US Comes Down Under Brings Covid & Super Power Tensions With It. Ben Vidgen.

A US marine has been taken to hospital after testing positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine in Darwin. The 21-year-old is asymptomatic but has been taken to Royal Darwin Hospital. He recently arrived in the Northern Territory as part of the MRF-D training exercise About 2,200 participating personnel are expected to arrive in Darwin by June. The 21-year-old recently arrived in Australia as part of the 2021 Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) — a training exercise that will see about 2,200 combat personnel rotate through Darwin by June (to be serviced by 18,000 support staff and contractors).

(In response to Australian government legislation and Rupert Murdoch, Facebook is restricting the posting of news links and all posts from news pages in Australia. Globally, the posting and sharing of news links from Australian publications is restricted – so Google US marine quarantining in Darwin ahead of military training exercise tests positive for coronavirus (ABC) instead 😉 ).

This is part of a gradual build up of US soldiers to be based in Darwin and comes as plans were announced by the Australian government to build a new naval base in Darwin to host US ships was announced was in 2019.

While dates and locations for the next instalment of the biennial Talisman Sabre, which involved 34,000 U.S. New Zealand and Australian personnel in 2019, have been posted on the Australian Department of Defence website. The drills, involving New Zealand, US Australia and over allied states, will kick off in late June and peak July 18-31, according to the agency. The coronavirus, which led to the cancellation of exercises in the Philippines last year, won’t derail Talisman Sabre, according to former Australian assistant defense secretary Ross Babbage, as quoted in Stars and Stripes .

In Otago Royal New Zealand Air Force exercise was underway after a “pause” because of the weather involving a Royal New Zealand Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules about 20 NZDF were based in Alexandra and students were parachuting from the Caravan aircraft and the Hercules in the vicinity of Alexandra, Omakau, Wanaka, and Dunedin. It also includes air combat drills designed to improve their flexibility and common communications ability.

The United States also began tlast week conducting a joint exercise with Australia and Japan on Guam as it seeks to counter its increasing vulnerability to attack from Russia or China.

The joint exercise at the Andersen Air Force Base, known as Cope North 2021, started on Wednesday and will run until February 19 and will see the base hosting Lockheed Martin F-35A joint strike fighters for the first time. The exercise kicks off with an exercise designed to improve the three countries’ ability to carry out humanitarian operations in response to a natural disaster in the region, according to a statement from the US air force in the Pacific. It also includes air combat drills designed to improve their flexibility and common communications ability.

Anderson is the new home for five thousands of Marines. The base will also host the Marines’ aviation element as Andersen’s North ramp runway is converted into a facility equivalent to a Marine Corps air station. The facility is to be known as Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, in honor of the late Marine Brig. Gen. Vicente “Ben” Tomas Garrido Blaz, a Guam native. Barracks will be built for unaccompanied Marines, next door to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Guam, just west of Andersen where a Five Eyes top secret intelligence and targeting antenna array is based.

In March the US military contractor Lockheed Martin subsidiary Rocket Lab would launch it 100th satellite from Mahia Pensiular New Zealand. The six customer payloads integrated onto Photon included an Earth-observation satellite, two Internet of Things communication nanosatellites, a weather satellite and two technology “demonstration satellites”, one for the University of New South Wales, and another for the United Sates Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command called Gun Smoke.

Gunsmoke-J (formerly named Jacob’s Ladder) uses emerging advanced electronics to allow the use of dedicated intelligence assets to provide tactically actionable targeting data to warfighters” stated Eddie Johnson, Gunsmoke-J program manager, U.S. Army SMDC Technical Centre in statement to Satelite Today;

“This leading-edge mission for the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command will orbit aboard a satellite smaller than a loaf of bread, but will have a huge impact on milestone developments in warfighter capabilities on the battlefield and beyond,” added TriSept CEO Rob Spicer. Rocket Lab denys this research into military targeting system makes the facility an offensive weapon (Yeah Right).

Rocket Lab spokeswoman Morgan Bailey told the Gisbourne Herald the US-based company remains committed to not launching weapons. The payload is a small 3U “technology demonstration” CubeSat. “It is not a weapon and Rocket Lab remains committed to not launching weapons…This payload, like all payloads launched from New Zealand, is required to undergo a robust permitting process with the New Zealand Space Agency. Payload permits are assessed against a number of criteria set out in the Outer Space and High-Altitude Activities Act (OSHAA) and are signed off by the Minister for Economic Development. Multiple government agencies are involved in the regulation of space-related activities, including the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)” – who are also members of the US led Five Eye intelligence alliance.

In October 2020 a company called Star link NZ, with three directors BusinessDesk reported.Robin McNeill, who runs the Awarua satellite ground station in Invercargil, is listed as a director of Starlink, but wouldn’t discuss Musk’s plans (beyond confirm Starlink NZ was a Musk related project), citing a non-disclosure agreement. Business Desk reported that Starlink NZ held multiple spectrum licences for satellite communications locally and was setting up internet gateway locations at Wellsford and Cromwell.

It comes as US military related space facilities and research is to also appear in Naseby (Leo Lab Carlifornia USA), the Waitaki Valley (Dawn Aerospace),  Ōamaru (Dawn Aerospace), Wanaka (where NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility team is based).

In 2019 The US Air Force announced it was currently using SpaceX’s fledgling satellite network to test encrypted internet services for a number of military planes specifically Lockheed Martins F35.

Of the 442 satellites, Starlink has already launched all will be used by the US Military, for targeting, intelligence and communication, who have signed a contract with Starlink for testing of its network (which eventually will expand into 40,000 satellites) over a 3 year period. The Pentagon see Starlink role in the ‘Internet of thing” and space as the mean to maintain superiority over china.


In October 2020 General James Jones the former head of Nato (and a man whose quoted as saying “I take my orders from Henry Kissinger” ) and a former director of firms such as Boeing and Chevron, both members of the American Australian Council along with Lockheed Martin, stated (settling the question as to whether targeting and communication systems constitutes offensive weapons);

“Today, the so-called fourth generation technology revolution promises to dwarf the impact of every advancement before its time. Think artificial intelligence… robotics… big data analytics… autonomous vehicles and weaponry… remote surgery… machine learning, and smart cities… and so much more…The country or group of countries that roll out the network quickest and best will enjoy a first mover advantage in developing the innovation-related goods, services, and solutions. It will also create a new category of jobs. Prosperity enables us to secure ourselves, fulfil our commitments to our friends and allies, and advance the nation’s interests and values. The great power winner of this race will have the upper hand in setting global 5G norms and standards. Nothing could be more consequential in how the global future takes shape“. (NATO future, 5G and Cyber Security with General James L Jones, Honorary President of SESC).

The Pacific and it southern polar orbit are crucial to this goal and if the US military industrial complex an d it partners in the mass communication andd technology sector have their way New Zealand will be the equivalent of land lacked aircraft carrier whether the New Zealand public wants that or not. So if the USA’s Covid 19 infected grunts don’t make you sick their ideas for our future will.

One comment

  1. Good one Ben. Lots to absorb here.
    Quite timely considering its the 10 year anniversary of a certain combined forces “disaster relief exercise” that went live.

    Like

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