Tonight I depart Australia to visit Honolulu, Hawaii, for calls with senior United States (US) officials at United States Pacific Command (PACOM) and its component commands.
I will also have the opportunity to meet with Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and view naval exercises as part of Australia’s participation in the 2012 Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).
Australia’s Alliance with the United States is our most important Defence relationship and the cornerstone of our strategic and security arrangements.
This will be my fourth official visit to the United States as Minister for Defence and my first official visit to Honolulu.
An ongoing US presence in the Asia Pacific remains essential to continuing peace and security in our region.
Australia welcomes the US strategic focus on the Asia Pacific, and the US commitment to not just maintaining, but enhancing its presence in our region.
The United States Pacific Command is the command responsible for the Asia Pacific region.
I will meet Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander, US Pacific Command, to discuss strategic and security issues of mutual concern.
I will also meet with the commanders of the US Pacific Fleet, Pacific Airforce, Marine Forces Pacific, and Army Pacific to discuss the strong service ties with Australia and our increasing cooperation in the region.
I will also visit USS Nimitz and HMAS Darwin as they participate in RIMPAC 2012.
This long-standing exercise is a major biennial combined exercise involving forces from 22 countries including Australia, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Tonga, UK and the US. This year Russia will participate in a RIMPAC Exercise for the first time.
The 2012 exercise’s primary mission is to enhance interoperability and improve individual war fighting competencies and disaster relief and maritime security operations.
For the first time in RIMPAC exercises, this year, Australia will lead the maritime component. This will give the ADF the opportunity to coordinate the world’s largest multi-national maritime exercise.
The Combined Force Maritime Component will consist of 41 surface ships, one aircraft carrier, six submarines and in excess of 25,000 personnel.
For the first time, RIMPAC will feature a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief response event.
I look forward to meeting some of the 1100 Australian sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen who will take part in this exercise.
Mr Smith's Office:
Sacha Fenton 02 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528
Andrew Porter 0419 474 392