Australia Mission Reflects Asia-Pacific Commitment, Officials Say

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2011 — Defense offi­cials detailed new mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary oper­a­tions involv­ing the Unit­ed States and Aus­tralia that the two nations’ lead­ers announced today.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Julia Gillard announced that next year, groups of 200 to 250 U.S. Marines will begin rota­tion­al six-month deploy­ments near Dar­win in Australia’s North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry. Gillard said the pres­ence will expand to a force of 2,500 over the next sev­er­al years.

Oba­ma is in Aus­tralia in part to com­mem­o­rate the 60th anniver­sary of the Aus­tralia-New Zealand-U.S. alliance.

Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said the new agree­ment “is a very impor­tant ini­tia­tive that we’ve been work­ing with our Aus­tralian allies on for some time.”

Both Oba­ma and Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta have empha­sized dur­ing recent trav­els that the Asia-Pacif­ic region is a U.S. top pri­or­i­ty.

“We have a 60-year alliance with the Aus­tralians, and this is an effort to fur­ther our ties to the Aus­tralian mil­i­tary,” Lit­tle said. “This is a train­ing and exer­cise pres­ence that will be based over time.”

The focus of the Aus­tralia-based mis­sion is to work close­ly with the Aus­tralian mil­i­tary on train­ing and exer­cis­es, he added.

Pen­ta­gon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kir­by said the announce­ment reflects the U.S. com­mit­ment to allies and part­ners through­out the Asia-Pacif­ic and to that part of the world.

“This is about our broad­er point, too: build­ing a secu­ri­ty archi­tec­ture in the Asia-Pacif­ic region that pro­vides for the pro­tec­tion of U.S. inter­ests and the inter­ests of … our allies,” Lit­tle added.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)