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SUBMARINE FORCE POSTURE
Before sensible comment can be made on
submarine force posture, the peacetime and
wartime strategic context in which the force
may operate and the roles and functions the
submarines may be required to perform must
Peacetime Roles and Deployment Locations
There are a number of peacetime submarine
tasks that are sensitive to force posture.
Preparation-for-war activities include the
conduct of training/tactical development with
regional partners and at the other end of the
spectrum, the conduct of ISR missions against
potential future adversaries and countries of
interest. These sorts of operations would see
our submarines operating across a large area
ranging from India to Japan to Hawaii (although
typically with good will port visits at appropriate
points throughout the deployment).
Submarines may also be required to
participate in constabulary roles such as
counter terrorism, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling
and counter narcotic operations; all in and
around the northern archipelago. Operations
associated with the protection of coastal and
offshore infrastructure might take place off the
Pilbara, the Kimberley and in the Timor Gap.
WARTIME ROLES AND DEPLOYMENT
There are a number of wartime submarine tasks
that are directly impacted by our force posture.
The principal task of the ADF is to
independently deter and, if that fails, defeat
armed attacks on Australia. In the unlikely
event that deterrence was to fail and Australia
was subjected to an attempted or successful
military lodgement, be it small of full scale, our
future submarines would play a significant role
in any response. Interdiction is the primary
operational strategy for the ADF in such
situations; stopping an enemy’s advance or
the crucial resupply of belligerent “lodgers”. To
effect this Australian submarines would almost
certainly conduct anti-shipping operations in
areas where the ADF did not have complete
air or sea control. These might be around
Indonesian, Timorese and Papua New Guinean
straits and territorial seas. They may also
attempt to operate as ASW guards in these
areas. It is likely that our submarines would also
be deployed into forward Areas of Operations
(AOs) close to naval ports and enemy logistic
hubs to conduct reconnaissance, anti-shipping
strikes, ASW and offensive mine laying. They
may also be used for land strike on critical
enemy infrastructure or to covertly insert
Special Forces to do the same.
The second priority for the ADF is ensuring
the security, stability and cohesion of
Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, New
Zealand and the South Pacific Island States. It
involves ensuring they are not a source of threat
to Australia and that no major power could
challenge Australia’s control of the air and sea
approaches to the continent by projecting force
against us from bases in our neighbourhood; a
modified Munroe doctrine. Many of the likely
ADF tasks and functions in this scenario are
unsuitable for submarines, such as: protecting
our nationals, disaster relief and humanitarian
assistance. However, submarines would be
able to assist in stabilisation interventions
In June 2011 the Minister for Defence commissioned an ADF Force Posture Review (FPR).
Force Posture, in the context of the review, was understood to be a multifaceted concept, embracing bases in their various forms, including home
ports and Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), as well as operational activities such as port visits, training and exercises, familiarisation visits and other
forms of engagement.
The terms of reference called for consideration on how the future force posture would support Australia’s ability to respond to a range of activities.
These include deployments on overseas operations and missions, support of operations in our wider region and practical engagement with Asia-
Pacific and Indian Ocean countries in ways that help to shape security and strategic circumstances in Australia’s interest.
The reviewers were asked to make recommendations in relation to basing options for Australia’s Force 2030.
Sailor monitoring the diving safety console
in the Control Room of HMAS Dechaineux.
Credit: DoD / Paul Berry
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