Australia’s New Defence Policy: Defence or Offence?

Australia's new Defence White Paper was issued at the beginning of May - and the RAN was the big winner. Press reports describe it as "the most dramatic build-up of naval power since World War II, predicated on the belief that the rise of China heralds significant long-term strategic risks for Australia."

A key passage in the same report records: "The white paper all but ignores the conclusions of two spy agencies, the Office of National Assessments and the Defence Intelligence Organization, which view China's military modernization as a defensive response to US forces in the Pacific rather than as a factor that should drive the structure of the future Australian Defence Force."

Two press reports on the WP and the paper itself can be found here and here.

The White Paper itself is available here.

One analyst likened the new policy as a shift from a purely defensive ("fortress") stance to one of "standoff engagement. Generally, the Australians wish to monitor all foreign activity and sustain a presence on the northern side of the Indonesian archipelago. They also appear to intend projecting Australian military power as far north as possible, even into the South China Sea.