Since 1942 when the British fell to Japan in Asia, Australia has depended on the United States as a protector in this region of the Pacific as they still do today. A region commonly referred as “Our Patch” of the South Pacific, where they are sensitive to and have security awareness of, contains Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north, and the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east. At the cost of 27,000 Australian lives in World War II and attacks on their territory, Australia took the responsibility of clearing out the Japanese in these islands and building relationships with these nations, and has since engaged with the United States in conflicts in this region from Korea to Vietnam to Malaysia. Today over 5 trillion dollars’ worth of goods annually pass through these straits and sea lanes above Australia.
Australia, being a national resource exporter with the 13th biggest economy in the world, is economically sensitive to its number one trading partner and competitor to this South Pacific region – China. China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative and strategic overreach into this region includes the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, substantial investment in Vanuatu and other Pacific islands, leasing the Australian Port of Darwin, and military expansion in regional offensive capacities and new capabilities such as maneuverable over the horizon cruise missiles, complex ballistic missiles and hypersonic glide platforms. These developments have Australia rightfully concerned about its national security and of its regional neighbors. Australia, who does not have a deterrent force, is reliant on the United States for assured deterrence in the Pacific as its 1951 ANZUS treaty states.
“Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes. Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.” – Article IV, ANZUS security treaty between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States
Today, Australian Navy ships continue to be part of United States’ Aircraft Carrier Battle groups in this region, and the Royal Australian Air Force exercises jointly with the United States Pacific Air Force in this region. The Australian Army is bringing the forward mobile NASAM capability to be integrated, deployed, and exercised.
Negating Chinese Anti-Access Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities in this Pacific region requires United States and Australia to have mobile, interoperable, integrated, layered, 360 missile defense capabilities. These capabilities need increased capacity in Air Based platforms, in Land based composite layered systems and in Sea based naval Aegis BMD destroyers and frigates.
Australia leads the world in over the horizon sensors and has the most extensive land testing range of the Western Allies, the Woomera Prohibited Area, where recovery of what is launched is available as well as leveraging terrestrial and atmospheric sensors. The U.S. and Australia have used this range in 2018 for joint Hypersonic Missile Tests.
In the land of Oz, China is a sticky wicket that Australia needs to address on the pitch of Missile Defense enabling Australia with a stable path of national security going forward in a challenging and dynamic environment in this region.
MDAA had the honor to spend a few days last week down under in Australia.
MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.
MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.