Australia publishes new defence white paper


The Australian government on Saturday published what it describes as the “most comprehensive Defence White Paper ever produced” by the country.

The document was made public by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (pictured) and defence minister Joel  

Fitzgibbon and affirms the Rudd administration`s commitment to the defence of Australia, the security and stability of the regional security environment, and a rules-based global security order.

“Representing over 14 months of hard work, involving all areas of defence and the complete re-examination of defence strategy, capabilities, business processes and resources, this is the most comprehensive White Paper ever released,” said Fitzgibbon.

He added the primary outcome of the White Paper will be to build a future force required for the defence of Australia and the security of the immediate region.

The White Paper further confirms the centrality of the alliance relationship with the United States and reaffirms Australia‘s commitment to the United Nations system.

The Paper also notes an increasingly uncertainty of the strategic environment “and better positions defence to respond to the broad range of possible conflicts and contingencies likely to impact upon Australia‘s future security.”
“The capabilities outlined in the White Paper will, over the next 20 years, create one of the most capable defence forces in our region, with the world’s best people, equipment and support systems,” averred Fitzgibbon.

“The Australian Defence Force we are creating will have access to leading edge technology, the finest equipment and the most professional and capable soldiers, sailors and air men and women.”
“To achieve this, the government has directed the most complex and far reaching reforms of defence business ever undertaken, with the redirection of significant internal Defence financial resources to the development of new capability.
“Fundamental reform to defence personnel management arrangements will also take place through the creation of an integrated workforce that has the right balance of military, civilian and contract personnel. This will be combined with a new People Strategy that will drive a range of initiatives to recruit and retain the right people,” a statement issued by the Australian Department of Defence added.
“To ensure defence optimises the resources available for its core business, Defence will standardise and consolidate shared services and develop smarter methods of undertaking support functions such as facilities management, major equipment maintenance, logistics, procurement and business information systems.
“The government has agreed to reform the way defence is funded, to better align Defence funding with the costs of delivering the future force required for the defence of Australia and its immediate region.

“This involves a new funding model, which includes the continuation of 3% real growth in Defence funding to 2017/18, with a commitment to growth, in real terms, at 2.2% per annum beyond. This would maintain Defence funding at a broadly constant share of Australia‘s Gross Domestic Product.”

Future technology

Fitzgibbon`s deputy for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon added that the White Paper outlined significant improvements in the ADF`s ability to defeat future threats and adapt to new challenges.

The said the ADF`s future operating environment will be shaped by changes in military technology and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation will continue to lead the military`s efforts “to sustain our technological capability edge”.
“A continued focus on the exploitation and application of new advanced technologies will be crucial in ensuring that the ADF has access to highly advanced and networked capabilities and has a winning edge in terms of information superiority,” he added.

To develop and maintain a strategic capability advantage, “defence will need to be smarter, and more connected with the scientific and technological institutions of our allies and friends, particularly the United States,” he added.
“Over the next four years the Government will fund a $53 million program to significantly enhance focused external engagement initiatives between DSTO and its national and international partners. This will generate more significant benefits for the ADF and its allies,” Fitzgibbon further added.

The new initiatives will be modelled on previous successful engagements such as the Defence Future Capability Technology Centre, strategic alliances with industry and universities, as well as international bilateral project arrangements. The programs will both strengthen Australia‘s science and technology self-reliance in these key areas, and provide deeper access to overseas expertise and capabilities.

At the same time, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation will be increasing its efforts in areas such as:

·         Integrated Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. The ability to collect, share, interpret and act upon information in a timely manner requires Australia to be able to design, adapt and integrate diverse Intelligence, Surveillance and

·         Reconnaissance sensors and systems to suit our purposes and strategic and physical environments;

·         Cyber warfare (including computer security). “We must have the assurance that our computer and information networks are robust and secure, and available when needed for both Australian Defence Force operations and more broadly within government”;

·         Electronic warfare. “The ability to protect our platforms and systems from physical and electronic attack, and to maximise the advantage of our own sensors and weapons is paramount”;

·         Underwater warfare. “Australia requires a strong national ability to develop innovative technologies that will maximise the safety and performance of our enhanced underwater warfare capabilities, in particular our new submarine fleet”; and

·         Networked systems. “Our unique force mix requires us to be experts at integrating diverse systems and capabilities, and developing command, control and communications mechanisms appropriate to our environment”.

Australia‘s defence depends in no small part upon our significant Defence science expertise which directly supports our operations, materiel acquisitions and platform effectiveness,” Snowdon added.


