SYDNEY — Australia will move hundreds of troops to the country’s north and concentrate long-range strike capabilities in the south as part of changes to its Army deployment meant to better deter China’s growing reach in the Indo-Pacific region.
Under plans announced Thursday, the Army will increase its presence in Townsville, a coastal city in Queensland with a population of about 200,000 that is home to a training area where joint drills with the U.S. and Japan under Exercise Southern Jackaroo were held in June.
The Australian Army will move about 800 troops from Adelaide in the south, sending most of them to Townsville, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
The 3rd Brigade, based in Townsville, will be an armored combat brigade whose duties could include amphibious island operations. Townsville will be home to all of the Army’s armored vehicles and half of its helicopter fleet.
Adelaide will host high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) launchers and national advanced surface-to-air missile systems (NASAMS). Though the size of the forces in Adelaide will decline in the short term, it is expected to return to current levels from 2028, according to the government.
The changes will mean the 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,” said Defence Minister Richard Marles, who is also deputy prime minister.
As Beijing flexes its muscles in the Pacific, Canberra has been bolstering defense capabilities. Its Defence Strategic Review published in April identified as priorities the improvement of the defense forces’ ability in the northern bases and the deployment and manufacture of longer-range missiles.
In March, Australia unveiled plans for deployment of nuclear-powered submarines through the AUKUS security partnership with the U.S. and the U.K. This followed the announcement in January to purchase HIMARS from the U.S. for deployment by 2026.