Australia`s Maritime Capabilities

Australia’sMaritime Capabilities

Australia’sMaritime Capabilities

Theprimary focus of Australia`s Defence is to progress its strategicinterests through the provision of properly trained and equippedforces. To accomplish this, the Defence organizes for and executesmilitary operations and other responsibilities as directed byAustralian government. Some of the major elements driving Australia`sDefence strategy and activities include the need to preserve lessonslearned from previous experiences, prepare for the prospects andchallenges of tactical changes in the region, and the need tooptimize Defence capability within fiscal regulation. Australia’sstrategic environment (ASE) is largely affected by three factors.These are the status of US-China relations, the willingness of theUnited States to defend Asia`s rules-based global order and thestability of the Asian region.1This paper explores Australia`s maritime capability with a specialfocus on its Submarines in light of its strategic environment and itsforeign Defence policy. The paper justifies the capability providedby the submarines, explains the reasons why it is best suited amidstASE and Australia`s foreign Defence policy (AFDP) and explicates theimplications of the capability to Australian Defence Organization.

Accordingto the 2016 Defence white paper, high capability and versatility ofAustralia`s naval and maritime forces is critical to its Defencestrategy.2These forces must be able to conduct numerous activities in supportof the country`s Strategic Defence Objectives and operate across vastdistances. The maritime zone covered by Australia is among thelargest in the world spanning a whole 10 million square kilometres.Again, Australia is required to cover the largest search and rescueareas in the world that span 53 million square kilometres and coversthe Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans.3For this reason, modernising its maritime capabilities is a prioritythat should be addressed for the long-term benefit of the country andthe Asian region.

Justificationfor the Capabilities Provided by Submarines

Theacquisition of more capable submarines is expected to strengthenAustralia’s maritime forces to enhance its maritime borderprotection, secure it immediate northern approaches and adjacent sealines of communication to facilitate projection of the maritimeforces.4Submarines are a crucial part of Australia’s naval capabilities.Submarines can provide a strategic advantage in terms of surveillanceand protection of the country’s maritime territory. Regionallysuperior submarines with a high level of interoperability with theUnited States can greatly improve the country’s maritimecapabilities.

Sincethe invention of submarines, they have been critical elements ofmaritime dominance. They have enhanced the superiority of majormaritime forces and have yielded authority to smaller navy forces.These machines operate in an impossible medium from where they cangenerate far-reaching effects.5This quality, coupled with their increasing covertness gives them anenormous tactical initiative that can improve the functionalflexibility through the scale of the conflict.

Oneof the greatest advantages Australia can reap from acquisition ofsubmarines is their ability to operate stealthily and carry out theirmissions through less hostile environments.6For example, in areas where maritime territory is not secured,submarines can strike an enemy’s naval forces, as well as, targetson land. This can apply in the disputed South China Sea where Chinahas reclaimed part of the sea claiming that it is lies within itsterritory. If such a disagreement over international waterscontinues, such submarines can be deployed to destroy all forces andequipment of the artificial islands. This shows that submarines canprevent potential enemies from using the sea wrongfully andcontribute to the realisation of sea control by destroying theenemies engaged in disputes over control. Possession of submarines byAustralia can enhance its offensive capacity to deter enemies byacting as a force multiplier.7

Moreover,submarines can provide defensive capabilities to Australia. Byoperating at long ranges with linked intelligence backing, submarinesbecome one of the most powerful weapons. This applies to enemysubmarines in the water, as well as, strikes on land. The ability tooperate without detection enables submarines to position missiles forland attacks with precision without causing unnecessary diplomaticevents. This makes them excel in war both at sea and on land.Well-designed submarines equipped with sound sensors, processingsystems and torpedoes operated by trained personnel can succeed inanti-submarine missions and easily neutralise enemies within theinitial stages of war.8Concerning attacks on land, they can cause dire losses on navalcombat and logistic fleets of the enemy. Recent trials and real-worldexperiences demonstrate the innumerable advantages of operating asubmarine against surface forces. For instance, the Mk 48 torpedoeson submarines are strong enough to sink warships on the watersurface. Recently, submarines have been fitted with anti-shipmissiles to increase their lethality and efficiency.9

Furthermore,submarines can contribute to intelligence and surveillance efforts toAustralia. This capability facilitates the collection of audio,visual, communications and other intelligence that can promoteunderstanding of potential threats. This is enhanced through theinstallation of secure and distinct communications that enablesubmarines to operate in a networked force, which improves timelyinformation flow and sharing of intelligence within the force.

Surveillanceoperations help submarines to monitor activities below the watersurface, and on land and air through the electromagnetic range.10They are built with technologies that enable the observation ofactivities that may not be captured by other platforms such assatellites and drones. Therefore, the strategic information obtainedthrough such surveillance can complement the information recorded bysatellites and when put together it can provide a clear picture ofactivities taking place around. For instance, using submarines,Australian naval forces can secretly monitor the activities happeningoverhead its space or in its territorial and international waters.Specifically, submarines can be able to gather all intelligenceregarding activities taking place in the disputed islands on theSouth China Sea and prepare a plan of action.

Atpresent, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) uses a fleet of six CollinsClass submarines to patrol its maritime territory.11These maritime forces play a leading role in RAN’s mission ofpreventing hostile forces from taking over the central points in theislands off the coast of Australia. Acquisition of more submarineswith modern features and technical advancement can provide a betterplatform for undercover surveillance missions and invasive operationsagainst warships, enemy submarines, and operations support. Thesesubmarines come with an advanced system for handling weapons, whichis indicative of their potential for land attack in the future.

Thesubmarine program represents the enormous Defence procurement programin the history of Australia. This program is a costly investment, butit is worthwhile given the strategic maritime capabilities that thenew submarines can add to the existing capabilities of the country`snaval Defence forces. Therefore, the government should be committedto spearheading this procurement by making sure that the orderedsubmarines meet and surpass the capabilities of the existing CollinsClass models. The decision to acquire new submarines resonates withsome sections of 2016 Defence white paper. The capabilities discussedare enough to help Australian maritime forces to deter an armedattack on the country. This duty is placed on the Australian DefenceForces, which treats the duty to safeguard the maritime territory asa persistent theme. The acquisition of submarines to enhanceAustralia`s maritime capabilities is, therefore, a substantialinvestment whose heft rests on the RAN. This comes with additionalaccountabilities to the RAN thus, the country needs to take it as apriority and face-out challenges that may hinder its execution.

Whythe capability is best suited to answer the ASE, and the competingAFD

Itis important to understand that Australia’s maritime strategy isthe cornerstone of its defence, driven by the country’s strategicgeography. The maritime strategy is broader than a mere navalstrategy, and the submarine capability is the highlight of thisstrategy. The way of life and the security of the Australian peopledepend on what travels outside and inside the Australian oceans.12 Therefore, submarines provide the Australian government with a widerange of options to take strategic action on national interests, anda higher capability to formulate alliances for better unilateral ormultilateral defence.13

Addressingthe Rise of China

The2009 White paper depicted China’s military might in a contentiousangle. The rise of China as an economic and military powerhouse inthe last two decades has increased Australia’s concerns regardingthe strategic implications of this development.14China will continue to rise as Asia’s military giant byconsiderable margins, therefore, putting pressure on other countriessuch as Australia to improve their military hardware. Although the2013 White paper softens its outlook on the significance of themilitary developments in China, there is an underlying tone regardingthe implications of the military development to Australia’smilitary modernization efforts.15The capability will put Australia in a better position to matchChina’s rise in military might as well as address new developmentsin the Asian Security Order. The region has witnessedintensifications in military relationships. For example, Japan hascontinued to expand its military cooperation with countries such asIndia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Australia. As much as there arepositive developments in the regional relationships, certain aspectssuch as the China-US, China-Japan, and China-South Korearelationships remain fragile.16It is in the interest of Australia to boost its submarine capacity todeal with the eventualities of these relationships.

Addressingthe Flaws of an Overly-Optimistic Australia

Manycritics of Australia’s defence strategy say that the countryassumes the willingness of the United States to defend it against anyforeign threats. Moreover, Australia underplays the threat posed byChina’s military might. All these concerns place the country at aweak and unprepared position when dealing with its defence issues.Australia remains indecisive when dealing with this unpleasantsituation, just like many other Asian countries. The reluctance todeal with this challenge carries significant risks to Australia’ssovereignty. It is, therefore, important that the country looks atits defence capabilities against China’s threats and assuming theabsence of a US ally. There are numerous concerns regarding theperception gaps between the US and its Asian allies.

