Where Next for the Australia–South Korea Partnership?
October 2023. The strategic partnership
between Australia and South Korea holds great potential in
an increasingly challenging time. The two nations have many
common strategic interests and both can rightly claim to be
regional powers. However, the relationship remains a
relative underperformer compared with other key regional
relationships and has suffered from inconsistency. When
Canberra’s contemporary relationship with Seoul receives
attention from Australian analysts, it tends to be framed
largely in the context of the threats posed by Pyongyang...
‘Doing Good Deeds Quietly’: The Rise of Intelligence
Diplomacy as a Potent Tool of Statecraft, October 2023. Intelligence
diplomacy’ - using intelligence actors and relationships to
conduct, or substantially facilitate, diplomatic relations -
is a potent tool for statecraft; useful in specific
circumstances to either enhance conventional diplomacy or
create subtler lines of communication. Intelligence
diplomacy, its increasing utility and potential hazards, is
the subject of Doing good deeds quietly, the latest report
from ASPI’s Statecraft & Intelligence Centre. The report
finds that governments turn to intelligence diplomacy when a
variety of circumstances – and critically those governments’
assessments of related capabilities and effectiveness of
their intelligence services – makes use of intelligence
actors or relationships attractive and advantageous...
North of 26 Degrees South and the Security of Australia:
Views From the Strategist, Volume 7, June 2023. The
Northern Australia Strategic Policy Centre’s latest report,
North of 26 degrees south and the security of Australia:
views from The Strategist, Volume 7, is a series of articles
published in The Strategist over the last six months. It
builds on previous volumes by identifying critical
intersections of national security, nation-building,
resilience and Australia’s north. This issue, like previous
volumes, includes a wide range of articles sourced from a
diverse pool of expert contributors writing on topics as
varied as critical minerals, rare earth, equatorial space
launch, agriculture, advanced manufacturing, fuel and water
security, and defence force posturing. Importantly, it
addresses the Defence Strategic from a northern Australian
perspective. It also features a foreword by the Honourable
Madeleine King MP, Minister for Northern Australia...
China, Climate Change and the Energy Transition, March 2023. This
report surveys China’s enormous energy transition to
renewables. It begins by sketching the energy challenges
China faces and its climate-change-related energy policies,
in the context of the global geopolitics of the energy
transformation. Next the report focuses on conventional
energy sources (oil and natural gas), followed by
electricity, and energy technologies. Although the report is
intended primarily to survey developments to date, it
concludes with some brief observations about the
considerable energy challenges China faces in the years
China, Climate and Conflict in the Indo-Pacific , March 2023. This
paper surveys the current reporting and analysis on climate
and security to explore the implications that climate change
may have for China’s ability to prosecute its security goals
in the region’s three major hotspots: the SCS, Taiwan and
the India–China border conflict. Those three hotspots all
involve longstanding border and territorial disputes between
China and other nations and may draw in various levels of US
involvement should China continue to escalate tensions.
‘With a Little Help From My Friends’: Capitalising on
Opportunity at AUSMIN 2022, Novermber 2022.
The collection of essays covers topics and challenges that
the US and Australia must tackle together: defence
capability, foreign affairs, climate change, foreign
interference, rare earths, cyber, technology, the Pacific,
space, integrated deterrence and coercive diplomacy. In each
instance, there are opportunities for concrete, practical
policy steps to ensure cohesion and stability.”...
North of 26° South and the Security of Australia: Views From
the Strategist, Volume 6, November 2022.
This issue, like previous volumes, includes a wide range of
articles sourced from a diverse pool of expert contributors
writing on topics as varied as maritime law enforcement,
equatorial space launch, renewable energy infrastructure,
rare earths and critical minerals, agriculture, Industry
4.0, advanced manufacturing, fuel and water security, and
defence force posturing. It also features a foreword by the
Honourable Madeleine King MP, Minister for Northern
Australia. Minister King writes, “Northern Australia
promises boundless opportunity and potential. It is the
doorway to our region and key to our future prosperity.”...
Assessing the Groundwork: Surveying the Impacts of Climate
Change in China, September 2022. he immediate and
unprecedented impacts of climate change are becoming
increasingly apparent across China, as they are for many
parts of the world. Since June 2022, China has been battered
by record-breaking heatwaves, torrential downpours, flooding
disasters, severe drought and intense forest fires. In
isolation, each of those climate hazards is a reminder of
the vulnerability of human systems to environmental changes,
but together they are a stark reminder that climate change
presents a real and existential threat to prosperity and
well-being of billions of people. Sea-level rise will
undermine access to freshwater for China’s coastal cities
and increase the likelihood of flooding in China’s highly
urbanised delta regions...
ASPI AUKUS Update 2: September 2022—The One-Year Anniversary.
Consistent with a partnership that’s focused on the
development of defence and technological capability rather
than diplomatic grandstanding, there have been few public
announcements about the progress of AUKUS. That’s an
observation we made in our first AUKUS update in May, and
one we make again in this latest update, one year on from
the joint unveiling of the partnership in mid-September
2021. Periodic press releases note meetings of the
three-country joint steering groups—one of which looks at
submarines and the other at advanced capabilities—but
provide little hint about what was discussed. On Submarines,
we shouldn’t expect to hear anything concrete until the
18-month consultation phase concludes in March 2022...
Marles’s Defence Strategic Review—an Exploding Suitcase of
Challenges to Resolve by March 2023, August 2022.
The Review is to report before March 2023 so that the
Albanese government can make decisions on it at the same
time as they are deciding about the path that gives
Australia 8 nuclear submarines within an AUKUS partnership
that makes these safe and effective. Before they even get to
thinking about their task – ‘to ensure Defence has the right
capabilities to meet our growing strategic needs’ —Smith and
Houston will need to confront the ugly fact that Defence’s
current plans are already unaffordable despite the large and
growing defence budget the Albanese government has committed
North of 26 Degrees South and the Security of Australia: Views From the
Strategist, Volume 5, July 2022.
The Northern Australia Strategic Policy Centre’s latest report is a
series of articles published in The Strategist over the last six months,
building on previous volumes by identifying critical intersections of
national security, nation-building and Australia’s north. This issue,
like previous volumes, includes a wide range of articles sourced from a
diverse pool of expert contributors writing on topics as varied as
biosecurity, infrastructure, critical communications, cyber-resilience,
maritime infrastructure, foreign investment, space, and Indigenous
knowledge-sharing. It also features a foreword by ASPI’s new Executive
Director, Justin Bassi. The 19 articles propose concrete, real-world
actions for policy-makers to facilitate the development, prosperity and
security of Australia’s north. The authors share a sense that those
things that make the north unique – its vast space, low population
density, specific geography, and harsh investment environment – are
characteristics that can be leveraged, not disadvantages.
AUKUS Update #1: May 2022.
On the 16th of September 2021, the leaders of Australia, the
UK and the US announced the creation of a new trilateral
security partnership called ‘AUKUS’—Australia, the United
Kingdom and the United States. The three national leaders
stated, ‘We will foster deeper integration of security and
defense-related science, technology, industrial bases, and
supply chains. And in particular, we will significantly
deepen cooperation on a range of security and defense
capabilities.’ At a time of rapidly increasing strategic
uncertainty, when it’s increasingly clear that authoritarian
regimes are willing to use military power to achieve their
goals, it’s important to monitor the implementation of AUKUS
so that governments and the public can assess whether it’s
achieving the goal of accelerating the fielding of crucial
Artificial Intelligence and Policing in Australia, April 2022. Ability
and capacity to screen, analyse and render insights from the
ever-increasing volume of data—and to do so in accordance with the
constraints on access to and use of personal information within our
democratic system. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are
presenting valuable solutions to the public and private sectors for
screening big and live data. AI is also commonly considered and marketed
as a solution that removes human bias, although AI algorithms and
dataset creation can also perpetuate human bias and so aren’t value or
error free. This report analyses limitations, both technical and
The Costs of Discounted Diplomacy, February 2022.
This report outlines how and why Australia has
under-appreciated diplomacy and under-invested in diplomatic
capability—and why things should change. The prominence of
deterrence, alliances and border controls in Australian
security thinking has pushed diplomacy into the shadows.
