim of establishing a national network to build a mass campaign for an independent foreign policy with opposition to US marines & bases in Australia.
The network’s name and objectives were finalised mid-2012 and IPAN (Independent and Peaceful Australia Network) was officially launched nationally on 9 September 2012 on the International Day for Peace.
In Melbourne a public forum was held in July, 2012 announcing the establishment of IPAN;
a succession of public and union meetings followed as IPAN sought to raise community awareness of the Force Posture Agreement and its implications.
A further community response to the Force Posture Agreement and stationing of US troops in Darwin was the holding of a conference in Canberra at Easter, 2014 comprised of peace, faith, trade unions and anti-war organisations from around Australia. This conference of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network, IPAN, stated as part of its mission:
“To advocate for an independent and peaceful Australia, free of foreign military bases, and free of interventions by other foreign Governments, corporations, or vested interests, that at present seek to exert undue influence, in shaping Australia’s foreign and defence policies, in a manner that diminishes Australia’s sovereignty.”
This mission statement does not simply address US interference in Australia but also makes it clear its opposition to interference by any foreign government and that includes Russia and China.
Force Posture 2018
1,587 US Marines arrived in Darwin in March/April this year together witheight MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and an artillery battery of six M777 Howitzers. At the 2018 AUSMIN Summit between the US and Australia Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers, it was stated that efforts are being made to increase the number of US troops in Darwin to 2,500.
US Marines are now imbedded on board Australia’s naval ship HMAS Adelaide, which has been fitted out with amphibious capabilities to land US Marines on shores they are directed to capture and secure. War exercises planned for 2018 include the HMAS Adelaide with US Marines on board. One might well ask who controls and directs the US Marines on board Australian naval ships and indeed who directs the Australian ships with the US marines on board? A further question would be which territories are the US Marines practising to invade, capture and secure?
Finally, we should be asking: Is it to our benefit or indeed to our detriment, to be associated with and indeed integrated into, such potential US war scenarios?
IPAN is running a public campaignto urge Government to terminate the Force Posture Agreement and send the US Marines home.
Donate To New Matilda
New Matilda is a small, independent media outlet. We survive through reader contributions, and never losing a lawsuit. If you got something from this article, giving something back helps us to continue speaking truth to power. Every little bit counts.