Boost Military To Take On China: Australian Military Adviser

Australia  will need nuclear-powered attack submarines among a range of
highly potent weapons systems, and must revolutionise its strategic
culture to answer the security dangers posed by China’s massive military
build-up, according to one of the federal government’s chief military
advisers.

Ross Babbage, who served on the government’s advisory panel for the 2009
Defence white paper, believes Australia should acquire a fleet of 12
nuclear-powered attack submarines.

He also favours developing a conventionally armed cruise and ballistic
missile capability to be carried on new “arsenal ships”, as well as a
massive increase in Australia’s cyber-warfare investment.

In a report to be published on Monday, Australia’s Strategic Edge 2030,
Professor Babbage calls for Australia to host a range of American
military bases. This would help disperse US military assets and make
them harder to hit in the event of military conflict with China.

It would also emphasise the strength and intimacy of the US-Australia
alliance and discourage any aggression against Australia, as any hostile
power would fear that this would automatically involve the Americans.

Professor Babbage, the founder of the influential Kokoda Foundation
security think tank, believes all this is necessary because China’s
extremely aggressive military build-up has transformed Australia’s
strategic environment, making it much more dangerous.

“Australia cannot overlook the way that the scale, pattern and speed of
(Chinese) People’s Liberation Army’s development is altering security in
the Western Pacific,” Professor Babbage argues in the new paper, which
has been obtained by The Weekend Australian.

Professor Babbage believes that China’s massive military expansion is
focused on “striking United States and allied forces in the Western
Pacific” and that this has been accompanied by much more aggressive
military and diplomatic behaviour by Beijing.

“Australia has to develop an effective response,” he argues.

“The challenge posed by the rising PLA is arguably one of the most
serious that has confronted Australia’s national security planners since
World War II,” he says.

“China is for the first time close to achieving a military capability to
deny United States and allied forces access to much of the Western
Pacific rim.”

Professor Babbage argues that this is not a question of distant threats
to Australia’s region but of direct threat to Australia itself, as it is
within range of many existing Chinese weapons systems.

He identifies a vast range of Chinese military capabilities that are on a
massive growth path. These include cruise and ballistic missiles, which
can attack US and Australian ships and fixed targets; a massive
investment in cyber-warfare capabilities, with reports of tens of
thousands of Chinese cyber intrusions daily; new classes of both nuclear
and conventionally powered submarines, including more than 40 new
Chinese subs since 1995; a massive increase in Chinese nuclear weapons
that will double or triple in number by 2030; a huge investment in space
warfare so that China could destroy the communications satellites which
are central to the Western way of war; and a massive increase in
fighter bomber and other airborne strike capabilities.

Professor Babbage does not believe Australia can match these Chinese capabilities.

Rather, his strategic response consists of two elements.

One is Australia taking action to strengthen the US military position in Asia, such as by hosting more US military facilities.

The other is for Australia to do to China what China is doing to the US,
which is to develop an “asymmetric” ability to use a smaller force to
impose massive costs on China in the event of any conflict.

This would help to deter Chinese military adventurism and avoid conflict.