A U.S.-based defence think-tank has advised Washington to invest on a multi-billion military capability build up in northwest Australia to effectively underpin America's refocus efforts in the Asia-Pacific region as articulated by U.S. President Barack Obama in late 2011.
According to Fairfax, the report titled 'U.S. Force Posture Strategy in the Asia Pacific Region: An Independent Assessment' was the joint undertaking of the U.S. Department of Defence and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Foremost of its recommendations is the construction of a suitable homebase that would be able to accommodate the full operations of a carrier strike group from the United States, which would be headlined by a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
The rest of the strike team would be mostly composed of a carrier air wing of up to nine squadrons, one or two guided missile cruisers, two or three guided missile destroyers, one or two nuclear powered submarines and a supply ship, the CSIS report said.
Ideally, the strike group will be stationed in Perth, specifically at the HMAS Stirling base, which CSIS cited for offering direct access to the Indian Ocean, which means U.S. forces would have a quick deployment capability to a sizeable expanse of the region when needed.
However, the same report also warned that U.S. forces operating from Perth could encounter significant operational impediments as Perth itself is "further from trouble spots in the Western Pacific than Guam, and further from the Middle East than Diego Garcia."
It would also require Pentagon to earmark between $US1 billion to $US7 billion to finance the Perth operational hub for a U.S. nuclear strike force if previous modelling from Florida and Guam would be employed.
CSIS said that at its present from, Australia's military base in Perth "is not nuclear carrier-capable ... and this forward-basing option would require significant construction costs."
The report, Fairfax said, was part of America's general response to the perceived growing influence of China in the Asia Pacific region and offered alternatives too such as effectively aiding Australia to beef up its military strength or for the U.S. to simply enhance its operations either from Guam or Australia.
CSIS experts suggested that if America gives premium to proximity, it can concentrate its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drones and aircraft operations to its territorial realms surrounding Guam.
But the think-tank noted too that Perth's location or its distance from mainland China offers a natural defence for U.S. forces that will be hosted by Canberra.
The recommendation for an Australian build up was also largely based on the long history of partnership between the country and the U.S., which notably have fought hand-in-hand from the First World War through the soon-to-be concluded Afghan Mission.
"Australia is unique among America's allies in having fought alongside the United States in every major conflict since the start of the 20th century," the report said.
CSIS also factored in present sentiments of Australians with regards to the United States, which the group said was almost overwhelming favourable save for some dissents that mostly come from the academe, labour unions and specific political circles.
The report is also in line with earlier pronouncements made by U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta that he intends to forge a force-multiplier alliance in the region, which will be backed by a force buildup that would see as much as 60 per cent of US naval forces based in the Pacific, compared to 50 percent today.
"Efforts to strengthen alliances and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific to advance a common security vision for the future is essential to the U.S. strategy to rebalance toward the region," Mr Panetta said.
According to Fairfax, the report's lead author, CSIS chief John Hamre will present the report on Wednesday before the U.S. Congress' Armed Services Committee.
"We found a strong consensus on this overall objective within the Department, in the policy community generally, and especially with allies and partner countries," Mr Hamre was quoted by Fairfax as saying in the cover letter that accompanied the CSIS report.
To contact the editor, e-mail: