Secretary of Defense Speech

Bilateral Meeting with Australian Defence Minister Payne


Welcome Minister Payne, Ambassador, Secretary Moriarty – congratulations to you sir, military officers, members of the delegation, welcome to the Pentagon. Minister Payne, it’s great to join you again in, I think, our 6th meeting in about 8 months.

Your visit today is a reminder that the Australia-U.S. defense alliance is absolutely ironclad, forged by 65 years of mutual trust, respect earned on the battlefield, and friendship across the sea – a friendship formed in the trenches of World War I during the Battle of Hamel on 4 July 1918, when our troops first fought side by side, under the command of an Australian general.

That was the first time U.S. troops fought under foreign command, and the battle helped turn the tide on the Western front. Since then, we have fought side by side many times and we look forward to commemorating “100 years of Mateship” in 2018.

The courage, dedication, and ferocity of your troops is as inspiring now as it was in various theaters throughout our history. I witnessed this dedication firsthand while serving alongside Australian forces, and I am reminded daily as our troops fight alongside each other on the shared battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

You are a trusted ally who tells us what we need to hear, not what we might want to hear, and that’s the mark of a true friend and one always worth listening to.

Today we will discuss threats to our common security, from terrorism and destabilizing activities in the South China Sea, to North Korean provocations.

You and I were together at NATO some time ago. NATO’s Secretary-General Stoltenberg said last week, “the reckless behavior of North Korea is a global threat and requires a global response,” and I know our two nations will stand together in defense of freedom and liberty.

For we see, Australia is fully committed to global stability, global security, and passing freedom to the next generation of Australians.

Minister, members of the delegation, thank you for coming. You, your team, and your ideas are always welcome here in the Pentagon. Thank you, Minister Payne.

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