Commonwealth unveils landmark Defence Strategic Review
April 24, 2023
Photo: Defence Connect
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles, and Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy released the pivotal Defence Strategic Review before a press conference in the Prime Minister’s courtyard of Parliament House today.
Billed by the Prime Minister as the “most significant” defence report since the Second World War, the Review lists six new priority areas for Australia’s national security while promising a “reshaping of the Australian Army.”
Speaking to reporters, the DPM and MINDEF Marles explained that Australia’s national security policy was “no longer fit for purpose.”
The 110-page unclassified Review spans posture, acquisition, supply chain resilience, energy security as well as international cooperation. It is expected to shape Australia’s defence policy and national security posture for decades to come.
The six priority areas for Defence as identified in the Defence Strategic Review include:
- The acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines;
- Enhancing the Australian Defence Force’s long-range strike capability and the domestic manufacture of munitions;
- Developing the military’s capability to work out of Australia’s northern bases;
- Advancing the recruitment and retention of ADF personnel;
- Expediting the introduction of new and innovative technologies into the ADF;
- Improving our cooperation with Australia’s Pacific neighbours.
The government was direct in acknowledging that some defence projects will face the axe.
“The Government is making the hard decisions necessary to cancel or reprioritise Defence projects or activities that are no longer suited to our strategic circumstances, as outlined in the Review,” a release from the Commonwealth read.
Of the government’s re-prioritisation efforts, DPM and MINDEF Marles explained that the landmark report would “provide for the reshaping of the Australian Army.”
This includes a focus on littoral warfighting and precision strike capabilities, at the expense of Infantry Fighting Vehicles – reduced to 129 units – and a second regiment of self-propelled howitzers.
Among the priorities for the Australian Army are improved littoral warfighting capabilities and precision strike.
“Most notably in our attempts to modernize the Army and reshape it, make it effective working in a littoral environment, we are reducing the number of Infantry Fighting Vehicles we are acquiring under LAND 400 from 450 to 129,” MIN Conroy told reporters.
“That will equip a mechanized battalion as part of a combined arms brigade but importantly, the money and resources are freed up from that endeavour and a cancellation of a second regiment of self propelled howtizers will fund the acceleration and expansion of high mobility artillery rocket systems – HIMARS rocket systems – that have been used so effectively in the Ukraine conflict and to expand and accelerate the acquisition of land based maritime strike to give the Australian army significant range and projection.
“We will also be accelerating and expanding the acquisition of landing craft – both medium and heavy – to transport army assets where we need to get them to.”
The Defence Strategic Review has also laid the foundation for additional reviews into Australia’s national security. This includes the recommendation for a National Defence Strategy that is updated biennially, a core recommendation which the federal government has accepted.
The new National Defence Strategy, which is scheduled for 2024, will include a “comprehensive plan” into Defence policy, planning, capabilities and resourcing as well as reprioritization of defence spending.
The government is also expected to undertake an analysis into the nation’s surface combat fleet, scheduled for completion in Q3 223.
“The Defence Strategic Review, and the Government’s response, is about maintaining peace, security and prosperity in our region,” DPM and MINDEF Marles said.
“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.
“Work to implement the Review starts today, ensuring our ADF and our Defence personnel has the capability they need to keep Australians safe.”