Strategic update shows shift in Australia’s defence outlook in uncertain times

In this interview, ASPI’s executive director Peter Jennings talks to The Strategist’s Brendan Nicholson about Australia’s 2020 defence strategic update and new force structure plan.

They discuss the extent to which the nation’s strategic situation has deteriorated in the four years since the 2016 defence white paper, the acceptance that Australia must abandon its long-held expectation that it will have 10 years to prepare for a major conflict, and the decision to provide the Australian Defence Force with a much more potent strike capability to deter an attacker.

The update warns that Australia must be ready to deal with ‘grey zone’ aggression that falls short of actual warfare.

Preparation and improved intelligence-gathering capabilities will be crucial to providing early warning of threats. The Australian-designed Jindalee over-the-horizon radar network will be extended to look out over the Pacific.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of supply chains and there’s a big lesson there for Defence. Crucial to Australia’s ability to defend itself will be ensuring a secure supply of locally produced munitions to avoid relying on equipment coming from abroad. The same applies to vital fuel supplies.

The update and the force structure plan map out a path that will give Australia a much greater ability to defend itself in uncertain times.