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Without Naming China, Australian Defense Chief Announces Major Military Buildup In Indo-Pacific

Australia will bolster its national security and military footprint in the home region of Indo-Pacific to keep potential adversaries at bay, Defense Minister Richard Marles has announced.

Marles delivered a keynote speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington where he arrived on Monday for his first visit to the United States since assuming office.

“For the first time in decades we are thinking hard about the security of our strategic geography, the viability of our trade and supply routes, and above all the preservation of an inclusive regional order founded on rules agreed by all, not the coercive capabilities of a few,” he said.

Australia’s new Labor government has committed to ensuring funding for this pathway, Marles said. The defense ministry has commissioned a force posture review for delivery in early 2023 that will determine how best to structure defense assets and personnel and cooperate with the US.

Air to Air refueling between F-2 and KC-30A (via Twitter)

“I want to underline, first and foremost, that Australia will do its share. This government is resolved that Australia will take greater responsibility for its own security,” he promised.

He did not specify whom Australia saw as its potential adversaries but the speech made several thinly-veiled references to China. Beijing struck a military pact with the Solomon Islands in April, less than 1,200 miles off Australia’s east coast.

The minister said that Australia would invest in increasing the range and lethality of its armed forces to “hold potential adversary forces and infrastructure at risk further from Australia,” including by developing longer-range strike weapons, cyber capabilities and area denial systems.

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