U.S., Australia Agree to Increase Counterterrorism Cooperation
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 17, 2006 A new agreement between the United States and Australia opens the door to more information sharing and cooperation in research and development related to combating terrorism.
Ambassador at Large Henry Crumpton (standing), the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator, looks on as Thomas O'Connell (left), assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, and Peter Shergold, Australia's secretary for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, sign a memorandum of understanding promoting counterterrorism cooperation May 17. Photo by Donna Miles
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Thomas O'Connell, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, and Peter Shergold, Australia's secretary for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, today at the Pentagon signed a memorandum of understanding that promotes closer counterterrorism collaboration between the two countries.
The MOU provides cost sharing over the next 10 years for combined research and development across technology areas and activities. These will focus on identifying and detecting terrorists and terrorist groups, foiling their efforts, neutralizing their weapons, and reducing the probability of terrorist incidents.
The bilateral agreement is similar to those already in place between the United States and the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel and Singapore.
O'Connell called today's agreement "a significant effort" between the U.S. and Australian governments that will enable them to share more sensitive, proprietary information as they collaborate in fighting terror. The association is particularly meaningful to O'Connell, who served alongside Australian forces as a soldier during the Vietnam War.
"This advances the partnership between our two countries in a very tangible way," said Ambassador at Large Henry Crumpton, the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator.
The agreement enables the United States to tap into Australia's extensive technological, intelligence and special operations capabilities to better serve warfighters and first responders on the front lines against terror, he said. "This agreement is geared to the field," he said.
Australia's representatives at the signing ceremony agreed the memorandum represents a win-win in the war on terror. "This is tremendous from our point of view, and continues the process of binding together two strong allies," Shergold said. "It offers a real opportunity for us to work together at the preventive end, to prevent and combat the effects of terrorism."
Gary Quinlan, Australia's deputy chief of mission to the United States, said the agreement represents "a new frontier" in cooperation between the two countries as they wage what both recognize as a long war that demands endurance.
Australia remains one of the United States' "closest partners in the global war on terror" and stands "on the front line against terrorism in Southwest Asia," he said.
Pooling their resources and promoting collaborative research and development will enable the two countries to build on their strengths as they stand up to terrorists. "We have to be able to defeat these people," Quinlan said.
The Technical Support Working Group will manage the arrangement in the U. S. DoD's Office of Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict and the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism jointly administer this interagency research-and-development activity. In Australia, the National Security Science and Technology Unit within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will administer the program.
Today's memorandum of understanding signing comes one day after President Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard met at the White House and affirmed their commitment to fighting terrorism and promoting freedom around the world.