Canberra and the strategic situation in the APR
The Australian government attaches great importance to national security issues and is trying to respond quickly to changing world conditions. In 2000, the Australian government developed the White Paper, an extensive, regularly updated set of strategic documents. It outlines the priorities of the Australian Defense Forces (as the armed forces of the AU). First priority: the armed forces should be able to protect the Australian territory from any possible attacks, without the help of troops from other countries. The second priority: the armed forces should be able to ensure the security of the direct neighbors of the Union of Australia in cooperation with other states and participating in peacekeeping operations. The third priority: to have the opportunity to support the international coalition outside the inner circle of the AU, in those regions that affect the strategic interests of Canberra.
The latest strategic documents are: National Security Strategy 2013 of the Year, White Paper “Australia in the Age of Asia” 2012 of the Year, and White Paper on Defense Issues for the 2013 Year. Canberra realizes that the key factor, which in the medium and long term will determine the strategic situation in the Asia-Pacific region and directly affect national security, will be relations between the US and China. Recognizing the seriousness of the US-China contradictions, Canberra openly does not recognize the likelihood of a conflict between two global players, but de facto does everything to support Washington. The 2013 white paper of the year, unlike the previous version of the 2009 sample of the year, is more neutral in assessing the development of the Chinese armed forces and Beijing's foreign policy ambitions. However, the strategic American-Australian alliance 2011 of the year, the development trend of the Australian Defense Forces and the latest spy scandal, when it became clear that the Australian intelligence services, with the support of their American colleagues, are engaged in electronic espionage in Asian countries using the infrastructure of embassies for this, saying that Australia is Pentagon's huge foothold.
The Australian 2013 Defense White Paper is based on several key points:
- there was a transfer of the global "center of gravity" in the sphere of strategy, economy and military potential in the APR
- The United States is refocusing its main forces on the Pacific, weakening its presence in Western Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia;
- strengthening allied relations with the United States;
- The global crisis will continue to have a negative impact on politics and the economy.
The Australian military-political strategy stresses that due to the increasing role of maritime communications in the Indian Ocean, the growing power of India, and the stronger involvement of Southeast Asian states in the APR, a new subsystem of international relations is being formed within the framework of the Indo-Pacific ). As a result of the growth of sea power and the ambitions of India’s foreign policy, the Indo-Pacific region was included in the list of basic provisions of the military-political strategy of Australia. In the Australian strategic documents, along with the United States, China and India also point out the key role in the Asia-Pacific Region and the engineering and technical resources of such powers as Japan, South Korea and Indonesia. It is these powers that will determine the future of this vast territory.
At the same time, the role of the Russian Federation as a Pacific power in Canberra is practically not paid attention. Apparently, this is due to the fact that the Pacific Fleet of Russia has not been updated for a long time, and Moscow actually left the region in the 1990-2000s. Only the extensive and many-sided ties of Russia with India and China, its role as a supplier of energy, nuclear technology and weapons are noted. In addition, the Russian Federation is mentioned in the context of the growth of Indian military potential. Thus, the Republic of India in the foreseeable future will receive a fifth generation fighter developed in the Russian Federation as part of the joint FGFA program. Due to Russia's support, the naval power of India has also grown (aircraft carrier, support for the construction of a national aircraft carrier, the development of underwater fleetnew frigates).
According to the current version of the White Paper on National Defense, the Australian Defense Force has four key tasks: 1) to create the potential to deter and repel external aggression, threatening the Green Continent directly; 2) to provide a zone of stability and security in the South Pacific and East Timor; 3) to have the opportunity to participate in operations in the Indo-Pacific region, in Southeast Asia; 4) to participate in global security operations.
Naval strategy is a key element of the defense of Australia. Its main elements are:
- deterring a potential adversary from attempting to use force or attacking the AU;
- ensuring local superiority at sea and air, if necessary;
- defense of the main communications;
- exclusion of the possibility of the deployment of the enemy advanced bases near the borders of the Australian Union;
- the possibility of projection of force in the Indo-Pacific region, the creation of joint operational units, support operations of allied forces, if necessary.
It should be noted that the defense strategy of Australia does not provide for passive defense, on the contrary, the Australian Armed Forces must conduct operations against enemy bases and communications at the maximum possible distance from the Green Continent, using all the shock capabilities. The document emphasizes the importance of developing the combat readiness of the expeditionary forces required for operations in the South Pacific and the Indo-Pacific. In addition, such forces are necessary to solve the fourth task of the Australian Defense Forces - participation in ensuring global security. An example of such an operation was the participation of the Australian contingent in the Afghan campaign (the operation is minimized). At the same time, the authors of the White Paper emphasize that Australia itself has an important advantage - any operation against it will face serious problems due to the geographical distance of the continent. The potential adversary will have to expend enormous efforts to project force over a long distance and to defend his communications from counterstrikes of the defending side.
Universal landing ship "Canberra".
