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Dempsey, Australian Defense Chief Discuss Security Issues

By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his Australian counterpart met here today to examine security challenges and find ways to further strengthen ties as the U.S. military rebalances to the Pacific.

The day-long meeting between Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and the Australian chief of the Defense Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, was the second Defense Chiefs Strategic Dialogue held between the United States and Australia. The first DCSD was held in Washington in 2013.

A Complex Global Security Environment

Dempsey said the meeting was an important opportunity for both nations to discuss today’s complex global security environment. He cited diverse challenges including Iran, Russian aggression in Ukraine, and the campaign against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists.

"We really have to keep our eye on the future while dealing with the issues of the present," the chairman said at the meeting.

There needs to be talk about the long-term threat posed by violent extremists, Dempsey said. The terrorist attack in a café in Sydney in December in which two hostages were killed was a "terrible tragedy," the chairman said.

Australia is a strong U.S. partner and ally that has made incredible contributions to stability efforts in the Pacific and around the globe, said Dempsey's spokesman, Air Force Col. Ed Thomas.

"The United States and Australia have a shared worldview that is governed by international law that has been the foundation for peace and security in the region," Thomas said. "Today's dialogue and the commitment it represents are important as we continue to rebalance to the Pacific."

The defense chiefs, along with their senior staff, talked candidly about the challenges each nation faces and how their militaries can continue to strengthen relations and interoperability, the colonel said.

Expanding Security Partnership

A key aspect of the U.S.-Australian alliance is the expanding security relationship, supported by the Force Posture Agreement, which provides an "enduring foundation for regional security and complements the initiatives upon which the two governments have embarked since 2011," Thomas explained.

Currently, there’s a 1,150-member rotational presence of U.S. Marines in Darwin, Australia, he said. And the growing cooperation between the countries' air forces, he added, is a "tangible measure of the strength of the U.S.-Australia defense alliance and our shared vision for regional security.”

The basis of the military relationship between the United States and Australia is the 1951 Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty, or ANZUS Treaty, Thomas said.

Australia invoked the treaty once -- in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.