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Australian national security authorities and experts say joint defence exercises between Australia, the United States, and Japan could increase after the recent security pact between China and the Solomon Islands.

Over 600 soldiers from the three countries have gathered at Australia’s Shoalwater Bay in central Queensland for the ninth annual Southern Jackaroo exercise to strengthen warfighting interoperability, international relationships and combat readiness.

The troops are reportedly training in arms and infantry live fire, tank manoeuvres and camp setups.

At the Southern Jackaroo training exercise, the Commanding Officer of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Niessl, said that Shoalwater Bay was an ideal location, especially because of its large size and diverse terrain.

“We have the road system through the training area, but we’ve also got a wide variety of different landscapes, from jungle through to more open areas” stated Lieutenant Colonel Niessl.

“We’ve got an urban facility … we’ve got these sorts of ranges, and of course, we’ve got the coastline so we can conduct amphibious operations. . .We need a large training area to be able to achieve our mission and to practice our drills and practice our procedures,” he added.

“Shoalwater Bay, along with a few other training areas like Townsville, Mount Bundey, [and] Cultana, are large enough that we can actually conduct high level, combined arms battle group and brigade-level training.”

“I think Shoalwater Bay’s a microcosm of a bigger picture,” said Peter Dean, Director of the University of Western Australia’s Defence and Security Institute.

Mr Dean also noted that the importance of high-end military operations like Southern Jackaroo would grow as the international scene changed.

“We’re in a phase, I think we can honestly say, of competition with China. We don’t have the same views about how the regional order should work,” stated the professor.

“I think the bigger picture is [that] these exercises wouldn’t stop the agreement [between China and the Solomon Islands] from happening,” he continued.

“[But] what it does show is a level of resolve between the three countries and a level commitment to maintaining a rules-based international order. Maintaining a free and open Indo Pacific. . .is one small part of that broader narrative.”

Executive Officer for the US Marine rotational force in Darwin, Lieutenant Colonel Duncan French, stated that his team also valued global collaboration.

“If called to fight we’re not going be able to do it alone. We’ve got to pair up with our partner nations” Lieutenant Colonel French on Tuesday.

“This is our opportunity to train safely and to ensure success down the road.”

Sam Roggeveen, Director of the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program, also said that military training exercises like Southern Jackaroo are becoming increasingly important.

Mr Roggeveen also said that such joint training exercises not only strengthen defence forces but would also display the unity of the countries involved, although some countries may be limited in their support.

“In the case of confrontation with China, Japan has pretty strict limits on what it can do in that in that sort of event,” said Mr Roggeveen, referring to restrictions in Japan’s constitution regarding war.

“I would very much like to see defence relationships, particularly with Indonesia, but with other South-East Asian countries as well, increased. Those are the countries that directly share Australia’s strategic interests,” he added.

“Japan’s a long [distance] away. Despite being a fellow democracy and a close traditional partner of Australia, it is still a long way away.”  United States: Elon Musk Voices Support For Republican Party