US gets it military priorities funded through Federal Budget
Written by: (Contributed) on 5 April 2022
The whole defence section of the recent Australian federal budget contained few surprises: the Morrison Coalition government remains hell-bent on following US-led regional military planning and all which that position entails.
One part of the defence section, for example, revealed just how close Australia has been drawn to US-led war-mongering. Another, likewise, revealed the level of Cold War regional planning pushed by the Pentagon, with far-reaching implications for Australia.
The recent Australian federal budget boosted military spending with a total defence commitment of $575 billion over the decade to 2029-30; existing provision was expanded to a fraction over 2 per cent of GDP. The only new national security provision was an announcement that the Morrison Coalition government in Canberra was creating a specialist cyber and intelligence facility inside the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), with a cost projection of $9.9 billion over the next decade. (1) The new signals facilities, called Project Redspice, have responsibility for 'new offensive threat analysis and cyber warfare capability'. (2)
The budget allocation was also separate to a further $1.7 billion for similar facilities in the previous 2020 budget and that it 'will also allow the ASD to work closely with its Five Eyes and AUKUS counterparts and co-ordinate offensive and defensive strategies'. (3)
The announcement coincided with a statement from the leadership of the Australian intelligence services, Rachel Noble, that, 'domestic threats are accelerating as nation states and criminal gangs ramp up the severity of attacks targeting critical infrastructure health and food distribution providers'. (4) The announcement also included reference to regional assessments and deteriorating security in the Indo-Pacific. (5)
The budget allocation for the ASD included reference to more than 1,900 new jobs and moving forty per cent of the ASD's staff outside of Canberra by 2027; the investment will double the ASD workforce. (6) It was also noted the ASD would 'quadruple our number of people integrated within Five Eyes partners'; drawing Australia ever closer to US-led diplomatic positions. (7) Their chosen method of operation and in-house training of new personnel was noted as consisting of 'hacking, that was otherwise illegal … and … Australia must dramatically increase its offensive and defensive capacity’. (8) A statement from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison included reference to 'Australia stepping up to do more', in line with US-led regional positions; it was also noted that a 'new Cyber and Critical Technology Intelligence Centre will be located within the Office of National Assessments', without providing many details of the expanded provision of the elite Australian intelligence organisation. (9)
Elsewhere, in another part of the budget papers, it was said that 'in addition to recent concerns about the possible acquisition of a military base by China in the Solomon Islands … the US military … has announced its intention to build a remote base east of the Philippines solely for cyber warfare'. (10) Guam, with its close relationship with the US military, is the obvious choice for the Pentagon cyber warfare facilities; it also rests on the same arc from Pine Gap in central Australia and Diego Garcia, providing surveillance coverage of most of the Indo-Pacific, including the sensitive South China Seas. (11)
The strengthening of diplomatic relations between the Sogavare government in the Solomon Islands and China and their new security pact has created serious concerns in Canberra and elsewhere. The South Pacific region has, historically, formed part of Australian military and security provision with projection towards northern approaches and has been regarded as Canberra's 'backyard'. (12) The new Cold War has now come to the South Pacific: a statement from the Biden administration in Washington they were re-establishing full diplomatic representation and 'an embassy in the Solomon Islands in an effort to counter China's influence', has, therefore, left little to the imagination. (13) One might, nevertheless, raise the question of just what facilities and personnel the Pentagon has in mind for allocation inside their new embassy and whether their accoutrements will remain out of sight of visitors.
Another part of the defence budget also contained the announcement that the federal government has cut funding for 'defence co-operation with regional partners as China forges a new security agreement with the Solomon Islands and works to strengthen its strategic foothold across the Pacific'. (14) Three countries appear to be specifically targeted by Canberra: the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and East Timor, the latter being noted as 'being heavily courted by China'. (15)
What would appear to be happening is that the US is ramping up Australia's regional presence for the defence and security of 'US interests', and countries regarded as close to China have been assessed as unreliable and a potential security threat for usual access to Australian military facilities. The position has far-reaching implications for Australian foreign policy with regional neighbours, all of which have diplomatic relations with China.
Seeming to confirm that the Australian military is being fashioned into an invasion force, rather than a defensive force, is the Budget’s scrapping of the purchase of 12 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), drones capable of carrying a variety of weapons such as Hellfire missiles and laser guided bombs. In criticising what it said appeared to be an April Fool’s joke, the Asian Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) claimed that the “Ukraine armed forces have been using their UCAVs with devastating effect, destroying dozens of Russian main battle tanks, artillery pieces, multiple launch rocket systems and a variety of other vehicles”. (16) Rather than scrapping such an effective defensive weapon, the APDR said that the $5.3 billion purchase of battle tanks, which it had previously described as inappropriate for Australia’s defence, should be scrapped or cut back. The APDR editor, in response to a comment on the article, added that the proposed UCAV “would come with British weapons – Brimstone and Paveway II – which of course is completely unacceptable to the dominant pro-USAF faction in both the RAAF and CASG.” (The CASG is the body in charge of the acquisition and sustainability of military equipment.)
And finally, moves have already begun to establish a new dual-use port in Darwin, in a move noted as providing 'the Australian and US militaries a potential alternative to the city's controversial Chinese-leased facilities', despite an official defence review last year which found 'there was not sufficient national security grounds to overturn Landbridge's 99-year lease'. (17) While Australian security gave it the thumbs up, the Pentagon did not; the US has now left Australian tax-payers to foot the bill for their military presence in the Northern Territories.
In conclusion, the defence sections of the recent federal budget were the work of military hawks, keen to pursue US-led regional planning and war-mongering:
We need an independent foreign policy!
1. Funding flatlines despite call to arms, Budget 22, Australian, 30 March 2022.
3. Cyber package 'largest in nation's history', Budget 22, Australian, 30 March 2022.
4. Threats from rogue states and crims rising: top cyber spy, Australian, 31 March 2022.
9. Biden acclaims 'essential' ANZUS., Australian, 29 March 2022.
10. Billions in tax-breaks, The New Daily, 29 March 2022.
11. See: Peters Projection, Map of the World, actual size according to countries and their
12. Solomons confirms security talks, Reuters, 26 March 2022.
13. Lessons of history, Editorial, The Weekend Australian, 26-27 March 2022.
14. Cuts to defence funding as China circling, Budget 22, The Australian, 31 March 2022.
16. AIR 7003 armed UCAV project cancelled - APDR (asiapacificdefencereporter.com)
17. Defence bid to give leased port the slip, Australian, 1 April 2022.
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