- Country will focus on longer-range capabilities and strengthening operations of its northern military bases.
CANBERRA (Agencies): Australia has said the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, long-range strike capabilities and its northern bases will be among the country’s six priority areas after a major review of its defence strategy found the armed forces were not “fully fit for purpose”.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese initiated the Defence Strategic Review shortly after he was elected in May last year.
A redacted version of the classified Defence Strategic Review – led by former Australian Defence Forces chief Angus Houston and former Defence Minister Stephen Smith – and the government’s response was released publicly on Monday.
Noting that the US was “no longer the unipolar leader of the Indo-Pacific”, the review noted “major strategic power competition” had returned the region and its intensity “should be seen as the defining feature of our region and time”.
The defence overhaul comes amid rising tension in East Asia — particularly over the self-ruled island of Taiwan — and as China forges ahead with the modernisation of its military.
Albanese said the government would adopt three other priorities recommended in the review for immediate action: Initiatives to improve the growth and retention of a highly skilled defence workforce, improving Australia’s capacity to rapidly translate new technologies into defence, and a deepening of defence and diplomatic partnerships with “key partners” in the Indo-Pacific.
“The Defence Strategic Review, and the Government’s response, is about maintaining peace, security and prosperity in our region,” Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles said in a statement on Monday, stressing that work on the initiatives would begin straightaway.
“There are a lot of tough decisions which need to be made, but in doing so, we are making them in the best interest of our Defence Force and our nation.”
The report stressed the need for Australia to deepen its engagement and collaboration with countries from Southeast Asia to the Pacific, as well as with India and Japan.
Albanese noted the review’s recommendations would strengthen Australia’s “national security and ensure our readiness for future challenges” and also “help build a more secure Australia and a more stable and prosperous region”.