Australia strengthens special forces to defend Indo-Pacific

World | 12 Aug 2019 3:20 pm

Australia will spend A$500 million (US$340 million) over the next four years to improve the capability of its special forces troops, the first stage of a US$3 billion, 20-year plan that the government said will enable a better response to security threats at home and abroad. 

The special forces include commandos and SAS personnel.

"This is going to be a very important part of our commitment, the biggest single commitment to upgrading the capability of our defense forces since the Second World War," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters at the Holsworthy Army base in Sydney. 

Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said the upgrade ould ensure special forces had the best medical search and rescue, communications, training and support to help ensure Australia's security.

"Our special forces, now more than ever, need to be ready and able to deploy on operations anywhere in the world, at short notice, and in very uncertain conditions," Senator Reynolds said.

"This first stage of funding enables our special forces to engage with intelligence, science and technology, and innovation organisations to ensure future threats and opportunities are assessed, to make sure we are delivering them the capability they need in the future."

Australia said last month it would create a new military unit to train and assist its allies in the Pacific. 
Last week, a member of the government likened the West's attitude to the rise of China to the French response to the World War Two advances of Nazi Germany, drawing a rebuke from the Chinese embassy. 
"It is in Australia's national interest to have an independent and sovereign Indo-Pacific where all the nations of this part of the world can engage with each other freely, according to international norms and the rule of law," Morrison said. 
The government said Australia's spending on defense would reach 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by the fiscal year ending June 2021 - which U.S. President Donald Trump has said should be the spending goal for NATO alliance members.

"Labor welcomes greater investment in the Australian Defence Force and its personnel and looks forward to seeing further detail of this announcement," the Opposition said in a statement.-Reuters/The Standard. Photo: ABC/Defence Forces

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