Australian and U.S. service members stand side by side on just about every battlefield around the globe, and the meeting between Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds in the Pentagon yesterday sought to deepen that alliance.
Esper noted that his first trip as defense secretary was to the Indo-Pacific region and his first counterpart visit was with Reynolds in Sydney. The visits symbolize the emphasis both countries place on the theater and the alliance.
Australia works closely with the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout the Indo-Pacific. "We share many, many decades of 'mateship' together," Esper said. "We have shared values, shared interests, and frankly, shared approaches to many challenges we face around the world."
Reynolds said the United States and Australia put together an ambitious work program during the previous meeting, and this meeting was a chance to measure the progress made in it. "We also had the opportunity to discuss shared deployments and the things that we are doing globally and in the Indo-Pacific."
China's actions in the South China Sea concern both nations. Reynolds said Australia has a close economic relationship with China, "but, like with any country, we expect all countries to accord with international law and to do so peacefully."
Esper said the U.S. National Defense Strategy emphasizes America's principal concern is the Indo-Pacific region. "In order to implement that, I need to engage more, I need to redeploy forces to the area, I need to be more present in the region as well."