Skip to main content

The 16 September 2021 announcement of an enhanced trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) confirmed beyond any remaining doubt that the Australian Government considers its strategic environment to have permanently changed. The 2020 Defence Strategic Update presaged the announcement by highlighting a number of developments which had swiftly altered the strategic landscape of the Indo-Pacific region since the publication of Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper. In the latter, the first key driver of the Commonwealth’s security environment out to 2035 was the relationship between the United States and China. By 2020, intensified regional military modernisation, the prospect of high intensity military conflict being less remote, the increased use of grey-zone tactics and an assessment that there would be reduced strategic warning times all came into focus under the strategic lens. The sharpened US-China competition was again highlighted, emphasising: ‘Australia is a staunch and active ally of the United States, which continues to underwrite the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific.’[1]

In 2021, Australia’s Southern Cross colours have become even more firmly nailed to the mainmast of the 70-year-old ANZUS Alliance. Longstanding historical ties with staunch Anglosphere military allies look to be developing into a period of deepened cooperation on emerging security. So now is a good time to consider some of the major military strategic challenges Australia will face in this rapidly developing yet constrictive strategic environment. Defence’s strategic role, in tandem with the other elements of national power, is to effectively support national objectives in peace, crisis and ultimately war.

To a degree, AUKUS itself provides some clues to future challenges; it was never all about nuclear submarines or inadvertently highlighting the relative decline in world affairs of La Belle France. There are to date four identified areas of cooperation which will see future AUKUS collaboration: Cyber Capabilities; Artificial Intelligence; Quantum Technologies; and additional Undersea Capabilities. Without a strategic partnership each would have provided Defence significant—and perhaps some insurmountable—technical and investment challenges over the next two decades. More areas of cooperation will inevitably follow and work and development with the US and UK will continue well into the 2030s. The strategic shaping narrative of meeting those challenges together, and perhaps in the future with discreet additional partners, is a powerful one.

A decade on and now almost halfway through the first half of Julia Gillard’s ‘Asian Century’, this paper will consider three pervasive areas where strategic military challenges will have to be met head-on: technology; strategic competition; and being ready to meet the changing nature of future wars.


‘Australia's access to the highest level of technology remains one of the most important benefits of our alliance with the United States.’[2]

Technology is omnipresent. The speed of technological change affecting our personal lives—whether for the choice of this year’s new iPhone or selecting an all-electric vehicle—is reflected in the profession of arms. Constant evolution in military technology, and the military strategic challenges thus presented, affect everyone from sailors, soldiers and aviators to the CDF and Secretary in ADFHQ. Last year, the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) launched ‘More, Together’ its strategy for 2030, stating accurately: ‘Australia’s place in a rapidly changing world depends on our ability to focus our national science and technology enterprise on some of the biggest opportunities and shape the path from knowledge into impact in future Defence capabilities.’ Threats to Australia’s military strategic objectives to shape Australia’s strategic environment; deter actions against Australia’s interests and to be able to respond with credible military force are and will be challenged by rapid developments in technology. It follows that elements of technological innovation can support—but also be employed to frustrate—force structure, force generation planning, international engagement and future operations. DSTG’s strategy includes initiatives to focus resources on Defence’s highest strategic priorities and supports more streamlined transitioning of ideas into capability. One of the key objectives of the strategy is to increase progression by partnering within the national science and technology enterprise and international partners, the latter now appearing even more significant.

The challenge of accurately predicting technological advances, how militaries will adapt and employ them will need to focus on changes in weapons development, defence budgets and resource decisions. Given the speed of technological change, meeting that challenge is not to be taken lightly, for who would have predicted a generation ago that today the US would have so embraced robotics that it now controls over  20,000 unmanned vehicles, while many countries also now have the resources to compete innovatively? The ‘overall assessment is that technological change of relevance to military innovation may be faster and more consequential in the next 20 years than it has proven to be over the last 20’. [3]

This forecast by Michael O’Hanlon is worrisome. When looking at the capabilities of Western militaries to react quickly to change and innovation by introducing and proving new equipment and technologies quickly into Defence service, one observes protracted timescales and drawn-out or outdated bureaucratic practices. Yet the requirement for accuracy in analysis and confidence in the capability of future technology has to be met. ‘The sheer proliferation of new technology, and the speed with which it is being adapted for military purposes, compounds the complexity of strategic decision-making.’[4]

If one considers the military strategic challenges associated with cyber technology alone, the scale of the problem has grown beyond most exponential imaginings since President Clinton, seven days after the end of the ‘millennium bug’, announced:  ‘We live in an age when one person sitting at one computer, can come up with an idea, travel through cyberspace, and take humanity to new heights. Yet, someone can sit at the same computer, hack into a computer system and potentially paralyse a company, a city, or a government.’[5] The world is faced with an era of technological ubiquity. It is estimated there are over 20 billion connections globally between internet-enabled devices; 1.6 billion were added in 2019 alone. Michael O’Hanlon has observed that militaries ‘allowed themselves to build Achilles’ heels into their own systems’, and that this may negatively impact on the potential performance of future weapons systems and operations. No previous form of warfare has evolved as quickly as cyber. Its advance is perhaps matched only by the speed and complexity of military cyber-related definitions and developing and changing the command and control organisations to attack, exploit and defend activities in cyberspace[6]. Cyber vulnerabilities are constantly evolving; measures and countermeasures are developed faster than in other areas of military operations, even those such as electronic warfare which previously exploited and adapted to technological progress relatively rapidly. However, how far the West has advanced in effective cyber activities since the widespread attacks on Estonia in April 2007 (incidentally leading to the creation of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in TallinnEstonia) is open to debate.

In September 2021, Nicolas Chaillan, described as the first US Air Force Chief Software Officer, resigned over frustration and anger that China had already won the ‘tech war’ to achieve global dominance. He described some US cyber defences as being at ‘kindergarten level’, and criticised Google’s unwillingness to work with the Pentagon in stark contrast with the relationship of Chinese companies that worked with the PRC, with little in the way of ethical concerns.[7] Whether or not Chaillan’s assessment that the US has ‘no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years’ in the technological sphere proves prescient, his criticisms of the speed of military bureaucracies in a democratic system—and the comparative investment levels on traditional military hardware when compared to artificial intelligence, machine learning and cyber capabilities—are resonant.

Australia faces significant cyber-related challenges. Defence must succeed in developing innovative, non-military staff recruitment and retention policies and further deepen industry engagement. This will require significant investment in training, salaries and developing a culture that encourages former staff to return after diversifying their skills in industry. Identifying vulnerabilities and opportunities and working to protect and integrate commercial companies from state-backed actors must continue apace. The threat shows no sign of decreasing in the coming decades and, as systems develop greater connectivity, vulnerabilities may have potentially even more damaging effects.

Since the 2015 introduction of the First Principles Review with its aspirational ‘One Defence’ approach and the subsequent 2020 Defence Transformation Strategy (DTS), Defence has adapted internally, both culturally and professionally. Canberra has come a long way from the days described by ex-Defence Secretary Ric Smith:

‘The “turf wars” between departments, they were tough and real. Differences in policy, or—more often—over who had the right to advise on policy in particular areas, were fiercely fought in meetings at all levels and in vitriolic correspondence… They generated not just paper-based hostility but in many cases lasting personal enmities… The term “whole-of-government” which we hear so much about today was then, I think, unknown. It was all sadly wasteful of energy and effort.’[8]

However, in ‘whole-of-government’ terms there are still big challenges and essential opportunities for Defence to grasp. The 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement noted: ‘The Government accepted the recommendations of the First Principles Review to transform the business environment for individuals and companies working with Defence to reduce red tape’. The recent experience of Brisbane-based Skyborne Technologies suggests a more holistic whole-of-government approach is still required. It embarked on an inaugural first of type aerial firing. However, Covid restrictions meant the testing and development procedure trialling the UAV’s five-shot 40mm grenade system had to take place in Queensland rather than the USA. The process, from application to aerial firing demonstration, took 17 months, including receiving approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.[9] Plainly, it is not just external issues that face Defence in the next decades but the continuing need to speed up and integrate Defence industrial needs effectively with other government departments’ actions.

