Tuesday, 14 July 2015

"It's sabRE, you idiots"

The biennial Exercise Talisman Sabre is on again. For twenty days, forces from Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Japan will storm, shoot and manoeuvre their way across our northern shores and eastern islands.

Although ostensibly for "training" purposes, joint exercises such as Talisman Sabre are as much about communicating intentions to the region as for testing operational readiness. The fairly pointed, if token, inclusion of 40 personnel from Japan means this year's exercises will be even more closely monitored by our regional neighbours, particularly China.

The ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea is a test for both the US and China, both wary of the other and of the potential for a catastrophic misstep. With Asia now key to the US's strategic future, I personally doubt we will see any less of a commitment to Vietnam and the Philippines (and Japan) in this dispute than the US showed to Taiwan in 1996.

Time will tell.

In the meantime, the Khaki PM is in his RM soaking up the NT sun and avoiding saying anything about Japanese troops invading the Australian mainland.

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