Northern Territory pushed closer to real war scenario
Written by: (Contributed) on 5 June 2020
Residents of the Northern Territory should be in no doubt what the US-led wave of militarism across the Indo-Pacific means for their state and well-being. The NT is being pushed into a front-line position for real war scenarios across the region.
A recent report, from a senior Australian government official, has clarified just how close the country has been drawn into US-led regional military planning, with specific reference to the Northern Territory.
Developments, elsewhere, have also contributed to rising diplomatic tensions.
The Trump administration has announced the intention to revamp a major economic forum to deal with the global economy, with moves to specifically designed to contain and encircle China.
The report, from Shaun Drabsch, Chief Executive of the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation for the NT in a Defence Special Report supplement for the Australian in late May, provided a chilling glimpse of US-led military planning for the wider Indo-Pacific region. (1) There was little ambiguity about the Pentagon plan: the northern part of Australia, strategically-placed and facing toward the South China Seas, was ear-marked to become 'the defence and national forward operating base for Australia'. (2)
The main thrust of the report is about military superiority in the 2020-50 period, with the rise of China set to eclipse the US as the world's biggest economy within the next decade. It has been regarded as a threat to traditional US hegemonic positions across the region.
Written in a concise and factual style, the report provided a clear illustration of the massive military build-up planned by the US to maintain superiority in the face of having to deal with China as a competitor.
References are, therefore, provided of Australian Defence Force (ADF) 'investments in future war-fighting capabilities', which will include Joint Strike Fighter planes together with 72 F-35A Lighting II aircraft and MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems and manned P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft. Other references to unmanned platforms include the Loyal Wingman drone system and the ORCA Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle.
The NT is already littered with numerous military facilities which include Pine Gap which is hosted by Australia for a massive US intelligence-gathering base linked to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. RAAF Darwin, likewise, has four surveillance and response units working in conjunction with four combat support units. It is no coincidence the base, 8 kms outside of Darwin, is also used for US troop rotations.
Other military facilities in the NT include four army bases, two further RAAF bases and a naval base. Each base tends to have specific responsibilities, in peacetime and for combat. The number of military facilities would now appear planned for expansion with reference in the report to the proposed Indo-Pacific Deterrence Initiative (IPDI) which would include additional US troops being rotated through Darwin.
Reference was also made in the report to the 'prepositioning of equipment, increased missile defence capabilities and new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets', together with 'more and new training ranges'. (3)
The report also included reference to the new US-led regional telecommunications network linking the US with Guam, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Darwin set to be operational in 2022. It is intended to provide the US with real-time communications for 'fast, secure, high-band-width data … a prerequisite for virtually all modern defence and intelligence platforms'. (4) Satellite communications have the problem of split-second transmission times which cause problems for military planners and remote control of combat in war-zones.
The fact the new telecommunications network has been routed through Guam is not coincidental: the Micronesian landmass hosts numerous sensitive US facilities. It also rests upon an arc from Pine Gap to Diego Garcia which swings across the Indo-Pacific region. Both Guam and Diego Garcia have also been upgraded in recent years to act as military hubs, while Darwin Harbour in the Northern Territory has become a support centre for operations. The significance of Guam has also been established with the 2018 US-led Malabar military exercise which was held nearby and included Japan as a regional operation.
Whether the new telecommunications network is actually routed through any of the US military facilities has yet to be established. It would, however, be remarkable if the US intelligence services have overlooked such opportunities.
The US-led military and security considerations have been linked to economic initiatives; the Trump administration has the specific intention of containing and encircling China in the global economy.
The announcement that the Trump administration wants to expand the G7 group of advanced economies to include Australia was not solely confined to the so-called 'alliance' between the two countries. Other countries which are major players in the global economy including India and Brazil have also been included in the plan. (5) It follows a rationale that countries which play a dominant role in economic relations tend to trade with neighbouring countries and, therefore, develop workable diplomatic relations.
Australia, for example, has strong trade relations with the Indo-Pacific in general and the South Pacific specifically, India has maintained strong trading relations with the Asian sub-continent for decades while Brazil is a major player in Latin America due to its geographical size and huge manufacturing base. Both India and Brazil have also formed two of the five economic pillars of the massive BRICS regional trade organisation, which was regarded as a major player in emerging economies.
China, however, has not been included in the Trump economic initiative despite its relatively strong economic performance within the global economy. Diplomatic tensions and hostilities will be driven even higher across the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere, as competition increases between the US and China.
Australia, in general, is being drawn ever closer into potential real war scenarios with the Northern Territory, specifically, being pushed into a front-line position and becoming a potential war-zone.
Australia needs an independent foreign policy!
1. Hi-tech transformation into strategic operating Territory, Defence Special Report, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 May 2020.
4. China sets out a snare for the worldwide web, The Weekend Australian, 16-17 May 2020.
5. See: Morrison awaits call-up to G7, Australian, 1 June 2020; and, PM up for G7, Putin a step too far, Australian, 3 June 2020; and, Korea accepts Trump's G7 invite, Australian, 3 June 2020, which provides information about a US-led initiative to strengthen regional trade blocs and unify their operations to exclude China.
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