According to the details of the briefing shared by several sources with Le Sydney Morning Herald, Major General Adam Findlay said in an April 2020 private briefing with a group of Australian Special Forces soldiers that Beijing is already engaged in a “gray zone” war, including cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns .
Findlay went on to say that there was a “high probability” that the attacks could escalate into a potential war with Australia’s largest trading partner, the newspaper reported, citing sources who spoke under the guise of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly.
During the briefing, the then Special Forces Commander, who resigned but still advises the Australian Defense Force, asked his troops and officers: “Who do you count most? [regional] is the threat? He then replied: “China”.
“OK, so if China is a threat, how many special forces brigades are in China?” You should know that there are 26,000 Chinese SOFs [Special Operations Forces] personal, ”Findlay added, according to the Herald.
The general also told the forces that if tensions with China were to escalate, the Australian military would have to use its own cyber and space warfare capabilities, in addition to traditional air, land and sea assets.
Findlay reportedly stressed the “need not to lose momentum … to come back to the region”, strengthening Australia’s close ties with Indonesia and maintaining its presence in the region as China attempts to assert its own influence.
The report comes amid continuing tensions in the Asia-Pacific region as Australia and the United States seek to curb China’s growing power, as well as its efforts to fully annex Taiwan, over which Beijing claims sovereignty.
Last month Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said Australia should be “realistic” about China’s military objectives and that the possibility of a military conflict over Taiwan “Shouldn’t be ruled out. “
Most recently, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country would expand its war games with the United States in a $ 580 million effort pursue “peace, stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific, with a world order that promotes freedom”.
As part of these plans, the Australian government would modernize four military bases in the Northern Territory, which are expected to be completed by 2026.
About 2,500 US Marines are based in the Northern Territory, and the United States and Australia already hold biennial joint military exercises.
The Hill has contacted the Pentagon for comment on the Herald report.