In a sign of the continuing strength of the Australia/US relationship, the 2018 AUSMIN meeting has seen agreements reached on key areas providing promise for Australian industry and academic institutions.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne, emphasised both nations’ strong and deepening engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. They made clear their commitment to work together and with other key partners to shape an Indo-Pacific that is open, inclusive, prosperous and rules-based.
Minister Payne highlighted the role innovation has played in strengthening the Australia/US friendship, while also setting the tone of the outcome, saying, "Whether indeed it was Monash’s groundbreaking tactics a hundred years ago at the Battle of Hamel when he led United States troops for the first time, or the joint development programs that we’re undertaking today across so many fields – the Poseidon P-8, the Triton, the Growler, just as examples – we continue to innovate and to collaborate to ensure that our alliance is relevant to and, most particularly, ready for today’s challenges."
A key outcome of discussions in Palo Alto is a joint work plan that advances shared strategic interests of Australia and the US in the Indo-Pacific region, which has diplomatic, security and economic dimensions, including:
- Planning for a Civil Space Dialogue between the Australian and US space industries to take place before the end of 2018 to increase co-operation on civilian space applications and promote commercial space activities;
- Fully implement the Force Posture Initiatives and expand training engagement with regional military partners through the Force Posture Initiatives between the US and Australian military forces in Australia;
- Co-ordinate efforts to raise the number of US Marines in Marine Rotation Force Darwin to its full complement of 2,500 as soon as practicable;
- Develop and implement a plan to counter the growth of advanced missile threats to mutual security interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Strengthen defence collaboration on hypersonics through technology and concept development, and the testing and validation of high-speed flight technologies; and
- Implement a cyber MOU signed by Secretary Mattis and Minister Payne to conduct research, development, testing and evaluation of cyber space capabilities.
Secretary Mattis and Minister Payne committed to strengthening defence collaboration in science and technology, and signed an MOU to perform critical research and development of advanced cyber capabilities. Under this MOU, Australia and the US will be able to jointly leverage each other's strengths and technical expertise to collaboratively develop tools and software to address cyber and other security threats.
Expanding on the importance of the MOU regarding cyber security capabilites, Minister Payne said, "Nowhere, in fact, as Secretary Mattis has mentioned, is the need for innovation more critical than in cyber, which continues to be a pervasive threat to our militaries and to our businesses. So we have signed an MOU today to deepen cyber security co-operation so that we’re able to jointly develop the tools and the software that we need to both protect and defend against cyber threats."
Secretary Mattis said, “We have also partnered on defence innovation. There, we will explore all opportunities for deeper defence industry collaboration now that Australia is included in the US national technology and industrial base."