Wednesday 1st of February 2023

bombers ahoy!!! kiss your aussie arse goodbye.......

In an arc of militarisation across northern Australia, successive Australian governments, in close concert with the United States, have responded to the rise of a newly assertive China in terms that constitute an almost historically irrevocable opposition to any accommodation with China as a regional great power.


BY Richard Tanter


From the high-technology bases cluster along the length of North West Cape in Western Australia, to the port and barracks and air base of Darwin, to the newly joint RAAF-US Air Force base of Tindal outside Katherine, and to the deepening commitment to US global military operations, conventional and nuclear, of a rapidly expanding Pine Gap outside Alice Springs, Australia is joining the United States in preparation for war with China, most immediately over a war over Taiwan. 

In the midst of this rush to join forces, in Canberra there is not only a lack of assessment of whether or not Australia’s strategic interests and those of the US actually align over the Taiwan issue, but Canberra increasingly seems drawn in a US-centred widespread sense that war, at some time soon, is necessary and inevitable. 

The hard-wiring of northern Australian military facilities into the US force structure drastically reduces the freedom of action of an independently-minded Australian government focused on the defence of Australia. 

This is visible already in the Albanese government’s continuation of the Morrison government’s integration into US-dominated NATO. 

Pine Gap, already large and now growing more rapidly than ever before, will play an irreplaceable role in all US military operations from Africa to the Pacific and everything in between, both conventional and nuclear

Australian governments have long known, though rarely even hinted publicly, that they have known for half a century that Pine Gap was – and is – a high priority Soviet/Russian nuclear target in the event of major conflict with the US. The base remains so today for China, with the uncomforting caveat that China has roughly the same number of priority targets as Russia, but less than a tenth the number of long-range nuclear missiles that would be up to the task.

B-52s come to RAAF Tindal to stay

Moreover, the Morrison government’s 2020 commitment of $1.1 bn for the United States Force Posture Initiative Airfield Works Project Elements at RAAF Base Tindal has apparently been put on hold by the Pentagon’s new plans for a B-52 Bomber Task Force on permanent rotation from their home base in Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. 

According to Pentagon tender documents released by the ABC’s Four Corners, the US is planning yet further development at Tindal – beyond that acknowledged by the Australian government – for a USAF B-52 bomber task force on permanent rotation including, according to Pentagon tender documents, an ‘aircraft parking apron to accommodate six B-52s’, a USAF ‘squadron operations facility’, plus USAF maintenance centre, fuel dump, and ammunition depot.

B-52s have been landing at RAAF Darwin regularly since 2013 after the Gillard-Obama Darwin basing agreement, but expansion of Tindal to meet USAF requirements for B-52 deployments would make permanent presence possible.




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BY Mike Scrafton


It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Australia is not just complicit in, but committed to, America’s nuclear war planning.

Hints that this was the case were buried in the fine print of the AUKUS deal, but the controversy over the nuclear submarines sucked up most of the oxygen around the agreement. Without public debate it seems that Australia has meekly and comprehensively, and without ceremony or scrutiny, handed the war decision to the US.

Allowing B-52 bombers to be based at RAAF Tindal has escaped any serious media or parliamentary examination of the role they might play in a crisis in the South China Sea. Australians have not been informed about the concept of operations for these nuclear-armed aircraft or what their roles would be in a crisis. The relevance of their capabilities and their range are apparently beyond the media capacity to enquire about from politicians.

The B-52s are American long range, subsonic, strategic bombers that can carry both very significant conventional and nuclear armaments. The B-52s have gone through many iterations and upgrades since they were introduced into service in the 1950s. The current version has a combat range of around 14,200 kilometres and a cruising speed of roughly 1,000 kph.

The B-52s can carry approximately 31,500 kg of mixed ordnance, including bombs, smart weapons, mines and air-launched cruise missiles. In a conventional conflict, the B-52H can undertake air interdiction, offensive counter-air and maritime operations. They can perform anti-ship and mine-laying operations. But, their nuclear warfare capability is the most obvious reason for their deployment to Australia.

B-52s are capable of employing the AGM-86B with a W80 thermonuclear warhead, with yields up to 150 kilotons. In addition, the US Air Force has this year successfully tested the AGM-183 ARRW hypersonic air-to-ground glide missile from B-52s. The combination of missile defence suppression ability and long range nuclear armed cruise missiles make them a formidable asset in a nuclear conflict.

To conduct effective maritime operations the B-52s would have to launch before the conflict began given the 3 to 4 hour transit time required to get to the South China Sea/Taiwan Straits. This would seriously limit their tactical value for conventional operations. More likely, the B-52s’ role is as part of a second strike response once the conflict has gone nuclear.

That means the B-52s would need to be launched before things went nuclear in a crisis to avoid being caught on the ground in a preemptive strike. The survivability of second strike assets is critical in nuclear war planning. Presumably an adversary intending to go nuclear would plan on preemptively taking out the B-52s at Tindal by ballistic or by air or submarine launched missiles. A corollary of this is that Australia must have already given pre-approval for the B-52s to launch as this is the only basis on which the Americans would see sense in basing the aircraft at RAAF Tindal.

What is astounding is the complete failure of the Albanese government to explain the benefits and risks to Australia from simply continuing with the previous government’s disastrous strategic decisions. Bipartisanship in defence muffles debate rather than producing effective public discussion of Australia’s plans. The B-52s are part of the US’s nuclear capability. The government must know this. It must know that in the event of an East Asian crisis Australia automatically becomes a target, and possibly a nuclear one.

