By signing these initiatives, Australia has pursued a number of objectives. We have tried to deepen the ANS alliance and strengthen our strategic interest in a strong U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Defence saw a way to improve interoperability between the ADF and U.S. armed forces and to maintain the ADF`s capabilities in fighting fighting through better training. It also wanted to create opportunities for cooperation with the United States and regional partners to prepare for common contingencies such as humanitarian and disaster relief. U.S. Air Force rotations across northern Australia are expected to increase, provided the force maintenance agreement paves the way for the development of the runways and ramp areas of RAAF Learmonth and Raaf Tindal. Australians should expect more usaf long-range bombers, transport aircraft and air-to-air refuelling to be deployed from these sites.

A decision may have been made on the adequacy of the modernization of airfields on the Australian territory of Cocos Island, in order to also support P-8 maritime surveillance operations, as provided for in the 2012 Australian Defence Force Posture report. These initiatives will strengthen the U.S. military`s ability to conduct operations from Australia, which the White House calls “the anchor of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.” U.S. interests originally focused on Barack Obama`s “Pivot to East Asia,” which aimed to divert attention and resources from Middle East America to the Asia-Pacific. Unlike the permanent cold war-era bases, the new approach required rotations in host nations (some argued that this should make U.S. forces a more difficult target for ballistic missiles). The Force Posture agreement, which came into force in March 2015, operates in conjunction with SOFA. The Force Posture Agreement provides for legal authorization and the requirement for U.S. forces to operate in Australia as part of the initiatives, and contains important safeguards and assurances for both Australia and the United States. The Force Posture Agreement provides both countries with the security they need to maximize the benefits of initiatives while protecting their sovereign interests. At present, therefore, the focus is likely to focus on the development of MRF-D and the ABC on their objectives and on the maturation of the infrastructure and other measures necessary to support them. Even if it takes another decade, initiatives on the attitude of the armed forces will have achieved their goal.

While the United States no longer uses the “pivot” language, Donald Trump`s national security strategy has ensured some continuity in 2017 by first listing the indopamic space in its “regional context” and pledging to maintain a military presence forward in the region, capable of deterring and, if necessary, defeating any adversary. Tactically, northern Australia also offers U.S. forces access to some of the world`s most modern ranges and training areas. A U.S. presence at the western base of the Royal Australian Navy was also widely debated at recent US congressional hearings. But so far, Australian officials have discussed with the public the destination of these discussions. It is not necessary. As the 2014 Lowy Institute survey shows, support for the U.S. alliance remains remarkably high. By not having a public discussion about the future attitude of the U.S. Navy on Australia`s west coast, the government is giving way to criticism that the U.S. alliance should be eliminated.

This year`s Defence White Paper provides an opportunity to bring to the public what public servants have been discussing for years in private. It is better to make a case of expertise now, rather than announce abrupt options to AUSMIN later this year or when the 2015 Defence White Paper is published. If we have tried to strengthen the U.S. presence in the region, we have certainly succeeded: although the course has been uneven, the size and scale of the U.S. forces