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Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signed an updated force posture agreement with Australia in Sydney on Aug. 12, 2014. State Department photo

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry, and their Australian counterparts on Tuesday signed an updated force posture agreement in Sydney at the conclusion of the two countries’ annual ministerial consultations. The agreement provides for expanded military training and cooperation, especially “enhanced aircraft cooperation” between the US and Australian air forces, as well as increased space ties and the establishment of a working group to pursue Australian contributions to ballistic missile defense in the Asia-Pacific region. Speaking to reporters with Australian Defense Minister David Johnston on Aug. 11, Hagel said the agreement would allow activities, such as continued marine deployments to Darwin, Australia, and the expansion of Air Force training at bases in the country’s Northern Territory. Later this month, Exercise Commando Sling will kick off in Australia, featuring US, Australian, and Singaporean airmen training together. (Hagel-Johnston transcript)