Australia in Space: Views from The Strategist, June 2018.
The first of July 2018 marks an important day for
Australia’s quest to become a more important actor in space,
with the creation of an Australian Space Agency under the
leadership of Megan Clark. For the first time, Australia
looks to have direction, coordination and focus in its
endeavours beyond earth. Understanding what this means for
Australia is the focus of this report. The decision to
boldly go into space marks an important step forward for
Australia, which traditionally has been content to be
dependent on foreign providers for space capability...
Shifts in ROK Approaches to the DPRK Under President Moon,
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has just completed his
first year in office and what an eventful year it has been.
Over the past twelve months, the world witnessed a sharp
escalation of tensions between the two Koreas which saw the
peninsula reach the brink of war, and then just as rapidly,
these tensions de-escalated, ushering in a mood of
inter-Korean reconciliation. What explains this stunning
turnaround? Did President Moon’s North Korea policy differ
drastically that of his predecessor, Park Geun-hye? In this
paper I find that, surprisingly, Moon’s DPRK policy has been
marked more by continuity than change from
Park’s—particularly in the realm of defence. The main
element of change has occurred on the diplomatic engagement
front, which has facilitated the remarkable inter-Korean
Women, Peace and Security: Addressing the Gaps and
Strengthening Implementation, May 2018.
This Strategic Insights paper compiles the articles in that
series across four themes: Defence’s approach to WPS, the
role of parliament and civil society, lessons from abroad,
and evolving approaches to WPS. Drawing on the analyses of
contributors from a variety of backgrounds including
government, politics, defence, academia, and civil society,
the series demonstrates that issues related to women’s
participation and leadership, and the inclusion of different
gender perspectives, are integral to Australia’s national
Putin and North Korea: Exploring Russian Interests Around the
Peninsula, May 2018.
ASPI Researcher, Jacqueline Westermann, argues that it would
be fatal to underestimate the Kremlin’s interests in the
region, as ‘Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security
Council, a stakeholder in the region, a partner to Pyongyang
and a party to the previous Six-Party Talks’. While it isn’t
a top priority for the Kremlin, Russian involvement could
play a handy part in Putin’s greater strategy to expand
Russia’s engagement in the world. To illustrate Moscow’s
specific motivations for being involved, the analysis is
based on statements given by Russian government officials
during 2017, as well as insights from Russian North Korea
North Korea and the ANZUS Treaty, April 2018.
The Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand, and the
United States of America, universally known as the ANZUS
Treaty, was signed in September 1951 and came into force in
April 1952. This Strategic Insight traces the origins of the
treaty, examines its substantive content, and considers
whether and how it might apply in the event of a conflict
between the US and North Korea...
Project LAND 400: Defining the Army, February 2018.
Defence’s most comprehensive, and expensive, package of land
force modernisation is underway, at a cost of $50–70
billion. Nine complementary programs cover every area of
land warfare, from personal equipment for the soldiers
through to unmanned aerial vehicles, amphibious craft,
special forces helicopters, digital networks, surface-to-air
missiles and long-range battlefield rocket systems.
Moreover, those programs are in addition to Navy and Air
Force projects, such as sea and air lift, that directly
support the land force...
Understanding the BRI (China’s One Belt, One Road
Initiative) in Africa and the Middle East, February 2018.
The BRI builds on China’s ‘Going Global Strategy.’ It
appeared somewhat suddenly in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan,
which guides national investment strategy from 2016 to 2020.
At the 19th Communist Party Congress (18 to 24 October
2017), a resolution calling on the BRI to be written into
the Chinese Constitution was adopted. Another resolution
enshrined ‘Xi Jinping thought on Socialism with Chinese
Characteristics for a New Era’...
Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Africa:
Mining and Australia’s Interests, November 2017.
Australia has commercial and strategic interests in helping
to prevent and counter violent extremism in Africa.
Australian mining companies are engaged across the continent
in Mali, Burkina Faso, Kenya and many other countries where
there have been high-profile terrorist attacks and
kidnappings of foreign nationals, including Australians.
Those threats already affect the way Australian mining
companies approach their operations on the continent. With
rising risks to Australian nationals, businesses and foreign
investment through the mining industry, violent extremism in
Africa is a direct threat to Australian national
Australia’s Management of Strategic Risk in the New Era,
Australia’s strategic outlook is deteriorating and, for the
first time since World War II, we face an increased prospect
of threat from a major power. This means that a major change
in Australia’s approach to the management of strategic risk
is needed. Strategic risk is a grey area in which
governments need to make critical assessments of capability,
motive and intent. Over recent decades, judgements in this
area have relied heavily on the conclusion that the
capabilities required for a serious assault on Australia
simply did not exist in our region. In contrast, in the
years ahead, the level of capability able to be brought to
bear against Australia will increase, so judgements relating
to contingencies and the associated warning time will need
to rely less on evidence of capability and more on
assessments of motive and intent. Such areas for judgement
are inherently ambiguous and uncertain...
