Sweeping review of defence capability announced

By Tom Ravlic

August 3, 2022

Sir Angus Houston
Defence minister Stephen Smith and retired air chief marshal Sir Angus Houston will conduct the deep dive into Australia’s defence capability. Sir Angus Houston. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The Albanese government is maintaining a sharp focus on defence and national security, with the announcement of a new strategic review of Australia’s defence capability.

It is the first such review in a decade, and will take place at a time of growing geopolitical tensions across the globe, such as the continuing tensions in Europe that have arisen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February this year.

The expected sweeping review will closely look at Defence acquisitions and could possibly result in some contracts and programs being cancelled and others boosted. The review could also result in Defence personnel being strategically relocated across Australia and internationally.

The announcement of the review also takes place at a time when the previous and current Australian governments expressed concern about the spread of Chinese influence across the Pacific Island region after the Solomon Islands signed an agreement with China.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese has appointed former Defence minister Stephen Smith and retired air chief marshal Sir Angus Houston to conduct the deep dive into Australia’s defence capability.

Albanese said the objective of the review was to ensure Australia was in a good position over the next decade to meet national security challenges.

“Professor Smith and Sir Angus bring a unique blend of knowledge and experience to their role as independent leads,” he said.

A review of Australia’s defence capabilities has been deemed necessary because of a series of factors that include the modernisation of militaries across the world, disruption caused by technological developments, and concerns about conflicts between states.

“The review is to be a holistic consideration of Australia’s Defence Force structure and posture by including force disposition, preparedness, strategy and associated investments, including all elements of Defence’s Integrated Investment Program,” a terms of reference for the review says.

Albanese’s announcement of the review comes almost exactly 12 months after the withdrawal of Western military forces from Afghanistan.

Both the prime minister and opposition leader Peter Dutton referred to the Australian Defence Force’s efforts in Afghanistan when they noted the death of long-time al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s death by drone yesterday.


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