Australian cooperation with America's ongoing military and humanitarian operations in Iraq is just the latest example of a deep alliance that has flourished for over six decades. In recent weeks, Canberra joined Washington in authorizing humanitarian airdrops to the stranded Yazidi population, while officials from both sides met to further long-term defense cooperation. With a rising Indo-Pacific region, America's pivot to Asia and new pressure on the rules-based international order, now is the time to elevate the U.S.-Australia alliance. Basing U.S. Navy vessels in Western Australia would be a good start.
Close ties with Australia have long served as a pillar of American strategy, and for good reason. Well before the two nations signed an alliance in 1951, they fought alongside one another in World War I and together turned back aggression in World War II. U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson once opined that a formal compact seemed unnecessary, so plain was America's commitment to Australia's defense. The United States and Australia have fought together in every significant conflict of the past century, and this record is likely to continue.
It was no accident that in 2011 President Obama chose Canberra to highlight his administration's policy of rebalancing to Asia, including by enhancing the U.S. Marine and Air Force presence rotating through the Northern Territory. By 2020, up to 2,500 Marines will be exercising and training in Australia, a presence that builds on decades of close intelligence cooperation.