Australia’s Offshore Patrol Vessels: Missing an Opportunity?
While much public attention has been given to the
acquisition of Australia’s new submarines and frigates, the
acquisition of offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) to replace the
Armidale-class patrol boats under Project SEA 1180 has
attracted much less scrutiny or comment. It deserves more.
Although an OPV is a much less complex platform than a
modern frigate or submarine, Project SEA 1180 will produce a
significant element of the ADF structure and have a major
role in Australia’s national security efforts, and some
aspects of the project construction arrangements are
The 2017 Independent Review of Intelligence: Views from the
Strategist, September 2017.
Over the past 40 years, Australian governments have
periodically commissioned reviews of the Australian
intelligence community (AIC). The first such inquiry—the
Hope Royal Commission of 1974—was commissioned by the
Whitlam government as a way of shedding light on what had
hitherto been a shadowy group of little-known and
little-understood government agencies. It was also the
beginning of a journey that would eventually bring the AIC
more into public view and onto a firm legislative footing...
The Strategic Risks of East Asia’s Slowing Economies, August
Global economic growth has slowed substantially since the
heady days before the financial crisis of 2008. The advanced
Western economies have barely recovered, and, after decades
of average growth of 10% in China, Beijing says the Chinese
economy is now expanding at 6.7%— a figure many external
analysts believe is optimistic. There’s little sign of a
return to pre-financial-crisis growth rates any time soon.
The potential dangers of a prolonged economic trough are
global, but in East Asia many governments depend on their
ability to deliver economic growth either to fulfil election
promises, in the case of the democracies, or to justify
their continued monopoly on power, in the case of the
Coordination of Federal, State and Local Disaster Management
Arrangements in Australia: Lessons from the UK and the US,
This document discusses the gaps in Australia’s emergency
management legislation and the coordination of federal,
state and local disaster management arrangements in
Australia. It analyses key legislation from the UK and US
jurisdictions and reveals important lessons that could be
adopted in Australia.
ASPI is releasing two research publications on the uses and
limitations of big data in national security.
Border Security Lessons for Australia from Europe’s Schengen
Experience, May 2017.
This Strategic Insights report explores Calum Jeffray’s key
observations in his report Fractured Europe: the Schengen
Area and European border security and analyses them through
an Australian and then an Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) border security lens. It also provides
recommendations for Australian border security policymakers
based on the lessons learned from the Schengen experience.
It examines the implications of Schengen for ASEAN member
states in the development of the ASEAN Economic Community.
Upgrade or Replace: a Cost Comparison of Australian Warship
Service Live, April 2017.
This analysis of warship service life options comes at a
time when Australia is planning to embark upon a substantial
naval shipbuilding venture. The Australian Government is
first and foremost seeking a domestic build for the next
generation of warships, but more broadly intends to stand up
an indefinitely sustainable domestic shipbuilding industry.
Australia has for several decades pursued a stop–start
warship acquisition process, in which most vessels serve for
about 30 years, generally including a major mid-life
upgrade. The decision to pursue a continuous shipbuilding
program now provides a chance to consider alternative models
for the provision of warfighting capability. This Strategic
Insights looks at the implications of warship service life
for the overall cost-of-ownership and the operation of the
RAN as an enterprise, and proposes options for consideration
in the development of the future submarine and frigate
Women, Peace and Security: the Way Forward, March 2017.
The articles in this Strategic Insights paper, originally
published on the ASPI Strategist website throughout March 2017,
include analysis about what women, peace and security (WPS)
means for Australia’s defence and national security. While ASPI
has been fortunate to have some great analyses from contributors
on WPS on The Strategist in the past, there’s always scope for
more. With Australia’s National Action Plan on WPS up for review
ahead of 2019, this year’s International Women’s Day provided an
opportune time to build on those contributions and examine the
way forward. Within the context of defence, it’s evident that
strengthening women’s participation in the security sector and
integrating gender perspectives contributes to capability and
operational effectiveness. Yet it’s still an issue plagued with
misconceptions and that needs to be better understood...
The Future of the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement
Cooperation: Indonesia’s Chance to Promote a New Era of
Regional Law Enforcement Cooperation, February 2017.
For 13 years, the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement
Cooperation (JCLEC) has served as a regional rallying point
for much-needed counterterrorism (CT) capacity development
and cooperation. Since its inception in 2004, with strong
bilateral support from the Australian Government,1 JCLEC’s
operating and donor environments have evolved considerably.
The strong relationship between the Indonesian National
Police (POLRI) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) that has
raised and sustained JCLEC is in a state of decline.
Regional partners and donors are now considering JCLEC’s
future. There are some big decisions to be made, the most
pressing of which is whether JCLEC should become a truly
regional body or an Indonesian Government institution...
Trump and Strategic Change in Asia, January 2017.
As Donald Trump’s administration comes to power in
Washington, the postwar security policy of the US is
undergoing a monumental transition. The new president’s
campaign rhetoric strongly intimated that under his
self-proclaimed ‘America first’ posture, traditional
American strategy and alliance politics would undergo a
major change. His approach to dealing with allies and
adversaries will be based less on their traditional roles in
US foreign policy and more on how he and his foreign and
security policy team view other countries’ willingness to
adjust their own policies to conform with a markedly
different set of US economic and strategic priorities. This
paper looks at North Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia and
region-wide concerns. It concludes while Trump postulates an
‘America first’ posture, that hardly represents an ‘Asia
last’ prescription. Above all else, Trump’s history is
shaped by his reputation in the business world for hard but
fluid bargaining to derive optimal results for
France and Security in the Asia–Pacific: from the End of the
First Indochina Conflict to Today, December 2016.
France’s defence- and security-related activities in the
Asia–Pacific are often underestimated, sometimes distorted
or simply ignored. This paper surveys France’s growing
presence in the Asia–Pacific from the Indochina War and
efforts to resolve the Cambodian conflict, through to the
country’s 21st century contributions driven by strategic
engagement related to globalisation, new threats,
multilateral regional cooperation and increasingly
interconnected strategic zones...
Delivering ‘Joined-Up’ Government Achieving the Integrated
Approach to Offshore Crisis Management, November 2016.
The call to improve ‘joined-up’ government articulates a
principle that is the foundation of effective and efficient
public administration. Increasingly, the ability of
government to achieve effects that are more than the sum of
their parts will determine whether Australia influences its
strategic environment or is merely captive to it. Offshore
crisis response requires a higher level of multiagency
interconnectedness than ever before. This level of
interconnectedness requires the adoption of transformative
approaches to recruitment, professional development,
leadership and management...
ASPI at 15, October 2016.
ASPI was registered as a wholly government-owned company on
22 August 2001, but it was several years earlier when Ian
McLachlan, the first Defence Minister of the Howard
government, saw the need to establish an institute to
provide an alternate source of advice on defence and
strategic policy. The articles in this Strategic Insights
paper, originally published on the ASPI Strategist website
in August 2016, come from a number
of individuals who deeply wanted the institute to succeed
and indeed were prepared to invest their own effort to make
it happen. While turning 15 is a good time to reflect on
growth and early experiences, ASPI’s most productive years
are still ahead of it.
AWD Combat System: an Upgrade for the Aegis, September 2016.
This paper examines the delivery of the AWDs and the combat
system to date, and explores what upgrades might be possible
in the stated period. We’re about to spend a lot of money
completing the current three AWDs, only to turn around and
spend a lot more money upgrading them. If the government
wants to spend $4–5 billion on improving naval capability
over the next 12 years, there might be more useful ways to
spend the money.
Assessing the South China Sea Award, August 2016.
The Philippines had a major, if unenforceable, win against
China in the 12 July South China Sea Arbitration under the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. But the
implications go beyond the bilateral dispute between China
and the Philippines and it carries great legal weight as an
authoritative ruling by an international judicial body.
Bearing in mind that the award is legally binding only on
the parties to the arbitration, there’s the question of what
might this assertion mean for third countries who may opt to
exercise navigational rights based on the Tribunal’s rulings
on the status and maritime entitlements of features in the
ADF Capability Snapshot 2016: C4ISR-Winning in the Networked
Battlespace, June 2016.
This paper provides an assessment and overview of the ADF’s
command, control, computing, communications, intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance (known commonly as ‘C4ISR’)
capabilities in the context of the ADF’s goal of pursuing a
network-centric warfare capability. The paper is the final
part of a series of ADF ‘capability snapshots’. The previous
three (Navy, Army and Air Force) were released by ASPI in
Cyberspace and Armed Forces: The Rationale for Offensive Cyber
Capabilities, May 2016.
