A former member of Perth's elite SAS Regiment will take a commanding role in a force comprising more than 60,000 US troops in the Asia-Pacific region.
Maj-Gen. Richard Maxwell Burr, who served as a troop and squadron commander in the SAS before going on to become the commanding officer of the Perth-based regiment between 2003 and 2005, was yesterday named Deputy Commanding General of US Army Pacific.
Maj-Gen. Burr was born in South Australia and is understood to have spent six years with the SAS in Perth.
From next month he will oversee a number of areas in the American military's Pacific contingent.
The veteran Australian commander, who is on secondment to the US army, held command of the SAS during some of the Australian Defence Force's most difficult operations in recent times including the invasion of Iraq during the second Gulf War.
He also commanded the Australian Special Forces Task Groups in Afghanistan in 2002 and was the commander of all special forces assigned to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan - the biggest coalition of special forces in the world - in 2008.
US Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, said Maj-Gen. Burr's appointment was an extension of the increasing co-operation between the Australian and American militaries.
In April, 250 US marines were posted to Darwin, the first contingent of an American military presence in the Northern Territory which is expected to grow to 2500 marines by 2017.
"The Australians have been one of, if not the most, critical partners in places like Afghanistan," Mr McHugh said.
"We've got a lot of great allies, but clearly Australia has been chief among them."
The appointment of Maj-Gen. Burr, whose duties will include directing training and supervising the command's efforts to work with countries in south Asia, including Australia, comes after the Obama administration has adopted a defence strategy to boost the country's presence in Asia because of the region's economic importance and China's rise as a military power.
It aims to maintain American military pre-eminence worldwide even as the US cuts spending to reduce the nation's deficit.
'We've got a lot of great allies but clearly Australia has been chief among them.'"US Secretary of the Army *John McHugh *
with Associated Press