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Defence update 2007: protecting our people, interests and values.

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Thursday, 5 July 2007 066/2007


A major review of Australia’s national security has been released today.

Prime Minister John Howard today launched Australia’s National Security: A Defence Update 2007 at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Global Forces 2007 conference.

Like its predecessors in 2003 and 2005, Defence Update 2007 reflects the Government’s commitment to regularly review the balance of concepts, capabilities and forces to meet strategic challenges as they arise.

The Defence Update 2007 sets out Australia’s strategic outlook and the measures the Howard Government is taking to ensure Australia’s security is maintained.

This Update outlines the progress the Government has made on meeting the challenges thus far, from operations to building partnerships and establishing capability.

For the future, we need both a clear understanding of the changing and complex nature of Australia’s security environment, and a versatile, integrated and robust defence force.

The Government is committed to ensuring Defence is well prepared and resourced to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex global security environment.

A real increase of 47 per cent in the Defence budget since the Howard Government came to office has provided the ADF with a greatly enhanced capability to respond across the broad spectrum of operations including humanitarian assistance missions, disaster relief, peacekeeping, reconstruction and warfighting.

The key conclusions of the Update are:

• Trends ranging from terrorism, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation, fragile states, the growing interconnectedness arising from globalisation, and the changing nature of the use of force, all contribute to a dynamic security environment.

• Whilst Australia faces no direct conventional threat, nor is that likely in the foreseeable future, it recognises the need to prepare for a range of threats with less warning of imminent crises.

• The Middle East remains at the intersection of many trends - including terrorism, WMD proliferation, and state vulnerability - that affect our national interests, requiring our continuing involvement in that region.

• We must be able to act decisively through limiting the options of, deterring, and if necessary, defeating potential adversaries in our area of paramount defence interest.

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• In a more complex, interconnected world, partners are needed whatever the military task. We are able to make significant contributions to coalition operations where our national interests are engaged.

• As a security leader in our immediate region, we are engaged with other regional countries in stabilisation and capacity-building in Operations Anode (Solomon Islands) and Astute (East Timor).

• The nature of our contributions to coalition efforts are tailored to circumstances - while both the Middle East and Asia-Pacific are vital to out interests, Defence involvement in each differs.

• The importance of strategic relationships not only with existing allies such as our alliance with the United States but also in the region with nations such as Japan, Indonesia and India.

Recent Government capability decisions have enhanced the ADF’s strategic and operational weight, making it increasingly effective, able to secure our national interests and make contributions valued by friends and allies.

• The Air Warfare Destroyers will help ensure the ADF’s air and sea control in our immediate region, while retaining the versatility to contribute to a range of missions.

• The amphibious ships offer considerable reach and a secure and sustainable capability for onshore operations, particularly when local infrastructure is inadequate.

• The Enhanced Land Force and the Hardened and Networked Army initiatives strengthen the Army’s ability to operate in more complex, uncertain and dangerous environments.

• The Super Hornet purchase will guarantee Australia’s air combat edge during the transition from the existing Hornet and F-111 fleet, while providing a more flexible operational and networked air capability.

• The C-17 Globemasters provide the ADF with greater reach and more reliable airlift with an increased capacity.

The ADF will be required to maintain high levels of preparedness, sustainability and responsiveness - and in the future, meet unknown challenges that cannot be predicted in places we cannot anticipate.

We can be confident that this update further prepares Defence for the task of defending Australia’s interests now and into the future.

Defence Update 2007 will be available from 1030am, 5 July 2007, at

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