A serious approach to military modernisation requires countries
to equip, train, and organise cyberforces for what has become an
essential component of national defence and deterrence. A force
without adequate cyber capabilities is more dangerous to itself
than to its opponents. As nations move forward in rethinking the
role and nature of their military forces, and as they study the
problems of organisation, doctrine and use of cyber operations,
they need to:
- develop the full range
of military cyber capabilities with both offensive and
- create a centralised
command structure for those capabilities, with clear
requirements for political-level approval for action
- embed those capabilities
in doctrine and a legal framework based on international
Defence White Paper 2016: The Strategist Decides, April 2016.
In this volume we’ve assembled a selection of articles
written in the weeks after the release of DWP 2016. The
papers cover the strategic outlook, force structure and
military strategy, budget and Industry, and regional
reactions to the White Paper. The authors are Robert Ayson,
Ross Babbage, Kim Beazley, Andrew Davies, Malcolm Davis,
Tobias Feakin, Tim Huxley, Peter Jennings, Mike Kalms, Rod
Lyon, James Mugg, Benjamin Schreer, Ristian Atriandi
Supriyanto, Mark Thomson, Feng Zhang.
Time to Start Worrying Again? Cross-Strait Stability After
the 2016 Taiwanese Elections, March 2016.
The study argues that the Taiwan Strait will remain
dangerous and that Canberra needs to pay closer attention to
the evolving cross-strait situation. Of crucial importance
is the question of whether Australia should support its US
ally in a future Taiwan contingency. The report calls for a
comprehensive dialogue between Canberra and Washington to
avoid a future ‘expectation gap’ on the Taiwan issue. As
well, Australia should acknowledge Taiwan’s potentially
constructive role in regional maritime territorial disputes.
Finally, Canberra should proactively take steps to enhance
Taiwan’s regional political and economic integration as a
means to contribute to long-term cross-strait stability.
Japan Versus Europe: The Quest to Build Australia's Future
Submarine, February 2016.
The building of Australia’s fleet of future submarines is
likely to be the largest defence program in this country’s
history. It will cost tens of billions of dollars and will
run for decades. So it’s little wonder that it’s a recurring
topic of interest on the pages of ASPI’s blog The
Strategist. Our contributors continue to examine the topic
from all angles, and this Strategic Insights collects
selected pieces from the past twelve months. The authors are
Kym Bergmann, Peter Briggs, Andrew Davies, Julian Kerr,
Chris Mather, Hans J Ohff, Terence Roach, Benjamin Schreer,
Tony Shepherd, Geoff Slocombe, Mark Thomson and Hugh White.
Implementing the Defence First Principles Review: Two Key
Opportunities to Achieve Best Practice in Capability
Development, December 2015.
This paper proposes two key measures on which to judge the
early success of Defence’s capability development reforms.
First, the formation of an industry-standard program
management office (PMO) to oversee the life cycle of all
acquisition projects from inception to final operational
capability as part of comprehensive and balanced programs.
Second, the creation of a robust centralised branch to
manage all test and evaluation (T&E), so that all projects
have credible test results that underpin the PMO’s
decision-making throughout the development and fielding of
Chinese Investment in the Port of Darwin: A Strategic Risk
for Australia? December 2015. Few strategic issues have
galvanised public attention in Australia as the decision by
the Northern Territory Government to lease key facilities in
the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company, Landbridge. This
Strategic Insights brings together items published on our
blog The Strategist as well as articles by ASPI staff
published in other media outlets such as The Australian and
The Australian Financial Review...
ADF Capability Snapshot 2015: Part 3 - Army, November 2015.
The main focus of the Australian Army over the past 15 years
has been on sustaining combat, training, stabilisation and
peacekeeping operations in our near region and the Middle
East and Afghanistan theatres. The demands of the ADF’s
operational tempo have driven a major rethinking of the
structure of the Army under Plan Beersheba. Now well
advanced, the end state will be three essentially similar
brigades, which will make rotational deployments easier to
manage and sustain. Like the RAAF and the RAN, described in
previous reports in this series, the Army needs a major
recapitalisation of its equipment.
ADF Capability Snapshot 2015: Part 2 - RAN, November 2015.
This paper surveys the capability of the Royal Australian
Navy and is an update of a previously published ADF
capability review: Royal Australian Navy from 2008 and the
Navy Capability Review 2010. Navy has made great strides in
the past five years. Some smart acquisitions have helped,
but there’s also been a better focus on managing the fleet
and its people, and in working with industry to bring the
various elements of capability together. There’s plenty of
work to do, and the future submarine, minor vessel and
frigate projects will require plenty of attention.