Union with the United States
The Australian defense strategy is based on building self-contained military capabilities that will ensure national security. However, the Australian authorities are well aware of the limits of such independence. Alone Australia can not resist. The alliance between Canberra and Washington provides for an American “nuclear umbrella”, which is the guarantor of security against threats that the Australian Defense Forces cannot cope on their own. Separately and directly (Section 3.41 of the White Book) states: “Finally, as long as there is an atomic weaponWe rely on US nuclear forces as a means of preventing a nuclear strike on Australia. Australia is convinced of the effectiveness of nuclear deterrence in its broad sense, and at the same time supports measures aimed at global nuclear disarmament. ”
Back in 2003, the Australian government expressed willingness to participate in the US missile defense system development program. This should protect the Green Continent from ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear, chemical or bacteriological warheads. Canberra, which seeks to increase its influence in the region and independently resolve some security issues in neighboring countries, recognizes the priority of the “big brother”. In Australia, it is hoped that the United States will provide guaranteed military assistance in the event of any serious threat to national security.
In November 2011, US President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard concluded an agreement announcing plans to deploy USMC units and troops totaling up to 2,5 thousand fighters. They are planning to deploy them at a base near the city of Darwin (this is the capital of the Northern Territory). American combat and auxiliary aircraft, ships and logistics services will also be stationed here. In 2012, the first group of American Marines (about 200 soldiers) arrived in Darwin. By 2014, their number should grow to 1,1 thousand people.
Washington also announced the possibility of creating a US-Australian naval base on the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean. The United States has the ability to deploy aircraft carrier compounds and nuclear submarines in the Perth area. In 2012, the Australian Defense Ministry reported that American reconnaissance aircraft could fly from the Australian Keeling Island (Cocos Islands). In addition, Americans will assist in the formation and preparation of a special "amphibious group of constant readiness", it is created on the basis of the 3-th regiment of the Australian Armed Forces (the former parachute unit). By 2016, Canberra plans to form a compound similar in composition and to the tasks to be performed by the US Marine Corps. The new division will have to carry out operations to capture bridgeheads on the enemy’s occupied coast using new universal landing craft, landing craft, using combat helicopters and heavy armored vehicles.
Interaction with other states
I must say that Canberra is not ready to conflict with China as openly as, say, Japan. The PRC, with 2007, is Australia's largest trading partner: China accounts for about 30% of Australian exports and about 18% of Australian imports. Therefore, the conflict with China will seriously hit the economy of the Green Continent. At the same time, we must not forget that this issue is not being decided in Canberra. Strategic interests are higher than trade. If the US enters into direct confrontation with China, Australia will be forced to support the Americans. It is in her best interest. The complete dominance of China in the APR is contrary to the vital interests of Australia.
Canberra pays great attention to the situation on the closest approaches to its borders, vast island territories. The Australian Union unequivocally regards the South Pacific as a sphere of its vital interests. These are the islands belonging to Australia, the closest approaches to its borders, extensive territorial waters, the exclusive economic zone and lines of sea communications. Canberra aims to prevent its immediate neighbors from becoming a source of threat and the emergence of bases of potential opponents there.
Australians are particularly concerned about the so-called. The "arch of instability" is the process of "balkanization" in the South Pacific. Events like the destabilization of the Solomon Islands, instability in East Timor and the coup in Fiji attract the close attention of the Australian military-political leadership. Canberra actually adheres to the “soft protectorate” regime over the island states in the South Pacific. Helps weak island states maintain maritime security. Including through the transfer of weapons. This policy is fully supported by the allies of Australia - the United States and the United Kingdom. Thus, Canberra became the organizer of the first meeting of the Ministers of Defense of the island states located in the South Pacific. The conference was held in Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga. The conference was tasked with ensuring security in the region, with Australia as the informal leader.
Given the enormous importance of sea and air communications lines that pass through the Malay Archipelago, and its economic and military-strategic importance for Australia, Canberra pays great attention to the development of relations with the leading power of the region Indonesia. The role of Indonesia in Australia’s foreign policy is controversial. On the one hand, Indonesia has long been viewed in Canberra as a major potential adversary. On the other hand, Indonesia is one of the key strategic partners of the AU, which is officially recognized. In 2012, an agreement on defense cooperation was concluded between the two powers. Canberra and Jakarta are actively cooperating in the areas of combating international terrorism, piracy, exchanging intelligence, etc. Moreover, the fact that the growth of China’s military might is a threat to both Indonesia and the Union of Australia is secretly taken into account.
Taking into account the Chinese factor, Australia is committed to a cautious rapprochement on a bilateral and multilateral basis with other countries of the Asia-Pacific region: Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and India. In 2012, Canberra signed an agreement of understanding with Hanoi on defense cooperation. In the same year, Japan, the United States and Australia held joint naval exercises near the Japanese islands. Australians are developing military ties with the Philippines, which are also allies of the United States.
Australia’s outspoken allies are members of the defense “five”, linked by numerous multi- and bilateral defense agreements. These are Great Britain, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore. Especially among the partners is Spain, with which Australia is associated with the modernization programs of the Navy.
To be continued ...