After two days of talks in Australia, the US and Australian governments announced they will form a “Combined Intelligence Center” to give the US more spy capabilities in the region to monitor China.
“The principals agreed to establish Combined Intelligence Center – Australia within Australia’s Defense Intelligence Organization by 2024,” the US and Australia said in a joint statement.
“The Center would further enhance the long-standing intelligence cooperation between the Australian Defence Intelligence Organization and the US Defense Intelligence Agency, focused on analyzing issues of shared strategic concern in the Indo-Pacific,” the statement added.
While the statement did not mention China by name, the US’s military buildup in Australia and elsewhere in the region is being done explicitly to prepare for a future war with China.
According to Australia’s ABC News, officials from the Defense Intelligence Agency and their Australian counterparts have said the center is expected to “focus sharply on China’s military footprint in the region and its moves to cement security ties with countries across Asia and the Pacific.”
The spy center is part of a broader increase in the US’s military footprint in Australia that was announced during Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s visit to Canberra.
The two countries said the US would help Australia begin producing guided missiles and rockets by 2025. “The principals agreed to deepen cooperation on Australia’s Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise by collaborating on a flexible guided weapons production capability in Australia, with an initial focus on the potential for co-production of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems by 2025,” the statement said.
The US will also ramp up submarine deployments to Australia and begin regular rotations of US Army watercraft. Australian officials raised the issue of WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange during the meetings, but Blinken rejected Canberra’s concerns. If extradited to the US, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison for exposing US war crimes.