The Cerberus GLH Skyborne Technologies UAV has an endurance or loiter time of 30 minutes. Technologies supporting the realistic employment of autonomous vehicles in air, land, maritime and space domains, including those loitering with munitions over hours and days, reflect the speed of cyber innovation. The challenges in terms of military strategy are several. The 2020 Force Structure Plan foresees a $65 billion capability investment in the Air domain, and it confirms some of that sum will be spent on remotely piloted and autonomous systems. Defence must not only invest in remotely piloted systems and autonomous weapons systems reflecting the most suitable emerging technologies and developing systems, but also anticipate future international legal and regulatory frameworks affecting lethal autonomous weapons systems. The latter aspect is Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-led. DFAT is responsible for engaging in international discussions in the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons on future legal and regulatory frameworks. So far, the AUKUS nations, among others, consider a ban on lethal and autonomous systems premature. Future whole-of-government cooperation needs to be seamless to avoid wasting energy and effort.

Strategic Competition

According to Xi Pinjing, ‘only the innovator wins’ and ‘whoever leads in scientific and technological innovation will have the advantage in national defence construction’.[10]  Strategic competition is not confined to national militaries but encompasses all the major elements of national power as well: diplomatic, information and economic. The recent diplomatic spats resulting from the AUKUS announcement emphasise that even perceived ‘allies’ compete in all elements and that they are all to one degree or another related—a Free Trade Agreement may be easier to conclude before rather than after cancelling a submarine contract. In recent years, a global focus, to a degree self-invited, has rested on China’s rapidly expanding military capabilities. On one day in April 2021 alone President Xi Jinping commissioned the Hainan amphibious assault ship, the Changzheng-18 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, and the Dalian destroyer. That ceremony emphatically demonstrated the PLA Navy's production capacity.

The world has moved on since the end of  the Cold War in which Australia knew the Soviet Union would need years, decades even, to build a capability to threaten Australia. The People’s Liberation Army already has more non-nuclear long-range strike capabilities with the range to hit Australia than the Soviet Union ever did.[11] The existence of ANZUS, and now AUKUS, makes it unlikely that China’s recent military development will directly threaten Australian sovereign territory in the immediate decades to come, although Australia’s perceived partnership with the US may inadvertently make Australian forward-deployed assets an early first strike target, whether or not they participate in warlike operations. Taking such actions in a scenario such as reclaiming Taiwan would be a likely result of the natural perception that a policy to contain Chinese ambitions exists between the USA and Australia, among others. The joint statement from the 2020 Australia-US Ministerial Consultations is littered with statements supporting this antithesis and notes they ‘signed a classified Statement of Principles on Alliance Defence Cooperation and Force Posture Priorities in the Indo-Pacific’.[12] In later decades, increasing pressures on resources may make Antarctic exploitation or fisheries affect the security of the Australian Antarctic Territory or sovereign offshore islands.

While Australia’s direct defence interests and territorial integrity are largely unthreatened for now, China continues to move towards its 2049 modernisation and national rejuvenation target. If it succeeds in achieving President Xi’s goal that he stated in 2012 of being a fully developed, rich, and powerful nation by the 100th anniversary of the People's Republic in 2049, then opportunities for military coercion by the People’s Liberation Army will abound. Similarly, so will its economic and industrial potential to field a long-range power projection. While Australia is usually only a keen, if often vocal, observer of the US and China’s growing competition for hegemony in the Western Pacific, Australia has an ongoing military and strategic competition of its own with China. Australia’s strategic interests in the South-West Pacific are under threat from the rapid growth of Chinese influence. Defence and security challenges and risks faced in the Pacific are now more prevalent and complex than ever before.

