US to increase military activities in Australia: Obama

November 16th, 2011 - 5:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Canberra, Nov 16 (IANS) Visiting US President Barack Obama Wednesday announced that the US will boost military activities in Australia from 2012 as America steps up its commitment in the Asia-Pacific.

In a joint press conference held here after a meeting between Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the leaders announced that the two countries have agreed to increase joint military initiatives to enhance their bilateral alliance.

From 2012, the US will boost its military activities in Australia in stages. A force of around 250 marines will be accommodated and begin training in the Northern Territory of Australia next year, reported Xinhua.

The US forces, which will bring with them vehicles, ships and aircraft, will then be increased to a battalion strength group of 1,000 by 2014 and will have a 2,500-strong Marine Air-Ground Task Force by 2016.

Exercises will involve joint training and combat operations, live firing, evacuations, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

Also over the next two years, more US aircraft will come to Tindal base in Northern Territory for training and exercises.

“The US has no stronger ally than Australia, bound by common values and rights,” Obama said.

“With my visit, I am making it clear that the US is stepping up its commitment in the Asia Pacific.”

Gillard said that “the increased US presence would reinforce stability in the Asia-Pacific”.

“It will be good for our Australian Defense Force to increase their capabilities, by joint training with the US Marines and personnel,” she said.

“It will mean that we are postured to better respond together, along with other partners in the Asia-Pacific, to any regional contingency including the provision of humanitarian assistance and dealing with natural disasters.”

The agreement will not involve a permanent US military base in Australia.

Currently, there are around 300 US military personnel posted in Australia for two to three years at a time.

During Wednesday’s bilateral meeting, the two leaders have also discussed global economy, a clean energy future for the two nations and the planet, and the forthcoming East Asia Summit.

Obama arrived in Canberra Wednesday afternoon. He will visit Australian War Memorial, and address parliament Thursday morning, before visiting Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia.

He will then leave for Indonesia Thursday afternoon.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |