Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update was, by the standards of such publications, a hard-hitting document. It had a particularly strong focus on grey zone activities, seen as increasingly troubling the Indo-Pacific and involving “military and non-military forms of assertiveness and coercion
The world’s oldest intelligence partnership turned 73 this year. Traditionally, trust amongst spies is a rare commodity, but the UKUSA Agreement of 1946 (commonly known as the “Five Eyes”) has more than stood the test of time. Forged under the pressure of the Second World War, the Five Eyes
The recent exposure of Chinese influence-peddling inside the Australian political system is just one example of China’s growing influence and willingness to act in Western states. In these days of austerity for many Western nations, money speaks loudly and in recent years Chinese investment into
The long-awaited release of the unclassified version of the 2017 Intelligence Review is now at hand. Released by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the same time as he announced the creation of a Department of Home Affairs, the rationale and details of the review unfortunately are now part of
The launch of the Defence White Paper was a hot mess of hashtags: Prime Minister Turnbull (#DWP2016), Defence Minister Payne (#2016DWP), the Department of Defence (#defencewhitepaper) and Chief of Defence Force (#WhitePaper) all used different ones.
As a result, defence commentators also fractured
The difference between freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) and warships transiting under 'innocent passage' sounds arcane and legalistic. But this wonkish distinction is now central to understanding the nature of the US Navy’s activities in the South China Sea last week and going
Australia and its Navy are in an awkward spot, caught between China and the US in the full glare of a global media spotlight shone on the South China Sea.
Two Royal Australian Navy ANZAC frigates are due to arrive tomorrow in China's naval base Zhanjiang for a port visit, ahead of live-fire
I'm only too ready to leave it up to strategic experts such as Rear Admiral Peter Briggs to sort out how many submarines we need. I'll stick to the economics. We shouldn't let the number be determined by a perceived need to provide work-continuity for ASC in South Australia. And we should
The pace of decision-making on Australian submarines is quickening, with the core of the current debate driven exclusively by South Australian politics. But the insistent voices of regional and industry lobbyist need to be balanced by reminders of the price the rest of Australia will pay for make-
The latest analysis of the Syrian conflict from the Institute for the Study of War provides a detailed examination of what it describes (correctly) as a game changer.
Assuming its analysis of the military calculus is sound, the questions that remain unanswered relate to the extent to which the
One week ago – a long time in politics – the South Korean and Australian foreign and defence ministers held a '2-2' meeting in Sydney. This high-level biennial conclave for the first time included a detailed Blueprint for progressing the bilateral defence and security partnership.
Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) presented its report on the Australia India nuclear cooperation Agreement on 8 September after ten of months deliberation. JSCOT's advice must be 'taken into account' though not necessarily acted upon.
The Kudankulam nuclear power plant in
The Government's announcement yesterday that it would conduct air strikes inside Syria is notable more for what it didn't say than what it did. It was long on rhetoric, but short on detail, and lacked any semblance of strategic vision or acknowledgment of the potential impact on the situation inside
Very few people would have been surprised at the Australian Government's announcement that the RAAF will extend its operations to ISIS targets in Syria. The announcement was made in conjunction with the decision to permanently resettle 12,000 refugees most in need out of camps in Turkey, Jordan and
Back in April, Fergus Hanson highlighted the glaring need for a global response to ISIS in the cyber domain, and welcomed the announcement of an $18 million initiative to counter extremist propaganda online from the Australian Government.
Last month Defence Minister Kevin Andrews announced the
Delivering the 2015 Lowy Lecture in Sydney yesterday, General David Petraeus outlined a thought-provoking grand strategy for 'Greater Asia'.
Geographically, Petraeus defines Greater Asia along a maritime axis from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Japan, but also overland 'from Western Russia to
In recent days both Bob Carr and Gareth Evans have publicly argued that Australia has a 'moral obligation' to bomb Syria. Of the two, Evans' position is clearly the more thought through, pointing to ample 'grey areas' in the legal justification, and providing sober reflections about the efficacy of
The Syrian Arab Armed Forces (SAAF) are fighting ISIS in eastern Syria. Australia is planning to bomb ISIS targets in eastern Syria. But Australia will not be involved in the broader conflict in Syria involving the Assad regime.
If this doesn't appear to make sense to you it's because the concept
The US and Russia are reportedly promoting a concert-of-powers approach to new negotiations over Syria.
Although any movement toward a political solution will be limited by the unwillingness of ISIS and other Islamists to engage in such a process, recent intelligence contact between the Syrians and
Exercise Talisman Sabre is winding down, bringing to an end two weeks of high tempo US-Australia war games around the continent.
Held on alternate years, Talisman Sabre is the most important bilateral set-piece exercise between the ADF and US forces. Beyond its training value, the exercise serves
It's now three weeks since the Abbott Government introduced a bill into parliament that would see dual-national terrorists forfeit their Australian citizenship.
But is popularity (as evidenced by public support for extending these powers to sole nationals) the rationale behind the pursuit of
The conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal – or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to give it its formal title – has already guaranteed us one thing: mutually assured hyperbole.
Barrages of outrage were being fired even before the deal was signed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Islamist insurrection has returned to Egypt. There has been a significant growth in the sophistication of the targeting, conduct and lethality of terrorist acts, a crisis of political legitimacy for the Egyptian Government, and the virtual abandonment of any separation of executive and judicial
The suicide bombing of a Shia mosque in Kuwait, shooting of Western tourists in Tunisia, and a beheading and attempt to blow up a chemical factory in France.
