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Forum LockedAustralia fears Asian arms race

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    Posted: 10-Sep-2008 at 18:05

 

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Australia's military has been stretched by recent deployments

Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says that his country must be prepared to respond to an emerging arms race across the Asia-Pacific region.

The Australian military would be built up to meet the challenge, he said.

In a speech to retired soldiers, the prime minister did not spell out which countries could pose a threat in the future.

But analysts say planners in Canberra are wary of expanding armed forces in China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Almost every nation in Asia has a territorial dispute of some kind with its neighbours, ranging from minor verbal jousts to potential triggers of conflict.

China's increasing confidence on the world stage is also reflected in continuing disputes over ownership of the resources of the South China Sea, including the current muscle-flexing between China and Vietnam over a disputed oil contract, correspondents say.

Flashpoints

Without going into such specifics, Mr Rudd did say that existing tensions in the Asia-Pacific region were causing concern.

Militarily... as it has already become economically and politically, the Asia-Pacific will become a much more contested region
Kevin Rudd

These included questions of sovereignty between China and Taiwan and other "unresolved flashpoints" arising from border disputes between other countries.

Mr Rudd said his government had to be aware of the changes that were taking place in the region and that Australia had to make sure it had a force that could "answer the call" if needed.

"There is an arms build-up across the Asia-Pacific region and Australia therefore must look at the long-term future at the same time as advancing our diplomacy," he told reporters.

Mr Rudd described the arms build-up as an "explosion".

"Militarily... as it has already become economically and politically, the Asia-Pacific will become a much more contested region," Mr Rudd said in the speech.

"The demographic changes in our region will mean that by 2020 when we look to our north, we will see a very different region to the one we see now, one where population, food, water and energy resource pressures will be great," Mr Rudd said.

Australia should, therefore, be preparing for "the new challenges of energy security and anticipating the impact of climate change on long-term food and water security," Mr Rudd said.

Over-stretched

Australia has a relatively small military, which has been stretched in recent times by deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, reports the BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney.

A 10-year plan to modernise its combat capabilities is already under way, including the purchase of fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and helicopters, as well efforts to build a larger army.

Some analysts have described this as a "catching up" exercise, suggesting more investment would be necessary.

Mr Rudd appears to agree.

"For the government, a major priority is to ensure we have enough naval capabilities in the future, enough naval assets, enough naval performance, and therefore enough funding put aside to invest in that, long term," he said.

Mr Rudd also insisted in his speech that Australia, which is a close ally of the United States, wanted to maintain its status as a global "middle power".

 
It seems over the coming years Australias geopolitcal importence will increase, espeically since the will become more resource pressed as devolpment to the North presses forward. 


Edited by Kevin - 10-Sep-2008 at 18:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2008 at 22:17

I dont know how they are going to afford it. Australia has a relatively small population and a fondness for expensive western weapons.  Not only that but potential rivals are becoming better equipped.

Even with USA assistance, the costs of new western equipment are astronomical. I think that Australia is going to be exploring Russian weapons for support roles such as artillery and also for future frigates. The odds of Australia facing a threat alone from a world class navy are remote.  


Edited by Cryptic - 10-Sep-2008 at 22:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2008 at 22:39
Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

I dont know how they are going to afford it. Australia has a relatively small population and a fondness for expensive western weapons.  Not only that but potential rivals are becoming better equipped.

Even with USA assistance, the costs of new western equipment are astronomical. I think that Australia is going to be exploring Russian weapons for support roles such as artillery and also for future frigates. The odds of Australia facing a threat alone from a world class navy are remote.  


I disagree, Australia is a fairly wealthy nation with a very strong and robust economy along with a high standard of living, I think overall Australia can very much afford to shower some more funding and advanced weapons for the armed forces.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2008 at 22:50
No one has a clear view far into the future, of course, but in the forseeable future, China is the only realistic adversary for Australian interests.  Japan, Indonesia and India see China as the potential threat to their vital interests going forward, and Viet Nam, Malaysia and Thailand could be threatened as well by Chinese resource dependence.
 
Australia's geographic lines of defense are 1) the sea, and 2) the Indonesian archipelago.
 
The US navy is Australia's defense at sea.  Obviously cooperation is essential, as the US needs access and supporting infrastructure, but the absence of US naval power would leave Australia with few defensive options.
 
Indonesia is Australia's buffer zone to the north.  Indonesia has had suspicions about long term Chinese intentions since Sukarno.  The straits through Indonesian waters, as well as past Singapore, are strategic choke points that may have to be accessed by influence, or be controlled by China, much as they were by the resource starved Japanese in WW II.
 
It is hard to determine from a political statement what Mr. Rudd actually has in mind, but Australia cannot go it alone here because of her limited resources.
 
