RAAF DARWIN, Australia -- Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford ended a productive visit to Australia today, Jan. 6, 2018, by meeting with U.S. Marines deployed to this Northern Territory base.
The Marine units that rotate in to this strategic base are the latest manifestation of American commitment to Australia and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said to the Marines.
“[There is] no stronger way to demonstrate our commitment to our allies than actually being physically present,” Dunford said to the Marines. “Your presence here sends a powerful message to friends and potential adversaries.”
Meets With Australian Counterpart
Dunford held a Feb. 3-4 counterpart visit with Australian Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, the chief of Defense Force in Sydney. The two military leaders discussed a wide range of topics, including terrorism and regional security, according to a Joint Staff readout.
“The U.S.-Australia alliance plays a critical role in maintaining peace and stability in the region and the visit served to strengthen that alliance as the U.S. and Australia increase collaboration in counter-terrorism efforts and regional capacity building among other areas of mutual interest,” U.S. officials said.
A long-time Pacific power, the U.S. has bolstered its presence in the Indo-Pacific region in recent years.
Some 60 percent of the U.S. Air Force is based in the region. The Navy is approaching 60 percent of its capabilities in the Indo-Pacific as well. There are more than 50,000 U.S. service members based in Japan, and another 28,000 in South Korea. U.S. Pacific Command officials said there are more than 350,000 U.S. service members in its area of operations.
It is not just numbers, it is capability. The region is getting the most modern U.S. systems, including P-8 Poseidon, F-22 Raptor, and F-35 Lightning II aircraft, as well as littoral combat ships.
And, there are many exercises among U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific region to ensure the multinational forces can work smoothly together.
American Presence in the Indo-Pacific Region
“You cannot dispute the facts from a security perspective about U.S. presence in the Pacific, U.S. commitment in the Pacific and U.S. capability in the Pacific,” Dunford said. “Certainly the physical evidence from a military dimension reflects that we are not a declining power.”
Buttressing the U.S. military power, the chairman said, is America’s true global advantage: its allies and partners.
“If someone is trying to undermine the United States politically, diplomatically and from a security perspective, the first target would be our network of allies and partners,” Dunford said. “When you see the message that the United States is a declining power, it’s a deliberate effort to undermine the credibility of our alliances and relationships in the region.”
U.S. Regional Allies, Partners
It is also an effort to change the rule-based international system that has kept the peace for more than 70 years, the chairman said. The network of allies and partners in the Pacific region, he said, want rules-based international order.
“They don’t want ‘might to equal right,’” Dunford said. “They want there to be a set of international standards and norms that are enforced by the international community’s collective, coherent response.”
The chairman added, “No matter how you rack and stack it … we don’t have greater capability than we have in the Pacific. There is no other nation that has the military capability that we have in the Pacific.”