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Old 11-26-2022, 11:00 AM
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Unhappy AU Army in line of fire as sweeping defense review hones in on cuts

AU Army in line of fire as sweeping defense review hones in on cuts
By: Matthew Knott - The Sydney Morning Hearld News - 11-27-22 5 am

The Australian Army’s helicopter fleet is being closely examined for cuts alongside planned purchases of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles in a sweeping federal government review aimed at preparing Australia for a potential war with China within 10 years.

Sources familiar with the government’s Defense Strategic Review said the army has been a particular focus for potential cuts compared to Australia’s navy and air force.

Photo link:$width_584/t_resize_width/q_86%2Cf_auto/087b1fb0336e19c414f4e7b2cf801dcda952a015
The Morrison government announced it would spend $5.5 billion to acquire 29 new Boeing Apache attack helicopters.CREDIT:AP

Former defense minister Stephen Smith and former defense force chief Angus Houston are leading the review, established to reconfigure the Australian Defense Force (ADF) for the next decade of strategic threats.

Smith and Houston handed an interim copy of their report to Defense Minister Richard Marles earlier this month and will deliver a final report by March.

Aware the defence budget is under intense pressure, the reviewers are said to have been casting a close eye over tens of billions of dollars worth of planned purchases of army helicopters, tanks and other infantry vehicles as the government seeks to bolster Australia’s air and maritime capabilities.

“There is no doubt the army is coming under far more scrutiny than any other element of the Defense Force,” Mick Ryan, a former commander of the Australia Defense College, said.

The government is exploring options to acquire long-range missiles, drones and jet fighters as part of Marles’ vision for a military capable of “impactful projection”.

Extra spending on such hardware would be expensive and come on top of the purchase nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact at an estimated cost at least $100 billion.

Ryan, a retired army major general, said: “There is a strong strand of thinking in the Canberra bureaucracy that thinks the army is something that should really only be used for bushfire recovery and other natural disasters.

“We’re very bad at predicting the next war; we’ve never done that successfully.

“To put all our eggs in the sea and air basket is not just arrogant but extremely reckless.”

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd warned ”there is a grave risk" that by the late 20s and the early 30s, we could well find ourselves on the cusp of armed conflict” with China over Taiwan in a speech last week.

The government announced on Friday it was pausing the tender process for the LAND 400 Phase 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle project until the strategic review is complete. With an estimated price tag of $18 billion to $27 billion, it would be the most costly acquisition project in the army’s history.

There has been strong speculation the government will slash its planned order of armoured troop carriers under the project from 450 to 300, freeing up money for other purchases.

A spokeswoman for Marles said: “The Albanese Government is committed to ensuring our Defence Force has the equipment, the capability, the people and the funding it needs to keep Australians safe.”

The spokeswoman said the government would not pre-empt the findings of the review.

Marles said the government would need to make “hard choices” about reconfiguring the military in a speech earlier this month.

Saying he believed the concept of “impactful projection” would be “the cornerstone of future Australian strategic thought”, Marles said: “Our approach must strengthen the lethality, resilience and readiness of the ADF.

“We must ensure we accord adequate priority to high-end military capabilities to do this.

“The ADF must augment its self-reliance to deploy and deliver combat power through impactful materiel and enhanced strike capability – including over longer distances.”

Asked how hardware such as helicopters fit it into a doctrine of impactful projection, Marcus Hellyer, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said: “They don’t really.”

“If we’re talking about firing missiles 1000 to 2000 kilometres away, an attack helicopter doesn’t help you much,” Hellyer said, adding that helicopters had proven extremely vulnerable in Russia’s war with Ukraine.

The Morrison government announced in March it would spend $5.5 billion to acquire 29 new Boeing Apache attack helicopters, with delivery expected in 2025.

It also announced a $3.5 billion purchase of tanks and other armored vehicles, a controversial decision given some national security experts believe tanks would not be relevant in a potential conflict with China.

About this writer: Matthew Knott is the foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Personal note: Nobody said C.Y.A. (cover your ass) was cheap! All Nation's including the
USA - have to realize - infrastructure and environment needs to be primary - military
cost aren't cheap! And being down under - doesn't mean that today's weapons can't
reach you - and we also know infrastructure needs - ARE NEEDED! The USA and other
Nations around the globe are in the same position! All nations are feeling the pinch
and/or out in the same boat. It's like a bottom-less pit where we throw your cash.
But it's C.Y.A. or live with whatever comes our way! It seems today whatever we do
its costly! Not just the People - But the Nation's are finding it very difficult to pop
billions of dollars - just because! We the People of the World could use this
money to improve our waters - our infrastructures include rode's and bridges.
Tax payer's will not be happy - having to pay as it seems everyone around the
world is in the same hole in the ground. The bad guys don't really care about
that as much as they want to eliminate us as quickly as they can and be
damned about the Carnegie or Contamination. It's a sick world today and
many evil people doing bad things to others. Somebody has to step up
blow out their lights! Whatever it takes! It's them or you! Suck it up!

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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