Australian government launches strategic review into the Australian defense forces

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, are pictured disembarking from a CH-47F Chinook attached to the 5th Aviation Regiment. On 2 December the Australian Army established a new Aviation Command Unit.

The Albanese Government has announced the Australian Defense Forces will undergo a major review for the first time in a decade.

The Defence Strategic Review, the first since 2012, will be led by former Australian Defense Force chief, Angus Houston, and a former Labor defense minister, Stephen Smith.

The pair will undertake the most comprehensive reassessment of the ADF in 35 years, to ensure Australia’s military is well positioned to meet future security challenges.

The review will assess and recommend the ADF’s “structure, posture and preparedness” over the next 10 years, starting from 2023.

While China is not specifically mentioned in the review’s terms of reference, the “risk of state-on-state conflict” is outlined as a key factor complicating Australia’s strategic circumstances.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the review “will help ensure that the Australian Defense Force is well positioned to meet the nation’s security challenges over the next decade and beyond”. 

“This review will prepare Australia to effectively respond to the changing regional and global strategic environment,” Mr Albanese said.

“And ensure that defence’s capability and force structure is fit for purpose, affordable and delivers the greatest return on investment.”

“Professor Smith and Sir Angus bring a unique blend of knowledge and experience to their roles as independent leads.”

Defense Minister Richard Marles said the 2020 defence strategic update identified changes in Australia’s strategic environment that were “accelerating more rapidly” than the 2012 Force Posture Review predicted.

“This necessitates an immediate analysis of where and how Defence assets and personnel are best positioned to protect Australia and its national interests,” Mr Marles said.

“It also requires an assessment of Defence’s force structure and Integrated Investment Program.

“Exploring how our capabilities can better integrate and operate with the United States, the United Kingdom, and other key partners will also be an important element of the review.”

The review is expected to be presented to the National Security Committee of Cabinet for consideration by March 2023.

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