Australia Unveils Biggest Defense Overhaul Since WWII

    Australia Unveils Biggest Defense Overhaul Since WWII
    Last updated Apr 24, 2023
    Image credit: Getty Images [via BBC]


    • On Monday, Australian PM Anthony Albanese unveiled the most significant shakeup of the country's defense spending since World War II — designed to increase the preparedness of the Australian Defense Force (ADF) amid fears about China's intentions in the Indo-Pacific.[1]
    • Defense Minister Richard Marles detailed that the ADF would be recast around six priority areas, including developing a nuclear-powered submarine capability, providing long-range strike capability, and enabling the ADF to operate from the country's northern bases.[2]
    • This comes as relations between Australia and China have been strained in recent years and as tensions have mounted in East Asia, particularly over Taiwan. Meanwhile, China is forging ahead with the modernization of its armed forces.[3]
    • Australia is expected to spend A$19B ($12B) over four years to implement more than 100 recommendations of the Defense Strategic Review, which found the country unprepared for "multiple" threats in the region.[4]
    • While Canberra is likely to have to find more funding in the longer term to make good on its vows to expand defense expending, this initial amount is reportedly fully funded through a combination of existing allocations and A$7.8B in new savings.[5]
    • The government has already slashed the army's plan to acquire up to 450 infantry fighting vehicles, which had been expected to cost up to $27B, to just 129 armored personnel carriers as it seeks to accelerate and expand other projects, such as a land-based anti-ship missile system and new landing craft for the army.[6]


    Anti-China narrative

    To offset the growing danger from China's significant military expansion and coercive behavior in Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the Pacific, Australia needed to supercharge its defense and extend its combat reach. By redefining the army's role and giving more prominence to naval defenses, Canberra has future-proofed the country from incursions in its northwest shelf, exclusive economic zone, and disruptions to sea lines of communication.

    Pro-China narrative

    Given that Australia has long been acquiescent to the US, falling short of complaining even when its interests are threatened by Washington, it's no surprise that this new defense review adopts the anti-PRC paranoia promoted by the US. Instead of bowing to hegemonic political pressure from America, Canberra should be focusing on restoring good relations with Beijing.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that Australia will commission its first nuclear-powered submarine by March 2037, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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