Fitzgibbon added that the White Paper will deliver an “Army for the 21st century equipped with the world class technology that it needs and deserves”. It will provide significant funding to increase the combat power and survivability of the Army as well as enhancing its ability to operate as a modern networked, mobile and highly adaptable force.

This funding will be used to improve and enhance a number of elements of the Australian Army, including:

·         A new Combat Vehicle System which will provide around 1100 vehicles with greatly improved firepower, protection and mobility. The System will be equipped with the Army’s integrated battle management systems from inception;

·         Around 7000 support vehicles to completely replace the various fleets of wheeled transport and logistic support vehicles and trucks;

·         Greatly improved communications and command and control systems for land forces;

·         improved mobility through the acquisition of seven new CH47F (Chinook) medium lift helicopters;

·         enhanced firepower through new artillery, both self-propelled and towed, as well as replacement mortars and a new direct fire antiarmour weapon; and

·         continued investment in increasing the effectiveness and protection offered to individual soldiers in dismounted close combat.

Over the next 20 years, the Army force structure will include land combat and combat support forces (infantry, armoured, artillery, combat engineers, and aviation) that are able to operate as combined-arms teams. They will be supported by enabling combat support elements (intelligence, signals and construction engineers) and combat service support systems (logistics and health).
“Land forces must be capable of conducting joint land combat in a complex operational environment and be able to defeat incursions onto the Australian mainland, territories and offshore installations,” said Fitzgibbon.
“To do this they must also be highly mobile and adaptable within the physical and social environments they find themselves. Together with the other elements of the Australian Defence Force they must be capable of assuming leadership role for a coalition combat, stabilisation or reconstruction operation.”
“Our conventional land forces will continue to be based on three combat brigades (of around 4000 troops) consisting of multiple battalion-sized units. The growth of the two additional infantry battalions established under the Enhanced Land Force initiative will continue.”

The Army will be able to combine its combat and combat support units to generate 10 battalion-sized ‘battlegroups’ tailored for a wide range of operations.

The generation of operationally-ready land forces will be enhanced by the formation of Forces Command, located in Sydney, which will be responsible for all individual and group training.

Forces Command will also take charge of the deployable logistics organisations supporting this process, along with a helicopter brigade comprising three battalion-sized units of reconnaissance, lift, and utility helicopters.

Headquarters 1st Division, located in Brisbane, will re-roled to be able to provide troops with final, mission specific, preparation for operations.

Headquarters Special Operations Command, located at Bungendore, will continue to provide the majority of individual, group and mission specific training for Special Forces personnel.

The Army also generates our Special Forces capability. Special Forces provide unique capabilities due to their specialised selection, training and equipment.
Australia‘s Special Forces will continue to receive the best equipment and training we can provide with incremental improvements planned and funded over the coming decade,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“Our Special Forces must be capable of undertaking strategic surveillance and reconnaissance, offensive action, strategic strike missions, high-end counter-terrorism and counter-Weapons of Mass Destruction operations, hostage recovery, special protection duties in high-threat environments, and other specialised roles, some of which are classified in their entirety.”

Fitzgibbon says his government is determined to further enhance the reforms currently being undertaken by Army under the “Adaptive Army” initiative.

“The government has directed defence to develop a detailed implementation plan by the end of 2009, ensuring that the Army’s internal balance and mix of full-time and part-time land force elements can meet these objectives. This plan will be developed within the strategic guidance and funding parameters contained in the 2009 White Paper.”


Fitzgibbon explained that the future Royal Australian Navy would continue to include destroyers and frigates, submarines, amphibious ships, offshore combatant vessels, naval combat helicopters and other advanced enabling capabilities.
“This force will operate closely with air combat and maritime surveillance and response aircraft to establish sea control, and project force across our vast maritime environment,” Fitzgibbon said.
“The ability to establish local sea control is essential to maintaining freedom of navigation in our immediate region, protecting the ships that carry the life blood of our economy, preventing attacks on Australia or its offshore territories and resources, and supporting land forces.