New Ways of Thinking About the Global Arms Industry: Dealing
with 'Limited Autarky', November 2015.
This report attempts to explain why some countries produce
arms on a limited scale, and what benefits they hope to
accrue from that strategy. Decisions to produce arms—even to
engage in niche production—need to be continually evaluated
and re-evaluated for their costs and benefits. Even if a
nation only wants to pursue limited self-sufficiency, that
can still be a high-risk, low-reward undertaking...
ADF Capability Snapshot 2015: Part 1-RAAF, November 2015.
This paper reviews the capability of the RAAF, and concludes
that the service has been remarkably successful in winning
government support for its acquisitions. More importantly,
the money has turned into real capability. There are a
couple of areas where more work is required, the most
important of those being anti-submarine warfare.
Scientific Cooperation in the South China Sea: Another Lever
for China? October 2015.
Security issues in the South China Sea are often studied,
whereas analysis of scientific cooperation in those waters
is rare, thinly spread and short. This paper looks at shared
priorities, China's leading role in launching scientific
programs, implications for the environment, and the use of
scientific cooperation as a power vector. The research space
is increasingly well controlled, but that control isn’t the
product of scientific cooperation. It’s the result of China
leading research programs. Scientific cooperation hasn’t
reduced mistrust, and common interests don’t prevail. In
relations between Southeast Asia and China, the fulcrum is
asymmetry. The differences in scientific cooperation noted
in this paper demonstrate that asymmetry and its serious
long-term consequences for neighbouring countries.
Security through Aid: Countering Violent Extremism and
Terrorism with Australia’s Aid Program, August 2015.
The paper argues that countering violent extremism (CVE) and
terrorism are international security and development issues.
Australia’s foreign aid should be used to strengthen
resilience to violent extremist ideologies. Improving
governance in weak states can help to deny terrorists the
easy recruiting grounds of lawless communities. The ASPI
report argues that there are several ways to better leverage
our foreign aid program to counter terrorism and violent
Creative Tension: Parliament and National Security, August
This paper argues that enhancing parliament’s role in
national security will reinforce Executive accountability,
improve the quality of public debate over national security
and serve to strengthen the foundations of Australia’s
parliamentary democracy. There are several measures that
would materially improve parliament’s role in the conduct of
An Enterprise-Level Naval Shipbuilding Plan, July 2015.
This paper reviews the past performance of Australian naval
shipbuilding, describes the pros and cons of a rolling
production model, and unpicks the issues that the government
will have to take into account. It concludes that we’re
likely to see a bigger surface navy—potentially a much
bigger one—as well as the sell-off of at least part of the
currently government-owned ASC Pty Ltd. The paper also looks
at strategies to manage the risks in the likely course of
action and recommends mitigation strategies.
The Not-Quite-Quadrilateral: Australia, Japan and India, July
The paper concludes that an alignment of the political stars, a
diplomatic consensus on China, tightening bilateral relations
and coalescing strategic, defence and security interests mean
that Australia should now lean forward to fortify our trilateral
dialogue and cooperation with Japan and India. A coalition of
like-minded Asia–Pacific maritime democracies would seek to
balance against China, further complicate China’s strategic
calculus and encourage Beijing to engage as a responsible
stakeholder in the stable and open regional order.
The Future of Jihad: What Next for ISIL and Al-Qaeda? June
The report examines what the rise of ISIL means for al-Qaeda
and how will it react. How will al-Qaeda seek to regain the
oxygen of publicity that’s central to terrorist
organisations if they’re to recruit, grow and, ultimately,
challenge their enemies? Does the rise of ISIL signal the
end of al-Qaeda or might al-Qaeda merge with ISIL, confront
it head on or take some other course of action? The authors
explore four alternative futures for al-Qaeda and ISIL and
conclude that a worrying scenario of ‘one-upmanship’ is
likely to take place between the two organisations in which
al-Qaeda pursues a campaign of international attacks in
order to regain the limelight.
Reviews and Contestability: New Directions for Defence, May
The First Principles Review of Defence is arguably the most
significant review of the defence establishment since the
1973 re-organisation led by Sir Arthur Tange. This Strategic
Insights brings together a series of contributions to ASPI’s
blog The Strategist written by ten experts with long
experience and broad knowledge of Australia’s defence
bureaucracy. They bring a wealth of different perspectives
and point to significant challenges ahead for Defence if the
reforms proposed by the First Principles Review are to
Reassessing Malcolm Fraser, May 2015.
