Peter Dutton has revealed the new focus for Australia’s troops that served in the Middle East with more threats on our doorstep including China.
Exclusive: Australian Defence Forces will return to “core business” in defending Australia’s interests with uncertain times creating new home front threats, Defence Minister Peter Dutton has declared.
Speaking on the eve of Australia’s most revered day, Anzac Day, Mr Dutton thanked the more than 39,000 troops who served in the Middle East but said now the focus was on home.
He said the skill sets learned in the conflict zone over the past 20 years would serve the nation well as Australia faced multiple threats including the militarisation of bases and islands on our doorstep, notably by China, the level of foreign interference and cyber threats, and the “heavy influence” into our neighbours.
Mr Dutton was in Brisbane yesterday and had planned to speak with soldiers of the 3rd Battalion at Lavarack Barracks to commemorate the Battle of Kapyong during the Korean War, when Australian troops slowed Chinese forces advancing on Seoul.
However due to WA’s lockdown and restrictions on anyone who had been there recently was forced to cancel., was forced
But a constant on his six trips to other barracks so far as he talked to rank and file, “core business” was the message he repeated.
He told News Corp Australia yesterday, symbolically like Kapyong, friends and foe needed to know where Australia stood.
“Australia has always stood up for our values and sovereignty and for our closest friends and allies and nothing has changed from 70 years ago to this point in history, so we need to make sure we continue to play to our strengths and our friends, and adversaries will know that is always the case,” he said.
“The threats are understood and we’ve come to the end of our 20-year engagement in the Middle East, so there is a refocus and pivoting back to our own region that is necessary and it also gives the 39,000 (troops) and those who have succeeded them in the ADF time to rejuvenate“
He said the ADF had been on an almost permanent conflict footing but troops now could catch up and ramp up on training, allow new war fighting acquisitions to arrive and be rolled out and operators to skill up on their use to build greater capacity.
As other agencies including ASIO have pointed out, Mr Dutton said there existed “a significant threat at unprecedented levels and that means a huge effort required in country and region as well”.
Earlier he said Australia had been clear with China it would not “surrender” to threats of retaliation after Beijing threatened escalating a trade war because Australia cut Victoria’s ties to its Belt and Road Initiative.
“I think the focus for the Australian Defence Force is about core business, providing domestic support, keep Australia safe and secure, focus further emphasis and be clear-eyed about capacity in the defence force to keep us safe and secure in uncertain times and our training now reflects that priority,” he said.
“The level of foreign interference in our country, the level of cyber attacks, the militarisation of bases across our region, the heavy influence into near neighbours, I think that all creates question marks and uncertainty which we need to monitor and respond to as we need.“
“The priority at the moment is we have the organisation focused on their core business, making sure they are keeping Australia safe and secure. Equally I have an absolute priority to honour the service of the 39,000 men and women, 41 of whom gave their lives in conflict over the course of the last two decades in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I want them to hear a very clear message of support from me and the government and the public to gain a deeper understanding of the work they were doing there and the fact they saved countries including Australia from terrorist attacks and another 9-11 type event.”
Source: News Corp Australia Network article by Charles Miranda 25th April 2021