Small Wars Journal

Australia in the Asian Century White Paper

Australia in the Asian Century White Paper. Hat tip to Bill Moore via the Small Wars Council who recommends reading the Executive Summary and Chapter 8 at a minimum.



Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:15am

This paper, 'Australia in the Asian Century White Paper' is not about Defence Capabilities per se, it was meant to be about further and future policy.

Remember that Australia is in the middle of major changes in how much money they are spending on defense. The next Defence White Paper is in the next few months, after the DWP 2009 (Force 2030) failed to materialize in terms of real outcomes.

Achieving a surplus in the budget is a primary concern for Australia. There will be a surplus no matter what. Defense spending in Australia has diped to 1.76% of GDP, lowest levels since the Second World War.

The ADF is heading down the path to 'hollowness' with the new budget numbers and the planned for capabilities that they are adding or looking at from the DWP 2009.

We'll see what happens with this next DWP and if it re-assessess Australia's strategic circumstances.



I agree with Dave this strategy is very comprehensive, especially when compared to ours. Ours is based on adapting to change while sustaining U.S. leadership. Australia is not a superpower and doesn't pretend to be, so their strategy in my opinion is actually more thoughtful since it is based on imposed their will, but how to adapt to current and emergent trends within their means in a way that best meets their national interests. Most other nations have to do the same, and we would be wise to use their analysis to inform our strategy.

From a Small Wars perspective I found this quote interesting:

"But, at the same time, greater access to information and communications technology, particularly if information is not accurate, can help negative influences in society. Combining easier information transfer with the increasing mobility of people, goods, services and money will help raise the capabilities of more dangerous transnational groups such as terrorists, people traffickers and smugglers, pirates, transnational criminals and hackers. Self-radicalised terrorists or lone hackers can often be even more difficult to identify and combat than organised groups."

Dave Maxwell

Sun, 10/28/2012 - 8:01am

Seems more comprehensive than the US Defense Strategic Guidance that came out last January. I have not read all 312 pages but the breath and depth is quite impressive.

This is a curious interpretation of the report from the BBC at this link :

QUOTE Rather, it says Australia can balance its defence ties to the US while backing China's emerging military strength. END QUOTE

Not sure that the Aussies say they intend on "backing" China's emerging military strength. Here are the key points from chapter 8 on Security:

QUOTE Key points
Australia’s future prosperity and security are inextricably linked to what happens in our region.

The security environment is shifting in response to the region’s economic growth, the change in the strategic power of nations, and the behaviour of non-state actors.

We will promote cooperative arrangements among nations in the region as the economic and strategic landscape shifts.

We support China’s participation in the region’s strategic, political and economic development.

We will work with the United States to ensure it continues to have a strong and consistent presence in the region, with our alliance contributing to regional stability, security and peace.

Global and regional institutions will be central to efforts to develop collective security in the region through building trust and supporting norms and rules.

During our 2013–14 term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Australia will ensure that regional perspectives are brought to the Council’s deliberations.

We strongly support the Group of Twenty (G20)—to be hosted by Australia in 2014—as an important forum for the world’s leaders to address major economic challenges and opportunities.

We will work within the region to develop the East Asia Summit (EAS) as a crucial regional institution in East Asia so that it can help manage regional challenges, foster strategic dialogue and promote cooperation on political, economic and security issues.

We will strengthen human security by supporting the development of resilient markets for basic human needs—especially food, water and energy—and by tackling climate change. END QUOTE

Here is the operative paragraph from the white paper on China:

QUOTE We are working closely with China to build a comprehensive, constructive and cooperative relationship that encompasses not only trade, resources and investment, but also political, security and people-to-people connections. To sustain regional prosperity and security, we will continue to work actively with China to advance our shared interests, in regional institutions such as the EAS and APEC, and globally through the G20 and other bodies. With a long commitment to peace and security in the region, we have a key interest in building defence and broader security cooperation with China. END QUOTE

Bottom line is I do not think building relationships equates to "backing" China.