Thursday, December 23, 2021

Australia embedded in US Pacific Defence Initiative


Written by: (Contributed) on 24 December 2021

The 2022 US increased defence budget has serious implications for Australia; increased regional military and security provision with the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) has increased the likelihood of war with China.

A recent announcement from the US military-industrial complex about their proposed military facilities based in Australia have serious implications for diplomatic relations with China and also problematic relations with our regional neighbours.

The 2022 US defence budget allocation for $768 billion is a five per cent increase over the previous year; it has included $7.1 billion specifically for the PDI which amounts to a tripling of regional expenditure for the Indo-Pacific. (1) As the US has increased diplomatic hostilities toward China, the Pentagon has undertaken a program which has included the construction of new military facilities and the upgrading of existing ones.

In addition, the PDI will also include an advanced missile system based in Guam together with increased interoperability between the US and Taiwanese forces. (2) Guam, in the west, exists on the same arc from Pine Gap to Diego Garcia in the east. US military facilities on both Guam and Diego Garcia have been upgraded in recent years for regional operations, with Darwin in northern Australia as the main support centre.   

A significant part of the US defence budget, however, has been directed toward the military-industrial complex for dual-use equipment ostensibly used for industrial purposes although easily transferable to military capacity, if required. It is not difficult to find examples.

An announcement from LeoLabs, part of the US military-industrial complex, that they were beginning construction of two major space tracking sites in Australia, is, therefore, a worrying sign of the increased reliance by the Pentagon upon Australian-based facilities.

LeoLabs has recently undertaken the initial stages of constructing a new radar facility in West Australia to be accompanied by a further one in the Northern Territories which will operate in conjunction with existing and already operational facilities in New Zealand. (3)
While stated publicity surrounding the facilities has tended to concentrate upon the tracking and surveillance of space debris, other information has specified that it will be used to monitor China's space and satellite programs. (4) Amid its glitzy and connected web-sites, for example, LeoLabs is involved in the 'tracking, operating and communicating with assets in space'. (5)

About seventy per cent of China's satellites are launched southwards, toward Australia, and facilities in WA will also to be used to monitor China's southern orbital routes around the South Pole and then north toward the US 'completely evading US missile defences'. (6) It would appear the US has further missile shields already planned to protect the stated southern route in future defence budgets.

A statement issued by Canberra that 'Australia needed to develop additional ground-based sensors to track such threats, and work with the US and UK under AUKUS to develop space-based early warning systems', has already provided evidence of such future military planning and the US role for Australia. (7)

The US has no place in its foreign policy provision for credible competitors to their traditional hegemonic positions.

Fears, therefore, already raised by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute that China's space program 'could soon rival that of the US', reveal increased likelihood of war. (8) A statement issued by the Australian Department of Defence has, likewise, said that China 'looked to gain a significant military advantage', with the same outcome. (9) It was accompanied by a further statement issued by the Pentagon which said that 'China is on track to overtake the US as the number one power in space by the end of the decade'. (10)

A statement from Canberra that Australia 'was committed to working with the US to help protect western assets in space', has left little to the imagination. (11) Australia has long been regarded by the US as a compliant regional hub for the defence and security of 'US interests'.  

Australia-US diplomatic links cannot be defined as a symbiotic relationship; Australia now faces the very real possibility of being drawn into a regional war between the US and China, with all which that entails.

Secondly, the stated range of the LeoLabs military facilities between Australia and China also stretch through sensitive parts of Asia with countries which have strong diplomatic links with China. They will, presumably, take a dim view of Australian-based US military facilities also monitoring their own defence and security provision, making diplomacy by Canberra toward our northern neighbours even more problematic.

                                       We need an independent foreign policy!

1.     Senate passes defence spending bill, The Vision Times, 19 December 2021; and, Pacific Deterrence Initiative, The Department of Defence Budget, Washington, Fiscal Year 2022, May 2021.
2.     Senate passes, Vision, ibid., 19 December 2021.
3.     China seeking war footing in space, Australian, 22 December 2021.
4.     Ibid, see also,, LeoLabs commits, 21 October 2021.
5.     Official website: LeoLabs.
6.     China seeking, Australian, op.cit., 22 December 2021.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Ibid; and, Strategic battlefield in space, Editorial, Australian, 22 December 2021.
9.     China playing space wars: Dutton, Australian, 23 December 2021.
10.   Dutton accuses Beijing of playing war games in space, Australian, 23 December 2021.

11.   Ibid.


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