U.S. and Australia Defense Policy and Strategy Talks: The Joint Statement

The United States and Australia held the inaugural Defense Policy and Strategy Talks on May 6, 2020, with U.S. co-chairs David Helvey (Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs) and Vic G. Mercado (Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities), and Australian co-chairs Hugh Jeffrey (First Assistant Secretary, International Policy) and Celia Perkins (First Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy).

The candor and breadth of the talks are clear testimony to the adaptability of the U.S.-Australia Alliance in responding to new and emerging strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific. U.S. and Australian co-chairs were united in their commitment to sustain the high level of coordination and collaboration within the U.S.-Australia Alliance – the Unbreakable Alliance.

The Alliance senior officials affirmed their shared vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is open, inclusive, rules-based and respectful of sovereignty, and where disputes are resolved peacefully and free of coercion. They emphasized their commitment to maintain a strong presence in the Indo-Pacific and address activities that undermine regional security.

They also agreed that now is a time for heightened international cooperation, and underlined their strong support for partners throughout the region to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, as well as ensure they have the strategic space to make decisions in their national interests.

Senior officials agreed that the Alliance remained resilient and responsive in a challenging, complex environment and discussed efforts underway to enhance interoperability, consulting on a range of defense initiatives and activities.

They welcomed the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin proceeding this year, committed to leveraging the full capabilities of the Alliance to support common priorities and achieve Alliance objectives. They underscored the close relationship between the United States and Australia – prepared to move forward, shoulder-to-shoulder, into the next 100 years of mateship.