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Australian Army unveils new order of battle to strengthen defence in north

Australian Army soldiers from the 1st Brigade and the Armed Forces of the Philippines travel by Zodiac small craft from Darwin to Channel Island, Northern Territory, to conduct an assault as part of Exercise Predator's Run 2023. (Department of Defence, Commonwealth of Australia)

Major changes to the Australian Army's capability and structure including the transfer of key combat units from South Australia to the country's north were announced by Defence Minister Richard Marles on 28 September.

The new order of battle implements recommendations from the Defence Strategic Review (DSR) released in April, which said the army must focus on amphibious operations in Australia's immediate region rather than on land wars in the Middle East.

According to an army Structure and Posture chart obtained by Janes , the changes from 2024 will “optimise littoral manoeuvre, enhance long range fires and posture in the north to contribute to the integrated force”.

Marles told a press conference that the restructure would take place over two to three personnel posting cycles – about five to six years – with around 900 relocations beginning in 2025 and phased in line with equipment deliveries.

Under the changes, the 3rd Brigade based in Townsville will be transformed into the army's only heavy combat formation, equipped eventually with Abrams M1A1 main battle tanks moved from the 1st Armoured Regiment in Adelaide; Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles; Redback infantry fighting vehicles; AS9 Huntsman 155 mm self-propelled howitzers; and Chinook heavy lift and Apache attack helicopters.

Darwin's 1st Brigade is redesignated as a light and agile combat formation, optimised for littoral operations and including support to land-based, long-range fires.

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