US wants more AUKUS members, clearly it’s not just about Australia

In a significant move, the United States has expressed readiness to welcome more countries under the technological umbrella of the groundbreaking Australia-United Kingdom-U.S. AUKUS agreement. However, interested nations would need to demonstrate their ability to make substantial contributions, said top-ranking officials on Monday. 

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“There’s an ongoing dialogue with a diverse group of nations expressing interest in AUKUS, and it’s not limited to them. We appreciate this widespread interest. It’s a positive sign, and we’re committed to exploring these prospects responsibly,” shared Kurt Campbell, the deputy assistant to the president and coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, at a recent event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Monday. 

“Under the right circumstances, all three AUKUS nations are ready to join forces with other partners who possess the capacity to rise to the challenge,” Campbell added.

Two robust pillars

Sparking into existence in September 2021, the AUKUS pact stands on two robust ‘pillars’. The first is all about equipping Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines. The second? It’s a cocktail of key technologies such as hypersonics, underwater drones, and artificial intelligence. But that’s not all – it also dives into ‘functional’ areas like information sharing, a Congressional Research Service report reveals. 

As we delve further, it appears that New Zealand, South Korea, and France have shown keen interest in the second pillar, shares Charles Edel, the CSIS Australia chair. Echoing this sentiment, the White House in April 2022 stated that as their work evolves within these, and other crucial defense and security capabilities, they’ll be looking to engage allies and partners where appropriate.

Adm. Mike Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations, hinted at a promising future for AUKUS with more countries jumping on board. However, he emphasized the need for these participations to occur in “selected areas”

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Gilday suggested that the expansion shouldn’t just be an open invitation. Instead, he proposed a focus on areas where nations can offer unique technological contributions that can truly make a difference. The key, according to Gilday, is mutual trust and confidence in sharing vital information. 

Adding to this, Campbell pointed out that the U.S. would expect substantial inputs from any new member. The U.S. is not simply seeking theoretical alliances or partnerships. 

Private-sector research and development

“What do you bring to the table? And can you do it in a way that’s practical and operational?”, Campbell questioned. The U.S. is looking for real, practical efforts that can significantly enhance defense capabilities, he concluded.

Let’s dive into the second pillar of this partnership. It’s not just about collaboration, it’s about harnessing the power of private-sector research and development. Admiral Gilday explains that this could be the game-changer in delivering new tech at breakneck speeds.

Imagine this: we’re not just using pillar two, we’re turbocharging it. Why? To bring those groundbreaking, disruptive technologies right to the forefront, and onto the table faster than ever. That’s the vision, the mission, the plan.


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