The South West Pacific is becoming a potential theatre of war with likely real-war scenarios, in an area of small island states and sensitive shipping-lanes.
A plan for the US-based Trans Pacific Networks (TPN) organisation to lay an underwater telecommunications cable from Eureka in California to Guam in Micronesia, then onward to the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia before finally reaching Darwin in northern Australia, is due for completion in 2022. (1) The route has been chosen ostensibly on security grounds to distance the US from 'choke-points' such as the Luzon Strait and South China Sea.
Telecommunications cables provide real-time transmission and reception qualities used by military planners. Satellites use is hampered by milli-second delays, creating problems for US-based surveillance facilities being used for accurate military use with command time for combat thousands of kilometres away. (2)
The problem has far-reaching implications for US military planners using hubs for 'US interests' such as Australia:
Australian Defence Force (ADF) activities in northern Australia are being hampered by 'inadequate high-speed data links' and their need for 'fast, secure, high-band-width data … as ... a prerequisite for virtually all modern defence and intelligence platforms' elsewhere. (3)
Other significant factors, however, have not been so well publicised and form part of a US-led wave of militarism accompanied by Cold War diplomatic positions sweeping the Indo-Pacific as they attempt to 'push-back' against China.
The TPN cable project has been planned to use Guam as a major Pacific hub because of its role with US regional military planning. It exists on the same arc for Pine Gap to Diego Garcia-based US-led intelligence facilities, which swings through the South China Seas. Both Guam and Diego Garcia have, in recent years, been upgraded to serve as hubs for military operations. The same planning also uses Darwin Harbour as a support centre for operations.
It is, therefore, no coincidence the TPN cable project also has a link to Darwin.
It is, furthermore, no coincidence the TPN cable project also passes Hawaii, home of the US Indo-Pacific Command, being half-way in-between Eureka and Guam. The fact Eureka is situated nearby the US Air Force Beale Base is also not a coincidence. The Beale base hosts the Air Combat Command and intelligence facilities for both Washington and the Pentagon and numerous based units including the US Space Force. (4)
The route of the TPN cable project part-encircles the South West Pacific, where small island states and sensitive shipping-lanes remain a concern for US-led defence and security provision. The US-led security concerns were recently publicised in a non-classified intelligence report about growing Sino-US competition in the remote part of the Pacific. (5) It drew attention to the increased problem of likely hostilities and potential for real-war scenarios. The report also concluded the US would need to rapidly construct 'several more military bases in the region to supplement those that already exist'. (6)
It is, therefore, no surprise to note the South West Pacific is also a prominent feature of so-called Island Chain Theory (ICT), situated between the second and alongside the third chain. (7) The theory, a relic from the previous Cold War, has recently been resurrected by the Trump administration to serve their present far-right agendas marked by perceived Chinese influences spreading across the wider region.
It should be noted these developments have been planned and taken place during a period when the US Defence Department recently announced it 'had been engaged in a co-ordinated show of force over the Indo-Pacific region and Europe to demonstrate the US is ready' for military hostilities. (8) The US Air Force exercises in the Indo-Pacific included bombers flown thousands of kilometres from home bases, following co-ordinated preparations with Australia in August last year where 'complete inter-operability' with US forces was noted in official dispatches. (9)
With developments such as these taking place: We need an independent foreign policy!
NOTE: This article has made use of the Peters Projection, Actual Size Map of the World, which depicts countries and land-masses by the relative and actual size to each other.
1. China sets out a snare for the worldwide web, The Weekend Australian, 16-17 May 2020.
2. Taxpayers' PNG cable too dear to use, Australian, 15 May 2020.
3. Weekend Australian, op.cit., 16-17 May 2020.
4. Wikipedia: Beale, US Air Force Base.
5. The South West Pacific and Sino-US competition, Strategic Analysis Paper, Future Directions International, 23 July 2019.
7. See Island Chain theory map, above.
8. America flexes its muscle at China, Australian, 14 May 2020.
9. Strategic alliance in north enthuses visiting US chiefs, Australian, 22 August 2019.