Prime Minister and Minister for Defence – 2013 Defence White Paper: Australian Defence Force Posture

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today announced the Government’s response to the Australian Defence Force Posture Review.

The force posture of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is an essential element of strategic Defence planning.

In 2011, the Government commissioned the first major review of the ADF’s posture in over 25 years, to assess whether the ADF is correctly geographically positioned to meet Australia’s current and future strategic and security challenges.

The review was undertaken by Defence and overseen by an expert panel comprising Dr Allan Hawke and Mr Ric Smith, both former Defence Secretaries.

The Government released the final report of the Australian Defence Force Posture Review (ADF Posture Review) on 3 May 2012.  The Review concluded that the Australian Defence Force needs a force posture that can support operations in Australia’s Northern and Western approaches, as well as operations with our partners in the wider Asia Pacific region and the Indian Ocean Rim.  

The report found that our changing strategic environment does not require widespread changes in the location of our Defence Force bases, but that some adjustments should be made to meet future needs. 

The 2013 Defence White Paper outlines the principles underpinning Defence’s force posture and the work directed by Government to implement the recommendations from the Review and the associated Defence Estate Consolidation Project.

It reflects the Government’s broader theme of the White Paper of responding actively to the strategic transformation in our region and making choices about our posture and capabilities over time within our fiscal constraints.

As the 2013 Defence White Paper highlights, the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) ability to deliver against its principal tasks and respond to contingencies as directed by Government depends as much on appropriate force posture and preparedness settings as it does on the structure and particular capabilities of the force.

Implementation Strategy

The Government’s implementation strategy for the Review, as set out in the White Paper, will be achieved from within Defence’s allocated resources as determined through the 2013-14 Budget process.  As the White Paper notes, substantial progress has already been made in implementing many of the Review’s recommendations, including:

  • ensuring greater visibility of the high levels of ADF activity in Australia’s north-west;
  • enhancing the ADF’s presence in northern Australia;
  • updating operational plans for defending the north;
  • developing a better understanding of the ability of civil infrastructure and logistics capacity available to support ADF operations in the north-west;
  • supporting border protection operations; and
  • enhancing defence engagement with State and Territory governments and industry. 

Many other Review recommendations will be progressed and funded through the Defence Capability Plan and Defence Major Capital Facilities Program.  The 2013 White Paper outlines that the Government will proceed with plans to:

  • develop Fleet Base East as the home port for the Landing Helicopter Dock ships and Air Warfare Destroyers;
  • enhance Fleet Base West to support submarine and major surface combatant capability and operations;
  • implement infrastructure requirements (as they are refined) to support major future naval capabilities including the Future Submarine, Future Frigate, Offshore Patrol Vessel and the earlier replacement of the Armidale Class Patrol Boat;
  • upgrade Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bases Tindal and Learmonth to enhance KC-30 air-to-air refuelling tanker operations and Cocos (Keeling) Islands airfield facilities to support P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft operations;
  • enhance RAAF bases Darwin, Edinburgh, Pearce and Townsville to support future P-8A operations (enhancements which will also support KC-30 aircraft operations); and
  • upgrade airfields to support Joint Strike Fighter operations at RAAF bases Darwin, Tindal, Williamtown, Amberley, Edinburgh, Townsville, Learmonth, Curtin and Scherger.

The Government will also implement plans for enhancing amphibious mounting base capacity in Darwin and Townsville and if required in future, will exercise commercial arrangements using existing infrastructure to allow large amphibious ships to embark ADF personnel based in Brisbane and Adelaide.

The Review’s recommendations to retain the disposition of the Australian Army’s 1 Brigade centred in Darwin and 7 Brigade in Brisbane will also be implemented, and 6 Brigade will be consolidated in south-east Queensland as opportunities arise and funding permits.

However, the Government has decided not to proceed at this time with the Review’s recommendation to build a second major fleet base on the east coast, and nor will we acquire a new major coastal ADF training area in the near term.  Defence’s more detailed analysis of these options has revealed implementation challenges and high costs.  Together, implementation of these two recommendations would cost in the order of $6‑9 billion.

