Politics

President Obama to Focus on U.S. Military Presence in Australia

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA -- President Obama arrived in Australia Wednesday for a day and a half trip that will focus heavily on U.S. military presence, and the shared alliance between the two countries.

This is the president's third attempt to visit Australia, after having to twice scrap the plans last year first because of the heated health care debate and later because of the BP oil spill.

Obama will be giving a major address to the Australian parliament which aides say will be the "anchor speech" of the trip.

He is expected to talk about the alliance between the two countries, the U.S.' defense posture, laud Australia as a successful democracy for the region, and also about his broader vision for the Asia-Pacific area.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Obama will announce an agreement on a new and permanent U.S. Military presence in Australia.

Some think it's goal is to counter China's influence.

In response to that, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said, "I think there's a range of factors that lead us to want to increase our cooperation with Australia and to ensure that we have an appropriate military posture in the Asia Pacific, and that runs the gambit."

But many are still speculating there's more to it after China recently enhanced its naval power and sent its first aircraft carrier to sea within the last month.

Before the trip, National Security Spokesman Tommy Vietor said last September Secretaries Clinton and Panneta were working on some possible plans on force postures that would benefit national security for both countires. He said, "They discussed a number of options aimed at positioning the military forces of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and to enhance their ability to work with the armed forces of regional partners."

The plan would like involve beefing up U.S. Naval operations and give troops access to Australian facilities sources told the WSJ.

It is unclear the full dollar amount for this venture, or if it will be a cost or saving. This is especially critical as the Defense department is facing steep cuts, and even more if the Congressional so-called super committee fails to reached a deal next week.

The White House is making a commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, which Obama underscored at the APEC summit in Hawaii, saying it has enormous economic growth potential.

Officials noted the drawdown of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan allows both Australia and the U.S. The ability to refocus on Asia.

Obama will first stop in the Australian capital of Canberra before heading to the northern territory of Darwin, where he will address Australian troops.

He'll be marking the 60th anniversary of the U.S/Australian military alliance throughout the trip.

The president will also participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at an Australian war memorial and visit a primary school.