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US strategists wanted to push firepower limits in Perth plan

A PROPOSAL to host an entire US carrier battle group of up to 10 warships in Perth was part of an exercise to establish exactly how far the US could ramp up its firepower in the Asia-Pacific, the plan's authors say.

"We wanted to sort of help the members of Congress and the Pentagon . . . to think about how much we really can push your force posture," said Michael Green, an Asia specialist at the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Dr Green and his colleague David Berteau were commissioned by the US Defence Department to write a report about the US military's so-called "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific for a 21st century expected to be marked by the rise of China and India as global superpowers.

One of the proposals in the report was placing a US carrier battle group at Australia's largest naval base, HMAS Stirling, in Western Australia, in order to provide easy access to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.

"We looked at it and we thought that would be a lot of firepower," Dr Green told the Herald. "And so, if we think of it only in those terms, why not?"

Earlier, Dr Green and Mr Berteau told the US Congress's armed services committee that the US Defence Department needed to better articulate where it planned to place its troops in the Asia-Pacific.


"The department would do well to integrate its strategic guidance for the region and be more candid about the assumptions and goals," the authors said. Their testimony came as The Washington Post published an article describing a small office in the Pentagon that has spent two decades planning for war against an increasingly powerful China.

The Office of Net Assessment is run by 91-year-old Andrew Marshall, who the Post reports has masterminded a war plan some say is designed with China in mind, called "Air-Sea Battle".

"Stealthy American bombers and submarines would knock out China's long-range surveillance radar and precision missile systems located deep inside the country. The initial 'blinding campaign' would be followed by a larger air and naval assault," the Post reported.

The US Defence Department said yesterday it was focused on its Marine and air force co-operation in Darwin.

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