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Australia Boosts Army, Air Force Strength (Nov.23)

;The Minister for Defence, John Moore, today said that the Federal Government had decided to increase the number of fully operational infantry battalions from four to six, by bringing to combat readiness an additional two full-time Army battalion groups.

The additional battalion groups will be formed around 4RAR based in Holsworthy in Sydney and 6RAR based in Enoggera, Brisbane.

"The additional full-time battalion groups will offer the Government more flexibility when responding to contingencies, at a time of increasing demand on the Australian Defence Forces," Mr Moore said.

"They will also ensure that Australia can maintain our current commitment to INTERFET in East Timor, the follow-on commitment to UNTAET, the Sydney Olympics, and the Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group.

"These commitments are in addition to a rapid deployment capability available at short notice for other possible contingencies," said Mr Moore.

As a result of the decision, the Army's combat strength will increase by 3,000 to 26,000 full-time personnel.

Air Force strength will be increased by 555 to 13,555 to allow for additional combat support personnel and the raising of an additional airfield defence squadron.

Navy's strength will remain constant at 14,000.

"The Government estimates that the extra defence costs from the deployment of forces, the raising of two new full-time battalion groups and additional Air Force numbers will amount to $907million in 1999-2000, $1.089 billion in 2000-01 and $901 million in 2001-02," Mr Moore said.

The additional two full-time battalion groups will be maintained for two years while the longer-term size of the infantry force will be addressed in next year's Defence White Paper.

"Today's announcement further strengthens the Government's commitment to Australia's defence readiness and capability," Mr Moore said.

"The Government also has made it clear that it would ensure the Australian Defence Force has the necessary resources to meet rotation requirements in East Timor and today's decision is an important step in meeting that undertaking."

Increase To Defence Capability
*Enoggera-based 6 RAR will be readied for operations by the end of February 2000
*The battalion is currently an integrated Regular and Reserve unit and will receive an additional 350 full-time personnel to bring it to its full requirement of 706.
*Supporting armoured, artillery, engineer and logistics elements will receive 460 additional personnel, taking the strength of the battalion group to a total of around 1,200.
*4RAR and supporting elements, based in Holsworthy, is planned for development as a full-time commando battalion in the medium term.
*It will be expanded initially as a light infantry unit for potential operations in East Timor.
*The battalion group is to be ready for operations by the beginning of June 2000 and will receive an additional 600 full-time personnel. Its full-time strength will be around 1,100.
*Conversion of the Unit to its commando role will occur following a deployment such as its East Timor role and the planned procurement of specialist equipment.
*Other elements of the Army will be expanded to complement this growth in the ready combat forces.
* Training, logistics, headquarters and some specialist units (eg: intelligence and construction engineers) will receive additional personnel and equipment. This will provide the capability required to sustain deployed elements and support the overall enhancement of the Army. While final requirements are being determined, it is expected to be in the order of 1,500 personnel, predominantly in logistics and training units.
* The raising of Army capability is being achieved through a combination of redistribution of personnel and equipment, some additional recruiting, and the procurement of additional equipment.
* More than 630 Reservists have volunteered for full-time service in the affected units.
* The increase in Air Force numbers will comprise 155 personnel for the new airfield defence squadron and 400 personnel for the combat support group.
* The combat support group will provide flexibility, redundancy and support to ADF activities in the long term.;


Government Boosts Army and Air Force Strength