The Solomons Islands security agreement with China led to paroxysms of ‘serious concern’ about militarisation of the Pacific. 3 days before the Pacific Island Forum convened, 4 US B-2 nuclear-capable stealth bombers deployed on rotation in Australia. I know what worries me most.
Much was made in the concerns about the Solomons expressed by Jacinda Ardern and Anthony Albanese that security issues should be discussed in the Pacific Islands Forum,” and the notion that Pacific countries should make their security decisions openly and by consensus.
The B-2 deployment was part of the agreements reached between Australia and the US at the time the AUKUS nuclear submarine project was announced. Nobody in the Pacific was consulted in advance about that agreement, indeed I posted at the time it was made that the associated force position arrangements were probably the more important.
The B-2 aircraft are long-range nuclear-capable bombers. They are offensive weapons directed at China. Basing in Australia offers range advantages, as they are outside the currently-known range of Chinese missiles.
US Air Force 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard said that the B-2 aircraft deployment shows the lethality of the long-range penetrating strike force.
The multi-role stealth bomber can deploy conventional and nuclear warheads.
The B2 bombers plan to train for ‘hot refuelling’ with Australian tankers.
This is a long-planned strategic shift. No-one in the Pacific was consulted, and in my opinion it significantly lessens rather than increases our security.