“The White Paper lays out a clear pathway towards the development of a larger and more potent maritime force with improvements across all capabilities,” Fitzgibbon said. Key capability decisions relevant to this enhanced maritime force include:

·         A fleet of 12 new Submarines to replace the current six Collins Class;

·         Enhancements to the weapons systems of the three new [Aegis] Air Warfare Destroyers, with consideration of acquiring a fourth vessel in the future;

·         A fleet of eight new larger frigates, with an emphasis on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) to replace the current ANZAC Class frigates;

·         Continuation of acquisition of two new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships that will invigorate the Australian Defence Force’s amphibious capability;

·         A new Strategic Sealift ship based on a proven design to strengthen the Navy’s amphibious and transport capability; A fleet of at least 24 new naval combat helicopters, equipped with dipping sonars to detect submarines at greater ranges;

·         Six new MRH-90 helicopters that will replace the general utility service previously provided by the Sea King fleet;

·         20 new Offshore Combatant Vessels equipped with modular mission systems that will incorporate the capabilities presently provided by the separate patrol boat, hydrographic and mine hunter fleets;

·         Six new ocean-going heavy landing craft with greater range and speed than the aging Balikpapan class Landing Craft Heavy; and

·         Replacement of the Navy’s oldest supply ship, HMAS Success, with a new replenishment and logistic support ship which will enter service at the end of the next decade.

The government will also provide additional funding for 700 positions within Navy’s workforce structure. “This initiative will address the significant workforce challenges presently being experienced by Navy and will meet future requirements associated with the significant capability upgrades foreshadowed by the 2009 Defence White Paper.”

The White Paper also addresses personnel problems in the submarine fleet. “By providing targeted incentives for submariners that include training, adjusting crew numbers and formations, conditions of service, seatime and other initiatives, defence will ensure that the current shortfalls are addressed, and that a robust submarine workforce is built for the future.
“Combined with a range of recruitment and retention initiatives and strategies, this new approach will provide the basis for a larger and more sustainable submarine force.”

Air Force

“A potent and flexible air combat capability is a cornerstone of Australia‘s defence posture, Fitzgibbon said with regard to the Royal Australian Air Force.

“Control of the air over our territory and maritime approaches is critical to all other operations in the defence of Australia.

“The White Paper will ensure Air Force maintains its regional air superiority through the acquisition of around 100 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, along with the Super Hornets as a part of the bridging air combat capability.

“These aircraft will significantly enhance Australia‘s deterrence, and provide a robust offensive capability should circumstances necessitate,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Through the combination of highly skilled people, multirole combat fighters and assets such as Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, advanced weapons, air-to-air refuelling aircraft and command, control and surveillance capabilities, the Air Force will continue to offer the Government air superiority, maritime strike, long-range strategic strike, offensive air support and close air support capability options.
Australia‘s future Air Force will include a balance of conventional and uninhabited aerial platforms that will enhance the future anti-submarine warfare capability of Air Force and significantly enhance Australia‘s maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance coverage. The White Paper also strengthens and rebalances the Air Force’s strategic (inter-theatre) and operational (intra-theatre) air-lift capability through the acquisition of new aircraft.

The 2009 Defence White Paper outlines the following key capability priorities for the Air Force:

·         Around 100 fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and associated weapons systems;

·         Half of Australia‘s F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet fleet will be configured on the production line to enable them to be converted to the EA-18G ‘Growler’ electronic attack variant should later strategic circumstances dictate;

·         Delivery of five KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport for air-to-air refuelling, that will increase the range and endurance of combat and surveillance aircraft;

·         Six new Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft to provide surveillance, command and control functions to other networked Australian Defence Force platforms;

·         Eight new Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which will provide advanced antisubmarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities as well as sophisticated maritime search capabilities;

·         Approximately seven new high-altitude, long-endurance Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), to compliment the new Maritime Patrol Aircraft and replace the current AP-3C Orion fleet with a more comprehensive and advanced maritime surveillance capability;

·         Enhanced air transport capability options through the acquisition of a further two additional C-130J Hercules to bring the total fleet number to 14 aircraft;

·         Up to 10 new tactical battlefield airlifters with a significantly greater range, speed, payload and protection measures that the retiring Caribou;

·         New and upgraded systems to collect and fuse air surveillance information from multiple sources, in order to create a Recognised Air Picture of the ADF’s primary operational environment;

·         Improved military air traffic control, navigation and communications systems that will permit closer alignment of the national systems for both military and civilian air traffic management;

·         The use of modern technology to deliver improved training outcomes through the application of high fidelity simulation and mission rehearsal systems.

“The Royal Australian Air Force is entering a period of significant change. The Air Force is actively positioning and preparing its workforce to address these demands through organisational restructuring and modest growth in key capability areas,” Fitzgibbon said.
“The end result will be a far for more versatile and far more capable Air Force, with a wider range of advanced surveillance, transport and air combat options that ever before in our nation’s history'” Fitzgibbon added.