Over the last twenty years, Australian governments,
sensibly, have invested massively in defence, intelligence
and border control. Over the same period, though, the
operating budget for DFAT’s foreign policy and diplomatic
work, has been cut by 9 per cent. In a more contested and
multipolar international environment, lightweight diplomacy
reflects lightweight thinking. Australia will be safer,
richer, better regarded and more self-respecting if our
diplomatic influence is enlarged, not if it remains
North of 26 Degrees South and the Security of Australia:
Views From the Strategist, Volume 4, December 2021.
The 27 essays in the collection demonstrate that Australia’s
north—that great sweep of territory from Rockhampton in the
east to Onslow in the west, taking in Townsville, Bamaga,
Darwin and Broome—is about a whole lot more than even what
makes its way into the national debate (borders, quarantine
facilities, mining, agricultural and energy projects, and
small but key defence facilities). Between them, the authors
of this volume cover proposals for an Indigenous civil
defence force to work domestically and in our near region,
the opportunities for processing critical minerals and
producing rare-earth magnets, a broader way of thinking
about and doing nation-building that gets beyond waiting for
one big first-mover investor or entrepreneur before anything
happens, and, of course, the ways that Australia can better
use this huge chunk of the globe’s strategic geography—along
with key partners like Japan and the United States...
What Is AUKUS and What Is It Not? December 2021.
This new ASPI Insight sets out what AUKUS is—a technology
accelerator that’s’ about shifting the military balance in
the Indo Pacific. Just as importantly, it sets out what
AUKUS it isn’t, to reset some of the discussion that ahs
made some assumptions here. AUKUS isn’t a new alliance
structure, a competitor to the W Quad between Australia,
India, Japan and the US, or a signal of decreased commitment
to ASEAN forums by the AUKUS members. And the Insight
proposes some focus areas for implementation of this new
‘minilateral’ technology accelerator, including having a
single empowered person in each nation charged with
implementation and ‘obstacle busting’. This is to break
through the institutional, political and corporate
permafrost that has prevented such rapid technological
adoption by our militaries in recent decades. As is the case
with James Miller in the US, this person should report to
their national leader, not from inside the defence
bureaucracies of the three nations...
Mitigating the Risk of a China–India Conflict, June 2021.
More than a year has passed since Chinese troops began to
occupy previously Indian-controlled territory on their
disputed border in Ladakh. The crisis has cooled and settled
into a stalemate. This report warns that it could escalate
again, and flare into a conflict with region-wide
implications. The report assesses the risk of conflict by
analysing its likelihood and consequences. A possible war
would be costly for both India and China. But a possible war
could also risk stirring Indian distrust of its new
partners, especially in the Quad – Australia, Japan, and the
United States. The report outlines some conditions under
which a war would disrupt or dampen those developing
To Deter the PRC, June 2021 .
This Strategic Insights report is the first in a series of
essays, workshops and events seeking to better understand
the nature of deterrence, particularly from the viewpoint of
the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s
Liberation Army (PLA). The series is a joint project between
the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and the US
China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI). Over the coming
months, ASPI and CASI, along with our research associates,
will examine the concept of deterrence, how both democratic
countries and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) approach
deterrence, what liberal democracies are doing to deter
China and what China is doing to deter them, and assess the
impacts of those efforts...
North of 26 Degrees South and the Security of Australia:
Views From the Strategist Volume 3, May 2021.
It is an all-new series of articles by a range of authors
exploring the continued importance of Northern Australia to
national security and defence strategy. This Volume’s
contributions were written over a year in which increased
strategic uncertainty and an unprecedented global pandemic
have collectively generated an interest in revisiting old
policy assumptions. Right from the start, it was clear that
we need to think of the north as the middle of the region,
rather than the edge of Australia, and reflect that critical
role in Australia’s political, military and economic
strategies moving forward...
Stronger Together: US Force Posture in Australia’s North—a
US Perspective on Australia’s Strategic Geography, May 2021.
This report argues why, and analyses how, Australia’s
defence force capabilities and strategic geography can
enable US force posture initiatives in the Indo-Pacific to
promote greater regional cooperation in ways that advance US
and Australian national interests. Lieutenant Colonel Hanks
writes that there are ‘practical and tangible areas for
US-Australia cooperation and growth which include: 1)
expanding the Australian defence industrial base while
securing and hardening supply chains; 2) increasing US Army
force posture in northern Australia; 3) increasing
multinational training opportunities; and 4) in conjunction
with Australia, expanding the defence partnership with
Somebody Might Hear Us: Emerging Communications Security
Technologies, May 2021.
