Australians and Americans have fought side by side in every major U.S. military conflict of the past century, including World Wars I & II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and in present-day operations against violent extremist organizations like Al Qaida, the Islamic State, and their global affiliates. This close partnership was first formalized with the Australia, New Zealand, United States (ANZUS) Security Treaty of 1951. Almost 70 years later, the Treaty remains the foundation of our security relationship with Australia.
The United States and Australia cooperate closely both bilaterally and via regional fora like the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad – together with Japan and India) and ASEAN to advance the stability, security, and prosperity of all states in the Indo-Pacific region. We are working together to maintain pressure on the DPRK, strengthen regional information sharing and maritime security, counter terrorism and transnational crime, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Australia’s 2020 Defense Strategic Update supports a robust U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific, the provision of U.S. extended deterrence, as well as plans to make the Australian Defence Force more capable of independent operations. Australia is on track to meet its commitment to growing its defense budget to two percent of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020-21, providing $42.2 billion of funding to defense in 2020-21. This defense budget will grow over the next ten years to $73.7 billion in 2029-30 with total funding of $575 billion over the decade. This total includes around $270 billion in defense capability investment, compared to $195 billion for the decade 2016-2026 when the 2016 Defense White Paper was released.
Australia is one of America’s largest defense customers, supporting thousands of jobs in the United States and maximizing our joint defense capability. The United States is Australia’s defense goods and services partner of choice and with Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update increasing its 10-year defense budget by 40% to $186 billion, the partnership is expected to deepen further over the coming decade, including in the area of defense industry cooperation.
The U.S. has over $27 billion in active government-to-government sales cases with Australia under the FMS system. FY 2020 FMS sales totaled $1.71 billion. FMS sales notified to Congress are listed here, and recent and significant implemented sales include: Apache helicopters, MQ-9B UAS, Chinook helicopters, M1 Abrams Tanks, M825A1 155mm White Phosphorous projectile munitions, M782 Multi-Option Fuze for Artillery, M762A1 electronic-timed fuzes, M231 and M232A2 propelling charges, 200 Javelin FGM-148E missiles 200 AGM-158C, Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs), long lead items and other defense services to support the Australian Surface Combatant Program, Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare Increment 1 Block 1 (JCREW I1B1) Systems and equipment, AEGIS Combat System equipment, MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet upgrades, ALE-70 Radio Frequency Countermeasures, plus assorted missiles, bombs, and tank ammunition.
In FY 2020, the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) approved $3.57 billion in Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) licenses for the permanent export of U.S. Munitions List (USML) defense articles and services to Australia. The top USML categories for sales were aircraft and related articles; electronics; and gas turbine engines and associated equipment. Australia is also one of two countries that have a Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty with United States that permits the license-free export of certain defense articles between the countries in support of combined military operations, cooperative defense research, and other projects for government end-use.
The United States and Australia have the following agreements: Agreement concerning the Status of United States Forces in Australia (SOFA) of 1963, Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) of 1989, The Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) of 2010, Treaty concerning Defense Trade Cooperation of 2013, and the Force Posture Agreement of 2015.
Australian involvement in peacekeeping operations has been diverse, and includes participation in both United Nations sponsored missions, as well as through coalitions. Since the mid-1990s, Australia has been involved in nearly 100 separate operations, deploying more than 30,000 personnel to support missions including those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia, and East Timor.
Since 2012, more than 8,000 US Marines have served in Darwin to train alongside the Australian Defense Force. The rotational force reached its full complement of 2,500 Marines for the first time by July 2019.
The United States and Australia also conduct Exercise Talisman Sabre, a joint, biennial military exercise designed to train military forces from both nations to plan and conduct Combined Task Force operations and improve their interoperability and combat readiness. Talisman Sabre 2019 was the eighth iteration of the exercise and consists of a Field Training Exercise incorporating logistics, amphibious landings, land force maneuver, urban operations, air operations, maritime operations, and Special Forces activities.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.