Divergentinterests have the potential of weakening intimate alliancesregardless of their strategic significance. Currently, the US isconcentrating on addressing developments in Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, andother global hot spots, thus diverting its attention from otherdevelopments in Asia.17In the past, doubts about the US commitment to Asia have jeopardizedregional collective action problems. For Australia, the overrelianceon a US ally and the existing military alliances in Asia isdisadvantageous to the country’s sovereignty.18Boosting the submarine capacity will give Australia an upper hand intackling any threat from China and other sovereign states.Additionally, the country will cease to be at the mercy of its alliessuch as the US. However, most importantly, the stronger capabilitywill give the country the power to negotiate better alliances andinfluence the Asian security order.

InternationalEngagement

Enhancingthe country’s military capability will enable it to pursue globaland regional prosperity through bilateral and multilateralcooperation. The defence structure of a country is affected byfactors such as joint training and joint exercises. With countriessuch as China, India, Japan and the US developing their submarinetechnologies, Australia will lose its importance in militarycooperation unless it takes the same path of submarine development.Increased submarine capability will also enable the country toparticipate in international engagement to ensure a secureinternational environment.19 This will require the country to be active in strategic missionssuch as the mission in Afghanistan and Iraq. The submarine programwill boost the country’s cooperation with the US and Japanregarding submarine coordination and ways of addressing thechallenges faced by the allies. Most importantly, a better submarinecapability will boost Australia’s interoperability and strengthenthe symbiotic US-Australia defence relationships.

TheImplications of the Choice to Australian Defense Organization

Australia’ssubmarine program is the largest and yet the most complex defenceprocurement that the country has ever witnessed in its history. Thedecision to develop modern submarines has various economic,political, defence and strategic implications for the country.However, the technical and cost implications regarding the buildingof the submarines are the most important to consider. To understandthe nature of these implications, we can use the Capability LifeCycle (CLC) as well as the Fundamental Inputs Capability (FIC)concepts to highlight them.

TheCapability Life Cycle touches on the process of introducing,sustaining and replacing defence capabilities. In this regard, we canconsider the submarine program in light of the various phases ofCLC.20First, the Department of Defense will need to determine the desiredcapability based on the mission objectives set in the strategicguidelines. However, the desired capability should fall within thefunding provisions.21Therefore, the country will need to develop efficient projectexecution strategies and joint capability need statements.

TheDOD needs to establish risk mitigation measures during thedevelopment phase. The investment approval process has to be astransparent as possible to ensure maximum safety of vessel operatorsand the public.22Therefore, the country should establish frameworks that enableconstant monitoring to ensure there are no quality and safetydeviations. Another important aspect of risk is finding ways ofreducing maritime conflicts occasioned by the increased use ofsubmarines within the oceans. The department of defence should ensurethere are no risks of submarine collisions as well as environmentalrisks occasioned by the use of submarines.

Acquisitionis another important phase in the Capability Life Cycle. This phaseinvolves the process of placing contracts within the industry toensure the acquisition of the desired capability. This crucial phasewill require the Department of Defense to take into considerationsovereign and security considerations when sourcing the rightcontractor.23Moreover, the contract should result in the least costs in theexecution of the project. Again, it should equip Australians with thecapacity to build future submarines with little foreign help. Themain task in this phase is to ensure that the product meets theobjectives of the program within the budget.

Thelast phase in the CLC is the in-service and disposal. The implicationhere is that the country should put in place strategies forsupporting the capability of its submarines throughout their servicelife. This involves meeting the costs of technical and logisticalsupport accorded to the department of defence. Finally, there shouldbe a definite disposal strategy for the vessels to ensure minimumenvironmental impact as well as managing the transition of theproduct.

TheFundamental Input Capability (FIC) can also provide insights into theimplications of the submarine program. First, the submarine upgradewill lead to organizational transformations in Australia’smilitary. This will involve formulating the most appropriategroupings to strike the right balance in the structure, competence,control and command of the navy with the new developments in thenaval capability.24This will require the enhancement of command management to ensuremaximum safety levels as well as result in the most effectiveintegration of the new resources into the military.

Thenew submarine capacity will result in the creation of new roles thatwill require competent personnel in the ADF workforce. In thisregard, the submarines will lead to more collective training toaddress the needed skills. The training will seek to boost theunderstanding of major submarine systems to generate effectivedefence. Finally, the country will need to develop competentsubmarine support teams. The support teams will provide support inareas such as packaging, transportation, data, maintenance andcomputerization.

