Attending the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in South Korea along with Obama, Gillard called the marine deployment the next step in the evolution of the long-standing alliance. The two imperialist rulers used the meeting to attack North Korea’s plans to launch a satellite this month. Gillard called on China to put pressure on North Korea to call the launch off.
Washington has shifted its military attention to the East, seeking to counter growing competition from China. The U.S.-Australia alliance goes back to World War II, through which Washington established its unchallenged dominance of the world’s seas, a hegemony that is being challenged in the Pacific by Beijing’s growing military capabilities and regional influence.
Further steps could include “possible drone flights” from the Cocos Islands, an Australian territory 1,700 miles northwest of Perth in the Indian Ocean, reported the Washington Post.
The newspaper said that aircraft based on the islands would be well positioned to spy over the South China Sea, where the Chinese navy is becoming increasingly assertive. The Cocos Islands were handed over to Australia by the United Kingdom in 1955.
An Australian defense white paper said the Cocos Islands fall inside the strategic center of Australia’s primary operational environment. “It affords us an opportunity to detect and respond to potentially hostile military incursions at sufficiently long ranges to enable an effective response,” it stated.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said that priority was being given to increasing U.S. access to mainland Australian military airfields and allowing greater naval access to Australia’s Indian Ocean naval base HMAS Stirling, south of the west coast city of Perth. The Washington Post reported on a proposal to upgrade the Stirling base so it could service U.S. aircraft carriers, other large surface warships and attack submarines. These steps are necessary before any moves to upgrade the Cocos Islands air base can begin, Smith said.
According to the Post-, Washington is also finalizing a deal to station four warships in Singapore and has opened negotiations with the Philippines about boosting its presence there.
Last month Philippine President Benigno Aquino said that talks were under way for U.S. troops to hold more military training exercises in the Philippines, as well as increase the number of times that U.S. navy ships visit. Military exercises will take place April 16-27 involving some 4,500 U.S. troops together with the Philippine armed forces.
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