How did Australia come to this? And why?









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By Sam Varghese


Former Liberal prime minister John Howard used to be often contemptuously referred to as the deputy sheriff for the US in the Pacific region when George W. Bush was in power.

Given the news that the US is now preparing to send six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Australia, one would be totally justified if the same title was applied to Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday focused on the build-up of these nuclear-capable planes, and the level of jingoism in the report was quite easy to detect.

The US and its allies have been spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about China for years and this step is apparently aimed at keeping the region safe.

The ABC’s Angus Grigg interviewed people from a number of American neoliberal think-tanks, all of whom seemed supremely confident that Washington would defeat Beijing in the event that a war was fought over Taiwan. Some months ago, Professor Hugh White, an academic, provided a different perspective in an issue of the Quarterly Essay which was titled Sleepwalk to war. But Four Corners had no time for such wimpish thinking.

But Grigg failed to discuss one important aspect of this kind of threatening build-up: the fact that China is still Australia’s biggest export market.

What would be the impact on Australia if it lost most of its exports? What would Australia do if China attacked obvious war resources like the Pine Gap intelligence base?

The Americans are well-known for making other nations serve as cannon fodder for their imperial adventures. The most recent examples of this are Iraq and Afghanistan where Washington picked fights that it ended up losing.

But the Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, who also functions as defence minister. seems to be following the Harold Holt doctrine: all the way with LBJ. Only this time it is not LBJ, but another doddering Democrat.

What happens if, as widely expected, the Republicans take over in 2024? For starters, there are predictions that they will control the US Congress after the mid-term elections on 8 November.

Four Corners did not canvass this aspect, though one should, ideally, think a little ahead when committing to policies that could have an adverse effect on the country. The whole theme of the program seemed to be: “The B-52s are coming and that is good for Australia.”

Grig blithely waltzed over calling China’s take on matters “propaganda” while forgetting that the Americans are the masters of this dark art. He referred to China doubling its defence budget in recent times, but failed to mention that the American defence budget is close to US$800 billion. Who said the ABC does not provide a balanced perspective?

Nobody from the Australian Government issued so much as a statement about nuclear weapons being deployed on Australian soil. It is shameful that all the big talkers in Canberra stayed silent.

Australians are prone to poke fun at New Zealand, but that small country appears to have more cojones than this entire nation. It continues to stand against nuclear weapons being deployed on its land or waters. Even the famed nuclear submarines that Australia has found itself locked into will not be allowed into New Zealand’s territorial waters.

As an Australian passport-holder, one cannot but hang one’s head in shame.


Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age).







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hidden expenditure....

The Department of Defence is refusing to confirm how many American troops are stationed in Australia, who pays for it, or even why. The rising deployment of troops and B-52 bombers however, and Pine Gap, make Australia a target in event of war between China and the US. Callum Foote reports.

The Department of Defence has refused to reply to inquiries into how many US military personnel are currently stationed in Australia. It’s not just soldiers, it’s weapons too.

An ABC Four Corners investigation recently revealed that the US is preparing to develop the Tindal air base near Katherine, 320kms south of Darwin, to host up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers. Today it was revealed the US is trying to sell Australia the latest American bomber, the B-21 Raider, and rotate the aircraft through Australia. 

Experts fear that the stockpiling of US weaponry in the Northern Territory would make Australia a target in the event of war between China and the US.

Despite the escalating presence of US troops and military hardware on Australian soil however, the Department of Defence has refused to reply to inquiries into how many US military personnel are currently stationed in Australia. Refused to reply full-stop.

We don’t even know who is funding it.

And as Chinese satellites could pick up the deployment of troops and US military installations, the secrecy is unwarranted.

B-52s here for the long haul

According to independent think tank Lowy Institute, B-52s have been deployed in the Northern Territory since at least the 1970s and military personnel training regularly in Australia since 2005. 

The federal government has yet been unclear about the purpose of the deployment of the bombers in Australia. However, experts believe that the rising tensions between China and the US in the South China Sea is cause for alarm.

Alison Broinowski, the president of Australians for War Powers Reform, an anti-war advocacy group, says her network is concerned about the rising militarisation of the Northern Territory.

“We’re all very concerned about this,’’ Broinowski told MWM. ‘’It’s not new of course – the signs of it being planned go back for years. But we are particularly concerned about what’s going on now and the speed with what’s going on now. As well as about how little we know or are being told.”

Broinowski is a former diplomat, academic and author. A significant amount of her opposition to the militarisation of the NT comes down to secrecy.

“The very fact that it was undertaken in secret and would remain secret were it not for revelations from journalists we still wouldn’t know because they are doing this in secret,’’ Broinowski said.

If they were proud of what they’re doing, and if they were to say these are the reasons we are doing it and this is how it makes Australia safer they would say so. But they don’t say so, in other words, they know that there will be resistance to this, that there will be suspicions about it that people don’t trust it and that many people are actually afraid of the implications of what’s going on in the Northern Territory, what’s going on in the Tindal Air Base and elsewhere.

Political commentator and former diplomat Bruce Haigh suspects the oft-cited number of 2500 rotating US troops stationed in Australia doesn’t paint the full picture.

“They give the official figure at 2500 and say that they rotate but I understood that those troops are becoming more permanent.”

To the purpose of the thousands of US marines stationed in Darwin, Haigh says, officially, it’s for joint training exercises with the Australian Defence Force but we don’t know”.

A lot of money being spent on upgrading these bases hasn’t yet gone through the parliamentary committee system so we don’t know where in the Defence budget this money is coming from.





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