Malcolm Fraser, Australia’s 22nd Prime Minister, died on 20
March 2015 aged 84. This Strategic Insights, drawn from
posts on ASPI’s blog The Strategist, examines Fraser’s
foreign policy record as well as his approach to defence
policy making and his evolving attitude to the US alliance.
Fraser reorganised Australia’s defence establishment and the
1976 defence white paper foreshadowed the move towards the
defence of Australia strategy adopted by the Labor
government in the 1980’s. Fraser’s strong commitment to
human rights and his support for the Commonwealth as a
useful multilateral forum were enduring features of his
Making Strategic Policy: What's Involved, May 2015.
With preparations for the Defence White Paper 2015 well
underway, both government and the public are probably more
interested than usual in the esoteric topic of Australia’s
strategic policy. In this paper, the author unpacks some
thoughts about that by talking most about how strategic
policy is—ideally—made. Making strategic policy means
solving a puzzle in three parts: understanding an
environment largely not of our own making; determining our
own global and regional role; and acknowledging a set of
constraints that bound that role...
No Exit: Next Steps for Promoting South Pacific Peace and
Prosperity, April 2015.
As Australia focuses on its global interests in a changing
and challenging international environment, there’s a danger
that we’ll lose sight of important constants of history and
geography. We don’t have an either/or choice to focus on
near or distant security imperatives. While the Australian
Government’s decision to lift defence funding will help with
this, cutting aid to help offset that boost may prove
Sounding the Alarm: Terrorism Threat Communications with the
Australian Public, April 2015.
On 12 September last year, the national terrorism advisory
was raised by Prime Minister Abbott from medium to high on
the advice of outgoing ASIO Director-General, David Irvine.
Since September 12, 2001, we’d been on a medium level alert.
This paper suggests five immediate changes which could help
make our terrorism warning system better meet the public’s
expectation that the government will provide useful
information on terrorist threats and advice about required
changes to behaviour...
The Strategic Dimension of 'Option J': Australia's Submarine
Choice and Its Security Relations with Japan, March 2015.
There’s a possibility that Australia’s future submarine (FSM)
will be based on a Japanese design. The government has
explicitly kept that option open, along with the possibility
of buying the boats from Germany or France. Wherever the FSM
is designed, built, or both, the supplier’s political
reliability and technological suitability are vital, as is
establishing trust in the ability of both sides to work
together effectively and efficiently on such a complex
capability. This paper examines what a possible
Australian–Japanese submarine deal would mean for the wider
relationship between the two countries, as well as the
Australia, Indonesia and the Prisoner's Dilemma, March 2015.
The bilateral relationship between Australia and Indonesia
has long been a fraught one. The latest tussle, over the
imminent execution of two Australian prisoners in Indonesia,
prompted a series of posts on ASPI’s blog, The Strategist,
framing the broader relationship in the context of the
Prisoner’s Dilemma model from game theory...
Nuclear Latency and the Future Strategic Environment, March
Since the 1946 ‘Report on the International Control of
Atomic Energy’ and the closely associated Baruch Plan
formulated by the United States, ‘nuclear latency’ —put
simply, the potential for countries to obtain nuclear
weapons capability—has been a factor threatening to
undermine strategic equilibrium on the world stage. The
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and resulting
nonproliferation regime may have allayed mid-20th century
concerns about the rate of spread of nuclear weapons, but
the notion of nuclear latency has by no means become
Why Australia Should Build Its Own Submarines, January 2015.
This paper considers the design and build of Australia’s
future submarine including the possible acquisition of
Japanese submarines by Australia to replace the Collins
class and a hybrid approach of constructing the hull modules
in Japan and assembling them here. It provides lessons
learned from the Collins project...
Are We a Top 20 Nation or a Middle Power? Views on
Australia's Position in the World, December 2014.
Nothing fans the flames of a debate on The Strategist quite
like a post that makes assertions about Australia’s place in
the world and the role it should have on the international
stage. ASPI director Peter Jennings’ recent post on
Australia as a ‘top 20’ defence player and deputy director
Anthony Bergin’s post on the ‘middle power label’ last year
both sparked debates about Australia’s power, position and
influence and how it could or should be using it...
Preserving the Knowledge Edge: Surveillance Cooperation and
the US–Australia Alliance in Asia, December 2014.
