Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday a review of the Australian Armed Forces’ operational readiness. A report from the broadcasting company SBS It said it was the first such action since 2012. The review is to be conducted by retired Air Force Marshal Angus Houston and former Secretary of Defense Stephen Smith. The result will be the development of a new national defense strategy. Albanese proclaimed:
“This review will prepare Australia to respond effectively to the evolving regional and global strategic landscape and ensure that the capability and structure of the armed forces are fit for purpose.”
The review commission’s recommendations on the structure, composition and operational readiness of the armed forces for the period 2023-2033 are to be presented to the government by March 2023. Australia’s acting defense minister, Richard Marles, said the country is seeking closer defense cooperation with Britain and the United States. He said:
“This will be the most important review of our armed forces in decades.”
External experts should also take part in the review. As SBS reported that Canberra was “considering key decisions on nuclear submarines, a fleet of guided missile destroyers, and plans to build a larger army.” Australia must acquire nuclear submarine technology from the UK and US “as soon as possible,” Marles said. Prime Minister Albanese announced that Australia’s defense spending remains at 2% of GDP but is expected to increase in the future.
All these measures are justified by the changing global strategic situation. Angus Houston, one of the leaders of the review, described the situation as “the worst I’ve ever seen.” Albanese, meanwhile, blamed Beijing for the current crisis over Taiwan and announced that Australia “does not want to see any unilateral changes to the status quo”. At the same time, the government in Canberra will try “to do everything to avoid a conflict.”
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