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APA Analysis Released: National Military Strategy and the White Paper

18th August 2008

Air Power Australia is pleased to release its latest analysis entitled "National Military Strategy and the Defence 2008 White Paper", produced by a team of six expert contributors. The paper draws extensively on APA research projects dealing with regional strategic developments, and ADF force structure.

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-2008-07.phpl Abstract This paper proposes a new national military strategy for Australia, centred in an extended regional denial model. Specific force structure changes are required to implement this strategy. These include numerous important changes to the RAAF, RAN and Army force elements, detailed in this document. The new national military strategy is the result of a broad and deep strategic analysis which establishes several important constraints.

Nations in Asia are acquiring and deploying capabilities which, for the first time since the 1940s, will provide the ability to strike at Australian territory and within Australia's regional area of interest. Therefore, the most important strategic imperative for Australia in coming decades will be to acquire and maintain military capabilities which make the prospect of military conflict with Australia unattractive to any nation in Asia.

The period of 2015 and later will be characterised in this region by the widespread use of long range weapons, such as cruise missile armed aircraft and submarines, air delivered smart munitions, and supporting air capabilities such as tanker aircraft and Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Aircraft. Therefore, a critical strategic imperative for Australia will be to have and present the ability to decisively and rapidly defeat any opponent armed with modern high technology weapons, especially long range high performance fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and smart munitions.

An important strategic consideration for Australia is that as the military reach of nations in Asia expands, and their militaries become more capable, and better educated and trained, Australia will need to adopt a far more dynamic model for developing and maintaining military capabilities compared to past decades. Australia will also need to systematically benchmark its own capabilities, and planned capabilities, against a range of regional capabilities, to minimise risks to Australia and its interests.

Full implementation of China's “Second Island Chain” and “String of Pearls” strategies and associated force structure elements will provide China with significant coercive striking capability against Australia, as well as the capability to project power into Australia's sea-air gap. As a result, China's strategic agendas will clash with Australia's long established strategic agenda of maintaining control of the air and sea over the north of the continent, and the sea-air gap. Australia must face this matter as a priority in its national military strategy and its force structure.

Given the strategic overstretch of the United States, a key strategic consideration for Australia is that there is no guarantee at present that the US will make the necessary investments in force structure to retain its long term strategic position in the Western Pacific region. As a result, the deterrent capabilities the US could apply in the past may no longer be effective, leaving US allies like Japan and Australia largely exposed and having to rely on their own capabilities in any future regional conflict of any substance.

Operating directly from bases on the Asian mainland, long range bombers armed with cruise missiles and submarines armed with cruise missiles or ballistic missiles will have the capability to hold at risk most potential targets of interest in Northern Australia. Many such systems will be capable of also threatening Australian population centres along the southern and south-eastern coastlines. This is the most profound change in Australia's strategic circumstances since the 1940s. As a result, Australia should centre its future military strategy on “regional denial” with the aim of denying operations in the sea-air gap, above and around the Australian continent, and also denying the basing of combat forces and facilities in the northern archipelago.

Current and future capabilities for the RAAF will need to be focussed in persistent air dominance and the related capability to kill cruise missiles and their launch platforms; providing long range strike capabilities with sufficient weight of fire to render regional basing unusable in combat; and enhanced maritime patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilities.

Current and future capabilities for the RAN will also need to be refocussed. Anti-Submarine Warfare must be prioritised, requiring surface combatants and submarines which are suitable for this task and sufficiently numerous. Organic cruise missile defences for surface warships and escorted shipping will be required.

Current and future capabilities for the Army will need to include Surface to Air Missile, and in the future Directed Energy Weapon, defences against cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and other guided weapons, to protect critical military and industrial infrastructure, and population centres. The Army will also need to assume responsibility for protecting such targets against Special Forces attack. Sufficient capabilities should be also be available to covertly deploy, sustain and extract useful numbers of Infantry and Special Forces troops across the region.

End Abstract

Dr Carlo Kopp, MIEEE, SMAIAA, PEng
Defence Analyst and Consulting Engineer
Editor: Air Power Australia @ http://www.ausairpower.net