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A Message from our Chairman: Response to Release of Australia’s “2020 Defence Strategic Update” and “2020 Force Structure Plan”

(Source: U.S. Department of Defense; photo by D. Myles Cullen.)

By: Randall G. Schriver |

On July 1, 2020, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison released Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan, marking a significant shift in Australia’s defense strategy and posture. The Project 2049 Institute had the pleasure of receiving a briefing on this plan, and we are grateful to the Australian Embassy team for their comprehensive review of the Strategic Update.

We are very encouraged by the documents and the bold direction in which Australia is taking its defense forces. A focus on deploying military power to shape, deter, and, when required, respond, acknowledges the current challenges in Australia’s immediate neighborhood and well positions Australia with the necessary planning, investments, and capabilities. Priorities such as increases in bottom line spending, greater emphasis on high-end capabilities, and enhanced supply chain security, are particularly noteworthy.

With over 100 years of mateship, and robust defense and security ties between Australia and the United States, this new strategy will serve to strengthen our great alliance even further. The new framework also sets the stage for a successful Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation (AUSMIN) this year, as the U.S. and Australia work to increase economic, security, and strategic cooperation. In light of this new strategy, our security assurances, intelligence-sharing, and technological industrial cooperation are sure to broaden and deepen, remaining critical to our joint security.

Given the current strategic environment, with accelerated military modernization, expanded cyber capabilities and ‘grey-zone’ activities, disruptions to the rules-based world order, and major power competition, the potential for military miscalculation is high. Australia’s signal with this strategic shift, that it is able and willing to utilize its military power to shape, deter, and respond, is the right message at the right time. We welcome and commend Australia’s continued efforts to uphold the peace and security of the free and open Indo-Pacific.

The Honorable Randall G. Schriver

The Project 2049 Institute