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Arming Against China: The US Global Posture Review

Get the Marines ready. Store the supplies. Marshal the allies. The United States is getting ready for war (the preferable term in Washington is policing) in the Indo-Pacific region, and is hoping to do so with a range of expanded bases across client states, or what it prefers to call friends.

On November 29, the Pentagon announced that US President Joe Biden had accepted the recommendations made by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III in the Global Posture Review commissioned in February. The news might have been delivered by Austin himself, but this solemn duty fell to Mara Karlin, discharging her duties as deputy undersecretary of defense for policy. As the GPR remains classified, we are left with a sketchy performance that should make many across the Indo-Pacific seek cover and a bunker.

For the most part, Karlin’s performance was gibberish, masked by lingo hostile to meaning. The review was intended to “inform” the approach of the Biden administration in terms of national defence strategy, which did not mean that it would necessarily inform anybody else. “That guidance asserts that the United States will lead with diplomacy first, revitalize our unmatched network of allies and partners and make smart and disciplined choices regarding our national defense and responsible use of our military,” Karlin stated. How reassuring.

She continued in non-revelatory fashion to mention how the “global posture review assesses DOD overseas forces and footprint along with the framework and processes that govern our posture decision making.” The GPR had “strengthened our decision-making processes by deliberately connecting strategic priorities, global trade-offs, force readiness and modernization, interagency coordination and allied and partner coordination to global posture planning and decisions.”

The only thing to conclude from this remarkable display of non-meaning was that the US imperium was on the march, and it was keen to ensure that its allies would be marching in step with it. At one point, Karlin let the cat out of the bag. A primary focus of the GPR is the Indo-Pacific, with China proving to be the continuing fixation. Cooperation between Washington, its allies and its partners to “advance initiatives” that aid regional stability and deter Chinese military aggression and threats from Pyongyang, are matters of urgency.

This puts Australia, Guam and various Pacific Islands in the spotlight, with the US keen to use them as staging grounds in any forthcoming conflict with Beijing while reducing their troop presence in other global theatres. The press conference was not quite so blunt, but the implications were clear enough. According to Karlin, the Pentagon will seek a “range of infrastructure improvements in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Australia.” New US rotational fighter and bomber aircraft deployments to Australia and further logistics cooperation with Canberra are promised.

When asked by a journalist why Australia and Guam had been specifically mentioned in the address, Karlin showed some rare candour in admitting that “those were notable, which is why I cited those specifically” though the US was broadly “engaged in consultations with our allies and partners across the Pacific.”

The remarks pertaining to Australia simply affirmed the observations made by Austin in September, the same month the trilateral AUKUS security partnership between Australia, the UK and the US was announced. AUKUS, explained Austin at the time, would “help contribute” to the concept of “integrated deterrence in the region,” an unimaginative way of saying that the US would lead a regional policing effort in the Indo-Pacific, with the assistance of Australia and like-minded partners. While Washington sought “a constructive, results-oriented relationship with the PRC, we will remain clear-eyed in our view of Beijing’s efforts to undermine the established international order.”

Such a clear-eyed disposition involved making good use of Australian territory, with Canberra agreeing to “major force posture initiatives that will expand our access and presence in Australia.”

Access is imperial speak for US power. It sounds so much better than military occupation. Becca Wasser of the Center for a New American Security is well versed in that argot. “If you want to change posture – whether that is expanding or consolidating bases, or deploying new capability – you need access,” Wasser told Breaking Defense. “Access is something only allies and partners can provide and changes to access usually require a lengthy consultation process.” Appearances must be kept.

A sense of how the GPR has been received can also be gathered from the security think-tankers, those delightful sorts who make it their tanking business to find enemies for budget reasons. A co-authored report by John Schaus of the hawkish Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and Michael Shoebridge of the Canberra-based US appendage, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, praises the Review as “an enormous opportunity to signal, and demonstrate, US commitment to regional security in ways that will reassure partners and deter potential adversaries.”

There is an unabashed encouragement of greater US garrisoning and military presence in Australia. Australia would commit to investing in and expanding naval facilities in Darwin and on the west coast. This, in turn, could be “matched with a greater US naval presence at these facilities, for the purpose of joint activity through the Indian Ocean and up into Southeast Asia.”

The authors take issue with conservative US troop numbers that had been present through Marine Corps rotations in Northern Australia during the Obama-era. It was time to roll up the sleeves and co-opt Australian real estate and resources to advance Washington’s agenda. “Specifically, the United States should forward deploy Navy surface, subsurface, and uncrewed vessels to Australia; expand the Air Force rotational presence to include larger numbers and more frequent presence of high-endurance intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms; and increase both Marine and Army presence to facilitate greater training and integration within the alliance.”