Militaries have been trying to keep their communications
safe from prying eyes for centuries. But they have also
sought to be able to communicate as quickly as possible and
as widely as possible with their own forces. Those
requirements are in tension with one another. Today,
militaries can communicate globally over increasingly
capacious data pipes. But the same technological evolution
that allows them to do that has also given would-be
eavesdroppers new and powerful tools to collect and exploit
signals. In this report, author Dr Andrew Davies explains
the principles of secure communication and uses some
examples of emerging technologies to illustrate what the
next generation of secure communications might look like...
Gamechanger: Australian Leadership for All-Season Air Access
to Antarctica, April 2021.
Next year, the Australian Government will decide on whether
to commit funding for a proposed year-round, paved aerodrome
near the Australian Davis research station in East
Antarctica. An all-weather, year-round, paved runway near
Davis would have huge positive impacts on Antarctic science
and logistics in East Antarctica, where there are no
equivalent facilities. It would be the only paved runway in
Antarctica. As with any major piece of infrastructure
development, there’ll be inevitable environmental impacts
from the construction and operation of the Davis aerodrome.
However, we believe that with care, it should be possible to
design, construct and operate a facility that satisfies both
operational requirements and environmental obligations under
the Madrid Protocol and relevant Australian legislation...
Island Voices and COVID-19: Vulnerability and Resilience
Views From the Strategist, April 2021.
This Strategic Insights report is being published as part of
an ASPI project that focuses on the vulnerabilities of
Indo-Pacific island states in the Covid-19 era. It presents
a series of views on ways that insiders and external
observers have viewed the vulnerabilities and resilience of
island countries in the Pacific and Indian Oceans in dealing
with the Covid-19 pandemic. All of these contributions have
appeared as posts on The Strategist. They don’t try to offer
a sequential account of events or perceptions but represent
a collection of responses to the crisis. The authors were
not asked to address a single issue but, rather, were
encouraged to focus on issues of relevance to them. The
result is a mosaic rather than a portrait of nearly a year
of living with the tensions posed by the pandemic. Two key
themes do tend to dominate this mosaic. One concerns the way
vulnerabilities are expressed as challenges. The second
identifies the opportunities that resilience can create.
Next Step in the Step-Up: The ADF’s Role in Building Health
Security in Pacific Island States, April 2021.
The ADF has long had an important role in providing
humanitarian assistance to Pacific island countries (PICs).
The force has extraordinary capabilities—people, expertise,
training and equipment—in delivering necessary assistance
quickly and efficiently. From Australia’s perspective, the
ADF is one of our most important agencies in engaging with
our PIC partners, particularly in helping them to develop
capabilities to address a range of security challenges. In
Australia’s new strategic environment, the ADF can also play
an important role in helping to build regional health
security as part of a new phase in Australia’s Pacific
The Rapidly Emerging Crisis on Our Doorstep, April 2021.
This Strategic Insight report warns that within a decade, as
the climate continues to warm, the relatively benign
strategic environment in Maritime Southeast Asia - a region
of crucial importance to Australia - will begin unravelling.
Dr Robert Glasser, Head of ASPI's new Climate and Security
Policy Centre, documents the region’s globally unique
exposure to climate hazards, and the increasingly
significant cascading societal impacts they will trigger. Dr
Glasser notes that hundreds of millions of people living in
low-lying coastal areas will not only experience more severe
extremes, but also more frequent swings from extreme heat
and drought to severe floods. The diminishing time for
recovery in between these events will have major
consequences for food security, population displacements and
Coming Ready or Not: Hypersonic Weapons, March 2021.
This report analyses the future impact that hypersonic
weaponery will have on global affairs. Hypersonic systems
include anything that travels faster than Mach 5, or five
times the speed of sound. We may be on the cusp of seeing
hypersonic weapons proliferate around the world, with
Russia, China and the US all in the process of developing
and testing them. By 2030 they are likely to be in the
inventory of all of the major powers. And Australia might
well join them - we have some world class researchers and
have been active in joint programs with the US for over 20
years. The government has added hypersonic weapons to its
defence acquisition plan. It's a topic we should be
interested in and better informed about...