Australia "exploring Russian weapons" does not seem likely.
 
    
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2008 at 23:01
Australian, and American high technology industries are going to face growing competition form India and China.  No country with 20 million people has the money to truly afford over priced fighters at 70-100 million dollars a copy.  The same goes for over priced western naval ships and transport helicopters. The high priced and ultra high performance western armour and submarines, however, are cost effective.  
 
As far as exploring Russian weapons go....
I agree with you Pikeshot.  Australia will probably reject Russian weapons. This is due to US political pressure and US aid combining with Australian preferences.  Too bad for the Australian tax payers, select Russian weapons are far more cost effective.


Edited by Cryptic - 11-Sep-2008 at 01:36
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Australia should know its place on the continent and stop playing the rough tough cowboy role it has been doing in the past 10 years. It has no power what so ever to defeat even the smallest nation in SWA. It should remain neutral and nothing will come in its way. China is more interested in its neighbours particularly the oil and gas rich far east of Russia than of the far away isolated island inhabited by white europeans. China knows that there will be no love lost if it takes on any of its neighbours, especially Russia. however the west will go in force to defend australia for many reasons. Australia should build its army but should refrain from any kind of alliances with its Asian neighbours and if they do that, China might actually give them a role in the new SWA.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Sep-2008 at 23:20
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Australia should know its place on the continent and stop playing the rough tough cowboy role it has been doing in the past 10 years. It has no power what so ever to defeat even the smallest nation in SWA. It should remain neutral and nothing will come in its way. China is more interested in its neighbours particularly the oil and gas rich far east of Russia than of the far away isolated island inhabited by white europeans. China knows that there will be no love lost if it takes on any of its neighbours, especially Russia. however the west will go in force to defend australia for many reasons. Australia should build its army but should refrain from any kind of alliances with its Asian neighbours and if they do that, China might actually give them a role in the new SWA.
 
Al-Jassas
 
"China might actually give them a role in the new SWA?"  Come on.  In the real world, Chinese dominance of the new SWA would mean Australia would become a resource destination to be exploited, no different than Africa.
 
Australia must keep the alliances she has and make others as necessary because of her geographic position and her limited population.  Hoping for the best is hardly an attractive, or realistic, option.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Sep-2008 at 13:17
The recent spending spree is catchup and im glad to see Rudd actaully agrees. I don't want to see Howard type rushed arm purchases from the US like caper. Throwing cash into this doesn't help. We can afford Raptors, we can also afford Aegis equipped ships. Its more about priorities. Airforce and Navy should remian our big ticket recepeints. We can still ownour immediate North. They are talking more subs, this is the single most effective deterrence for our geography. The JSF is also looking shaky now.

Double the number to subs to 8 at least, enhance the next batch with verticle lunched ASM's. Need more? go smaller coastal one from Germany. but.....

....we cannot fully man the 4 (3.5) we have. Our issue will cease being about equipment, its about personalle . Why would anyone earn 40-50gs (tax free lots of benefits though) when the mines are paying seroius 6 figure sums, 100+g's for driving the Tonka trucks.

The big threats are Russian/chinese planes -  Flankers, Russian/chinese missiles - mainly anti ship Moskit types and those S-300 SAM's. We do not have a counter for them, they're cheap and can be purcahsed in greater numbers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WolfHound85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Sep-2008 at 14:43
Eh yea they need to upgrade but they also need to form some kind of alliances because the lack of population may hurt them in any future conflicts.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Sep-2008 at 01:26
Originally posted by WolfHound85 WolfHound85 wrote:

Eh yea they need to upgrade but they also need to form some kind of alliances because the lack of population may hurt them in any future conflicts.
The lack of population  can probably be mitigated by only fighting high technology air and naval conflicts.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Sep-2008 at 12:39
Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

I think that Australia is going to be exploring Russian weapons for support roles such as artillery and also for future frigates.

Highly unlikely. Australia really only considers weapons that are western in orgin, and the current crowd in the DMO (Defence Material Organisation) only give non-American weapons lip service - even if the German (or other) system is much better for the situation.
I'm afriad until corruption is rooted out in the DMO, American will be the only option.
Originally posted by Kevin Kevin wrote:


I disagree, Australia is a fairly wealthy nation with a very strong and robust economy along with a high standard of living, I think overall Australia can very much afford to shower some more funding and advanced weapons for the armed forces.

That has been true in the past, however all of the rest of east asia are also rich countries too now. So the wealth-edge is nothing like it was 30 years ago.
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Australia should know its place on the continent and stop playing the rough tough cowboy role it has been doing in the past 10 years. It has no power what so ever to defeat even the smallest nation in SWA. It should remain neutral and nothing will come in its way. China is more interested in its neighbours particularly the oil and gas rich far east of Russia than of the far away isolated island inhabited by white europeans. China knows that there will be no love lost if it takes on any of its neighbours, especially Russia.