The 14 sovereign nations and seven territories of the South-West Pacific span over 15% of the world’s surface and support a population of under 13 million people. The Pacific nations of the Melanesian sub-region skirt Australia’s north-east coast. Just over 3 nautical miles—or the length of the Rock of Gibraltar—separate the continent from Papua New Guinea, while Vanuatu lies only 1100 nautical miles away. Ethnic Chinese have resided in the South-West Pacific for centuries, and in the recent past the China-Taiwan rivalry for diplomatic allies has continued unabated, although the yen does now seem to be more influential than the new Taiwan dollar. Chinese lending has been a vehicle for state-owned enterprises to take stakeholdings in the region while the government prefers to deliver aid through large infrastructure projects associated with concessional loans. By no means the Pacific’s dominant donor, Chinese companies are now competing in commercial activity across the board and in 2017 their construction activity in the region outspent aid projects six times over, to the tune of US$958 million. Australian Aid in 2019 was roughly six times greater than that of China, but again would benefit from a whole-of-government approach, and realistically, competition for influence is not going to go away.

‘The Committee acknowledges the current and emerging challenges facing Australia’s defence cooperation and collaboration in the Pacific. Consequently, the Committee continues to emphasise the need for Australian government agencies to take a coordinated approach to the Pacific Step-up in order to mitigate the impact of these challenges.’[13]

Defence investment in personnel and equipment is a key driver for Australian Shaping Objectives, but the geographical challenges alone are significant and recent decades have overlaid on these the fears of the Pacific Island nations regarding the effects of global warming. The Pacific’s combined Exclusive Economic Zones cover more than 27.5 million square kilometres. Aerial surveillance capability is lacking or otherwise conducted on a limited basis and with limited sovereign surveillance capability. These challenges of scale for Australia’s limited ISR and maritime security capabilities will remain well into the 2030s. The 2018 Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Nauru adopted the Boe Declaration on Regional Security. It recognises an expanded concept of security, including human, cyber and environmental security and framed regional responses to emerging security issues. The terms of the declaration suggest that defence engagement initiatives will continue to benefit from being considerate of PIF states’ emphasis on maintaining sovereignty and control of their own destinies and that Australia should avoid any misperception of dominance, paternalism or neo-colonialism in the region.

The longstanding Defence Cooperation Program (DCP) supports programs in the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Palau and Vanuatu. The Pacific Maritime Security Program comprises three main components: the replacement of the Pacific Patrol Boats with new Guardian-class Patrol Boats, integrated region-wide aerial surveillance, and enhancements to regional coordination. It builds on the success of the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, which gifted 22 steel patrol boats to 12 Pacific Island nations between 1987 and 1997 and with the DCP represents an uninterrupted 60-year commitment of deeper-level engagement in the Pacific. Many of the 12 Pacific Island nations which participated in the previous Patrol Boat Program have already received the new, more capable Guardian-class Patrol Boats in an upgrade program which completes in 2023. The vessels provide a critical capability for the nations to participate in Forum Fisheries Agency-led maritime surveillance and patrol operations.

Australia must make the most of the annual opportunities offered by numerous security-related international and regional meetings at Defence Chief, Ministerial and Prime Ministerial levels. These including the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting, Shangri-La Dialogue, Pacific Chiefs of Defence, and Joint Heads of Pacific Security. In all of these activities Defence is a key agency in supporting the Government’s Pacific ‘Step-up’ – engaging the ‘Pacific family’. Each in different ways allows Defence to assist in meeting the competing challenges for influence with China and to shape the military strategic landscape of the South-West Pacific, ultimately to achieve ‘a region where our ability to prosecute our interests freely is not constrained by the exercise of coercive power’.[14]

In terms of strategic competition in the Pacific region, all nations, large and small, live in the shadow of the monolithic interests of China and the USA. As close allies of the US and natural partners in the Anglosphere, Australian officials usually understand its stance on most issues and recognise the pragmatism in the US Secretary of State’s approach to China: ‘Our relationship with China will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be.’[15] However, perhaps its competitors do not so easily recognise the Chinese perspective of their own Defence Strategy.

