Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull pushed back on the need for additional troops to combat ISIS in Iraq and Syria during his first official visit to the White House on Tuesday, but maintained the importance of the existing alliance between Australia and the US in the fight. While Turnbull said US intelligence support is vital in the fight against extremism, President Obama noted that Australia also has made a “remarkable contribution.” “In our fight against ISIL, Australia is the second largest contributor of troops on the ground after the United States,” Obama said in remarks prior to the meeting. “And so I’m very much looking forward to hearing from Malcolm his impressions about how we can continue to focus on what we call the parent tumor of ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and the important work that we have to do together on countering violent extremism generally,” added Obama. During a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Turnbull said “the right boots” on the ground are important in the fight, not just the total number. On Monday, Turnbull visited Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony with Defense Secretary Ash Carter before discussing defense cooperation between the two countries, according to a readout of the meeting. (See also: Carter Unveils Agreement With Australia.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.