The Pine Gap listening station near Alice Springs
The West Australian district of Geraldton got marked up on China and Russia nuclear target lists yesterday, if they weren't there already.
The small town, 420 km north of Perth, is expected to become host to one of the most sensitive US military installations in Australia, if not the world.
Pity no-one told the mayor about it first.
For some three years, the Australian government and the Pentagon have been working on plans for the high-tech communications base, designed to act as a key link between geostationary Pentagon satellites.
Reports on this evening's news claimed the base would be 'unmanned'.
Who's going to guard it? Robots?
The base will play a key role in all future American wars in the Middle East and Asia, claimed one radio report.
Future American wars in Asia and the Middle East? How many are planned exactly?
Or just one real big quick one?
It's interesting to note that virtually no-one outside of the government or Defence Department, including the council of Geraldton, appears to have had any idea this facility was in the works.
Considering this will join the Pine Gap listening station, at Alice Springs, and the US submarine communications base in the North West Cape, as key targets for some international nuking should any of these proposed "future wars" become a reality, you might have supposed that Australians would have been told about all this long before the plans were finalised.
The building of this base, and the possibility of more US military bases to come, commits Australia to joining the United States in any future wars they may feel they need to wage.
Such a commitment is locked in solid (any opposition or debates will be democracy by wasted breath), as we could hardly expect to adopt a neutral status when we are an essential hub for United States military, spying, and surveillance capabilities across most of Asia, including China and Indonesia.
The announcement of the new base certainly solved some of the mystery of why General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff, was in Canberra and Sydney earlier in the week, and perhaps explains a bit more about exactly why US Vice President Dick Cheney is arriving in Australia in a few days time.
The official line is Cheney is hear to thank Australia, and Australian troops, for helping to fight the War On iraq.
Unofficially, he is also here to discuss how Australia might make use of the dozens of second-hand Abrams tanks we recently purchased from the United States.
The tanks were not designed for jungle warfare, or even for tooling along the muddy tracks of East Timor. These are desert tanks, perfectly suited for a desert somewhere like, say, the desert region along the border with Iran.
From The Melbourne Age :
(the base) will provide a crucial link for a new network of military satellites that will help the US's ability to fight wars in the Middle East and Asia.
The base...will control two of five geostationary satellites - those with the highest priority parked over the Indian Ocean to monitor the unstable Middle East. Building may start within months.
A visiting fellow at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Philip Dorling, said that once the base was operating it would be almost impossible for Australia to be fully neutral or stand back from any war in which the US was involved.
The network will provide frontline military units instantly with high quality intelligence information, graphics and maps. All this information will be carried in unbreakable codes.
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Defence Minister Brendan Nelson also took the opportunity to disclose that "talks were continuing" on proposals from the US Defence Department to build ground stations for an entity named the 'Mobile User Objective System'.
When Brendan Nelson says "might" in connection with US military plans in Australia, we know to translate this as "definitely will happen".
More ground stations might be built at other locations in Australia, he said.
Said General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff, of his visit to Australia :
"The thing you always get out of these meetings is a greater understanding of our joint endeavors...
"We talked extensively about Iraq, Afghanistan and some of the other areas around the world where we are being challenged by forces that stand for something completely opposite to what we believe in.
"We believe in a free and democratic world, a world where people can pursue their own interests in a free and open way.
"I think we share the same value set, and we stand against the people who want to change that."
Pace is being purposely vague, but I think he's talking about New Zealand.
Promises To Allow Australia Access To Intelligence From New Base
Australians Are Overdue For A Debate On The Nature Of The "Security" We Get From The American Alliance