Australia is seeking to broaden and deepen its defence relationship with the United States.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews, in a speech on Thursday, cited enhanced ability for Australian and US military forces to work together, more joint exercises and the maintenance of high levels of mission readiness.
Both nations were now examining a range of practical options to boost naval cooperation, on top of the training of US Marines in Australia’s north and training visits by the US Air Force, he said.
In a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Canberra, Mr Andrews said the upcoming white paper would set out the future for a defence force that was potent, agile and ready to respond.
The white paper, the top level Defence planning document, is set to be released in October.
“Through this white paper, the government will seek to broaden and deepen our Alliance with the United States, recognising that the US Alliance will remain fundamental to our security and defence planning and the highest priority for our international cooperation,” Mr Andrews said.
Australia recognised the tangible steps the US had taken to rebalance its strategic interests to the Indo-Pacific region, he said.
That included modernising and enhancing alliances with regional nations, such as updating the partnership with a more outward looking Japan.
Mr Andrews said US force posture initiatives presented a unique opportunity to enhance military interoperability, exercise joint capabilities and “demonstrate our mutual resolve in maintaining force readiness under the Alliance.”
Another possible move is expanding cooperation through the Australia-US Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty, an agreement finalised in 2013 which makes it easier for Australia to access US defence technology.
More than 50 Australian companies are now approved under this agreement.
“Now is the time to move to the next phase of implementation and look at opportunities to enhance the operation of the Treaty,” Mr Andrews said.