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Analysis and Comment (28)

Defence advocates are arguing that military spending should be increased to an arbitrary target of 2% of GDP. But should it actually be cut? Defence advocates are arguing that military spending should be increased to an arbitrary target of 2% of GDP. But should it actually be cut? AAP/Department of Defence

What is the right level of defence spending for Australia?

Some aspects of foreign policy are as important to big business as the rest of the population in relation to national security. Australians generally want to avoid war, so substantial capacity for preventive…
At ease: Indian soldiers deployed at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. At ease: Indian soldiers deployed at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. John Giles/PA

West fears the rise of some countries more than others

When a highly populous, rapidly developing, nuclear armed, space-voyaging and increasingly assertive Asian nation announces the purchase of its third aircraft carrier, a few months after launching its…
Made in the UK: nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard and Type 45 frigate HMS Dragon. Made in the UK: nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard and Type 45 frigate HMS Dragon. MOD/Tam McDonald

Costly to keep afloat: Britain’s waning warship industry

The controversy over the BAE Systems decision on warship building has been dominated by myth, emotion and pleading. Arguments are raging about English versus Scottish jobs, about shipbuilding as a key…
Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the arms trade. Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the arms trade. Andrew Milligan/PA

As BAE cuts jobs, is a strong defence sector really needed?

The announcement that defence company BAE Systems is to cut 1,775 jobs at its naval warship yards in Portsmouth and in Scotland will come as a huge blow to those workers, their families and their local…
What will defence policy under Tony Abbott and new defence minister David Johnston look like? What will defence policy under Tony Abbott and new defence minister David Johnston look like? AAP/Dean Lewins

Policy outlook: radical departure on defence or more of the same?

The Abbott government talks a good game on defence. While in opposition, new defence minister David Johnston slammed Labor for failing to fund the grand promises of the 2009 Defence White Paper. Now in…
Australia’s foreign aid commitments play an integral role in the nation’s ‘soft power’ and regional security. Australia’s foreign aid commitments play an integral role in the nation’s ‘soft power’ and regional security. Marion Doss

Why soft power is so hard: the impact of aid cuts on regional security

Amidst the controversy over Julie Bishop’s Guardian interview earlier this week, many of the interesting facts about foreign policy under a putative Coalition government were lost. Notably, the opposition’s…
Sorry captain, I thought the big red button made it go faster. Sorry captain, I thought the big red button made it go faster. PA/Andy Buchanan

Trident: time to rethink Britain’s nuclear future

The Coalition government is pressing ahead with a long, expensive and controversial programme to replace the Trident nuclear weapon system beginning with the procurement of a new fleet of submarines armed…
Defence minister Stephen Smith, prime minister Julia Gillard and Commander of Defence Forces David Hurley at the launch of the Defence White Paper. Defence minister Stephen Smith, prime minister Julia Gillard and Commander of Defence Forces David Hurley at the launch of the Defence White Paper. AAP/Lukas Coch

Defence White Paper: super-sizing Australia’s strategic geography for the Asian Century

Australia’s new Defence White Paper reflects a revolution in the way in which Australia thinks about its strategic geography. The “Indo-Pacific” has now decisively displaced the “Asia-Pacific” as defence…
Julia Gillard has presented a coherent plan for an uncertain future. Julia Gillard has presented a coherent plan for an uncertain future. AAP/Lukas Coch

Gillard’s security strategy prepares for the known unknowns

The central problem for defence and security planners right now is uncertainty. The clarity of the Cold War is gone, new threats such as terrorism have come, and seemingly peaked, and what the rise of…
Afghan civilians point to bullet holes in a wall after a raid by Allied special forces. Afghan civilians point to bullet holes in a wall after a raid by Allied special forces. EPA/Naweed Haqjoo

Better jaw jaw than war war: Australia should seek peace first

Our Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, has told Australia, “The idea that we can will away war because we are about to withdraw from one that went longer and ended less conclusively than…
Just as the sun set (temporarily) on Woomera in 1980, the current era of Australia’s space endeavours is coming to close. Just as the sun set (temporarily) on Woomera in 1980, the current era of Australia’s space endeavours is coming to close. Australian Science Media Centre

Security and space: Australia’s free ride is coming to an end

At some point in the next few months, Australia will get its first national space policy. This document will help mark a new era in Australia’s contribution to space-related endeavours, not least how we…
It might seem like a natural corporate fit, but will politics get in the way of the merger between defence behemoths BAE Systems and EADS? It might seem like a natural corporate fit, but will politics get in the way of the merger between defence behemoths BAE Systems and EADS? AAP

Arms deals: making sense of the EADS-BAE super merger

It would be the world’s largest aerospace and defence contractor. Bigger than Lockheed Martin. Bigger than Northrop Grumman. And even bigger than the current global No. 1 defence corporation, Boeing. The…
The Australian government denies a US aircraft carrier will be based near Perth. The Australian government denies a US aircraft carrier will be based near Perth. AAP/US Department of Defence