‘The Chinese nation has always loved peace…. Since 2012, China’s armed forces have deployed vessels on over 4,600 maritime security patrols and 72,000 rights protection and law enforcement operations, and safeguarded maritime peace, stability and order.’

Those quotes are from China’s 2019 Defence White Paper. The world over, Defence White Papers are written as much for external as internal audiences with carefully constructed messages in their texts. Who, though, could argue with the following stated PRC objectives: to deter and resist aggression; to safeguard national sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity, security, maritime rights and interests, overseas interests and security interests in outer space, electromagnetic space and cyberspace? However, in Western democracies it is very unlikely a White Paper  would contain Defence objectives to support ‘sustainable development’, ‘political security’ and ‘social stability’, while the perceived need to ‘crack down on proponents of separatist movements such as ‘Tibet independence’ and the creation of ‘East Turkistan’ and ‘oppose and contain Taiwan independence’ are peculiar to the autocratic nature of the Chinese Communist Party and their success, perhaps essential for its future survival.

Future Wars

Assessing the type of a future conflict and preparing for it seems a more complex strategic military challenge in the 21st century than ever before. The Rand Corporation in 2020 assessed what wars for America may look like in the 2030s[16], assuming the US will continue to try to maintain its position as the world’s only global military superpower. This in itself is quite an assumption, as the Australian Minister for Defence Peter Dutton pointed out recently: ‘China is an economic and military superpower. They spend 10 times a year more than what we spend on our Defence budget, and every 18 months they produce, on a tonnage rate, more by way of military assets than the whole Royal Navy has in her fleet.’[17] The Rand authors considered that the present adversaries the US faces around the world will not greatly change by the early 2030s but that pressures on allies may lead to change. For example, as Europe becomes more inward-looking and Asian nations continue to react in different ways to the rise of China. The study assessed the US will face four types of future conflicts, and for at least the first two of the four Australia is likely to be in the frontline.

The first is counterterrorism. Rand considered instability afflicting the Middle East and other parts of the world will continue for years and with it the ongoing threat of international terrorism. Ironically, the study preceded the decision to abandon Afghanistan and that decision indubitably confirms Rand’s assessment that the United States and its allies will face terrorists exploiting advances in communication technology and the proliferation of conventional weaponry to wage a low-level, if decentralised, global terrorist campaign. The Australian counterinsurgency expert Dr David Kilcullen has summed up the effects of the Afghanistan defeat perfectly: it ‘will almost certainly extend the terrorism threat by another decade… the triumph of the Taliban—the scrappy little guerrilla group that kept the faith, never gave up and finally defeated the superpower—represents a massive morale boost for jihadists worldwide’.[18]

The second type of future warfare the Rand study envisages is the ‘Grey Zone Fight’. ADF doctrine defines the grey zone as: ‘Activities designed to coerce countries in ways that seek to avoid military conflict’.[19] While the term is relatively new, the concept that states will inevitably compete for advantage in peacetime is ancient. Today it is clear that the liberal-democratic, free-market, rules-based order to which successive Australian governments have subscribed and benefitted from is under threat. In 2017, the Foreign Policy White Paper recognised direct challenges from authoritarian states leading to a clash of norms. The 2020 Defence Strategic Update identified a marked increase in grey-zone activities, enabled by digital technologies, which are anathema to accepted behaviours. Ransomware is the present fashion. Conventional military assets are not well suited to grey-zone activities, which are rarely kinetic and may use covert methods or proxy civilian assets and rely on propaganda, economic coercion and cyber effects. It is entirely pragmatic for an authoritarian state actor to achieve national objectives by using coercion short of armed conflict. Put simply, it is cheaper and so far it appears to work. The Chief of Air Force, AM Hupfeld, has noted the Indo-Pacific is at the centre of a great strategic competition, making the region more contested and apprehensive.

