Monday October 18, 2021

Canberra says more: US troops to come, eyes cooperation on missiles

AFP
September 17, 2021

WASHIINGTON: Australia said Thursday that more US troops will rotate through the island nation and that the allies will cooperate on missiles, the latest joint steps amid shared concerns over a rising China.

Australia announced a three-way alliance with the United States and Britain in which Canberra will acquire nuclear-powered submarines, enraging France whose own major contract for conventional submarines was scrapped.

Outlining further measures on a visit to Washington, Defense Minister Peter Dutton said Australia will be “significantly enhancing” cooperation including working together on the development of missiles and explosive ordnance.

He said Australia was willing to see more US Marines in a decade-old rotation through the northern city of Darwin. “I do have an aspiration to make sure that we can increase the numbers of troops through the rotations,” Dutton said. “The air capability will be enhanced, our maritime capability enhanced and certainly the force posture enhanced.”

Around 2,200 US Marines were scheduled to come through Darwin in the 2021 rotation, with restrictions in place due to Covid-19 and Australia’s strict quarantine measures.US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, also without giving numbers, confirmed that the United States “will expand our access and presence in Australia.” Austin said the two allies discussed concerns about China in the four-way meeting involving Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Marise Payne.