The US–Australia alliance is the bedrock of Australia’s
defence policy. Successive governments have looked to the
alliance for access to military technology, intelligence and
training, as well as a promise of support against direct
threats to Australia. However, Australia, the US and other
regional allies today face a rapidly changing strategic
environment in the Indo-Pacific. The American ‘rebalance’ to
Asia represents recognition by the US that it needs to give
greater priority to its management of the changing
balance—an effort firmly endorsed by President Obama in his
address at the University of Queensland...
Waves of Opportunity: Enhancing Australia-Indonesia Maritime
Security Cooperation. November 2014.
Maritime security cooperation between Australia and
Indonesia is important because of our geographical proximity
and common interests. With recently-installed President Joko
Widodo proclaiming Indonesia as the ‘World Maritime Axis’,
there’s great momentum for Australia and Indonesia to
enhance maritime security cooperation. This paper looks at
ways to enhance cooperation through: more interaction
between policymakers; facilitating greater integration among
the agencies responsible for maritime security cooperation;
national and regional capacity-building, and cooperative and
collective maritime domain awareness.
Jump Jets for the ADF? November 2014.
Is there a case for Australia to acquire F-35B Joint Strike
Fighter short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft to
operate from the two new Canberra-class landing helicopter
docks (LHDs)? The government has directed that this question
be addressed in the development of the 2015 Defence White
Steadying the US Rebalance to Asia: The Role of Australia,
Japan and South Korea, November 2014.
Given China’s rise and Asia’s economic ascent, military
growth and increasing trade flows, the US ‘pivot to Asia’
reflects an appropriate policy response to changing global
realities. The pivot (now called a ‘rebalance’) implies a
shift in US attention and resources in the military,
diplomatic and economic spheres from the Middle East and
Europe towards Asia...
Should Ministerial Arrangements for Domestic Security Be
Changed? October 2014.
The recent increase in Australia’s terrorism alert, reported
prime ministerial concern over national security
arrangements, major increases in counterterrorism funding
and operational success against people smuggling have raised
a new question in Canberra: are our arrangements for
managing domestic security optimal? This paper examines this
question as a debate...
Another Century, Another Long War, October 2014.
Australia is involved in the early stages of a conflict that
may last for the rest of the century and potentially beyond.
Terrorism is but a symptom of a broader conflict in which
the fundamental threat is from radical Islamists who are
intent on establishing Islam as the foundation of a new
To Choose or Not to Choose: How to Deal with China's Growing
Power and Influence, August 2014. This paper collects 10
items published on the ASPI blog The Strategist by eight
authors on one of the most important public policy issues of
this decade and beyond: how to deal with China’s growing
power and influence. The hope is that this debate will start
to identify points of shared thinking and expose the areas
where further work is needed to improve the quality of
policy outcomes. ASPI will continue to publish on the topic.
There is no more important subject for the future of
Australia and for a stable Asia–Pacific.
Strategy and Its Discontents: The Place of Strategy in
National Policymaking, July 2014. One of the liveliest
debates to have taken place on ASPI’s blog, The Strategist,
concerned the place of strategy in Canberra’s policymaking
community. It seems that there’s little consensus around
what strategy’s core business should be, let alone who
should practice it and whether indeed enough strategy is
being done by DFAT, Defence or other parts of government.
The 11 short pieces printed here by eight authors with quite
diverse perspectives span a broad range of views about the
definition, role, purpose and health of strategic
policymaking. There’s no more important debate in public
policy than on the place of strategy in meeting complex
national challenges. This paper hopefully will encourage a
more structured debate about strategy’s place at the heart
of national policymaking.
How to Buy a Submarine: Part 2, June 2014. The building
of a replacement for Australia's Collins class submarines
will be the country's most expensive defence project to
date. It's also likely to be the most complex, with a myriad
of capability, commercial and industrial issues to be
managed: the expertise for the design and construction of
conventional submarines resides in Europe and Asia while
Navy's preference is for American combat and weapon systems.
Pulling those elements together while managing the technical
risks is no easy task...
Ballistic Missile Defence: How Soon, How Significant, and
What Should Australia's Policy Be? May 2014. The issue
of ballistic missile defence (BMD) was a controversial one
when US President Reagan first advocated a strategic-level
system in the early 1980s. It remains so today. What’s
Australia’s interest? We live a long way away from most
current ballistic missile arsenals. But the ADF frequently
deploys within range of ballistic missile systems,
especially in Northeast Asia or the Middle East, and those
systems might proliferate more widely in the future...
Taking Wing: Time to Decide on the F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter, March 2014. The Australian Government is about
to make a decision on whether to spend between $8 and 10
billion of taxpayer’s money on the new F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter. It’s also an important call because it will cement
the F-35 as the main instrument of Australian air-power for
decades into the future...
