Australia Needs Its Own Marine Corps to Combat China Threat: Defence Analyst

Australia should begin setting up a marine corps to tackle any potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific where amphibious warfare could take centre stage, according to a defence industry expert. Parker said Australia could learn from Japan and the United States in setting up the fourth branch of its armed forces. “The next conflicts for Australia are not going to be in the Middle East on vast deserts and flat lands, or in Europe like World War II. It’s going to be more like our campaigns the Pacific in World War II,” he told The Epoch Times. The Australian Defence Force (ADF), which consists of an army, air force, and navy, was “not very effective” for the oceans and islands of the Indo-Pacific, he added. “A marine corps is an amphibious operational unit that can operate across the maritime environment and project force effectively,” he said. “If you look at our region of the world, they’re full of Pacific islands, all the way around Australia and up through the South China Sea, and that’s where—if China’s aggression continues on its current trajectory—we will need to operate.” Parker said the U.S. Marine Corps had completely changed its doctrine to adjust to fighting in the region and to contend with ongoing aggression from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “They got rid of all their tanks, their capital equipment, and focused on asymmetric warfare, with small fighting units with short and medium-range missiles that can be deployed across islands,” he said. “And that’s what we need to do.” U.S. marines already carry out regular rotations in Australia’s northern base around Darwin—a resource that could be used to help instruct and train a marine force, Parker said. The military expansion has been a major policy focus for the Morrison government over the past few years amid increasing tensions in the region. On March 9, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the largest expansion to the ADF in 40 years, aiming to expand the current force from 59,095 to 80,000 by 2040—with support staff total numbers will reach 101,000. Other announcements include a new AU$10 billion (US$7.3 billion) east coast base for the incoming nuclear-powered submarine fleet under AUKUS, as well as acquisitions of Tomahawk missiles, armoured vehicles, assault aircraft, and expanding existing military bases. The acquisition of 127 new tanks and armoured vehicles, including 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abram tanks, was contentious. “If push came to shove and we could free up a lot of money by not having tanks—or not as many tanks—then that’s the route I would go,” Parker said. Concerns have also been raised over the delivery of Australia’s new frigates and submarines (slated 10–15-year delivery times) and “capability gaps”—the gap between the introduction of new hardware, and when old hardware is retired. “In the 2009 Defence White Paper, the (Kevin) Rudd government outlined the need to change the force structure of the ADF to enhance our nation’s naval capabilities,” opposition leader Anthony Albanese told the Lowy Institute on March 10. “Yet here we are, nearly a decade after the Liberal Party was elected and still no actual progress.” “After a production line of six defence ministers in this government—and two goes at landing on a (submarine) model—we now have no contract for any submarine, and a looming submarine-shaped capability gap,” he said. Parker expressed similar concerns saying the government needed to do everything to ensure Australia was not vulnerable. “We need submarines. Are there possibilities for us to lease or buy off-the-shelf?” he said. “There are a bunch of Los Angeles-class submarines (in the U.S. Navy) due to be retired or refitted.” “Could we do a deal with the Americans whereby we lease one of their submarines—they crew half of it, and we crew the other half so we can get trained up? Then we have one or two LA-class submarines operating out of Australia,” he added. “I think it would provide us with capability in a much shorter amount of time and at least have our adversaries thinking twice.” Follow Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected]

Australia Needs Its Own Marine Corps to Combat China Threat: Defence Analyst

Australia should begin setting up a marine corps to tackle any potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific where amphibious warfare could take centre stage, according to a defence industry expert.

Parker said Australia could learn from Japan and the United States in setting up the fourth branch of its armed forces.

“The next conflicts for Australia are not going to be in the Middle East on vast deserts and flat lands, or in Europe like World War II. It’s going to be more like our campaigns the Pacific in World War II,” he told The Epoch Times.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF), which consists of an army, air force, and navy, was “not very effective” for the oceans and islands of the Indo-Pacific, he added.

“A marine corps is an amphibious operational unit that can operate across the maritime environment and project force effectively,” he said. “If you look at our region of the world, they’re full of Pacific islands, all the way around Australia and up through the South China Sea, and that’s where—if China’s aggression continues on its current trajectory—we will need to operate.”

Parker said the U.S. Marine Corps had completely changed its doctrine to adjust to fighting in the region and to contend with ongoing aggression from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“They got rid of all their tanks, their capital equipment, and focused on asymmetric warfare, with small fighting units with short and medium-range missiles that can be deployed across islands,” he said. “And that’s what we need to do.”

U.S. marines already carry out regular rotations in Australia’s northern base around Darwin—a resource that could be used to help instruct and train a marine force, Parker said.

The military expansion has been a major policy focus for the Morrison government over the past few years amid increasing tensions in the region.

On March 9, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the largest expansion to the ADF in 40 years, aiming to expand the current force from 59,095 to 80,000 by 2040—with support staff total numbers will reach 101,000.

Other announcements include a new AU$10 billion (US$7.3 billion) east coast base for the incoming nuclear-powered submarine fleet under AUKUS, as well as acquisitions of Tomahawk missiles, armoured vehicles, assault aircraft, and expanding existing military bases.

The acquisition of 127 new tanks and armoured vehicles, including 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abram tanks, was contentious.

“If push came to shove and we could free up a lot of money by not having tanks—or not as many tanks—then that’s the route I would go,” Parker said.

Concerns have also been raised over the delivery of Australia’s new frigates and submarines (slated 10–15-year delivery times) and “capability gaps”—the gap between the introduction of new hardware, and when old hardware is retired.

“In the 2009 Defence White Paper, the (Kevin) Rudd government outlined the need to change the force structure of the ADF to enhance our nation’s naval capabilities,” opposition leader Anthony Albanese told the Lowy Institute on March 10. “Yet here we are, nearly a decade after the Liberal Party was elected and still no actual progress.”

“After a production line of six defence ministers in this government—and two goes at landing on a (submarine) model—we now have no contract for any submarine, and a looming submarine-shaped capability gap,” he said.

Parker expressed similar concerns saying the government needed to do everything to ensure Australia was not vulnerable.

“We need submarines. Are there possibilities for us to lease or buy off-the-shelf?” he said. “There are a bunch of Los Angeles-class submarines (in the U.S. Navy) due to be retired or refitted.”

“Could we do a deal with the Americans whereby we lease one of their submarines—they crew half of it, and we crew the other half so we can get trained up? Then we have one or two LA-class submarines operating out of Australia,” he added.

“I think it would provide us with capability in a much shorter amount of time and at least have our adversaries thinking twice.”


Follow

Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected]