Updated December 21st, 2023 at 15:08 IST
‘Won't send ship or plane’, says Marles but pledges 11 personnel for US-led Red Sea mission
Australia pledged support to US-led Red Sea mission with a mere 11 personnel, reinforcing its presence amid concerns about Yemeni threats to commercial shipping
Canberra: Australia has pledged its support to a US-led mission aimed at safeguarding cargo shipping in the Red Sea. Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles confirmed the dispatch of 11 military personnel but clarified that Australia will not deploy a warship or aircraft. This decision is grounded in the need to maintain focus on the Pacific region.
"We won't be sending a ship or a plane. That said, we will be almost tripling our contribution to the combined maritime force," highlighted Marles, underlining the strategic importance of directing military efforts toward the northeast Indian Ocean, the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Pacific.
The actual increase in Australian personnel to strengthen the presence will see 11 military members joining the current five stationed in Bahrain at the mission's headquarters by January. Marles underscored Australia's commitment as a military ally to the United States. He referred to the recent US legislation enabling the sale of Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines to Australia as further reinforcement of this partnership under a security pact involving Britain.
Regarding opposition to sending warships, Marles dismissed criticism from lawmakers, labelling such claims as "patently ridiculous." He reiterated the necessity of preserving Australia's defence force in the Asia-Pacific region.
However, opposition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie advocated for Australia to send a warship, citing national interest and the importance of reciprocal support. "It's in our national interest to contribute. If we want others to help us in a time of need, we need to step up and reciprocate now," Hastie said.
The mission, known as Operation Prosperity Guardian, responds to concerns about attacks on commercial shipping from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, which utilize drones and ballistic missiles. This initiative arises amidst reports of several cargo ships suffering damage from attacks in the Red Sea. Concerns over security have led multiple shipping companies to instruct their vessels to avoid entering the Bab el-Mandeb Strait until improvements are made.
Published December 21st, 2023 at 15:08 IST