Perfectly said. I agree. In fact Australia's army is still organised on colonial lines, and serves a colonial role. It would be far better reorganising and retraining our army than wasting money on heavy weapons like Abrams Tanks

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Sep-2008 at 17:19
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

It would be far better reorganising and retraining our army than wasting money on heavy weapons like Abrams Tanks
I agree in principal, but not on the issue of the specific issue of the  Abrams tank. The only sure way to defeat heavy tanks is to use other heavy tanks.  Austalia needs a heavy tank force of a certain size.  Unlike other western systems such as "over the top" aircraft, the Abrams tank is cost effective and has demonstrated a very strong advantage over Russian, Ukrainian and Polish built T-80 type tanks that are in the region.


Edited by Cryptic - 25-Sep-2008 at 17:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WolfHound85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Sep-2008 at 13:47
Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

Originally posted by WolfHound85 WolfHound85 wrote:

Eh yea they need to upgrade but they also need to form some kind of alliances because the lack of population may hurt them in any future conflicts.

The lack of population  can probably be mitigated by only fighting high technology air and naval conflicts.


True thus they should modernize just in case any conflict arises with North Korea or China.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Sep-2008 at 14:08
I don't see in any way how North Korea should worry us. Even if they got nukes, they have a thousand other places on the planet they would rather shoot at.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Sep-2008 at 00:07
Originally posted by WolfHound85 WolfHound85 wrote:

 
The lack of population  can probably be mitigated by only fighting high technology air and naval conflicts.

True thus they should modernize just in case any conflict arises with North Korea or China.[/QUOTE]
But how to modrnize, and what roles to modernize for?  As Omar pointed out, Australia is  developing a intervention capable military equipped with ultra high priced American weapons. These forces are not only very expensive, but for the intervention to be meaningful, one needs alot of them. 
 
Australia does not face a threat to her territorial integrity. So one must as the question if Australia should save money and cancel the intervention capable military. The intervening can then be left to the USA.  But... Maybe Australian strategists predict that the USA might be no longer able to or willing to intervene on behalf of Australian interests.  If this the case, then Australia needs intervention capability.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Sep-2008 at 08:24
Cryptic is right we need a force of MBT's.  it doesn't need to be big but we need a force of something credible (i'd prefered second hand Leoprads but Howard's regime was always going to push US made). even having 50 of them means that anyone that comes over, needs a whole lot more, making an invasion that much more complicated. They are crap for future projection forces due to their weight.

As for the intervention type weapons, i think we do need some kind of light/medium weight force for projection. The US cannot do it for us, and we cannot depend on them for the next Timor. We dont need a massive marine force but certinaly we should be able place a decent force to secure a island nation if it fails or is attacked.

BTW, The US dominace on our orders should change with this government. i also need to remind people the europeans also do very well here, our newer rotor forces are basically euro sourced as are our two latest ship projects (spain).

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Sep-2008 at 08:44
Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

I agree in principal, but not on the issue of the specific issue of the  Abrams tank. The only sure way to defeat heavy tanks is to use other heavy tanks.  Austalia needs a heavy tank force of a certain size.  Unlike other western systems such as "over the top" aircraft, the Abrams tank is cost effective and has demonstrated a very strong advantage over Russian, Ukrainian and Polish built T-80 type tanks that are in the region.

But when you consider the geography heavy tanks aren't as useful as they are in other places. The mountainous archipelago of Indonesia means that their mobility will be hugely limited, especially since Australia doesn't have any real means to transport these tanks. On the Australian mainland the huge distances mean fuel efficiency becomes a big consideration. I don't think 200m a litre will cut it in a country that has to import its diesel and transport it hundreds of kilometres.

I found two articles which talk about the same place I'm coming from.
Quote These 59 tanks are primarily for enhancing the firepower and protection of our deployed infantry. Given the small number to be acquired, it could hardly be otherwise as there are just enough for two operational squadrons, plus one training squadron. “Real” strength in tanks is not measured in squadrons, or even regiments, but in full-scale armoured divisions each numbering as many as 300 tanks. As we have seen in Iraq in 2003, in Kuwait in 1991, and indeed all the way back to the German “blitzkrieg” of World War II, large, fast-moving formations with air support is the effective way to use tanks offensively.

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=2104

Quote

THE army's newest frontline weapon, the Abrams battle tank, arrived in Australia yesterday and immediately encountered problems, with no rail transport available to carry the tank to the Northern Territory.

