Sydney, Australia, Aug 3 (EFE).- Australia is to review its defense force in view of future security challenges amid China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region and conflicts around the world.
“This review will prepare Australia to effectively respond to the changing regional and global strategic environment and ensure Defense’s capability and force structure is fit for purpose, affordable and delivers the greatest return on investment,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Wednesday in a press conference in Canberra.
The independent review, the first since 2012, will look at how the military’s capabilities can integrate and operate jointly with those of its strategic partners, especially the with United Kingdom and the United States, countries with which Australia signed the AUKUS security pact last September.
AUKUS, which seeks to stand up to China in the Indo-Pacific, includes the development of nuclear submarines for Australia, which would begin operating in the 2040s, although details about their acquisition will not be known until early next year.
Likewise, the review will put under the microscope the multimillion-dollar investments in defense projects, many of which are “overbudget and delayed,” as well as the preparation capacity of the armed forces.
Defense Minister Richard Marles said the defense strategic update in 2020 revealed changes “accelerating more rapidly” than forecast in the 2012 Force Posture Review.
Australia’s defense strategy “necessitates an immediate analysis of where and how defense assets and personnel are best positioned to protect Australia and its national interests,” Marles said.
In the last decade, geopolitical and military tensions between Australia and China have increased, especially over territorial disputes, as well as the construction of infrastructure and the controversy surrounding free navigation in the South China Sea.
In addition, Canberra views with suspicion the security pact signed in April between China and the Solomon Islands, which opens the door to sending military forces to the island nation at the request of Honiara, as well as Beijing’s attempts to sign a similar agreement with 10 Pacific nations.
Australia’s concerns also center on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a potential conflict over Taiwan, among other regional and global security challenges.
Former defense minister Stephen Smith and ex-defense force chief Angus Houston will lead the review, the recommendations of which will be delivered to the government early next year. EFE