Three continents, three different attack methodologies and three different targets, but ultimately the same result. The death of innocent
Overall, Australians continue to feel secure in the face of rising instability in the world and terrorism threats at home, according to the latest Lowy Institute poll.
But that sense of security is declining. 80% of those asked how safe they feel about world events responded positively in 2015.
It is not yet possible to say whether, when and how the Syrian regime may fall. But recent military setbacks, and an objective analysis of the challenges the regime faces in the longer term, strongly suggest that its future is increasingly precarious.
The momentum of the military conflict has
North Korea's apparently successful test of a workable submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) was big news over the weekend.
Signs that North Korea had been working on designing and testing both an SLBM and a submarine with the vertical missile launch tubes capable of firing them have been
In a positive sign for political reconciliation in Afghanistan, an Afghan Government delegation recently met with Taliban representatives in Qatar – ostensibly for a research conference, but most likely to discuss the commencement of formal peace talks. Representatives from Pakistan also attended
The US-Japan Defence Cooperation Guidelines are best thought of as an occasional re-branding exercise for the US-Japan alliance in response to changing strategic conditions. Following a review, a revised version of the Guidelines was announced on 27 April.
The 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation
When you look at the global response to the threat of ISIS, a glaring gap is the cyber domain.
The internet has been critical to the terrorist group's success. It allows it to communicate unfiltered to the rest of the world, for onward mass dissemination by the media. It helps the group radicalise
Over the past month, The Interpreter has hosted a debate on Australian defence strategy initiated by Alan Dupont's Lowy analysis paper, Full-Spectrum Defence.
The discussion so far has only glanced tangentially off the most brutal of the realities affecting defence strategy: the perpetually
While the world focuses on the dangers that a nuclear-armed Iran could present in the Middle East, a potentially more dangerous and unstable nuclear proliferation is occurring in the Indian Ocean.
In the coming years India, Pakistan, and perhaps China will likely deploy a significant number of
Even for long-time watchers of the Middle East like myself, the region's enmities and alliances have become very difficult to keep track of.
This has just been taken to a mind-bogglingly new level by Saudi Arabia's decision to launch a military campaign in Yemen against the Houthi movement.
The first thing to say about Alan Dupont's recent paper is that he is absolutely correct about the dire condition of Australian strategic policy.
As he suggests, we lack a coherent answer to the most basic question of all: 'What do we want our armed forces to be able to do?' Until that question
ISIS and submarines are the two big fashionable defence and national security concerns at the moment. When combined, they make it evident that there is need for a considerable rethink about how Australia approaches defence and security.
Today we seem stuck around notions of fighting an sea-air
The Australian Government's announcement that 300 additional troops will be sent to Iraq to help train the Iraqi Army has brought forth the usual public commentators, myself included. My view is that all those who see ISIS as evil should be prepared to commit military and other resources to oppose
My generation doesn't think much about nuclear weapons, disarmament and the consequences of nuclear-weapons use. Some certainly do, but generally, the cause of nuclear disarmament is being carried on by an older generation.
I think that's a problem. Nuclear weapons seems like an old issue, from
At a forum held at the Parliament of New South Wales last Tuesday evening, the General Secretary of Lebanon's Future Movement party, Ahmad Hariri, forcefully condemned terrorism in the name of Islam. Flanked by pictures of two former Lebanese prime ministers, the slain Rafik Hariri and his son Saad
During my Army career I was a military planner. I worked on lots of plans. Most were never executed, but others were. Some were standing plans that were annually revised, while others were worked up at the behest of someone higher up the operational chain. I got to know the ADF planning process
The growing geographic spread of ISIS has lately been part of the news chatter in tabloids and respected papers alike.
We know ISIS has tried to spread its propaganda to Pakistan and Afghanistan since late 2014 and proclaimed its leadership of that region in early January, with members of the
Should the West arm Ukraine against Russian-backed rebels? That's a question guaranteed to generate earnest debate among armchair foreign policy pundits. But it also found its way into the just-concluded 51st Munich Security Conference.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, Munich Security Conference, 8
The UN is the go-to organisation for virtually every forgotten international crisis.
While the West has struggled on in Afghanistan and Iraq, the UN and its peacekeeping missions have been deployed to just about everywhere else: Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Darfur, Mali, Liberia
On 24 December 2014, two decades of campaigning and several years of negotiations culminated in the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) entering into force as an internationally legally binding instrument, having been ratified by 50 countries.
The ATT aims to provide a minimum international benchmark for
A scientist and WMD expert with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), Dr Robert (Bob) Mathews, has been honoured by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for his contributions to chemical weapons disarmament in a ceremony on 1 December in The Hague.
By Rory Medcalf, Director of the Lowy Institute's International Security Program and James Brown, Military Fellow
Debates on Australia's defence policy have long oscillated between two schools: one focused on the physical defence of Australia's territory and its immediate maritime approaches, the
Australia's national interests are enmeshed with international order, and daily we see grim reminders that armed force still matters in the contemporary world. Australian forces are reportedly close to going into combat against violent extremists in the Middle East. War has returned to Europe and a
I picked up my tickets for tomorrow's AFL Grand Final the other day. My team, the Sydney Swans, is playing and I should be excited to be going. Instead, I have been infected by the unease gripping Melbourne. I ask myself, am I taking a risk by attending the game?
We are told by our political
Here are three observations on Iraq:
1. Australia does have a core interest in Iraq
One of the arguments already used by opponents of any Australian participation in military action against ISIS is that Australia does not have any core interests in Iraq. Leaving aside the question of whether the