Australia Revises Army Brigade Structure a Decade After Multi-Role Designation

A decade after transitioning its three primary force combat brigades into multi-role formations, Australia has decided to move back to specialist designations. This change comes in light of the Australian Government’s announcement on 28 September, 2023.

Previously, until 2011, the three brigades consisted of a mechanised brigade (1st Brigade), a light infantry brigade (3rd Brigade), and a motorised infantry formation (7th Brigade). They were then unified into multi-role manoeuvre brigades with similar structures. The latest announcement reveals a shift back to specialization:

  • 1st Brigade will be transformed into a light combat brigade.
  • 3rd Brigade will be designated as an armoured brigade.
  • 7th Brigade will revert to its motorised combat brigade role.

Additionally, the 10th Brigade, which was disbanded in 1942, will be re-established to function as a fires brigade. This shift in structure will also lead to significant adjustments in Army equipment placements. A notable change includes Adelaide’s Army presence becoming more ‘future-oriented’, emphasizing long-range strike capabilities like the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS).

Reason Behind the Restructuring: Defence Strategic Review

Australia’s decision stems from the directions outlined in the Defence Strategic Review. This strategic document shifted the focus from maintaining a balanced force to establishing a more targeted force. While historically, the primary concern was defending Australia, the new direction aims to prepare for a diverse set of challenges.

Interestingly, designing a specialized force to tackle a wider array of challenges might seem contradictory at first. However, it could indicate Australia’s intent to collaborate more closely with allies in combined task forces. This follows the trend seen in countries like the UK, where specific branches, such as the Royal Navy, specialize in particular roles, like submarine hunting.

A detailed examination of the Defence Strategic Review reveals Australia’s Army is now looking to emphasize combat in coastal areas with extended range fire support, with the need to “re-posture key capabilities”. The review also prioritizes the Army Littoral Manoeuvre Vessels programmes and the procurement of HIMARS, while discontinuing the self-propelled howitzers from the Protected Mobile Fires programme and reducing the Land Combat Vehicle System’s size.



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