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Australian Army reorganises its Brigade structure

The Australian Department of Defence is reorganising its three regular brigades and adding a fourth in a series of wide-ranging changes designed to transfer most of Army’s combat weight to northern Australia. In doing so it is implementing key recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review (DSR) by taking steps to align the Army with the force structure design priorities outlined in the CSR.

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 the region.

The Australian Army is moving from having generalist combat brigades to specialist combat brigades.

The Darwin-based 1st Brigade will be light, agile and quick to deploy in the littoral environment. The Townsville-based 3rd Brigade will be an armoured brigade, equipped with the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank (MBT), and designed for amphibious operations with the Royal Australian Navy in order to secure decisive terrain. The Brisbane-based 7th Brigade will be motorised and optimised to project by air and sea to respond to regional contingencies.

A new 10th Brigade will be raised in Adelaide as a future-focused Fires unit, embodying key future long-range strike capabilities: the accelerated and expanded Long-Range Strike (HIMARS) and Integrated Air and Missile Defence capabilities (NASAMS) capabilities will both be based here.

“These changes to Army are about responding to the recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review to maintain peace, security and prosperity in our region,” said the Minister for Defence and Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles. “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.”

“This is about organising Army to train as we would fight and making the most of the resources we have been assigned,” according to the Deputy Chief of Army, MAJGEN Richard Vagg. “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.”

As a result of these changes, the 5th and 7th Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment, which were formerly a composite unit based in Darwin before the 7th Bn was re-raised and shifted to Adelaide, will be re-linked to become 5th/7th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, and will be based once again in Darwin.

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

As a result of these changes, which will be phased in over the next two years, Townsville will become the home of the ADF’s armoured vehicles and army attack and medium-lift aviation. Consequently, 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 while Darwin will see minor changes to the combat brigade, with a focus on light forces that are agile and quick to move.

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