Australia to Pay Soldiers Bonus to Stay as Strategic Risks Rise

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SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) – Australia announced on Tuesday that it would pay A$50,000 ($33.165) for military personnel to remain beyond their initial service period. This comes days after a review concluded Australia's defence posture "was not fit for purpose", given the increasing competition between China and the United States.

Richard Marles, the Minister of Defence, said that the number was 3,400 personnel below the funded positions and there was also a retention issue.

He told reporters in Canberra that "we have a problem in recruiting the number defence force personnel we need."

The retention bonus is paid to employees who remain after completing the mandatory service period, which in most cases is three years.

Last week, the government endorsed recommendations from a Defence Strategic Review. The review stated that Australia should prioritise long range precision strike capability and domestic production of guided arms, as well as diplomacy.

Marles stated that the review made it clear Australia's defense posture was "no longer fit for purpose" due to the complexity of strategic circumstances we face.

He added, "We are now reshaping our defence force with a controlled sense of urgency."

The report said that the United States is no longer "the unipolar leader of Indo-Pacific", that fierce competition between China and the U.S. defines the region and that major power competition has "potential for war".

The review stated that China was undertaking the largest buildup in its military of any country since World War Two. This is happening "without transparency or assurance to the Indo-Pacific Region of China's strategy intent", it said.

Australia and Singapore held bilateral discussions about defence, trade, and foreign policy on Monday in Canberra.

Singapore's Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen said to reporters that Australia can play a larger role in regional security as it is an Asian nation.