Thailand’s Strategic Drift: Domestic Determinants Amidst
Superpower Competition, June 2020.
After more than five years of military-authoritarian
government following its 13th successful coup in May 2014,
Thailand’s most recent elections on 24 March 2019 yielded a
controversial parliament and a fractious post-election
coalition government, headed by incumbent Prime Minister
Prayut Chan-o-cha. This report argues that despite the
challenges of domestic political preoccupations and the
Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Thailand’s strategic role in the
Indo-Pacific is too important to be marginalized and that
the country is an indispensable piece of the regional jigsaw
puzzle in an era of global power shifts and transitions. The
current Sino-US competition involves far-reaching
battleground between democracy and authoritarianism, and
Thailand – one of America’s oldest treaty ally with
increasingly close ties with China – is strategically
consequential. The report explains the complexity of Thai’s
foreign policy and implications for Australia.
North of 26° South and the Security of Australia: Views From
the Strategist Vol. 2, May 2020, is a new report
by ASPI’s The North and Australia’s Security Program. The
report builds on Volume 1 by presenting an all new series of
articles by a range of trusted and up and coming authors
exploring the continued importance of Northern Australia to
national security and defence strategy. Northern Australia
had become key political, military and economic terrain in a
new era of major-power competition. Despite those
developments, Australian policymakers have struggled to
develop a cohesive northern Australia strategy. While
Australia has a long-term defence capability plan, we need
to continue to test our assumptions about the defence of
northern Australia and the north’s significance to national
security. In December 2019, Defence had finished the first
draft of its internal review of Australia’s 2016 Defence
Australia's Next Cybersecurity Strategy: Views From the
Strategist, February 2020. Back in 2016, Australia
launched a new national cybersecurity strategy. The strategy
covers a four-year period to 2020, and given the changes in
the security environment, an update is now clearly
warranted. To that end, the government has just released a
discussion paper to kick off the public consultation. The
closing date for submissions on the discussion paper is 1
November. To complement the public submission process,
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is initiating a
public debate on what should be included in the next
cybersecurity strategy. Contributions will be compiled into
a report that we will deliver to the Department of Home
Affairs to inform the strategy’s development...
Indo-Pacific Immune Systems to Enable Healthy Engagement
with the Chinese State and China's Economy, November 2019.
This paper sets out three challenges to the creation of a
future for Indo-Pacific states and peoples consistent with
the visions of a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ (FOIP)
expressed by Japan, India, the US and Australia, and now by
the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific. It also describes a
path for states to operate in an environment of coercive
Chinese state power that seeks to influence how states
relate and how they operate within their domestic
Towards a Commonwealth Law Enforcement Innovation Framework,
August 2019.In March 2019, ASPI, with the sponsorship of
Oracle, coordinated the ASPI–Oracle Innovation Framework
Workshop. The workshop brought together subject-matter
experts from federal law enforcement agencies, academia and
the private sector to explore the feasibility of a
Commonwealth law enforcement innovation framework (CLEIF).
This followed a 2018 research project that explored the
current state of innovation in law enforcement. That
research was based on a case study of innovation in
Australia’s federal anti-money-laundering (AML)
Indo-Pacific Election Pulse 2019: Thailand, Indonesia, India and
Australia: Views from the Strategist, August 2019.With
democracy under stress globally, a deeper understanding of the
impact elections in the Indo-Pacific in 2019 will have on the
region’s strategic direction is crucial. In the context of
growing concerns over the strength of democracy, the influence
of authoritarianism and ideological competition, this Strategic
Insight—a collection of articles from The Strategist — delves
into the complexities and implications of elections in India,
Indonesia, Australia and Thailand.
Jokowi’s Second Term: Economic Challenges and Outlook, July 2019.
After winning the 2019 election, President Joko ‘Jokowi’
Widodo’s has a great opportunity to bring the Indonesian economy
into a stronger footing. Jokowi’s economic policies achieved
mixed outcomes in his first term (2014–2019). He hasn’t
delivered a promised 7% economic growth, but steady 5% growth is
perceived as a commendable achievement, given slowing global
growth, rising uncertainties, and low commodity prices.
Macroeconomic stability has been well maintained, and
Indonesia’s creditworthiness has improved during this first
From Board Room to Situation Room. Why Corporate Security Is
National Security, July 2019.
