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Australia to Expand Its Military Personnel to Biggest in 40 Years

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australia’s active defence forces will be increased by a third by 2040, as part of measures to keep the country safe “in an increasingly unpredictable global context.”

During a visit to an army barracks in Brisbane on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the force would grow by 18,500 personnel to 80,000 over an 18-year period at a cost of over 38 billion Australian dollars ($27 billion).

Morrison, who is poised to call a general election in May, said it was the “largest expansion in the strength of our defence forces in peacetime in Australian history” during a press conference.

He said that his government’s military build-up was a response to the “threats and environment that we face as a country, as a liberal democracy in the Indo-Pacific.”

Some of the extra personnel, according to the Australian leader, will assist a future nuclear-powered submarine fleet pledged under AUKUS, a new defensive alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Australia claims the submarines will be armed with conventional weapons, but it hasn’t decided on the program’s details, such as whether to build a fleet based on US or British nuclear-powered attack submarines.

The AUKUS alliance, which was formed at a time when China’s presence in the Pacific was expanding, would make Australia the only non-nuclear weapons nation with nuclear-powered submarines capable of travelling vast distances without surfacing.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the increased force, which would primarily consist of uniformed personnel, would give a genuine deterrence to expansionist military threats.

The new forces would be used in areas such as space, cyber operations, naval assets, and land and sea-based autonomous vehicles, in addition to submarines, according to Dutton.

“It is absolutely necessary,” he said, invoking Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent invasion of Ukraine.

“People who believe that President Putin’s only ambition is for Ukraine don’t understand the history that our military leaders understand.

The defence minister reaffirmed Australia’s strategic vulnerability in the Asia-Pacific area, where China is exercising its growing muscle.

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