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NEWS | July 25, 2023

Fact Sheet: Secretary Austin's Eighth Trip to the Indo-Pacific Region

U.S. Department of Defense

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin’s eighth trip to the Indo-Pacific comes at a time when the Department of Defense is continuing to deliver historic momentum with U.S. allies and partners toward a shared vision of peace, stability, and deterrence in a free and open region.

In Papua New Guinea, Secretary Austin will mark a historic moment as the first Secretary of Defense to visit the country, a crucial U.S. partner in the Pacific, where he will discuss next steps following the recent signing of new bilateral defense agreements between the two countries. In Australia, Secretary Austin will meet with defense and diplomatic counterparts as America’s Unbreakable Alliance with Australia continues to break new ground for peace and security across the Indo-Pacific region.

The United States, allies, and partners across the Indo-Pacific region have made major investments in their own strength and in their shared ties – and Secretary Austin’s eighth trip to the region will underscore ongoing U.S. efforts to help achieve meaningful results for peace and security.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

While in Port Moresby, Secretary Austin will meet with Prime Minister Marape, along with Minister for Defence Win Bakri Daki, Secretary for Defence Hari John Akipe, and Chief of Defence Force Major General Mark Goina, where he will discuss efforts to implement two recent agreements between the United States and Papua New Guinea:

The U.S.-Papua New Guinea Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), which will form the foundational framework for the two countries to enhance bilateral security cooperation, strengthen their relationship, improve the capacity of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, and increase regional stability.

An Agreement Concerning Counter Illicit Transnational Maritime Activity Operations, or “shiprider agreement,” which will bolster Papua New Guinea’s capacity to address a range of shared maritime threats by enabling Papua New Guinea to participate in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Shiprider program, which will improve maritime domain awareness, combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and more.

AUSTRALIA

In Australia, Secretary Austin will meet with Deputy Prime Minister Marles and Minister Wong alongside U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken for the 33rd Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), where the leaders will highlight the historic results the United States and Australia are delivering together, including:

Force posture modernization, building upon the four principals’ announcement at AUSMIN in 2022 that the United States and Australia would continue the rotational presence of U.S. capabilities in Australia, across air, land, and maritime domains, including U.S. Bomber Task Force rotations, fighters, and future rotations of U.S. Navy and U.S. Army capabilities.  At last year’s AUSMIN, the four principals also announced that both countries would identify priority locations in Australia to support enhanced U.S. force posture with associated infrastructure.  

Defense industrial base cooperation, including through the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (“AUKUS”) partnership, which will see Australia’s historic acquisition of conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines, as well as advance cooperation on advanced capabilities like artificial intelligence, autonomous undersea warfare, cyber, electromagnetic warfare, hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, and quantum computing. In addition, Secretary Austin will advance U.S. support for Australia’s Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) enterprise which seeks to help Australia develop its own precision-guided munitions production and maintenance capability.  

Regional security integration, demonstrated through:

Ongoing efforts by the United States, Australia, and Japan to expand the scope and complexity of trilateral exercises, advance science and technology cooperation, and explore ways to bring Japan into U.S.-Australia training and exercise cooperation in northern Australia.

Efforts by the U.S.-Australia Alliance to network with like-minded partners including India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea, and to build capacity in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Secretary Austin will conclude his eighth trip to the Indo-Pacific region by visiting U.S. and Australian service members participating in Exercise TALISMAN SABRE. This exercise will make history as the biggest bilaterally planned U.S.-Australia exercise to date, bringing together like-minded partners from across the region and around the world, including Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.  For the first time this year, Exercise TALISMAN SABRE includes participation from Pacific Island Countries, including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Tonga.

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