Defence has assessed that the existing fleet bases in Sydney and Perth will meet the Royal Australian Navy’s needs for the foreseeable future.  The ADF’s training needs will continue to be met for the foreseeable future through programmed upgrades to existing training areas, with the priority being the primary joint ADF training facility at Shoalwater Bay in Queensland.

The Review noted limitations in Defence’s logistics supply chain to meet strategic fuel and explosive ordnance requirements in northern Australia.  Detailed studies and ADF exercises over the next 12 months will further define required remediation measures. 

Defence will also consider opportunities to work with the United States in identifying mutually beneficial options for improving ADF base capacity and facilities at Darwin and Tindal.  This would enhance relevant training areas and supporting logistic infrastructure as part of the enhanced practical cooperation measures between Australia and the United States announced by Prime Minister Gillard and US President Obama in November 2011.

Implementation of the Review’s findings as outlined in the 2013 Defence White Paper will result in a more active and visible defence posture and presence in the resource-rich north and west of Australia.  It will also ensure that our facilities, ports and training areas are appropriately developed to support the operation of major new ADF capabilities.

A full list of the implementation arrangements for Force Posture Review recommendations is attached.

Defence Estate

The Review included a recommendation that Defence finalise a plan to rationalise the defence estate for Government consideration.

While this was concluded through the White Paper process in broad terms, no decisions have been made in relation to the future of individual bases or facilities.  The Government will consider proposals for the consolidation of the defence estate over time to match contemporary defence needs and achieve long term efficiencies.


3 May 2013


PRESS OFFICE (02) 6277 7744




Australian Defence Force Posture Review Implementation 

Defence has begun implementing 13 recommendations – mostly relating to enhancing the ADF’s presence in the North-West of Australia – from within existing Defence resources (see Table 1), with the remaining recommendations referred for consideration as part of the 2013 Defence White Paper process (see Table 2).

The Defence White Paper 2013 outlines the Government’s implementation strategy for the Review.  Defence will absorb the cost of implementation, including by incorporating relevant infrastructure requirements within the scope of Defence Capability Plan (DCP) and Major Capital Facilities Program (MCFP) projects.


Table 1: Recommendations considered outside the 2013 Defence White Paper process (implementation underway and in some cases completed)



1. Defence continue to develop a joint operating concept for how the current joint force-in-being would deter and defeat attacks against Australia across a range of threat levels.
2. Defence develop a campaign plan for deterring and defeating attacks against Australia across a range of threat levels.  Such a plan should:

  1. a.         integrate current arrangements for domestic security and border protection;
  2. b.        have a strong focus on shaping and deterrence activities;
  3. c.          support a whole-of-government approach to security; and
  4. d.        be validated through joint exercises and other activities.
3. Defence’s annual consultative forums with State and Territory Governments be the peak forums for functional engagement on estate planning and encroachment issues.  Subordinate engagement forums and Defence-industry forums should report key issues to the state and territory consultative forums to ensure awareness and coordinated action on estate planning and encroachment.  Defence, and state and territory governments, should take a proactive approach to identify major private sector infrastructure developments with implications and/or opportunities for Defence.
4. Defence continue to consult closely with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to determine how its Future Operating Concept and new capabilities may affect the level of access sought to Defence bases and facilities out to 2030 and beyond. 
7. Defence maintain a continually updated assessment of civil infrastructure and the available logistics capacity to support operations in the North-West in a range of contingencies.
8. Defence enhance its familiarity and preparedness for operations in the North-West through:joint exercises, including land forces such as Regional Force Surveillance units (RFSUs), and other relevant Government agencies, with a focus on contingencies involving maritime security and vital asset protection;more simulated exercises and ‘wargames’ to minimise the costs and practical difficulties involved with exercising in the North‑West;increased aircraft and ship visits to airfields and ports; anda program of senior officer and staff study visits (including Defence civilian leaders and officials from other Government agencies) to improve awareness and familiarity with the North‑West.
9. Defence develop an action plan to improve the sustainability of the Pilbara Regiment and other RFSUs. Possible measures could include:

  1. a.         more flexible recruitment and personnel practices such as the Perth-based squadron of the Pilbara Regiment (for example, additional squadrons or troops recruited from metropolitan areas, including those in South-East Australia; ‘industry-sponsored reserves’ recruiting from the fly-in, fly-out workforce; and the opening of more roles in the RFSUs to women);
  2. b.        improving conditions of service for posted personnel and their families, especially in the Pilbara Regiment;
  3. c.          improving training through more frequent and systematic involvement with the Army’s force generation cycle; and
  4. d.        using Reserve brigade units to supplement or ‘round out’ regional surveillance activities.
11. Defence develop a plan to communicate better the level of ADF activities and presence in North-West Australia, for both deterrence and reassurance purposes.  Activities under this plan should be coordinated with the consultative forums and other forums with industry participation such as the Australian Maritime Defence Council and the Offshore Oil and Gas Security Forum.
18. Defence retain 1 Brigade’s current disposition centred in Darwin.
19. Defence retain 7 Brigade in Enoggera, given its advantageous strategic location in Brisbane with the Deployable Joint Force Headquarters (DJFHQ), near 6 Brigade elements, the Amberley ‘super base’ and the Port of Brisbane, and the significant expense required in developing a new base closer to Shoalwater Bay.
27. Plans for developing an amphibious mounting base capacity at Townsville are appropriate and on track, noting the reliance on loading explosive ordnance by watercraft at Ross Island Barracks.
33. Defence review its requirements for providing best practice surgical and aero-medical evacuation support for exercises in remote training areas, to guide employment of adequate capability enablers and appropriate risk mitigation measures.
38. Defence continue to use activities in the Defence International Engagement Plan and international exercises planned in the Program of Major Service Activities to enable and facilitate ADF access to overseas bases, facilities and training areas.



Table 2: Implementation strategy for recommendations considered within the 2013 Defence White Paper process