Corporations already protect their assets and functions.
Corporate security encompasses those managers who address
the preventive ‘likelihood’ and the resilience ‘consequence’
elements of risk management and seek to secure the business
from a wide range of hazards, including criminals,
issue-motivated groups, terrorism, cyberattacks,
environmental events, natural disasters, espionage and
supply-chain disruption. However, considering the company’s
capabilities as part of our national security capabilities
isn’t normally a factor in business planning. Our approach
to national security planning should now include key
companies and their supply chains: it’s time to rethink our
national security approach in a more complex, dynamic and
The Post-Caliphate Salafi-Jihadi Environment, July 2019.
In 2019, the global Salafi-jihadi architecture is very
different from the one that emerged in September 2001, when
transnational terrorism burst on to the international scene,
or July 2014, when ISIL controlled more than 34,000 square
miles in Syria and Iraq and thousands of young men and women
were flocking to be part of its ‘caliphate’. Many of the
leaders of the Salafi-jihadi movement are gone. Some, like
Osama bin Laden and Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, have been
killed, and many others have been captured or are in hiding.
And yet, despite having no territory and having lost many of
their leaders, both al-Qaeda and ISIL continue to pose a
threat to the maintenance of international peace
and security. In fact, one could argue that they pose more
of a threat today, as the structure of the groups has moved
from integrated to fragmented, making command and control
North of 26° South and the Security of Australia Views from
the Strategist, July 2019.
The idea of the north of Australia being central to the new
concept of the defence of Australia in the 1970s derived
from the key strategic fact that the only country in the
region with the conventional military capabilities to
threaten Australia was Indonesia. In the 1950s and early
1960s, Indonesia had the world’s third-largest communist
party and was armed by the Soviet Union with modern
submarines and long-range bombers. Australia’s response was
to acquire F-111 fighter-bombers and Oberon-class
submarines. However, by the 1980s, much of Indonesia’s
military equipment was either out of date or suffering from
a chronic lack of maintenance. Hence, the 1986 Dibb review
and the 1987 defence white paper focused on the potential
threat of low-level conflict, which could conceivably be
escalated to the use by Indonesia of its deteriorating
Soviet military equipment...
Between Japan and Southeast Asia: Australia and Us–China
Economic Rivalry, June 2019.
Recently, the economic front of US–China major-power rivalry
has deepened and expanded beyond the legalistic confines of
the World Trade Organization (WTO). Many in Australia, which
has the US as its security ally and main source and
destination of investment and China as its main trading
partner, are rightly concerned by this evolution. Within the
WTO and outside, Australia’s alignment on the economic
dimensions of the US–China contest has been consistent for
decades. Here, Australia is less aligned with the US than
Japan and less aligned with China than Southeast Asian
states despite trading more heavily with China...
Women, Peace and Security: Defending Progress and Responding
to Emerging Challenges, June 2019. his is the third year
ASPI has run a series on The Strategist to coincide with
International Women’s Day and examine Australia’s approach
to women, peace and security (WPS). The series offered a
timely opportunity to assess progress and identify some of
the challenges that need further examination as the
international community prepares to mark twenty years since
the adoption of the first UN Security Council resolution on
women, peace and security, and as Australia approaches the
release of its second National Action Plan on WPS. The range
of topics and themes canvassed in this year’s collection of
articles reminds us that we cannot afford to be
Forward Defence in Depth for Australia, June 2019. With
the re-election of the Scott Morrison-led Coalition
government in May 2019, the future shape of Australian
defence policy needs to be examined. The strategic
assumptions that underpinned defence policy choices in the
2016 Defence White Paper were made in the years preceding
the release of that document and extend from earlier white
papers, including those released in 2009 and 2013. Their
foundation goes back to the days of the 1986 Dibb Report and
the 1987 Defence White Paper. In the next Defence White
Paper, which could emerge as early as 2021, a continued
approach that places too much emphasis on defending the
inner arc—notably the ‘sea–air gap’—would not adequately
address emerging strategic risks to regional stability. The
strategic environment has evolved at such a pace that
policies announced in 2016 have been overtaken by events.
It’s time for a review of Australian defence strategy. It’s
time for something new.
ANZUS and Alliance Politics in Southeast Asia, June 2019.
