About 800 Australian Defence Force troops are being moved from the nation’s south into northern regions to pre-empt escalating tensions between the US and China.

The Albanese government announced the plan on Thursday to move about 800 troops from Adelaide, with a majority heading to Townsville in Queensland’s northeast.

Two-hundred troops will be based in Brisbane and 100 are heading to Darwin.

In the biggest ADF restructure in a decade, army brigades will also move from generalist combat to specialist combat roles.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said the changes were about responding to the recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review.

“Our army has always played a vital role in the defence of our nation and will continue to do so as it adapts to the challenges of our times,” Mr Marles said.

“These changes involve some hard decisions, but these decisions are necessary to build the army Australia needs.

“This 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.”

The types of equipment and combat capabilities across the four cities will also be changed.

Townsville is the big winner from the announcement, with the city to become the home of the ADF’s armoured vehicles and army attack and medium-lift aviation units.

It means the overall military presence around Townsville will grow, while further south Brisbane will be home to a motorised combat brigade.

Two units in Adelaide will be dissolved, with the South Australian capital to become “future-focused” and where the nation’s long-range strike capabilities will be based.

There are only minor changes in Darwins, with a focus on light forces that are agile and quick to move.

The changes will be carried out in stages through to 2025.

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