NEWS: Australia
The country to increase defense personnel by one-third by 2040.

Aus­tralia will increase its active defense per­son­nel by one-third by 2040, Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son announced, describ­ing the move as part of efforts to keep the coun­try safe “in an increas­ing­ly uncer­tain glob­al environment.”

The force would grow from 18,500 troops to 80,000 over 18 years, at a cost of some A$38 bil­lion ($27 bil­lion), the prime min­is­ter said Thurs­day dur­ing a vis­it to an army bar­racks in Brisbane.

Mor­ri­son, who is expect­ed to call a gen­er­al elec­tion in May, told a news con­fer­ence that it was “the biggest increase in the size of our peace­time defense forces in Aus­tralian history.”

He said the mil­i­tary build-up was a recog­ni­tion by his gov­ern­ment of “the threats and the envi­ron­ment that we face as a coun­try, as a lib­er­al democ­ra­cy in the Indo-Pacific.”

The Aus­tralian leader said some of the new troops would sup­port a future fleet of nuclear-pow­ered sub­marines, promised as part of a new Aus­tralian-British-Amer­i­can defense alliance, AUKUS.

Aus­tralia says it plans to arm the sub­marines with con­ven­tion­al weapons, but has not yet decid­ed on the details of the pro­gram, includ­ing whether to go with a fleet based on U.S. or British nuclear-pow­ered attack submarines.

Forged at a time of grow­ing Chi­nese influ­ence in the Pacif­ic region, the AUKUS alliance would make Aus­tralia the only non-nuclear weapons pow­er with nuclear-pow­ered sub­marines capa­ble of trav­el­ing long dis­tances with­out surfacing.

Defence Min­is­ter Peter Dut­ton said the force buildup, which would focus on uni­formed troops, would pro­vide a cred­i­ble deter­rent against expan­sion­ist mil­i­tary threats.

Beyond sub­marines, the new forces would be deployed in areas such as space, cyber oper­a­tions, naval assets and autonomous land and sea vehi­cles, Dut­ton said.

“This is absolute­ly nec­es­sary,” he said, refer­ring to Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s recent inva­sion of Ukraine.

“Peo­ple who believe that Pres­i­dent Putin’s only ambi­tion is for Ukraine don’t under­stand the his­to­ry that our mil­i­tary lead­ers understand.”

The defense min­is­ter reit­er­at­ed warn­ings about the strate­gic threat to Aus­tralia in the Asia-Pacif­ic region, where Chi­na is expand­ing its increased power.

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