Today, Tuesday 21 May, I concluded my visit to Washington DC and the United States.
My visit was a timely opportunity to reaffirm the strength of Australia’s close partnership with the United States, following the release of the 2013 Defence White Paper.
The Defence White Paper underlines the fact that Australia’s Alliance with the United States continues to be the bedrock of Australia’s defence, security and strategic arrangements.
While in Washington, I had my first official bilateral meeting with United States Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.
We reflected on the strength of our Alliance relationship and the importance of our enhanced practical cooperation, including in new and emerging security challenges, such as space and cyber.
We exchanged views on the geopolitical changes occurring in the Indo-Pacific and the opportunities presented by the US rebalance to the region for greater regional cooperation and capacity.
I discussed with Secretary Hagel the progress to date in implementing the force posture initiatives agreed by Prime Minister Gillard and President Obama in November 2011, involving six month rotational deployments of United States Marine Corps personnel to northern Australia and increased rotations of US Air Force aircraft through northern Australia. We noted progress on the agreement at the AUSMIN consultations in Perth last year to undertake a study into enhanced naval cooperation, including through HMAS Stirling.
Secretary Hagel and I discussed the drawdown of operations in Afghanistan, transition to Afghan-led security responsibility and the international community's post-2014 commitment.
We also discussed progress in key acquisition programs, including the Joint Strike Fighter and our Defence industry cooperation through the recently brought into effect Australia-US Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty.
Secretary Hagel and I discussed events in the Middle East and Africa.
I met the Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, the Director of the National Security Agency and Commander United States Cyber Command General Keith Alexander, the Director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Letitia Long and the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Mike Vickers.
We discussed longstanding intelligence cooperation between Australia and the United States.
I discussed Afghanistan with Lieutenant General (ret) Doug Lute, the Assistant to the President and Coordinator for South Asia and Ambassador James Dobbins, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I discussed progress and Australian industry involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter program with the Program Executive Officer for the Joint Strike Fighter, Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan and Mr Orlando Carvahlo, Executive Vice President (Aeronautics), Lockheed Martin.
I met with Senator Jim Inhofe, the Ranking Member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee.
I also laid a wreath at the Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for over 236,000 United States veterans and their families.
My visit to Washington followed on from my visit to the United Nations in New York.
Minister Smith’s Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999