Analysing Australia's Defence Strategic Update

By Donald Greenlees
Senior Adviser, Asialink

Australia’s latest defence planning documents—a strategic update and a force structure review—depict a more perilous security environment in Asia and commit to acquiring greater military firepower as a consequence.

The perceived gravity of the strategic outlook was expressed by the Prime Minister in a parallel with the years prior to World War 2.

“[W]e have not seen the conflation of global, economic and strategic uncertainty now being experienced here in Australia in our region since the existential threat we faced when the global and regional order collapsed in the 1930s and 1940s,” he said.

This bleak forecast for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific over the next two decades comes with the additional warning that Australia can no longer depend on the previous expectation that the type of military build-up required to mount a major conventional attack on Australia would be apparent 10 years in advance.

In this series of articles, Asialink contributors assess the implications of the defence update documents for relations with our own region and some of the key strategic and policy challenges we are likely to face in dealing with a more complex security environment.

The articles here explore the government’s strategic and defence decision making from a range of angles, but they all underscore the importance of the renewed defence focus on our immediate region and the need for a deeper understanding of regional dynamics if we are to navigate the more challenging security environment.

Banner image: Members of the Australian Federation Guard march at Gallipoli Reach, Canberra, Australia - March 18, 2017. Credit: katacarix, Shutterstock.