Last week, China's State Council released a new White Paper on Military Strategy. Although somewhat overshadowed by heightened tensions in the South China, the document has deep long-term implications for Australian defence. For the first time since World War II, a regional state is officially developing the full suite of conventional military capabilities, and now also the doctrine, to pose a direct threat to Australia and its vital interests. This is a big change.
Yet I thought Australia's defense strategy pretty much assumed this is the strategic environment they'd face for the near future:
Australia needs to defend at sea, for if any enemy intent on waging war makes it to shore, Australia would need a huge army to defend their nation/continent. That's not going to happen, although it wouldn't hurt the Australians to organize light infantry local defense forces to fight until the good but tiny army arrives to fight any enemy force that does make it ashore.
But the basic defense will be aircraft and submarines that could attack enemy ships on the way to assault Australia. Even if the enemy had a couple carriers, the F-35s with their stealth abilities would be a good weapon to sink them and shoot down any aircraft they carry. The submarines would be able to operate against the invasion fleet, too, even in the face of enemy naval superiority.
The frigates would be best for leveraging allied help to sail with either American or possibly Indian ships to fight a common foe. Alone against a major enemy fleet they'd be fairly worthless.
I know nobody is being rude enough to name that enemy but the only conceivable foes that might in the future pose an invasion threat are China and perhaps even Indonesia. So the added advantage of their defense plan is that it gives us confidence that Australia will still be fighting by the time our forces can arrive to help.
Of course, I did wonder if Australia would fund their planned military. I still do.
At the time, China was not mentioned as a potential threat in this planning.
Perhaps a more tangible Chinese threat will push along spending to defeat that threat.Although the author seems to wonder if Australia will fund counter-measures even now.
UPDATE: This article argues that Russia is pivoting to the West notwithstanding confrontations with NATO over Ukraine and other issues; and that Australia must consider what that means for Australia's security.
I say that the reason Russia is picking a fight with a toothless NATO (in regard to threatening Russia) is to hide their appeasement of China; and that if Russia is pivoting to Asia now, it is to be strong enough by the year 2021 in order to hold off China.