U.S Secretary of Defence travel to PNG, Australia next week


U.S Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin III will depart next week for a trip to Papua New Guinea and Australia.

As part of his eighth official visit to the Indo-Pacific region, Secretary Austin will travel to Papua New Guinea to meet with Prime Minister Marape, along with Minister for Defence Win Bakri Daki, Secretary for Defence Hari John Akipe, and Chief of Defence Force Major General Mark Goina. Notably, this will be the first-ever visit to Papua New Guinea by a sitting U.S Secretary of Defence.

Secretary Austin will discuss next steps following the recent signature of the U.S-Papua New Guinea Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), which reflects our partnership and our shared values as Pacific countries, the importance of ensuring the security and prosperity of the region, and our shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Secretary Austin will then travel to Australia to meet with his counterpart Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Minister for Defence Richard Marles, and other government leaders.

Austin and Marles will join Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong to participate in the 33rd annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) to advance our unprecedented cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and globally. This year’s AUSMIN will highlight, among numerous other topics, the historic progress our nations are making together on force posture modernization, defense industrial base cooperation, and regional security integration.

Also in Australia, Secretary Austin will visit U.S and Australian service members participating in Exercise Talisman Sabre, the United States’ largest military exercise with Australia. This exercise demonstrates the strong U.S.-Australia alliance, which has sustained cooperation and trust throughout decades of operating, training, and exercising together, and includes participants from every service in the DOD.

Every stop on the trip will highlight how since the start of the Biden Administration, the United States, allies, and partners across the Indo-Pacific region have made major investments in their own sources of national strength and in their shared ties — driving historic momentum toward a shared regional vision for peace, stability, and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific..

Meanwhile, a group of U.S soldiers is helping the Papua New Guinea Defence Force build a church at the Air Transport Wing in Port Moresby.

Work will also begin in the next few weeks on refurbishing a range for the Defence Force to improve training capabilities for local soldiers.

The U.S and PNG have partnered since 2016 on capacity-building training and infrastructure improvement exercises.

U.S embassy spokesman Damian Wampler said the U.S and PNG had partnered on this programme since 2016 at the request of the PNG government.

He said the U.S always played a supporting role.

While some members of the Task Force Koa Moana arrived early this month, more arrived Monday in Port Moresby.

Koa Moana marines and sailors are from the Marine Expeditionary Force.

They will help with a number of mutually agreed engineering projects and community engagements planned for the summer.

Koa Moana is a Hawaiian phrase meaning ocean warrior.

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Palau also requested to participate in the Task Force Koa Moana.