Major shift in army stance to counter emerging threats

A panel says Australian commanders need to accept accountability for any unlawful conduct.

A panel says Australian commanders need to accept accountability for any unlawful conduct. Photo: AAP

The Australian Army will rejig placement of units and weapons to better position itself for countering any potential threat.

A major finding of a landmark review into Australia’s defence was that land forces need restructuring, which the government agreed to implement.

Defence Minister Richard Marles will announce the changes in Townsville alongside the acting chief of army on Thursday.

Combat brigades will have specialised capabilities to ensure taxpayers and the military get more bang for their buck by making it easier to maintain systems and units.

The Darwin-based 1st Brigade will focus on light combat, the Townsville-based 3rd Brigade armoured combat, the Brisbane-based 7th Brigade motorised combat and the Adelaide-based 1st Armoured Regiment will become an innovation and experimentation unit that will integrate emerging technology.

“Our army has always played a vital role in the defence of our nation and will continue to do so as it adapts to the challenges of our times,” Mr Marles said.

“This will mean the army has a concentration of people and capabilities in Australia’s north, making it easier to deploy for training, major exercises or to support our partners and allies in the region.”

The acceleration and expansion of medium and heavy littoral manoeuvre vessels — vehicles capable of transporting land forces — are also being considered including water landing craft.

The vessels could be based in Darwin, northern Queensland and Brisbane.

American landing craft could be stationed Down Under to help plug capability gaps and move Australian resources in the event of a regional conflict, US Army Pacific chief of staff Brigadier General James Bartholomees previously told AAP.

Armoured vehicles and army planes will be stationed in Townsville as will tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and Apache and Chinook helicopters, growing the army’s presence in north Queensland.

The move means Townsville will hold all the army’s armoured power and almost half of its aviation capabilities.

Abrams tanks, M113 armoured personnel carriers, Hawkeis, Bushmasters and towed Howitzer artillery will be moved up from Brisbane.

Darwin will be refocused towards light, agile and quick strike forces.
The number of army personnel posted to Darwin will remain relatively steady while its presence will grow in Townsville.

Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and NSW will largely be unaffected.

The army will not move personnel between regions outside of the normal posting cycles to minimise the impact on soldiers and their families.

New postings in Adelaide alongside the standing up of long-range fire capabilities will begin in 2025 in line with the arrival of new artillery and missile systems.

The South Australian capital has been selected as the home for the new long-range strike abilities, due to access to ranges that could handle the missile systems and access to data from services already stationed there.

The strike systems were designed to be air portable and can be quickly deployed.


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