The Department of Defence is ramping up its recruitment of staff with scientific expertise.
Its chief scientist, Professor Tanya Monro, told The Canberra Times it was crucial that "our adversaries know what our technological capabilities are and have a healthy fear of them."
Professor Monro said the aim was to avoid war.
It is clear that China looms large in the new strategy of the Australian military.
"There's no question that the rest of the world is investing heavily," she said at the mention of China.
But China isn't the only potential adversary in the region. In February, there was a cyber attack on Parliament in Canberra with private information open to outsiders.
An investigation has not publicly revealed who might have been behind it. China, North Korea, Russia or rogue Western hackers have been mooted.
But, whoever it was, the vulnerability indicates new skills to counter such attacks are at a premium. Artificial intelligence, potentially for "intelligent" robot warriors, is also a fast-changing field of research around the globe.
Professor Monro wouldn't speculate as to where technology might go, beyond saying any wars of the future would be unlike wars of the past.
"We must never be complacent," she said, emphasising her view that war is best avoided when potential aggressors know Australia has the means to defend itself.
To stay ahead of emerging technologies, the department is set to expand a program in which bright students and researchers can get periods of work there.
At the moment, the department takes 15 "outstanding young people", as she put it, but that will increase to 200. She said that when people sample working for the department, they tend to stay.
There will also be a recruitment drive starting this week. Websites will be streamlined so that interested people find it easier to get information and apply.
It's become really clear to Defence that the war of the future won't be like any we might face today.Defence chief scientist Professor Tanya Monro
Professor Monro said Australia has a "rich history of developing niche technologies".
Because Australia is economically small compared with the United States, runs the argument, it can't concentrate its scientific resources on all defence matters. It needs to specialise.
In the past, it's developed new technologies like over-the-horizon-radio, which can see aircraft thousands of kilometres in the distance by bouncing signals off the edge of the atmosphere. This technology transformed defence against intercontinental and cruise missiles attacks, as well as those by war planes.
Professor Monro has just taken over the top scientific job at the Canberra headquarters of the department.
She is concerned the department isn't attracting enough people with up-to-the-minute new skills needed for new and emerging technologies - technologies which change in leaps and bounds.
She wanted people with scientific abilities across the department. "We are not primarily talking about scientists in labs," she said.
A scientific background (in a broad sense of science but also technology, maths and engineering) is increasingly useful for decision makers in "a complex world of emerging technologies", she said.
"It's never been more important to solve problems, to use new tools to make decisions," she said.
And it's not just the military which needs new skills.
The need for people with technological ability is great across the Australian economy, according to a Department of Defence document setting out its new strategy: "Demand for scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical skills in Australia is high, and unless there is collective action over the coming decade, these needs will not be met."
Professor Monro took over in March. She is unarguably one of Australia's scientific leaders.
She was deemed to have produced the best physics PhD in Australia. She's a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and on the board of the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).