Implementation Category


Implement with either existing DCP and MCFP funding already programmed for this purpose, or within existing Service/Group resources  Defence create a new one star Navy appointment in Western Australia (WA) to act as a senior representational officer for broader civil and interagency coordination and international engagement, in view of the prominence of the ADF and Navy presence in WA and the increasing importance of the Indian Ocean.Responsibility for senior representation in the North-West regions of WA could be assigned to either this position or Commander of the ADF’s Northern Command (NORCOM), noting that the Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley regions lie within NORCOM’s current area of responsibility. (Recommendation 10).
Defence assess the capacity of the logistics supply chain to meet strategic fuel and explosive ordnance requirements in Northern Australia in a range of contingencies.  These assessments would complement work on options for missile loading and maintenance at Fleet Base West as per Recommendation 16 and logistics risk mitigation for air bases as per Recommendation 23. (Recommendation 34).
Examine, in consultation with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, options for enhancing facilities at Broome as a forward operating base. (Recommendation 6) (Navy funding)
Develop a more comprehensive long term master plan for meeting Navy’s Force 2030 basing requirements. (Recommendation 13)  (Navy funding)
Proceed with plans to homeport Air Warfare Destroyers and large amphibious ships at Fleet Base East. (Recommendation 15)  (DCP funding)
Expand wharf capacity and support facilities at Fleet Base West to support forward deployment of at least one Air Warfare Destroyer. (Recommendation 16)  (MCFP funding)
Develop options to allow large amphibious ships to embark Army units based in Brisbane and (as a lesser priority) Adelaide. (Recommendation 29)  (VCDF Group to fund commercial wharf access arrangements as required)
Upgrade RAAF Edinburgh, Pearce, and Townsville to enable unrestricted operations by P-8 aircraft. (Recommendation 21)  (DCP funding)
Upgrade RAAF Curtin, Learmonth, Tindal, Townsville and Scherger to support future combat aircraft operations. (Recommendation 22) (DCP funding)
Mitigate training area deficiencies and risks through simulated training. (recommendation 30)  (DCP funding)
Proceed with plans to remediate Point Wilson for the importation of bulk explosive ordnance. (Recommendation 36)  (MCFP funding)
Resume development of a detailed estate consolidation plan for Government consideration, including options for rationalisation, guided by Government decisions flowing from the Review. (Recommendation 39)  (Defence Support and Reform Group funding – action completed)
Include within scope of DCP projects within funding already programmed.  
Expand wharf capacity and support facilities at Fleet Base West to homeport the Future Frigate and the Future Submarine. (Recommendation 16)
Upgrade or expand bases to accommodate the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) and replacement Landing Craft, Heavy (LCH) and the earlier replacement of the Armidale Class Patrol Boats. (Recommendation 17)
Include in MCFP funding within the decade, but outside the Budget’s forward estimates (Reprioritisation of the program required to start implementation). Upgrade the Cocos (Keeling) Islands airfield facilities to support maritime surveillance aircraft operations. (Recommendation 12)
Upgrade RAAF Learmonth and Tindal to enable operations by KC-30 aircraft.  (Recommendation 5/21)
Implement on an opportunity basis as MCFP funding permits. Consider support of US Navy surface ships and submarines in Fleet Base West Upgrades. (Recommendation 16)
Consolidate 6 Brigade in South East Queensland, without compromising the retention of 7 Brigade in Brisbane. (Recommendation 20)
Significantly enhance at least one existing training area (Shoalwater Bay, Bradshaw, Cultana and/or Yampi Sound) to alleviate the pressure on Shoalwater Bay Training Area.  (Recommendation 31)
Ensure that Williamtown is protected from encroachment, in view of its strategic importance in generating air combat capability. (Recommendation 25)
Further study required. Assess fuel and explosive ordnance (EO requirements for forward air bases during high tempo air operations. (Recommendation 23) 
Consider options for hardening and resilience improvements at forward main bases and bare bases. (Recommendation 24) 
Develop options for reducing Air Force’s footprint at RAAF Base Richmond after the retirement of the C-130J fleet by 2026. (Recommendation 26) 
Examine both the requirement and options for acquiring or leasing a smaller tract of land, over the next decade or so, able to support modest amphibious and other training activities.  (Recommendation 30)
Determine training area investment priorities and appropriate levels of investment over the next decade. (Recommendation 31)
Conduct further study to identify explosive ordnance logistics risks for Navy and the joint amphibious capability. (Recommendation 35) 
Defence develop options for establishing a backup location (to Point Wilson) for the bulk importation of explosive ordnance. (Recommendation 36) 
Develop options for a Strategic Fusion Integration Facility at Edinburgh, if further consideration determines that a dedicated facility is required. (Recommendation 37) 
Consider as part of enhanced practical cooperations measures between Australian and the United States announced by the Prime Minister and President Obama in November 2011. Defence work with the US to identify opportunities for jointly funded improvements to base capacity and facilities at Darwin and Tindal. 
Defence explore options for US co-investment in enhancing the Bradshaw and (as a lower priority) Yampi Sound training areas, as part of arrangements for increased US training in Australia. (Recommendation 32) 
Not consider further until:

  • Defence’s budget circumstances allow consideration;
  • strategic developments or operational requirements dictate action; and/or
  • The matter falls for consideration in the context of the approval process for the relevant or related project.
Commence planning now on long term options for establishing a supplementary east coast fleet base at Brisbane for the Future Submarine and large amphibious ships. (Recommendation 14)
Upgrade RAAF Learmonth and Curtin to enable protracted, unrestricted operations by P-8 aircraft. (Recommendations 5 & 21) 
Upgrade the Cocos (Keeling) Islands airfield facilities to support KC-30 operations with some restrictions. (Recommendation 12)
Upgrade RAAF Edinburgh, Pearce, Townsville and Curtin to enable unrestricted operations by KC-30 aircraft. (Recommendation 21)
Develop an alternative amphibious mounting option for Darwin that includes the development of a roll-on, roll‑off loading facility at East Arm wharf. (Recommendation 28)
Seek at least one additional training area capable of supporting full-spectrum integrated joint/amphibious and combined exercises, in all seasons, to address identified deficiencies and risks. (Recommendation 30)


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