Australian P.M. plans military expansion to counter Asian arms race
With a 3 percent annual increase in military spending, Australia hopes to balance China's arms spending and India's sizeable military.
Australia says it needs to overhaul its defense systems to counter an arms build up in the Asia-Pacific region. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told veterans on Tuesday that tensions between Asian neighbors could pose a challenge to Australian forces that had "been overstretched for a long time," but could continue to play a role as a global "middle power."Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Rudd, who leads a center-left government that took power last year, said Australia should continue to build up its Navy to defend its waters. It is already committed to expanding its Army, which is part of the NATO deployment in Afghanistan, and investing in advanced weaponry and transportation under a 10-year modernization program. The improvements will include stealth fighter aircraft, cruise missiles, assault ships, and missile shields.
Rudd didn't name any Asian countries as potential threats, reports Reuters. But Australian military planners are wary of China's arms spending and India's sizeable military, as well as an increase in Russian-supplied air defenses in nearby Indonesia and Malaysia. In his speech, Rudd said Australia's close security ties with the United States would continue, even as the US economy is likely to decline in relative influence compared with other economies such as China's.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that Rudd pointed to unresolved border disputes between China and India, and China's claim of sovereignty over Taiwan as sources of friction in the region. These disputes are future "flash points" that Australia's military, known as the Australian Defence Force, must be prepared to respond to, he said.