Marcus Hellyer provides a measured and considered analysis of the spending and force structure proposals associated with Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan. The article considers the proposed funding model, tests the connections between the strategic drivers identified and the capabilities proposed for acquisition, and identifies some of the risks that could affect the successful delivery of the proposed capabilities.Read more
The 2020 Defence Strategic Update has given us the ‘defence pivot … designed to increase the military costs for an enemy thinking of attacking Australia, and to boost the ability to strike back at a distance if such an attack occurred’. But does the price tag amount to significant increase in Defence spending? Michelle Grattan observes that ‘the $270 billion ‘spend’ on hardware over a decade doesn’t actually represent a big increase from the 2016 figure of $195 billion’.Read more
Australians should not take comfort from recent government statements around the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations – claims that Australia makes its own decisions, its own judgments, in the Australian national interest, in order to uphold Australia’s security, prosperity and values. Reassuring words are the slippery province of diplomacy. Strategic policy is founded in force structure and force posture.Read more
Analysis suggests that the proportion of contracts awarded to firms that are both Australian operated and owned is low, and that work done by Australian-controlled companies has been increasingly subcontracted to foreign-owned prime contractors. The Australian part of Australia’s defence industry is small, and getting smaller. This subordinate role has important implications for the health of Australia’s industry and national resilience.Read more
There is a mismatch between the urgent need to respond to the supposed recent deterioration in Australia’s strategic circumstances, and Australia’s recently-released 2020 Force Structure Plan.
It is highly improbable that many, or most, of the investments proposed in the Plan will be delivered on time and within cost. Ministers and defence planners know this. But bringing capabilities into the ADF inventory within the next 20 years doesn’t seem to be the priority for government, despite the apparent deterioration in the strategic environment.Read more