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The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Oklahoma City returns to the US Naval Base in Guam. Photo: AP

US should give Australia access to operations in Singapore, Guam, Philippines: report

  • A new report by Australia’s former consul general in Honolulu calls for greater integration with US forces under a ‘collective deterrence strategy’ aimed at China’s rise
  • The suggestion follows the formation of the AUKUS alliance, which includes the two countries and Britain, and will see Australia gain access to nuclear submarine technology
Australian and US military forces should integrate further under a “collective deterrence strategy” aimed at China’s rise, giving Canberra access to American operations in the Philippines, Singapore and Guam, a new report argues.

The allies should look at new “combined access arrangements” among a number of ways to strengthen “integrated deterrence” against Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the region, according to the report released by the Sydney-based United States Studies Centre on Friday.

“Greater Australian access to US operating locations in Guam, the Philippines and Singapore could significantly augment the Australian Defence Force’s strategic footprint,” says the report authored by Australia’s former consul general in Honolulu, Jane Hardy.

Washington operates a number of major military installations on Guam, a US territory, and has access to facilities in Singapore and the Philippines under a pair of security pacts.

Washington should also involve Canberra in the early stages of military planning, including contingency scenarios involving “grey-zone tactics or the limited use of force by China”, according to the report.

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, moored at Naval Base Guam. Photo: AFP
“Integrated Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific: Advancing the Australia-United States Alliance” also suggests offering greater support to countries upset by Beijing’s claims in waters such as the South China Sea by moving to “more explicitly plan for and coordinate the transit of warships for a general deterrence effect”.
Beijing has embarked on a major military build-up in the South China Sea, where its expansive claims have irked Southeast Asian nations and Taiwan.

“The US Coast Guard and Australian Border Force should be brought to a joint planning table to identify ideal modes for combined maritime presence operations,” the report says.

Pacific Island nations uneasy over Aukus deal

While acknowledging that many countries in the region would be reluctant to choose a side between the US and China, the report stresses that “fostering military interoperability among the largest possible grouping of like-minded nations remains essential to the success of integrated deterrence”.
Washington and Canberra have ramped up security cooperation in the face of shared concerns over Beijing’s growing regional influence. Along with Britain, the allies last month announced the formation of AUKUS, a trilateral security alliance whose first major initiative aims to provide Australia with 12 nuclear-powered submarines in the coming decades.


US, UK, Australia announce ‘historic’ military partnership in Pacific

US, UK, Australia announce ‘historic’ military partnership in Pacific

China slammed the grouping as “extremely irresponsible” and a threat to regional stability at its launch, and this week described the alliance as a “product of a cold war mentality and narrow geopolitical concepts”.

The launch of the group has generated a mixed response among the region more broadly. Japan and the Philippines have welcomed AUKUS, while Indonesia and Malaysia have raised concerns about the prospect of a regional arms race. India has not publicly indicated any position except to stress that the grouping is unrelated to the “Quad” security dialogue involving the US, Australia and Japan.

Politicians and media in Pacific Island nations, some of which have painful memories of nuclear testing by the US, Britain and France, have also raised concerns.

Last month, the president of Kiribati, a grouping of 33 islands scattered across one of the world’s largest exclusive economic zones, told Australian media he felt disrespected about not being consulted about the submarine plan and had lodged a complaint with Canberra.

James Goldrick, a former two-star rear admiral in the Royal Australian Navy, said plans to boost regional security cooperation needed to “give due weight and attention to the concerns of regional states, particularly those in Southeast Asia”.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Call for Australian access to US bases to deter China