19 November 2003

Hill, Rumsfeld talk over military bases

The Australian and US governments have confirmed they are holding talks about building new military training facilities in Australia as part of a push to more closely integrate the two nations' armed forces.

The revelation came after the Herald reported on a US proposal for a 'logistics and training facility' in northern Australia where supplies and equipment, including tanks, would be housed and exercises undertaken by US and Australian forces.

The option is understood to be linked to a US push for Australia to buy its M1-Abrams tanks, although US defence sources said the plan for the facility in the Northern Territory could still go ahead if Australia opted to buy lighter tanks from Germany or Britain.

The US - which says the staging post would not be permanently staffed by American troops and could not be described as a base - is reviewing its force structure in the Asia-Pacific region amid mounting anger in Japan and South Korea about its large military presence in those countries.

The Minister for Defence, Robert Hill, will meet the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, tomorrow morning and his spokeswoman said he would seek an update on the US force structure.

While the base is not necessarily a bad idea, depending on the agreement controlling its use, I boldfaced some of this extract because I am more and more fascinated by the role of parsing in politics. I find it hard to think that a military staging post cannot be called a base, as hard as thinking that there is a difference between deploying the ADF to the Persian Gulf and predeploying the ADF to the Persian Gulf, or that Bush's Nigerien claim in the state of the union message was truthful because the British did believe what the US government knew to be untrue.

Obviously the citizen of the twenty-first century needs an excellent grasp of advanced grammar.

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