Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (L) and Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles announced drastic changes to the country’s military on Monday. Photo courtesy of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese /Twitter
April 24 (UPI) — Australia unveiled its new defense strategy Monday that says dramatic reforms are needed to meet China’s growing military challenge in the Indo-Pacific region.
The ability to accurately strike longer-range targets, locally produced munitions, better operational capabilities from northern bases in Canberra and enhanced diplomatic and defense partnerships are among the reforms outlined in the Australian publication published on Monday. The Defense Strategic Review sets the agenda for the defense posture and structure of the Oceanian nation.
The report says the current structure of the Australian Defense Force reflects “a bygone era” that “fails to address our new strategic environment” and that what Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s administration unveiled on Monday is “the most fundamental and ambitious approach to defence”. reform … since the Second World War’.
“This is the document of today and tomorrow,” Albanese said at a press conference Monday. “This shows that in a world where the challenges to our national security are constantly changing, we cannot fall back on old assumptions.” We must build and strengthen our security to shape the future, not wait for the future to shape us.”
The report comes amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region as China continues to flex its military power.
The document calls China’s military build-up “the largest and most ambitious of any country since the end of World War II,” which has come “without transparency or assurance to the Indo-Pacific region about China’s strategic intentions.”
“China’s assertion of sovereignty over the South China Sea threatens the global rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, adversely affecting Australia’s national interests,” the report said. “China has also engaged in strategic competition in Australia’s immediate neighbourhood.
It says the region is now undergoing a strategic competition whose intensity should define this current era, as the United States “is no longer the unipolar leader of the Indo-Pacific.”
China’s military push comes as its relationship with the United States remains strained and relations with Australia continue to deteriorate as Canberra has voiced its disapproval of Beijing’s human rights abuses, particularly its treatment of its Muslim minority Uyghur citizens and Hong Kong and Hong Kong. alleged attempts to cover up the origins of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles told reporters that the document calls for the first realignment of the military’s mission in 35 years to emphasize areas that go well beyond its borders.
Its mission will primarily be to defend the nation and the immediate region, but will also seek to deny any adversary that seeks to direct power against Australia and its interests, as well as to ensure the collective security of the Indo-Pacific region, and to defend Australia’s economic relationship with Australia. regionally and globally and to provide for the maintenance of a global rules-based order.
“We need to have a defense force that can engage in effective projection across the spectrum of proportionate response,” Marles said.
Among the government’s six initial priorities is the development of a nuclear submarine capability, which is currently being pursued under an agreement with the United States and Britain.
Another priority will be to increase the range of the army’s weaponry from the current range of about 25 miles to an initial 300 miles using indigenously produced missiles and ammunition.
“It’s about giving the Australian Army the firepower and mobility it needs going forward to deal with what it needs to face,” Marles said.
The third priority will be to accelerate the transition to new technologies, and the fourth will be investments in the recruitment and retention of military personnel. The fifth and sixth priorities are for the military to operate from its northern bases and to improve defense cooperation with allies in the Pacific region.
As for the United States, the report says Canberra’s alliance with Washington will remain a key aspect of its security and strategy as the North American nation “will become even more important in the coming decades”.