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Australia–United States partnership growing strong under Force Posture Initiatives


The sixth year of the US Force Posture Initiatives was the most advanced yet and has been recognised as another successful development in the Australia–US alliance. The bilateral initiatives established between Australia and the United States in 2011 involve annual rotations of US Marines through Darwin and Enhanced Air Cooperation activities across northern Australia.

United States Air Force F-22 aircraft visit RAAF Base Townsville as part of the first Enhanced Air Cooperation activity in Australia under the US Force Posture Initiatives.
United States Air Force F-22 aircraft visit RAAF Base Townsville as part of the first Enhanced Air Cooperation activity in Australia under the US Force Posture Initiatives.

Brigadier Tim Bayliss, United States Force Posture Initiatives Program Manager, said this year’s efforts are a testament to the strong and mature partnership Australia has grown with the United States over the past six years.

‘Through the Force Posture Initiatives, we not only exercise and grow our defence capabilities, we also do business together. At times this can be challenging; however, our strong partnership means both sides can be open, honest and upfront with one another to solve issues,’ Brigadier Bayliss said.

Brigadier Bayliss believes some of the most significant achievements over the past 12 months can be attributed to the mature partnership.

‘This year we reached agreement on cost-sharing arrangements. This delivers a clear policy basis to keep implementing the initiatives, recognising they require significant investment from both our countries,’ Brigadier Bayliss said.

‘Americans are renowned as tough negotiators, but we were fortunate that we could speak openly. This meant it was not a confrontational environment and we could work through financial arrangements collegiately.’

Brigadier Bayliss said the partnership between Australia and the United States is built on shared history, common regional interests and mutual commitment to achieving the objectives of the initiatives.

As part of Exercise Pacific Agility, the third phase of the Enhanced Air Cooperation program focuses on the maintenance of the C-17 Globemaster III as a common platform between the United States Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.
As part of Exercise Pacific Agility, the third phase of the Enhanced Air Cooperation program focuses on the maintenance of the C-17 Globemaster III as a common platform between the United States Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.

‘Our key objective is to promote regional security and stability. Ensuring a safe, stable and prosperous region is in both of our national interests, and the interests of nations across the Indo-Pacific region.’

The commencement of Enhanced Air Cooperation activities in 2017 was a significant advancement for the initiatives. The first activity saw 12 US Air Force F-22 Raptors train at RAAF Base Tindal, introducing fifth-generation operations to northern Australia.

‘This advancement is another demonstration of the ongoing commitment to the Australia–US partnership,’ Brigadier Bayliss said.

Through the Force Posture Initiatives, Australia and the United States are working together as business partners, engaging industry to expand and upgrade Defence estate and infrastructure.

‘Australia and the US will be investing around $2 billion in estate and infrastructure in the Northern Territory, offering significant opportunities to local industries.

‘This year we have worked together with the Northern Territory Government to engage local industry in the territory to begin preparing them for upcoming opportunities,’ Brigadier Bayliss said.

The presence of US Marines in Darwin through the dry season each year brings many other community benefits that extend beyond boosts to local jobs markets.

‘While in Australia, the US Marines dedicate many personal hours to volunteer work in local communities, schools and animal shelters.

‘Even though they are temporary guests, they integrate well into the local community. It is now standard to hear an American accent at charity events and on the starting line of fun runs,’ Brigadier Bayliss said.

If the past is anything to go by, next year’s Force Posture Initiatives are set to be bigger and better than ever.

More information on the US Force Posture Initiatives can be found at www.defence.gov.au/Initiatives/USFPI.