‘That contest is challenging traditional force design assumptions and taking place in a strategic setting requiring competition in the grey zone—it may not be the type of “fight” we typically conjure in our minds for traditional operations. It needs to be integrated across Defence and… executed and commanded through multiple domains. We must be able to work in a whole of-government context … and we must seek to achieve transient operational and strategic advantages. The traditional campaign-phasing model is a linear approach and is arguably no longer fit-for-purpose to deal with political warfare and actions in the so-called grey zone.’[20]

The challenges for the ADF are to compete in this space in an ethical manner with rapid responses to counter provocative narratives and effective contributions, employing Information Operations to Whole of Government shaping and influencing, especially in building adequate cyber defences to protect the Joint Force in peacetime deployments during shaping and deterrence phases.

The third military strategic challenge for the US Joint Force predicted by Rand is an asymmetric conflict with a second-tier power possessing niche capabilities. The US Department of Defence dictionary considers asymmetric warfare as, ‘In military operations the application of dissimilar strategies, tactics, capabilities and methods to circumvent or negate an opponent’s strengths while exploiting his weaknesses’. For Australia, while it is highly unlikely that a localised conflict with any close neighbours will develop, an awareness of asymmetric ingenuity must be maintained. It would be a mistake to rely solely on superior technology, as the USN once did off Guadalcanal:   

‘The naval battles off Guadalcanal illustrate vividly that technological superiority does not guarantee victory. At the outbreak of World War II, the Japanese Navy lacked surface-search and fire-control radar. It had, however, developed and practiced a coherent tactical system for night combat. The United States, by contrast, possessed radar but had yet to develop concepts and organizations to exploit its potential fully.’[21]

The final vision of future war in the 1930s that Rand assesses may assail US Forces is a ‘high-end conflict with a near peer’. The biggest danger in the coming decades for the US would appear to be a war against China in the maritime-centric Indo-Pacific, probably in defence of Taiwan. According to Australia’s Defence Minister, ‘It would be inconceivable that we wouldn’t support the US in an action … maybe there are circumstances where we wouldn’t take up that option, (but) I can’t conceive of those ­circumstances’. The ADF therefore needs to look at its levels of preparedness and how it, as the junior partner, if called upon can best support the US Joint Forces  in a maritime environment against a high-end opponent with home field advantage, localised numerical superiority, sophisticated weapons and o able to compete in all domains. Nuclear attack submarines cannot come soon enough … 

‘The world is in a phase of complex uncertainty, meaning there are many trends and possible strategic shocks that may intersect in unpredictable and dangerous ways. Risk is proliferating, from conflict to coercion, from terrorism to chaos within fragile states … there is a thread running through the multiplicity of security challenges: the need for order…’ [22]


Unfortunately, ‘order’ in the shape of a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific appears to be at increasing risk. In considering technology, competition and the nature of a future war in the context of military strategic challenges, this paper has touched upon the internal challenges of acting within a whole-of-government consensus. While Defence cannot act in isolation when considering military strategies, nor can it ignore the effects of external strategic pressures and their effects. As difficult as it is to predict where and how the next crisis will develop, equally the reactions of international players, even allies, may be subtly different from our expectations and needs. Some actors, for example ASEAN or India, already emphasise aspects such as economic prosperity, connectivity and multilateral cooperation in their Indo-Pacific concepts. The EU and its member states are under increasing pressure from Washington to commit themselves directly or indirectly to the region—and thus, from a US perspective, to be for Washington and against Beijing.

The politics of Australia’s region are likely to remain as unsettled as the oceans themselves. President Barack Obama strategically connected the Indian and Pacific Oceans to form an ‘Indo-Pacific’ region and outlined plans for an Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor (IPEC) in addition to the political and military ‘pivot to Asia’. President Donald Trump first presented his ‘vision’ of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) in November 2017 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hanoi. Significant strategic questions remain and Defence has continually to develop plans and capabilities intended to future-proof Australia’s Joint Force. Yet how stable is the future of the US Defence Strategic Policy? How much reliance should Australia put on the USA if President Trump or someone similar follows President Biden? How stable is the Quad and, if it grows in Defence terms, just how invested must Defence become? Defence must operate within known regional political constraints in the Government’s 2020 determination to Shape, Deter and Respond—and yet perhaps the biggest military strategic challenge facing Defence is charting a safe passage through the seas of Australian politics and its bipolar, adversarial and egregiously short electoral cycle.