Conclusion

Australia’sDefence is charged with the mandate to progress the country’sstrategic interests through the provision of properly trained andequipped forces. Therefore, it organizes for and executes militaryoperations and other responsibilities as directed by Australiangovernment within the framework established by Australia’sStrategic Environment and its Foreign Defence Policy. The submarineprogram represents the enormous Defence procurement program in thehistory of Australia. This program is a costly investment, but it isworthwhile given the strategic maritime capabilities that the newsubmarines can add to the existing capabilities of the country`snaval Defence forces. Submarinesprovide the Australian government with a wide range of options totake strategic action on national interests, and a higher capabilityto formulate alliances for better unilateral or multilateral defence.Theresolution to modernize Australia’s submarines has distincteconomic, political, defence and strategic implications for thecountry. However, the technical and cost implications regarding thebuilding of the submarines are the most important to consider. Tocomprehend the nature of these repercussions, we can use theCapability Life Cycle (CLC) as well as the Fundamental InputsCapability (FIC) concepts to highlight them.

Bibliography

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1 Babbage, Ross. &quotAustralia`s strategic edge in 2030.&quot (2011).

2 Supriyanto, Ristian Atriandi. &quotAustralia’s 2016 Defence White Paper: ASEAN and the South China Sea.&quot (2016).

3 Babbage, Ross. &quotAustralia`s strategic edge in 2030.&quot (2011).

4 Friedman, George. &quotAustralia`s Strategy.&quot (2012).

5 White, Michael. &quotAustralian submarines: a history.&quot (2015).

6 Australia, Maritime Strategy and Regional Military Diplomacy.&quot&nbspMaritime School of Strategic Thought for Australia, ed. Jones (2013): 89-101.

7 White, Hugh. &quotPower Shift: Australia`s Future between Washington and Beijing.&quot&nbspQuarterly Essay&nbsp39 (2010): 1.

8 Griggs, Ray. &quotAustralia`s maritime strategy.&quot&nbspAustralian Defence Force Journal&nbsp190 (2013): 5.

9 Silent Killers: Submarines and Underwater Warfare. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011.

10 Dibb, Paul. &quotManaging Australia`s Maritime Strategy in an Era of Austerity.&quot (2014).

11 GEOPOLITICS OF THE 2016 AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE WHITE PAPER AND ITS PREDECESSORS.&quot&nbspGeopolitics, History, and International Relations&nbsp(2016).

12 Improving Trade Visibility and Fidelity in Defense Requirements Management: A Formative Study of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development.&quot (2014).

13 Howarth, Peter.&nbspChina`s Rising Sea Power: The PLA Navy`s Submarine Challenge. Routledge, 2006.

14 US-Japan allied maritime strategy: Balancing the rise of maritime China.&quot&nbspInternational Relations (Summer/Fall 2010)&nbsp115 (2014): 28.

15 Griggs, Ray. &quotAustralia`s maritime strategy.&quot&nbspAustralian Defence Force Journal&nbsp190 (2013): 5.

16 Australia`s Submarine Design Capabilities and Capacities: Challenges and Options for the Future Submarine. RAND CORP ARLINGTON VA NATIONAL SECURITY RESEARCH DIV, 2011.

17 Brewster, David. &quotStrategic convergences between India and Australia in Southeast Asia.&quot (2014).

18 White, Hugh. &quotPower Shift: Australia`s Future between Washington and Beijing.&quot&nbspQuarterly Essay&nbsp39 (2010): 1.

19 Babbage, Ross. &quotAustralia`s strategic edge in 2030.&quot (2011).

20 Dibb, Paul. &quotManaging Australia`s Maritime Strategy in an Era of Austerity.&quot (2014).

21 Improving Trade Visibility and Fidelity in Defense Requirements Management: A Formative Study of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development.&quot (2014).

22 Systems engineering of unmanned DoD systems: following the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System/Defense Acquisition System process to develop an unmanned ground vehicle system.&quot PhD diss., Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School, 2015.

23 Howarth, Peter.&nbspChina`s Rising Sea Power: The PLA Navy`s Submarine Challenge. Routledge, 2006.

24 Howarth, Peter.&nbspChina`s Rising Sea Power: The PLA Navy`s Submarine Challenge. Routledge, 2013.