VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
For National Independence and Socialism •


All the way... to war?

by Bill F.
As US imperialism reasserts its military domination of the Pacific region, and intensifies its aggressive encirclement of China, the Australian government has recklessly endorsed this by opening up Australian military bases and facilities for US forces.
The government seeks to hide its abject subservience to US imperialism behind the fig-leafs of “joint facilities” and “rotating forces”, but the scale and expanding uses of the bases makes it clear that Australia is now fully locked in with the strategic war plans of the Pentagon. Some key elements of this surrender of national sovereignty are…
Robertson Barracks in Darwin
2,500 US Marines, plus command and support, and stockpiles of unspecified combat weapons and supplies. They will have access to the vast Bradshaw Field Training Area and another at Mount Bundey. US military aircraft, including strategic bombers based in Diego Garcia, Guam and Okinawa, will have frequent and unrestricted access to Australian air bases, especially RAAF Darwin and RAAF Tindall. There is no guarantee that US weaponry will not include nuclear weapons, uranium-depleted shells, anti-personnel mines, napalm or cluster bombs. Delamere Air Weapons Range and Shoalwater Bay in Queensland have been used previously by the US military during the two-yearly Talisman Sabre war games, and will see more regular US bombing exercises.
Pine Gap, near Alice Springs
Officially a ‘joint facility’, Pine Gap is used by US military intelligence to control satellites gathering information across Asia and the South East Asia region. It picks up all sorts of communications data, such as radar, satellite and microwave transmissions. It has recently expanded to include the monitoring of missile launches through thermal imaging satellites, and has been a part of the ‘drone wars’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. In an all-out exchange of ballistic missiles, Pine Gap would be an obvious target.
Australia is supposed to share the data collected. In the unlikely event that an Australian government opposed a particular US military operation, would the data still be made available? Does Australian military intelligence get it all, anyway? If the unthinkable happened, and an Australian government actually asked the Americans to leave, would they go peacefully, would they hand back the facility intact?
Northwest Cape, Western Australia
This is a Very Low Frequency communications base for submerged submarines. As Australia has hardly any that are operational, its main role is to support US (nuclear-armed) submarines active in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as the contested South China Sea.
A new function will be US space surveillance and detection activities to track the communication satellites of other countries for possible destruction in the event of hostilities. Camouflaging this role is the secondary function of tracking space junk and protecting global communications satellites.
Kojarena, near Geraldton, Western Australia 
This is an Australian Defence Signals base that is part of the Echelon system, intercepting satellite communications across the region. The US also has access to a more recent facility built to provide secure 3G mobile communications in war operations.
HMAS Stirling, near Perth
The only Australian Navy base on the west coast, HMAS Stirling will be expanded to cater for a continuous stream of visiting US Navy ships of all types, including nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed vessels. “Fly-in, Fly-out” ship crews will change there, rather than the ship having to return to the USA for refurbishment. This means another Australian facility virtually taken over by the US military. Similarly, the US is angling to take over the airfield at Cocos Island in the Indian Ocean, as a base for its illegal ‘drone war’ missions.
Not in Australia’s interest
All of this is clearly aimed at China, and positioning the US military for war. It has nothing to do with defending Australia or protecting Australia’s interests. It builds on the high level of strategic and operational integration between the Australian and US military forces already, and drags Australia further along the road of passive accomplice to whatever adventures the US wants to undertake.
At the centre of the expanding and aggressive US militarisation of the Pacific region is the protection of US hegemony. The US views China’s economic development and growing investments as a major threat to its own massive investments, domination of resources, markets and political subservience to US interests.
No bases! No troops!
Many Australians are disgusted and angry at the lack of any notion of independence in Australia’s foreign policies. The expanding military collusion with US imperialism automatically joins Australia on the side of the USA in any confrontation with China. Too bad about the fact that China is Australia’s largest trading partner, too bad about the prospect of war on our doorstep!
Prominent Australians, such as Malcolm Fraser and Paul Keating, have spoken out strongly against this slide into “running dog” status, while ordinary Australians are forming groups in cities and regions to campaign against the presence of US troops and US bases. For Australia, the threat of war will not pass until US imperialism is expelled, and an independent Australian republic builds the conditions for socialism.