Australian DM orders review to consider relocating troops

16:10, June 22, 2011      

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Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith on Wednesday announced a large scale "force structure review" over where Australian forces are based.

Two former civilian leaders of the defense department, Ric Smith and Allan Hawke, will lead the review.

The review will examine the rise of the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean rim, as well as how Australia is placed to respond to humanitarian requests and new challenges, such as energy security.

"To ensure that our Australian Defence Force is geographically positioned correctly to meet our modern security and strategic challenges," he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Smith said Australia now had a growing petroleum resources belt across the north-west top of Australia that needed to be protected.

"There is a prospect that we (will) see more defense assets in Western Australia ... more assets in the Northern Territory ... and the potential for more assets in north-east Queensland," Smith said.

The review is expected to consider moving many of the Defense Force's warships and thousands of personnel to northern areas of Australia.

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