The Commonwealth Government has announced that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will receive a massive increase in uniformed personnel, growing some 30 per cent from 61,000 to nearly 80,000 across all domains by 2040, and to a total of more than 100,000 when Australian Public Service (APS) and other personnel are considered.
Announced on 10 March by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Peter Dutton, a government release says the increase is in line with the strategic direction laid out in the 2020 Force Structure Plan (FSP), and that detailed planning has been underway since the National Security Committee of Cabinet (NSC) approved the plan last November.
The uniformed workforce will grow by some 18,500 personnel by 2040. This is more than the 12,500 increase that was deemed to be a critical minimum required to deliver extant capabilities and the new capabilities identified in the FSP. It says the additional 6,000 was recommended to provide redundancy and resilience, and to prepare for higher workforce requirements for future capabilities. The expanded workforce is estimated to cost at least $38 billion to 2040.
In the shorter term, 800 ADF, 250 APS, and an unspecified number of Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) personnel will be added by 2024.
In the release, the Prime Minister again stressed the changing nature of the security situation in the Indo-Pacific region – and more recently, eastern Europe – has prompted the increase in personnel numbers, new capabilities, and funding. But he recognised the difference won’t be felt immediately.
“Our world is becoming increasingly uncertain so it’s important we take steps now to protect our people and our national interest over the coming decades,” he said. “You can’t flick a switch to increase your army, navy and air force overnight, growing the type of people and skills we need to face the threats of the future takes time, so we must start now so critical skills can be taught and experience gained.”
Minister Dutton said the FSP identified the necessity of growing the Defence workforce. “Defence operates with a highly integrated workforce spanning the Australian Defence Force, civilians and industry providers, with each bringing specialised skills and expertise,” he said.
“This growth in workforce and expertise will enable us to deliver our nuclear-powered submarines, ships, aircraft and advanced weapons,” he added. “It will mean we can build warfighting capabilities in the domains of space, and information and cyber. It will also build the resilience we need in critical areas and enable our people to increase intelligence, information and communications capacity.”
In addition to the increase in personnel number, new and extra capabilities – many of which were identified in the 2020 FSP or are in the project stage – will be added to six key domains: Maritime, Land, Air, Space, Information & Cyber, and Enterprise.
In the Maritime domain, the workforce required to deliver and support the Project SEA 1000 nuclear-powered attack submarines announced last September will be developed, the SEA 1180 Arafura class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) fleet size will be grown from the current planned 12 boats; an additional SEA 5000 Hunter class frigate will be acquired to take that fleet size to nine vessels; and maritime planning, targeting, and strike capabilities will be enhanced.
In the Land domain, new regiments will be stablished to support the Army’s LAND 8113 long-range fires requirement, the LAND 8116 Hanwha AS9/10 protected mobile fires capability, and for information warfare capabilities. Additionally, 10-12 riverine watercraft will be acquired for LAND 8702 Phase 1, and Army’s joint and land intelligence communications and electronic warfare capabilities will be expanded.
In the Air domain, the RAAFs C-130J Hercules medium airlift capability will be replaced and expanded, reportedly with new C-130Js with increased capabilities and possibly some KC-130Js; the AIR 6500 integrated air and missile defence capability will be progressed; unspecified ISR and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities – likely the AIR 555 MC-55 Peregrine and AIR 7000 Phase 1B MQ-4C Triton systems – will be added; and airbase workforce shortfalls will be reconstituted.
In the growing Space domain, the JP 9102 sovereign SATCOM capability will be progressed; and a composite space control program will be established.
For the Cyber domain, unspecified mission data production and targeting, and new advanced cyber capabilities will be acquired; while in the Enterprise domain, logistics and health will be a focus, as will innovation and technology enhancements, and joint education and training.