Manufacturing Partners: Japan - South Korea Security
Cooperation and Australia's Potential Role, March 2014.
In Asia, Australia has no closer strategic and ideological
partners than Japan and South Korea. Our similar strategic
outlooks, economic ties, alliances with the US and liberal
democratic values make us highly compatible partners. But
while Australia’s bilateral relations are trending upwards,
the Japan–ROK relationship has been spiralling downwards...
Cybersecurity by Executive Order, February 2014. On 12
February 2014 the United States National Institute of
Standards & Technology (NIST) released the Framework for
Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, the
flagship accomplishment of the Obama Administration’s 2013
cybersecurity Executive Order. Just weeks before the White
House announced its executive order, the then Australian
Prime Minister Julia Gillard made an equally exciting
declaration introducing the Australian Cyber Security Centre
(ACSC). One year on, the contrast between the two efforts is
Afghanistan - Transition to Transformation: A Role for
Australia in Helping Shape Afghanistan's Future, February
2014. The transformation decade will seek to consolidate
and build on the outcomes of transition to ensure
Afghanistan’s future as a functional, stable and durable
state. The Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) will
have the lead responsibility for national security during
transformation. Although transition still has nearly a year
to go, the end-of-2014 scorecard is expected to be a mix of
positives and negatives...
Cold Calculations: Australia's Antarctic Challenges, October
2013. This Strategic Insights looks at the range of
Australian objectives in Antarctica, the assumptions that
underpin those goals, and the options open for us to best
achieve our aims. It’s hoped that this report will inform
those responsible for formulating and implementing our
Keep Calm and Carry On: Reflections on the Anglosphere,
October 2013. The Anglosphere—shorthand for the
Anglo-American sphere of influence—established the concept
and structure of the modern transnational community and
remains salient in contemporary international relations. For
Australia, the Anglosphere provides a framework for
continued prosperity through strong trade and political
favours between those within its fold...
Trends in a Tumultuous Region: Middle East after the Arab
Awakening, September 2013. This paper, by Lydia Khalil,
looks at the road to revolution, the polarised politics of
Islamists vs secularists, and sectarianism’s grip in the
region. The events in Egypt and Syria illustrate the
difficulties faced by policymakers around the world—options
for intervention are limited. However, the international
community continues to look for ways to encourage stability.
Australia's role is considered including its role on the
United Nations Security Council, particularly when it comes
to the Syrian crisis and dealing with Iran’s nuclear
Getting There - a Status Update for the 2000 Defence White
Paper, August 2013. This paper, by Andrew Davies,
reviews the 31 major capability announcements made back
then. It suggests its probably a good time for the incoming
Defence Minister to look back at the lessons of D2000's
force structure plans before moving forward.
Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons: The Next Step in Multilateral
Arms Control, August 2013. This paper by Crispin Rovere and
Kalman A Robertson addresses the many barriers to including
tactical nuclear weapons in disarmament talks. It considers the
difficulty of bringing other emerging powers such as China into
the nuclear arms control equation...
Australia as a Southern Hemisphere Power, July 2013. With
attention focused on our relations with Asia, analysts have
overlooked a significant strategic shift in recent years:
Australia's emergence as a major 'soft power' across the
Southern Hemisphere, from sub-Saharan Africa to South America,
as well as in Antarctica and the Southwest Pacific...
Securing the South Pacific: Making the Most of Australia's
Renewed Regional Focus, July 2013. A decade after the
invasion of Iraq, the 10-year-anniversary of the Regional
Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) later this month
will mark an equally significant juncture in Australia’s
Vietnam's Strategic Trajectory: From Internal Development to
External Engagement, June 2012. This paper by Le Hong Hiep
analyses Vietnam’s strategic trajectory over the past two
decades, with an emphasis on its relations with China and the
US, its policies on the South China Sea dispute, and the
implications for regional players...
India's Rise as an Asia-Pacific Power: Rhetoric and Reality, May
2012. India’s emergence as an Asian power—and eventually
perhaps as an Asia–Pacific power—has wide implications for the
region and consequently for Australia. This paper, authored by
Dr Sandy Gordon, considers those implications as they relate to
three closely related areas...
How to Buy a Submarine: Defining and Building Australia's
Future Fleet, October 2009. The Defence White paper
announced that the future submarine fleet would consist of
at least twelve submarines that would be able to perform a
wide range of missions and carry a varied array of weapons
and sensors. As described, the resultant boats are likely to
be the largest, most complex and, at $3 billion each, the
most expensive conventional submarines ever built...