While the GPR remains under lock and key, we can be certain that many of the bellicose wishes of Schaus and Shoebridge are bound to be there. The war monger’s script is getting increasingly long and relentless.


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  1. Ai Khan Singh

    Just play Orson Welles ‘War of the Worlds’ on US radio and the effers will just bolt for the hills. They have form.
    Then just ask Cuba to occupy them.

  2. Williambtm

    I thank the author of this article Binoy Kampmark, for articulating the very same concerns I have gleaned over the past 25 odd years of careful observation.
    John Howard in his usual secretive and often treacherous style had warmly accepted to have the USA military forces plan to fully embed themselves into our sovereign nation to simply roll along without any sensible hesitation.

    Australia had demonstrated its defence capabilities against an invading Japanese army, particularly so per the role of Australian industrial power, which had played its part to provide all the necessary resources to be too powerful for the Japanese to dare themselves against their invasion into Australia.

    The role of Australian industrial power in the defeat of Japan in World War II

    Notwithstanding that the Battle Of Midway between the US Navy and the Japanese navy had halted any future Japanese capacity to invade Australia.

    The USA had gifted Australia with the newsreel hero of America, General Douglas MacArthur.
    Here below is the consequence of the Australian Government and its Military Intelligence headquarters.
    That it is not right to be overcritical to Cutrin’s reign as Australia’s Prime Minister during the difficult years of the 2nd World War, particularly when Churchill had demanded the greater amount of our defence forces to fight to defend Britain’s interests. Churchill abandoning any cause for Australia to maintain its own defence.

    This prognosis relating to the USA might and power is an unstable false platform that went on to prove itself and to demonstrate the actual nebulous effect of the many US military battalions at any given time when they rotated through Australia during the period of WW2.

    Just as General Douglas MacArthur had been inclined to portray himself as a military genius, so do the American Pentagon Generals of today.
    The USA had become reliant on the newsreels (the world’s then mainstream media) that had propelled the stature and military genius of General Douglas MacArthur, did nothing for the benefit of ” 39-45 wartime in Australia”)

    So, I offer my edict relating to America’s embedding itself as a war genius in Australia, which has been reliant on Australia’s L/NP government and Australia’s “mainstream media propaganda-spreading endeavours” in lieu of dealing with the historical role of America’s military forces being unable to claim any success in their 3 largest invasive war escalations in the post-1950s.

    All USA involved military and State affairs being utilized to influence Australia, same with the USA corporate interests, to set their non-taxpaying precedent in Australia. (see home-page MichaelWestBiz)

    This comment is based on facts rather than the fancies of Australia’s US relied on Military Intelligence, also the same abstract intelligence relied on that pervades in this current L/NP government.

    One must not place any faith in the USA, especially so post the outcome of the American invasive Korean war, the American invasive Vietnam war, and lastly the American invasive Afghanistan war. Notwithstanding the ongoing deadly turmoils and human perils in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan.

    Remember the recent international refugee crisis, one guess which nation had been responsible for this enormous shift in the world’s cultivated inhumanity? Begins with an A and ends with an a.

  3. StephenGB

    Look I do not actually think that China wants to go to war with the USA, or Australia, but just supposing they do, let’s just face facts.

    It is a matter of history that fighting wars on someone else’s back yard is better than fighting them on home ground.

    The USA has never, since the American Civil war, had to fight on home ground (9/11 was a profound shock to America exceptionalism).

    I would, therefore, suggest that both China and the USA (assuming they actually intend to go to war) are considering history, and planning their preferred killing grounds on someone else’s back yard.

    Australia, is of course the perfect killing ground, vast areas of sparse population, mostly flat topography, benign weather conditions and largely unprotected.

    If I were China I would not relish repeated costly sea born invasions Island hoping all over Asia, but would consider the the largest land mass in Asia, Australia with its huge undefended coast line is wide open to a successful and cheap sea born invasion, Once established Australia is blest with the most important recourse, minerals and agricultural land well able to sustain a China for many millennia following the defeat of the USA.

    Yes I believe that the USA, will either be defeated totally, or will retreat to their North America once faced with probable defeat by the Chinese, as indeed they have in Korea, Vietnam, and of course Aganistan

    Yes the Australians are mythically brave fighters but let’s face the facts, we are no match for the overwhelming forces that China can muster. And would the USA have enough forces close at hand to assist Australia, I think not, the armament might of the USA is a long way from Australia.

    Again, if I were China I would use multiple overwhelming invasion points around the coast avoiding any of the minuscule Australian bases we have around our vast coast line, and establish a foot hold whilst Australia was stopped for a horse race !

  4. Brozza

    StephenGB – China wouldn’t dare invade Oz coz we’re gunna have have 1990’s yank subs in 20 or 30 years time, maybe.

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