growth, by crime, by governance
challenges and, indeed, climate
change. Fifth, the pace of military modernization. There are far
more capable, and ever-evolving,
regional military forces, including
the proliferation of submarines.
Indeed, half the world’s submarines
will be in the Indo-Pacific region
in the nearer term. Finally, the
emergence of new, complex nongeographic threats, by that I mean
cyber- and space-based threats.
Those six strategic drivers create
a very complex and quite uncertain environment for Australia
and Australian defense policy, and
require development of defense
capabilities and agility to take a
more effective role, not just reacting, but actually shaping regional affairs and, of course, having the ability
to decisively respond to developments that ultimately
threaten us. Secondly, to strengthen the alliance with
the United States. The criticality of that alliance is
emphasized continuously throughout the White Paper.
We’ve now got three equally weighted strategic
interests that have evolved from those drivers and this
is something that is very different to that which we’ve
faced in the past. Those three interests are, firstly, to
have a secure and resilient Australia — the land mass
of Australia and its northern approaches. The second
is to have a secure near region, defined as maritime
Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. The third is a stable Indo-Pacific region and a rules-based global order.
If we’re going to [defend those] three equally weighted interests, we need a defense force that is more capable,
more agile and more potent into the future. The White
Paper has determined that we will grow our defense budget to 2 percent of GDP [gross domestic product] and
invest $195 billion [Australian dollars, or $152.2 billion
U.S.] in new capability over a decade, which is about $30
billion more than was anticipated in previous plans. A
significant part — 25 percent of that $195 billion — will
be applied to the development of maritime capability and
another 25 percent to critical enablers which will enable
us to effective realize that capability.
How does Australia stretch its forces to cover
its broad interests?
GILMORE: The Australian Maritime Zone, including
our EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone], is one of the largest in the world. The marine area of that is around 10
million square kilometers [ 6. 2 million square miles].
For our search-and-rescue capability, that’s 53 million
square kilometers, about one-tenth of the world’s sur-
face. That is a daunting prospect in itself.
How do we stretch ourselves? Firstly, we recognize
we’ve got to stretch ourselves further into the future,
but we don’t do a bad job now with what we’ve got.
We’ve got to do it smart. We have an emphasis on
the alliance with the United States with a need to be
interoperable. We can always be better, of course, but
we already achieved much, so we can work together
very effectively with the United States and with others.
Secondly, we’ve emphasized for a long time now the
criticality of the joint force. The Australian Defence
Force’s three services operate together as one and that
enables us to do much more than if we operated separately. I’d like to think that we are a truly effective joint
force. There’s also a whole-of-government approach
to dealing with security. Indeed, we closely support
Australian Border Force, which includes Customs and
Immigration. We’ve got a strong ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] base already. We have a
good logistics or supply chain that enables us to be out
there as long as we can and it’s a balanced force so we
have capability already in a number of areas.
Finally, perhaps the best enabler of all, we’ve got great
people. The Australian Defence Force and, indeed, the
Australian Defence Organization, our defense civilians,
are great people and really well trained. They are and
remain highly motivated in the conduct of their duties.
Australia has been a close military ally of the
United States. What factors contributed this
GILMORE: Without a doubt, it’s based on shared values
and a close friendship that has evolved over what is
now a century of working together. As a consequence