Cocos Keeling Islands - at risk of military exploitation

2012 - Volume 15 Number 3

Before March 2012, most Australians would not have heard of the Cocos-Keeling Islands, but America's military build-up in south-east Asia means that the use of the remote islands as a possible base for US surveillance aircraft has become more attractive.

Now reports suggest that the USA Pentagon is also viewing these islands as a possible new base for its unmanned aircraft or drones which have been used indiscriminately in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

And yet whilst talk of establishing a drone base on the Territory has concerned local people, the Coalition defense spokesperson has reportedly said he is ‘very keen that we welcome the Americans in any shape or form that they want to come and work with us in our region’.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands consist of 27 coral islands. They have a land area of only 14 square kilometres and are 2,950 kilometres north-west of Perth and 3,700 kilometres west of Darwin in the Indian Ocean. But the location is increasingly valuable for other reasons. Though locals feel they are not really wanted, they know they are strategically significant.  

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