Obama: Australian, U.S. Troops Backbone of Alliance

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)