Government Launches Major ADF Review

A former chief of the defence force and a former defence minister are set to lead the largest review of the Australian military in over three decades. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles have announced the launch of a strategic review of the Australian Defence Force, set to be the first in 10 years and the largest in 35 years.

The Defence Strategic Review is aimed at assessing the structure, force posture and ­preparedness of the ADF for emerging security challenges from 2023 to 2033 and beyond.

Former chief of the defence force, retired Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston, and former Labor defence minister Stephen Smith have been appointed to lead the review, with recommendations to be handed down to government by March 2023.

“Professor Smith and Sir Angus bring a unique blend of knowledge and experience to their role as independent leads,” Prime Minister Albanese said. 

“Their depth of expertise will be invaluable in informing the review.”

According to Minister Marles, the review would also explore opportunities to “better integrate and operate” with the United States, the United Kingdom and other strategic partners.

The review comes amid concern over the potential for “state-on-state conflict”, given the mounting threat posed by China in the Indo-Pacific and Russia’s ongoing assault on Ukraine.

“In 2020, the Defence Strategic Update identified that changes in Australia’s strategic environment are accelerating more rapidly than predicted in the 2012 Force Posture Review,” Minister Marles said. 

“This necessitates an immediate analysis of where and how ­defence assets and personnel are best positioned to protect Australia and its national interests.

It also requires an assessment of defence’s force structure and Integrated Investment Program.”

The deadline for submissions from interested stakeholders is Sunday, 30 October 2022.

The tabling of recommendations is expected to coincide with the conclusion of the Nuclear-Powered Submarine Taskforce’s 18-month assessment of the Royal Australian Navy’s future submarine procurement plan as part of the AUKUS agreement. 

The group’s considerations  include requirements for design, construction, maintenance, infrastructure, industry capacity, nuclear safety, environmental protection, crewing and training.

The Task Force will also advise on building timeframes, costs and supply needs.

Charbel Kadib News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

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