Canberra’s Evolving Security Policy

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The publication on February 25 of the 2016 Defense White Paper by the Australian government highlights Canberra’s response to evolving trends in the Asia-Pacific region.  The white paper, released by the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after a long gestation, outlines an ambitious modernization program for the Australian Defense Force.   It includes the acquisition of 12 diesel attack submarines; nine new anti-submarine warfare frigates; 12 new offshore patrol vessels; seven additional P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft; MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicles; modernized mine countermeasures capabilities;  a new deployable land-based anti-ship missile capability; 72 F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters; 12 E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and a new electronic warfare support aircraft; upgrades to the Australian Army’s mechanized and amphibious capabilities; as well as investments in space and cyber capabilities.  To pay for these capabilities, Australia will increase its defense spending to two percent of GDP by the end of the decade.

The 2016 White Paper is but the most recent signpost in the evolution of a security policy that has evolved in response to Australia’s geography, geostrategic orientation, regional setting, and alliances.

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