The federal government has announced a major strategic overhaul of the Australian Defense Force to ensure it is well positioned to meet future security challenges.
The review, the first since 2012, will be led by retired Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston and former Labor Secretary of Defense Stephen Smith.
They will conduct the military’s most comprehensive reassessment in 35 years in the face of a potential “state-vs-state conflict”.
Their recommendations on the structure, force and preparedness of the ADF from 2023 to 2033 and beyond are expected to be presented to the government by March 2023.
“In 2020, the Defense Strategic Update identified that changes in Australia’s strategic environment are accelerating faster than predicted in the 2012 Force Posture Review,” Defense Secretary Richard Marles said in a joint statement with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“This requires an immediate analysis of where and how defense assets and personnel are best positioned to protect Australia and its national interests.
“It also requires an assessment of the defense force structure and integrated investment program.”
Mr Marles said the review will also look at how Australia’s capabilities can be “better integrated and operated” with the United States, the United Kingdom and other key partners.
According to the review’s frame of reference, the world is undergoing a major strategic realignment.
“Military modernization, technological disruption and the risk of state-to-state conflict complicate Australia’s strategic circumstances,” it says.
“These strategic changes require the Australian government to reassess the capabilities and attitudes of the ADF and the wider Ministry of Defense.”
The assessment will be based on intelligence and strategic assessments of the most worrisome threats to Australia’s security.
Mr Albanese said Mr Smith, a Western Australian who served as Defense Secretary from 2010 to 2013, and Sir Angus bring deep experience to the task.
“Professor Smith and Sir Angus bring a unique blend of knowledge and experience to their roles as independent leaders,” he said.
Sir Angus joined the Air Force in 1970 before moving up to Chief of the Air Force in 2001.
He was appointed Chief of the Armed Forces in 2005 before retiring in 2011.