Australian Military Aiming to Shift Forces North

Posted June 22nd, 2011 at 12:05 am (UTC-5)
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Australia has begun a review of its defense forces which could lead to a shift of resources and personnel to the country's resource-rich northwestern coast.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith told reporters Wednesday the review will consider how best to defend the growing oil and natural gas exploration projects in the area, as well as the rise of the Pacific Rim as an area of strategic importance.

But Smith rejected suggestions the review is being conducted to counter China's rising military might, saying Canberra is confident Beijing will emerge as “a responsible stakeholder.”

The defense review will also consider the need for Australian forces to respond quickly to humanitarian disasters in the region.

Smith said the project will complement a global defense forces review currently being undertaken by the United States.

A number of offshore energy projects are taking place off the coast of Western Australia and the Northern Territory that are worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Australia has already committed to buying 100 U.S.-built state-of-the-art fighter jets, as well as boosting its submarine fleet.