Discussion over the future of US alliance politics in Asia
has recently intensified. China’s power is growing, and US
President Donald Trump is showing antipathy towards what he
views as insufficient allied efforts to support America’s
defence strategy in the region. While much attention has
been understandably directed towards the US’s security ties
with Japan and South Korea during Trump’s ongoing efforts to
negotiate a denuclearisation agreement with North Korea, US
strategic relations with Southeast Asia and its neighbours—what’s
termed here as the ‘southern flank’—are also critical to
Washington’s own long-term geopolitical interests and to
that region’s sustained economic growth and geopolitical
The PNG-Australia Development Partnership: A Redesign That’s
About Listening and Transformation, June 2019. Stephanie
Copus-Campbell brings a deep knowledge and passion about
Papua New Guinea (PNG) to her work. In this ASPI Strategic
Insight, she describes both her personal history with this
key neighbour to Australia’s north and the complex,
difficult challenges PNG faces. Refreshingly, she uses this
context to propose a redesign of Australian development
engagement with PNG, which is particularly timely and needed
as the Australian and PNG governments contemplate further
cooperation flowing on from the initiatives agreed with Port
Moresby in Canberra’s ‘Pacific step up’...
The End of Chimerica: The Passing of Global Economic
Consensus and the Rise of US-China Strategic Technological
Competition, May 2019. This Strategic Insights argues
Australia has been slow or else reluctant to accept that the
previous global economic consensus of free and open trade
(especially with China) being an unmitigated good is over.
Chinese economic and trade malpractices over a long period
of time are having profound distorting effects on the global
economic system and US dissatisfaction is deepening and
irreversible. Advanced economies such as the EU and Japan
share identical concerns. There is little prospect of
Australia ‘waiting out’ the US-China economic dispute. We
can help shape and improve elements of a US-led collective
effort to impose carrots and sticks on China to persuade the
latter to play by the rules or sit and wait for a world
which has already passed.
Huawei and Telefunken: Communications Enterprises and Rising
Power Strategies, April 2019. This Strategic Insight,
examines Huawei through a historical lens. It identifies strong
parallels between the industrial policy adopted by Germany in
the early twentieth century to cultivate a ‘national champion’
in communications – Telefunken – and the Chinese party-state’s
support for Huawei since its formation in 1987. It demonstrates
that Huawei and Telefunken both benefitted from guaranteed
government orders for their hardware, protected domestic
markets, long-term backing from national financial institutions,
and diplomatic support for overseas expansion. These policies
increased the firm’s competitiveness on the world market,
facilitating the development of national capacity in advanced
communications. The development of capacity in communications
brings strategic benefits for a rising power – allowing it to
escape dependence on the outside world for vital infrastructure,
build capabilities with potential military applications, and
build geostrategic influence in key regions.
Quad 2.0: New Perspectives for the Revived Concept, February
2019. In late 2017, the revival of an idea over a decade
old—the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue—created a wave of
debate, concern and anticipation across the world. The Quad,
as it is commonly referred to—or, more precisely, Quad 2.0,
as this is its second life—is an informal dialogue between
four of the world’s major democracies: the US, Japan,
Australia and India. Quad 2.0, like Quad 1.0, is a
controversial yet important idea that has survived the test
of time. The four members’ first major get-together was in
December 2004, when they responded to the massive Indian
Ocean earthquake and tsunami in a coordinated multilateral
humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation.
Following that, in 2007, the first informal meeting between
the four happened on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional
Forum in Manila. Soon afterwards, the first naval exercise
involving all the Quad members drew Chinese diplomatic
protests, after which Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd pulled Australia out of the exercise. Quad 1.0
fell into lethargy...
Partners: Australian Private Sector Engagement in the
Pacific, November 2018. The South Pacific is becoming a
more strategically crowded and contested space. But, despite
the strong aid and defence relations Australia maintains
with the island states, there’s been little attention given
to date to the role of Australia’s private sector in the
Pacific islands region. That’s in many ways surprising.
Elements of Australian business have had longstanding
connections in the Pacific, and the spread of business
across borders is now a powerful international and regional
political and economic force. Such business networks knit
communities together. Given the crowded and complex South
Pacific, there’s now a critical need for the Australian
Government and business to get their collective act together
in stepping up engagement in the region.
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...