Australia’s latest Defence Strategic Review must effectively respond to a rapidly changing geopolitical environment.

Australia’s new government is active on many fronts, including defence. During the May election, the then opposition Australian Labor Party argued that the 2020 Defence Strategic Update stated that a conflict could begin in less than the 10 years’ warning time assumed for the last few decades, but then no tangible action was taken by the government in response. Accordingly, after its victory, the new government quickly began a Defence Strategic Review, with the preliminary report handed in on 1 November and the final report due ‘no later than March 2023’. This fast pace was justified as necessary in the ‘rapidly changing strategic circumstances’.

A Focused Government

Such a review normally takes 18 months, not eight, but the review is now understood to be based on some firm government guidance. Anthony Albanese, the new prime minister, views some of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) current force-modernisation plans as a reflection of the past 20 years of counterinsurgency wars across the greater Middle East, and thus inappropriate for the next 20 years of Indo-Pacific strategic possibilities. In a rhetorical mood, he asked: ‘Are we going to be involved in a land war, in central Queensland [an Australian state]?’ Instead, Albanese sees missiles, missile-defence capabilities, drones and cyber security as now needed, declaring ‘in general, we need more weaponry that can actually make a difference’.

Please click here to read the full “Australia’s quest for an ‘impactful projection’ defence force” published at RUSI, written by Griffith Asia Institute Visiting Fellow, Dr Peter Layton.