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US General travels to Australia

Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin (left) and U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talk at the first global meeting on countering violent extremist groups. (DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann).

One of the most senior figures of the US Armed Forces slipped in and out of Australia this week, visiting Darwin and Sydney.

While in Australia, Marine Corps General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with US Marines deployed to the Northern Territory's Air Force Base Darwin and spoke with Chief of the Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, Chief of the Australian Defence Force at the Admiralty House in Sydney.

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Two military leaders discussed a wide range of topics, including terrorism and regional security.

"The US-Australia alliance plays a critical role in maintaining peace and stability in the region and the visit served to strengthen that alliance as the US and Australia increase collaboration in counter-terrorism efforts and regional capacity building among other areas of mutual interest," US officials said in a statement on the Joint Chiefs of Staff news website.

The US has bolstered its presence in the Indo-Pacific region in recent years with some 60 per cent of the US Air Force based in the region. The Navy is approaching 60 percent of its capabilities in the Indo-Pacific as well, with more than 50,000 US service members based in Japan, and another 28,000 in South Korea. US Pacific Command officials said there are more than 350,000 US service members in its area of operations.

Dunford said rhetoric around the US' diminishing power in the Pacific is not correct.

"You cannot dispute the facts from a security perspective about US presence in the Pacific, US commitment in the Pacific and US capability in the Pacific,” Dunford said in the statement to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Certainly the physical evidence from a military dimension reflects that we are not a declining power."

Along with meeting Dunford, ACM Binskin and New Zealand Defence Chief Lieutenant General Tim Keating also co-hosted a number of defence chiefs in Sydney, Canberra and Wellington for a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings this week.

The chiefs met to discuss broader global security, including the ongoing campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, regional security issues and defence engagement. The meetings built on ACMl Binskin’s recent discussions with counterparts at last month’s NATO Chiefs of Defence meeting.
 
During their respective visits to Canberra, General Marc Compernol (Belgium), General Bjørn Bisserup (Denmark) and Admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen (Norway) also attended the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.

US General travels to Australia
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