Guam – After spending 4 days in Hawaii, President Barack Obama flies onto Australia Tuesday [Wednesday Guam time] where he is expected to officially announce a deal to rotate U.S. Marines through an Australian military base in Darwin.
The defense agreement is also expected to include positioning of U.S. equipment and supplies in Australia as well as increasing U.S. access to Australian bases and conducting more joint exercises and training with the Australian military.
Analysts view the agreement as a sign of heightened concern about China's growing military strength and a signal from Washington to its allies in the Pacific that the United States will not cut back its security presence in the region, despite the budget cutting mood in the U.S. capitol.
The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Sydney University Professor Ala Dupont as saying that the decision to allow Marines to train in Australia "is all about the rise of China," and "about the increased vulnerability of US forces in Japan and Guam to the new generation of Chinese missiles.''
Dupont also told the Herald that: ''The new Chinese missiles could threaten them in a way they've never been able to before, so the US is starting to reposition them to make them less vulnerable. Australia's 'tyranny of distance' is now a distinct strategic advantage.''
It is not clear yet whether or not the agreement with Australia will mean a reduction of the planned U.S. Marine deployment to Guam.
President Obama will officially make the announcement with Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, when they visit Darwin this coming Thursday. Obama 's visit to Australia also marks the 60th anniversary of the Australia, New Zealand U.S. Alliance [ANZUS].
In addition, while he is in Australia, Obama will deliver a speech to the Australian parliament in Canberra.
After Australia, President Obama wraps up his trip with a stop on the Indonesian island of Bali.