Islamic State: Australian troops could soon fight extremists in Asia, US Marine Corps general says

Islamic State: Australian troops could soon fight extremists in Asia, US Marine Corps general says

Islamic State: Australian troops could soon fight extremists in Asia, US Marine Corps general says

Updated 29 June 2017, 20:40 AEST

Australian troops could join more than 80,000 US marines in South-East Asia fighting against "violent extremist organisations", according to Lieutenant General David Berger.

The commander of more than 80,000 US marines in the Pacific is urging Australia to join operations against Islamic State (IS) militants in South-East Asia.

Lieutenant General David Berger is visiting Australia to check on readiness for the Talisman Sabre military exercises off the Queensland and Northern Territory coasts.

He told the ABC the "movement of violent extremist organisations" was a "very real problem" for countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Hawaii-based commanding general of US Marine Corps Forces Pacific said he expected Australian forces could soon join American personnel fighting Islamic extremists in this region.

"Both of us have a long history of being an expeditionary force when needed, so we begin from a common point I think and we've operated alongside for 100 years," General Berger said.

"Regionally where you're looking for stability, where you're looking to reassure other countries that there will be a strong enough force in the region to deter bad behaviour, I think absolutely yes — we would go where asked."

The visiting US general warned that Australia's neighbours would need assistance if they were to successfully stop the threat posed by IS-inspired militants.

"I think the potential for it to spread is there, we should not underestimate it," he cautioned.

"It's a different kind of a threat than North Korea but it's also a threat that moves in order to survive — it doesn't own a state so it's mobile.

"Absolutely it should be of very much concern to countries in the region — including Australia and the US."

Last week the Australian Government announced RAAF spy planes would soon start flying over the southern Philippines to help fight against IS-affiliated groups.

In September, Australia's foreign spy agency chief warned Islamic extremism in South-East Asia, particularly in the southern Philippines was a growing national security concern.

"In Australia's backyard in South-East Asia there are now ISIL affiliates — in Indonesia , in the southern Philippines," Australian Secret Intelligence Service boss Nick Warner told a panel discussion in Washington, using another acronym for IS.