US, Australia determined to boost defense cooperation, force posture

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“The United States and Australia are determined to strengthen defense cooperation, including on force posture, and acknowledged that the presence of US forces in the Indo-Pacific has been vital to preserving the region’s security and prosperity for 75 years,” said in the joint statement released after the 30th Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN 2020) on July 28.

AUSMIN 2020 was attended by US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, and Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

“They signed a classified Statement of Principles on Alliance Defense Cooperation and Force Posture Priorities in the Indo-Pacific.  The Statement establishes a bilateral Force Posture Working Group to develop recommendations that will advance force-posture cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to promote a secure and stable region and deter coercive acts and the use of force,” the joint statement added.

The joint statement also stated that “the Secretaries and Ministers discussed practical ways to strengthen our ability to address a range of challenges in a more contested Indo-Pacific, from countering malign gray-zone tactics to deterring aggression in the region.”

“They recognized Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan further builds Australia’s contribution to the Alliance by investing in a more agile, potent, and self-reliant Australian Defence Force.  Australia’s sharper regional Indo-Pacific focus will allow the Australian Defence Force to make its strongest contribution to shared security interests in the Indo-Pacific, be better able to project military power, and deter destabilizing actions at a longer range,” it added.

“The Secretaries and Ministers emphasized the importance of ensuring that our enhanced defense engagement and capacity building, especially with partners in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, are closely coordinated to avoid duplication and to maximize their impact in protecting sovereignty and building resilience,” noted in the joint statement.