International Law: A Primer for Military Readers
International law is a topic which confounds most lawyers, let alone members of the general public or military personnel. Despite so much of it having been incorporated into the US Army’s DNA through the law of land warfare, the foundational premise of international law is so poorly understood that it tends to fall into the category of something soldiers have to learn about and comply with, but none really understand.
Can Australians fight?
A change in the character of war is the importance of pre-conflict, political warfare to weaken adversaries and undermine their will to fight. Meanwhile, recent wars between states reinforced the enduring nature of protracted, conventional war to avoid existential threats. This essay asks if Australia has the national understanding to counter the impact of political warfare and the commensurate will to endure a protracted war in the Indo-Pacific.
Climate and Australia’s National Security
Climate change matters to Defence and has a direct effect on warfighting. Inaction threatens to undermine Defence’s contribution to Pacific Step-Up initiatives and puts us at a competitive disadvantage in developing regional influence and power projection.
Needless anxiety over China will only make it true
Australians need to rapidly reassess their China-Taiwan calculus, because as it stands we are overstating our global importance and understating realities. Overstating the possibility of conflict risks us creating a self-fulfilling prophecy wherein we make our fears come true.
Cementing Iran into a Russo-Chinese Coalition is Strategic Folly
Bringing Iran in from the cold would not only undercut a potential axis with China and Russia, it would allow the US to concentrate on its main game. Washington’s encouragement of a major rapprochement  between Israel and Saudi Arabia is intended to simplify the US’s security dilemmas in the region, including as a counter-balance to an increasingly assertive Iran.
China and Russia - The view from the engaged watcher’s armchair
History is sometimes less about logical decisions than it is about the confluence of forces and the egos of humans.
On 24 February 2022, Russia crossed the border into Ukraine, a continuation of the war which had seen the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The build-up of troops on Ukraine’s borders had been watched for months, and while the media and pundits debated whether it constituted a false threat or an invasion, the US was in no doubt.
Enter, the Contemporary Australian Warrant Officer
The specialist skills of Warrant Officers have traditionally made them indispensable across the Services, but is this rank and role in a state of emergence? Could there be even more value in this cohort as modern conflicts emerge in brand new domains?
Rhetoric and Reason; What Drives the US and China
China has long charted its own course towards a defined destiny, while the West drifts from the path of unity towards a destination unknown.
One of China’s greatest strengths in the coming decades is that it knows where it is going. China, unlike the West, has a tangible, common future which it moves towards with fierce conviction. As a result of seeds planted long ago, China is now reaping the fruits of unwavering commitment to its direction at a time when the West faces trouble establishing unity.
Back to the Future for the South West Pacific
As this decade progresses, more and more learned Australians are joining a gospel choir. The melody they intend to sing is that we are at greater risk of a military conflict in our region than at any time since the end of World War II. While conveniently ignoring the brutality of the Korean War and our relatively limited entanglement in Vietnam, the bass and alto vocals are drowned out by the keening of sopranos and tenors. The latter support a bipartisan political system and electoral cycle which reinforce the creed that votes can only be secured by a hawkish approach to Defence.
Counterpropaganda is Not a Dirty Word
Democracies need to shed the ethical baggage associated with counterpropaganda and harness the integrity of their institutions to engage in positive information offensives in a hyper connected age.
The US’s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021 remoulded the global geopolitical terrain in ways the strategic punditry is still grappling with. The international media was awash with the scenes of the mujahideen confidently posing for the cameras as they occupied the complexes of Kandahar, peering straight into the West’s bone-weary democratic soul.
The Next Revolution in Defence Spending
‘Whatever works’ is what the world’s military wants to purchase. But what is working in the current Ukrainian crisis? This lateral thinking look at the source of Ukrainian strength could suggest the next revolution in Defence spending.
Privatisation and the Pitfalls of ADF Expansion
If the ADF is to retain its best people as well as drive recruitment, it needs to match the attractions of private enterprise and not submit to an erosion of its core purpose.