Memo Stephen Smith: there are US bases in Australia and they are expanding

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has been saying long and loud that there are no US military bases in Australia, and that anyone who says otherwise is misinformed. Last week, after Australian media reported…
There is a culture of abuse in the ranks of the ADF – only a Royal Commission will uncover it fully. There is a culture of abuse in the ranks of the ADF – only a Royal Commission will uncover it fully. AAP/Alex Coppel

Paying the Piper: the ADF must finally face its culture of abuse

How does one establish a plan to lure one of your female colleagues into a dormitory room for consensual sex, but unwittingly into the scope of a webcam for broadcast? How does it come to fruition? What…
The military court system in Australia has gone through many ups and downs with more to come. The military court system in Australia has gone through many ups and downs with more to come. AAP Image/Australian Department of Defence

The new Australian Military Court: a fair go for defence force personnel?

Last week, the Commonwealth Attorney-General Nicola Roxon introduced a bill establishing the Australian Military Court as a constitutional court. If the bill passes, it will bring Australia into line with…
Does Australia really need 12 Joint Strike Fighters? Does Australia really need 12 Joint Strike Fighters? U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago

Preparing for peace: it’s time to rethink defence spending

The most interesting question relating to the cuts in defence spending announced in the budget is whether they signify the early stages of rethinking security strategy. Of course they should, because there…
How is the war in Afghanistan going? With media this tightly controlled, the picture may never be clear. How is the war in Afghanistan going? With media this tightly controlled, the picture may never be clear. Special Operations Command

Truth in war: what the ADF won’t tell us about Afghanistan

Barack Obama marked the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death with a surprise visit to Kabul this week. Obama promised to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, but seven were killed in Kabul just hours…
Stationing US troops in Darwin does not align with our foreign policy interests. Stationing US troops in Darwin does not align with our foreign policy interests. AAP/Xavier La Canna

Defence agreements with US harm Australia’s reputation in Asia

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Today, Professor John Langmore argues…
Australian troops work with Afghan National Army forces in Uruzgan province in August 2011. Australian troops work with Afghan National Army forces in Uruzgan province in August 2011.

Mission accomplished? Australia withdraws from Afghanistan early

Prime minister Julia Gillard today announced the revised timetable for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan. Within 12 to 18 months the majority of Australian military forces will leave…
Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley and Minister for Defence Stephen Smith respond to reviews into Defence’s culture and the Skype scandal. Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley and Minister for Defence Stephen Smith respond to reviews into Defence’s culture and the Skype scandal. Defence media

ADFA Skype scandal: Smith’s reviews could help defence to change its culture

Defence minister Stephen Smith has released the findings of a series of reviews into last year’s ADFA sex scandal and the culture of the defence force. The scandal revolved around an incident in March…
Are Australia’s Collins class a feat of engineering genius or an expensive boondoggle? Are Australia’s Collins class a feat of engineering genius or an expensive boondoggle? iStock

In deep water: where now for the Collins class submarines?

In 2011 Minister for Defence Stephen Smith announced a review on the Sustainment of Australia’s Collins Class submarines. The review is led by John Coles, an independent expert from BMT Defence Services…
Women will soon join their male colleagues on the front line in dangerous deployments like Afghanistan. Women will soon join their male colleagues on the front line in dangerous deployments like Afghanistan. AAP/Australian Department of Defence

Why I want to serve on the front line, despite challenges for women at war

I wish to serve my country and the national interest in the best way possible. Now women are to be allowed to serve on the front line becoming an infantry officer is a real possibility. But there are hurdles…
An Australian soldier in Afghanistan: women will now have the chance to join combat units. An Australian soldier in Afghanistan: women will now have the chance to join combat units. AAP

Women in combat: the battle is over but the war against prejudice grinds on

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has announced the Australian Defence Force will open up full employment opportunities for women. In a decision made by Cabinet on Monday night, with the full support of the…
The way we communicate is changing and Al Qaeda have been ahead of the curve AFP PHOTO/DoD. The way we communicate is changing and Al Qaeda have been ahead of the curve AFP PHOTO/DoD.

How to communicate: Gillard should take a leaf out of Al Qaeda’s book

The nature of influence is changing, yet Governments, particularly in Australia have yet to absorb it. Influence is no longer wielded by pronouncements through traditional media sources. New media has…
No magic bullet for Defence’s procurement problem AFP/Paul Crock. No magic bullet for Defence’s procurement problem AFP/Paul Crock.

Why Australia’s defence procurement is lacking military precision

There is a certain security in the way Australia handles its national security – you can always expect future failures. It’s never too long before there’s a problem, drawing public attention and justifying…

Research and News (2)