AUSTRALIA: Investing in Special Forces
Australia will spend AUD $500 million (U.S. $340 million) to improve the capability of its special forces troops, the first stage of an AUD $3 billion, 20-year plan that the government said in August 2019 will enable a better response to security threats at home and abroad.
The spending comes after some high-profile security incidents in Sydney and Melbourne in recent years and as Australia seeks to play a more prominent role in the Pacific, where the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is seeking greater influence.
“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 said at the Holsworthy Army base in Sydney.
Australia said in July 2019 that it would create a new military unit to train and assist its allies in the Pacific.
In early August 2019, a member of the government likened the West’s attitude to the rise of the PRC to the French response to the World War II 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% 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.
World Bank data showed Australia’s military spending at 1.89% of GDP in 2018. Reuters