WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2011 — President Barack Obama visited the Royal Army Air Force Base in Darwin, Australia, today to thank Australian military members and a contingent of U.S. Marines who he called the backbone of their countries’ 60-year alliance.
The president announced the deepening of that alliance as U.S. Marines begin rotating through Northern Australia to train and exercise with their Australian counterparts “and to work as partners across the region for the security we all want.”
The U.S.-Australia security treaty, concluded in 1951, calls for the countries to consult on mutual threats, and to act to meet common dangers. It was invoked by Australia for the first time in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Obama noted the strategic importance of the region, with some of the busiest sea lanes in the world that are critical to all its members’ economies.
“And in times of crisis — from the Bali bombings to East Timor to relief after a tsunami — Darwin has been a hub, moving out aid, caring for victims, making sure that we do right by the people of this region,” he said. “And that is what we’re going to keep doing, together.”
It’s an extension of an alliance that has spanned decades, Obama said.
“Our alliance is rooted in the bonds between our people and the democratic values that we share and our commitment to stand with each other through thick and through thin, no matter what,” the president said.
The close partnership between the U.S. and Australia, he said, is highlighted in the shared mission in Afghanistan.
“Like generations before you, you’ve lived and served alongside your American colleagues, day-in and day-out,” Obama told recently returned Australian 1st Brigade troops. “You work together so well, it’s often said you can’t tell where our guys end and you guys begin.”
The president also extended thanks to troops who have served in Iraq, and on other dangerous missions around the globe. He thanked service members for a job well done and for the sacrifices they and their families have made, paying special tribute to the families of the fallen.
Noting that he and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited the Australian War Memorial earlier today, Obama said words can’t describe the depth of sacrifice these families have made.
“But we will honor loved ones by completing their mission, by making sure Afghanistan is never again used to attack our people,” he said. “And I am confident that we are going to succeed.”
Going forward in Afghanistan and in other missions around the world, the president said the focus will be the same as 60 years ago, to preserve peace and security.
“On this 60th anniversary, we are saying together, proudly: ‘Yes, we have the strength for the burden laid upon us, and we have the power to protect and guard our own, here in the Asia Pacific and all around the world,” he said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)