‘Our foreign policy is guided by our fundamental interest in ensuring that internationally agreed rules continue to safeguard our security and prosperity. We don’t get to pick and choose.’ – Prime Minister Scott Morrison


[1] 2020 Defence Strategic Update, page 22, 2.7.

[2] HE Kim Beazley, Preface 1987 Defence of Australia White Paper

[3] Forecasting change in military technology, 2020-2040 – Michael O’Hanlon – Brooking Institute Forecasting change in military technology, 2020-2040 (

[4] Defence challenges 2035: Securing Australia’s lifelines, Lowy Institute

[5] Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: WILLIAM J. CLINTON (2000, Book I) - Remarks on the National Plan for Information Systems Protection and an Exchange With Reporters (

[6] A global domain within the information environment consisting of the interdependent network of information technology infrastructures, including the internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers, used to store, modify, exchange, process and collaborate on information. Note: Cyberspace includes non-physical components such as policy, governance, standards, management, operations and human capital. USDoD Dictionary

[7] Ex-Air Force Tech Boss Eviscerates Pentagon For Already Losing The AI Race Against China (Updated) (

[8] Secretary Ric Smith’s Valedictory Address. ‘Thirty-eight Years in the Vineyard’. ADF Journal 172, Dec


[9] Skyborne’s Cerberus UAV completes first of type aerial firing demonstration - Defence Connect

[10] China’s civil-military integration in the 21st century, The Military Balance 2021, International Institute for Strategic Studies February 2021

[11] Australia And The Growing Reach Of China’s Military – Lowy Institute August 2021


[13] Australia's defence relationships with Pacific Island nations - Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, March 2021

[14] 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper

[15] US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speech on foreign policy at the State Department in Washington, U.S. March 3, 2021.

[16] The Future of Warfare in 2030: Project Overview and Conclusions | RAND

[17] Defending Taiwan against Beijing is a must, says Peter Dutton (

[18] September 11: Back to square one 20 years after (

[19] ADF-C-0 Foundations of Australian Military Doctrine

[20] Air Marshal Hupfeld interview in Australian Defence Magazine, 1 November 2021

[21] Thomas G. Mahnken, Asymmetric Warfare At Sea, The Naval Battles off Guadalcanal, 1942–1943, Page 117

[22] Lowy Institute 2014 – Defence Challenges 2035

Cite Article
(Watson, 2021)
Watson, C. 2021. 'Australia’s Military Strategic Challenges – Close to Home'. Available at: (Accessed: 11 April 2024).
(Watson, 2021)
Watson, C. 2021. 'Australia’s Military Strategic Challenges – Close to Home'. Available at: (Accessed: 11 April 2024).
Chris Watson, "Australia’s Military Strategic Challenges – Close to Home", The Forge, Published: December 21, 2021, (accessed April 11, 2024).
Download a RIS file to use in your citation management tools.

Defence Mastery

Technical Mastery

Civil - Military Interface tech-corems-level5
Civil - Military Interface tech-ecat-level5


This web site is presented by the Department of Defence for the purpose of disseminating information for the benefit of the public.

The Department of Defence reviews the information available on this web site and updates the information as required.

However, the Department of Defence does not guarantee, and accepts no legal liability whatsoever arising from or connected to, the accuracy, reliability, currency or completeness of any material contained on this web site or on any linked site.

The Department of Defence recommends that users exercise their own skill and care with respect to their use of this web site and that users carefully evaluate the accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance of the material on the web site for their purposes.

Related Articles

1 /4