Adapting Army to Australia’s strategic circumstances

The Albanese Government is implementing key recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review, taking steps to align our Army with the challenges in Australia’s strategic environment.

As recommended by the DSR and agreed to by the Albanese Government, “Army should be structured and postured in accordance with the land domain force structure design priorities outlined in the Review.”

The DSR signals a shift from having a defence force with a broad range of capabilities to a much more focused force directed to maintaining the peace and security of our region.

Accordingly in restructuring our Army we are moving from generalist combat brigades to specialist combat brigades.

1st Brigade will be light, agile and quick to deploy in the littoral environment. 3rd Brigade will be an armoured brigade designed for amphibious operations with the Royal Australian Navy in order to secure decisive terrain. 7th Brigade will be motorised and optimised to project by air and sea to respond to regional contingencies.

To achieve this, the Albanese Government is announcing key changes to Army’s units and formations as well as changes to equipment locations. These changes will support Army to lift its capabilities, preparedness and projection.

Changes to Army units and formations:

  • The 1st Brigade, based in Darwin, will be a light combat brigade.
  • The 3rd Brigade, based in Townsville, will be an armoured combat brigade.
  • The 7th Brigade, based in Brisbane, will be a motorised combat brigade.
  • The 10th Brigade, based in Adelaide, will be raised as a fires brigade.

The 5th Battalion and the 7th Battalion will be re-linked to become 5th/7th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, and will be based in Darwin.

The 1st Armoured Regiment will be re-roled as an experimental unit to deliver and integrate emerging technologies. This will remain at its present location in Adelaide.

To minimise the impact of the changes on soldiers and their families, Army will not move personnel between regions outside of the normal posting cycles.

Personnel from 7th Battalion and 1st Armoured Regiment will post to new locations as their planned postings end or earlier if they choose. This will see most personnel posting in the December 2024 and January 2025 period.

Supporting personnel and their families will be central in Army’s approach to implementing these changes.

The 2nd (Australian) Division – the division that commands all security and response brigades in Australia – will maintain largely part-time brigades around Australia. The Regional Force Surveillance Group will remain focused on security in northern Australia.

Army Aviation and Special Operations Commands will continue on their current modernisation pathways.

Army’s presence in Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales will be largely unaffected by these changes.

Changes to Army equipment locations:

  • Townsville will become the home of our armoured vehicles and army attack and medium-lift aviation
    • As a result of the above, Army’s presence in Townsville will grow.
  • Brisbane will be home to a motorised combat brigade with a focus on ability to uplift and move personnel
  • Darwin will see minor changes to the combat brigade, with a focus on light forces that are agile and quick to move
    • The number of Army personnel posted to Darwin will remain steady over time.
  • Adelaide will become future-focused, with key future long-range strike capabilities consolidated here
    • Accelerated and expanded Long-Range Strike (HIMARS) and Integrated Air and Missile Defence capabilities (NASAMS) will be based here.
    • Army’s presence in Adelaide will initially decrease in full-time personnel numbers over the short term, but is expected to return to current levels from 2028 onwards.

Quotes attributable to the Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Marles:

“These changes to Army are about responding to the recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review to maintain peace, security and prosperity in our region.

“Our Army has always played a vital role in the defence of our nation and will continue to do so as it adapts to the challenges of our times.

“These changes involve some hard decisions. But these decisions are necessary to build the Army Australia needs.

“This will mean Army has a concentration of people and capabilities in Australia’s north, making it easier to deploy for training, major exercises or to support our partners and allies in the region.”

Quotes attributable to Acting Chief of Army, Major General Richard Vagg:

“This is about organising Army to train as we would fight and making the most of the resources we have been assigned.

“These changes will deliver world class, relevant and credible combat capabilities that are focused and optimised for operating in the littoral environments of our region, on land, at sea and in the air.

“Our aim is to limit the disruption to our people and their families as we make these important changes. Our people are our Army and I thank each and every one for your service and commitment to adapting our Army.”

Defence image: Commanding Officer 6th Engineer Support Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Dobney, escorts Commander 6th Brigade, Brigadier Greg Novak, as he inspects the troops on the parade ground during 6th Engineer Support Regiment’s 20th anniversary parade at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland.

Public media release 28th September

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