US warships welcome
Basing a US aircraft carrier battle group and nuclear submarines at HMAS Sterling is an opportunity for Australia that needs to be taken now.
We cannot continue to be the unarmed jewel glinting in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Great Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean waiting to be intimidated or invaded by nations to our north looking for better opportunities for their billions of citizens.
Nor can we expect to survive on 1.5% of GDP defence spending. Strategic Analysts paid by the government can print fifty pages of analysis agonising over war and peace in the next forty years but end up with the lame comment that if there is peace we need a 1.5% of GDP defence budget to cover border patrols, disaster relief, and ceremonial duties. But if there are the dark clouds of conflict we need 4% of GDP for war equipment.
Who knows what lies ahead in the timeframe needed to purchase modern weapons and bed them into operational efficiency? Most weapons systems take ten to fifteen years to become operational. Threats are maddeningly unpredictable through history and usually creep up on nations unnoticed.
A modern high technology defence force maintained at peak efficiency is the only real way of providing insurance against the unexpected and the unknown. Any other strategy is gambling our nation’s sovereignty for the sake of a few pieces of silver.
Australia cannot expect the US to provide for our security without us contributing to the best of our ability to the US security. Yet we seem to have a cringe factor ingrained in our psyche that goes back for many generations. Australians know they are isolated at the bottom of the world and hope that by being unarmed and inoffensive we will be left to live in peace.
We have been an extremely lucky country in this regard with the US saving us from the murder, rapes and pillaging that would have occurred to our population if the Japanese juggernaut had not been stopped short of our shores in WW2. Ever since the US has unselfishly looked after our interests by supporting us in East Timor and other areas.
The US desire to share an Australian base is a golden opportunity for our politicians to try to repay the US for some of the goodwill and generosity it has shown to this nation over seventy years. Again, Australian security will be the main beneficiary of US forces sharing our bases so the event will be to our mutual benefit.
It would involve bringing HMAS Sterling up to world standard which would entail major expansion as well. Australia should bear all this cost and look on it as a long term investment.
The US would probably supply all the high technology equipment needed to service and repair modern war ships and planes. This equipment could be shared with Australia to maintain our ships and planes.
The next step could be to see if the US would supply us with one or two Virginia class nuclear attack submarines which would introduce Australia to the latest technology submarines. Normally it would take ten years to have a submarine delivered but the US might consider giving Australia one of their submarines that are nearing completion for their navy in a shorter time frame considering it would be used to bolster the Coalition forces in Asia. The US has already built twelve Virginia class nuclear submarines and these are all performing very well.
If Australia was fair dinkum it would increase its defence spending to at least match the US but preferably be in the 4-5% of GDP range for a decade to bed down these changes. Australia could build up a modest battle fleet of its own using US cutting edge technology.
If Australia could overcome its aversion for a robust defence force needed for our survival and grasp the opportunities available with the US presence we could once and for all set our nation up with a modern defence security system.