Its deployment will be further hampered because, at 68 tonnes, the Abrams is too heavy to travel across road bridges in the Northern Territory.
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,20460399-2,00.html
Incidentally I have no idea how they solved the second one.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Sep-2008 at 08:56
Originally posted by Leonidas Leonidas wrote:

even having 50 of them means that anyone that comes over, needs a whole lot more, making an invasion that much more complicated.

Not really. Geography dictates that any invader would require air superiority, so I think it should be assumed apriori for this type of purchase. If country X does have air superiority then the tanks become fairly useless. They can't run, they can't hide, and they can't fight.

Look at how France & Chad defeated Lybia in the Toyota War. Heavy tanks didn't help Lybia against an enemy with air superiority, and light vehicles (Toyota utes)
Quote
BTW, The US dominace on our orders should change with this government. i also need to remind people the Europeans also do very well here, our newer rotor forces are basically euro sourced as are our two latest ship projects (spain).

I don't know about that. Rudd will take the advice of his public servants, and hasn't fired the people who need to be fired in DMO. I don't think that the government is even aware of the situation in the DMO, they don't care for their Engineers or take engineering advice.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Sep-2008 at 13:48
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:


But when you consider the geography heavy tanks aren't as useful as they are in other places. The mountainous archipelago of Indonesia means that their mobility will be hugely limited, especially since Australia doesn't have any real means to transport these tanks.
If their use is well planned, heavy tanks can be made to work almost aywhere. For example, they can be fitted with special urban combat kits. As for transportation, I think Australia has bought about 50 heavy truck transporters.
 
  
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Look at how France & Chad defeated Lybia in the Toyota War. Heavy tanks didn't help Lybia against an enemy with air superiority, and light vehicles (Toyota utes)
Libyan soldiers were also very poorly motivated,  trained and their equipment poorly maintained. France had total air dominance for all practical reasons.  It is increasingly likely that Australian forces will face militarily competent, well equipped opponents.  They need to be able to put a certain number of heavy tanks against heavy tanks.
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:


[quote]These 59 tanks are primarily for enhancing the firepower and protection of our deployed infantry. Given the small number to be acquired, it could hardly be otherwise
[quote]
That will probably be their main mission. The huge fire power and defensive support they can give to infantry can be very useful. This is especially true if the enemy has modern anti tank weapons and is skilled with road side bombs etc.  When deployed, light wheeled APCs  must be backed up by a certain number of heavy tanks.
 
 


Edited by Cryptic - 28-Sep-2008 at 14:04
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Sep-2008 at 16:04
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Originally posted by Leonidas Leonidas wrote:

even having 50 of them means that anyone that comes over, needs a whole lot more, making an invasion that much more complicated.

Not really. Geography dictates that any invader would require air superiority, so I think it should be assumed apriori for this type of purchase. If country X does have air superiority then the tanks become fairly useless. They can't run, they can't hide, and they can't fight.
assume our Asian friends will have superiority or parity in the air (just assume we buy the f-35 Wink). assume they can land a force, and then you need the heavy lifter to make sure they need to land a dam big force. tanks are a bitch to move around, having them here makes this place that much harder to invade even if you can land forces and match our jets. We dont have to move them, potential agressor will. all of a sudden that just made the numbers that much hader to work, and what for? 50-60 tanks. with the training and knowledge of having them it is very easy to expand the force if we ever came to that cross road.

cryptic is right, you cant write these things off. tanks when used well and in a combined arms structure are dam effective. The western forces have been lightening up; wheeled APC's and more 'quick reaction' units since the end of the cold war. These are good ( Aus needs one or two groups like this for regional duty), they're quick, cheap and effective most of the time. But what the US forces found in Iraq, was that nothing can subsitute heavy armour when in a proper fight. Go back to Long tan in Vietnam and armour was the vital part of that battle.

We would always have and need a heavy core to defend the top end, its is a massive obstacle and deterent to anyone that will gain the capability to actaully land there. in my head though i would also assume greater AA forces in the core group.

Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

I don't know about that. Rudd will take the advice of his public servants, and hasn't fired the people who need to be fired in DMO. I don't think that the government is even aware of the situation in the DMO, they don't care for their Engineers or take engineering advice.
in all honesty I have yet to judge Labour on this, to early. But they are not as close to the US than Howard, losing that buddy buddy connection is what i am hoping for.

 I am dead set aginst the f-35 as a single solution and they should buy the fourth spanish frigate 'destroyer' so i am keen to see what they do. I am also waiting for the new defence white paper and the next lot of weapons planning to make my final judgement. i kid you not my vote is very influnced by defence policy. Anyway, Howards regime sucked at choosing weapons most of the time and threw to much money around.

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