“The United States Force Posture Initiatives in Northern Australia are providing new opportunities for combined training, regional engagement and further interoperability between our armed forces, including for humanitarian operations.”
2017 Australian Foreign Policy White Paper
Australia’s alliance with the US is our most important Defence relationship and is central to Australia’s strategic and security arrangements.
The Initiatives are a tangible demonstration of the strength of the Australia-US alliance and Australia’s deep engagement with the Indo-Pacific region.
They provide security benefits for Australia and the US by:
- deepening interoperability and enhancing capabilities through increased combined training and exercises,
- increasing our engagement with regional partners in the Indo Pacific, and
- better positioning both nations to respond to crises in the region, including Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
The Initiatives also deliver economic opportunities for Northern Australia through infrastructure investment and the provision of support services.
Legal and policy framework
The Initiatives are a shared commitment between Australia and the US. Government-to-Government agreements and arrangements between Australia and the US provide the legal foundation upon which the Initiatives were built and under which they continue to operate.
The SOFA, which entered into force in May 1963, provides the legal status of members of the US Forces in Australia.
The Force Posture Agreement, which entered into force in March 2015, operates in conjunction with the SOFA. The Force Posture Agreement provides the legal authorisation and requirements for US Forces to operate under the Initiatives in Australia and contains important protections and assurances for both Australia and the US. The Force Posture Agreement provides the certainty needed for both countries to maximise the benefits of the Initiatives while protecting their sovereign interests.
There are also a range of other treaties and less-than-treaty-level arrangements that provide further legal and policy frameworks to support the US Forces while in Australia.