House of Representatives Committees

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Australia’s Defence Relations with the United States

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September 2005



Membership of the Committee
Membership of the Delegation
Inquiry Terms of reference
List of abbreviations
Chapter 1 US Observations Regarding Interoperability
Chapter 2 Strategic Affairs in the Asia Pacific
Chapter 3 Benchmark Military Capabilities
Chapter 4 Defence Industry Visits
Chapter 5 Observations of the Defence Relationship by the Components of the US Government

Appendix A – Ceremonial and Commemorative Activities
Appendix B – Delegation Program


The Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America (the ANZUS Treaty) is a key element supporting Austr alia’s nation al security. The Treaty has operated for more than 50 years and appears to remain relevant in a strategic environment increasingly ch allenged by terrorism and non-state actors.

The Treaty was first invoked following the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States (US). The response to these attacks has required Australia and the US to achieve unprecedented levels of interoperability, with Australian Defence Force elements from all three services operating as part of US led coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Defence Sub Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade established an inquiry into the state of the Australia’s Defence Relationship with the US. To confirm elements of the evidence to the inquiry and to gain first hand the US perspective of military and strategic policy issues relating to Australia and the Asia Pacific region, the Parliament sent a delegation of seven members of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to the United States in July 2005 for an extensive series of inspections and briefings. This report describes the observations of the delegation. The report will in turn contribute to the final committee report into the Australia – US defence relationship.

The delegation itinerary allowed the members to address a broad range of strategic and Defence aspects of Australia’s relationship with the US. This report will describe the delegation’s observations in five broad topics. Chapter One will discuss the delegation observations on Defence interoperability drawn from meetings with the leaders of the two US regional Combatant Commands where Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are training or conducting operations. These visits included briefings at Headquarters Pacific Command and a meeting with General John Abizaid, Commander of US Central Command.

Chapter Two of the report will discuss the delegation findings on the impact of the alliance on strategic affairs in the Asia Pacific region. These observations are the results of meetings with two respected US strategic ‘Think Tanks’ which provide policy advice to all elements of the US Government and bureaucracy. These visits to the RAND Corporation and the Strategic Studies Institute were invaluable in gaining a US perspective of key strategic issues, such as the developing US relationship with China, India and Indonesia.

Chapter Three will describe the delegation visits to US military elements. These visits were selected to give the delegation an awareness of the scope of the US Military and to introduce elements with which the ADF may in future seek to benchmark. The delegation itinerary included meetings with the leadership of 1 st US Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), recently returned from Iraq, and the USS Bonhomme Richard – a US amphibious ship recently returned from service in the Arabian Gulf and Indonesia, where it conducted Tsunami relief.

Chapter Four of the report will discuss delegation observations of three major US defence industry organisations. These visits were designed to observe progress on major Australian defence projects such as the Abrams Tank and the Joint Strike Fighter, to discuss Australian industry involvement and to get a sense of the scale of the massive US defence industry.

In the last component of the visit to the US, the delegation sought to determine whether the strength and understanding of the defence relationship extends to all levels of the US Government. Chapter Five will describe the perspective gained through meetings with the Australian Embassy staff in Washington and at the United Nations, senior US Department of Defense officials and the leaders of selected peer Congressional Committees. These meetings were all informative of the impact and importance of the Australia US alliance.

Exposure to this range of issues and experiences could only be achieved as a result of a very well orchestrated program. The delegation thanks the Australian Embassy staff in Washington for developing and coordinating a first rate program. In particular the delegation thanks their US based escort, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hofman, for his patient insights into the US and its military culture. The delegation also wishes to thank the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Consulates in Hawaii and Los Angeles for their support and the benefit of their considerable experience.

Finally it is important to report one consistent message from the extensive series of meetings and visits undertaken by the delegation. In almost every agency visited by the delegation, the outstanding performance of the Australian Defence Force, alongside their alliance partners in training and on operations, was commented on favourably before any other topic of discussion. This performance earns Australia great credit around the world and all Australians should be proud of these achievements.


Senator Alan Ferguson ,

Chairman and Delegation Leader

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

Membership of the Committee


Senator A B Ferguson

Deputy Chair

Hon G J Edwards , MP


Senator the Hon N Bolkus (to 30/6/05 )

Hon D F Jull , MP


Senator G. Campbell (from 23/6/05 )



Senator the Hon P Cook (to 30/6/05 )

Hon J E Moylan , MP


Senator A Eggleston

Hon G D Prosser , MP


Senator B Harradine (to 30/6/05 )

Hon B C Scott , MP


Senator S Hutchins

Mr R C G Sercombe , MP


Senator D Johnston

Hon W E Snowdon, MP


Senator L J Kirk

Mr C.P. Thompson , MP


Senator K Lundy (to 23/6/05 )

Mr M B Turnbull , MP


Senator J A L Macdon al d (to 23/6/05 )

Ms M Vamvakinou, MP


Senator C.M. Moore (from 23/6/05 )

Mr B H Wakelin , MP


Senator M A Payne

Mr K W Wilkie , MP


Senator N. Scullion (from 17/8/05 )



Senator N J Stott Despoja



Senator R.S. Weber (from 23/6/05 )



Hon B G Baird , MP



Mr R C B al dwin , MP



Mr P A Barresi , MP



Mr M Danby , MP



Mrs T Draper , MP



Mrs J Gash , MP



Mr S W Gibbons , MP



Mr B W Haase , MP



Mr M Hatton , MP




Dr Margot Kerley


Defence Adviser

Lieutenant Colonel Fergus McLachlan


Membership of the Delegation

Leader (Chairman)

Senator A B Ferguson


Deputy Leader (Deputy Chair)

Hon G J Edwards , MP




Hon B C Scott , MP

Senator S Hutchins

Senator D Johnston


Mrs J Gash , MP

Mr S W Gibbons , MP


Secretary and Defence Adviser

Lieutenant Colonel Fergus ( Gus ) McLachlan



Delegation Escort (US)

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hofman


Inquiry Terms of reference

Since World War Two, Australia and the United States (US) have developed strong defence relations. In particular, the last decade and a half has seen a new level of defence involvement encompassing Australian participation in the first Gulf War, the invoking of the ANZUS Treaty, and Australian involvement in US led coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Defence Update 2003 commented that Australia’s alliance with the US ‘remains a national asset’ and the ‘ United States’ current political, economic, and military dominance adds further weight to the alliance relationship.’

How should the Australian-US alliance be developed to best meet each nation’s security needs both in the Asia Pacific region and globally focusing on but not limited to:

List of abbreviations


Australian Defence Force


Airborne Early Warning and Control (Aircraft)


Army Integrated Management Tank – Digital (M1 Abrams)


Areas of Responsibility

ANZUS Treaty

Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States


Air Warfare Destroyer


Defence Materiel Organisation


Defence Science and Technology Organisation


Expeditionary Warfare Centre (Raytheon)


Forward Looking Infra Red


Foreign Military Sales


Gross Domestic Product


Global War on Terror


Industry Capability Teams


International Military Education and Training


International Traffic in Arms Regulations


Joint, Combined Training Centre


Joint Strike Fighter


Joint Systems Manufacturing Centre


US Marine Forces Pacific


Marine Air Ground Task Force


Main Battle Tanks


1 st Marine Expeditionary Force


Marine Expeditionary Unit


RAND Corporation (Contraction of Research and Development)


Rim of the Pacific Exercise


Rules of Engagement


Republic of Korea


Special Air Service


Strategic Studies Institute


Small and Medium Enterprises


Unmanned Aerial Vehicle


United States of America


US Central Command


US Pacific Command


United States Navy


United States Ship

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