The Regionalist is a ideas and research driven online publication for young strategic thinkers in Australia and the broader region. If you have fresh ideas on improving regional security, then The Regionalist can help craft and publish your work.
The Institute for Regional Security is inviting submissions for The Regionalist. We welcome submissions of between 1000 to 3000 words that provide understanding and recommendations on a specific regional security challenge facing Australia and our region.
The Regionalist: No. 4
Australian responses to security crises in the South Pacific have been hampered by a capability gap between Australia’s Military and Police, where the former are armed and trained for conventional war-fighting and the latter trained for peacetime policing. To better respond to these types of crises, Australia needs to bridge this capability gap by building a force armed and trained to respond to riots and violent insurrections, while also equipped for non-lethal and general policing roles. Developing an Australian Gendarmerie force will allow Australia to better respond to crises in the Pacific and complement our operations internationally.
With the ADF set to become a major player in the military cyber domain with the establishment of its Information Warfare Division, Australia must build more robust mutual understanding with its main potential adversary – the Strategic Support Force of China’s People’s Liberation Army. The norms and expectations that govern, mediate, and stabilise relations between states in traditional military and security settings are yet to mature in the cyber realm. And the two countries and their militaries have starkly disparate political and ideological systems. Establishing military cyber cooperation initiatives between Australia and China is vital to prevent unnecessary conflict.
In April 2016, Australia announced that it had awarded France’s Naval Group the AU$50 billion contract for the construction of a new fleet of 12 French Shortfin Barracuda Class submarines, to replace the ageing Collins Class fleet. This article will explore the issues faced by the Collins Class submarines throughout the 1990s to 2000s, demonstrating the need to minimise the risk of similar problems with the Shortfin Barracudas. Lessons can be learnt from implementation of the current fleet to offset future risks with the new submarines to ensure the delivery of a potent and agile naval capability to protect Australia’s national interests.
The risk of violent conflict and foreign exploitation that would surface in the absence of an effective PNG government is a major concern for Australia. If a state as central to Australia’s regional strategy as PNG were to fail, we would have a responsibility to intervene with military means to support the autonomy of the PNG government, and preserve our strategic freedom in the South West Pacific. A violent conflict is not a current likelihood, but Australia must consider the circumstances in which a large-scale military intervention could happen and how we would address it.
The international community is in a quandary on how to contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. The main policy options, tougher sanctions and threats of military force, have failed to halt North Korea’s developing nuclear and missile programs. Without China’s cooperation, there is little that Australia or the international community can do to dissuade North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. The only viable long-term solution is for a renewed effort to persuade China to revise its policies towards North Korea. Australia could play an important role in any future response by the international community. Through diplomatic channels, Australian policy-makers could convince China to place increased pressure on the North Korean regime.
The rise of China and the election of US President Trump have complicated the geopolitical dynamics of the Indo-Pacific. The inter-regional power politics has left Australia in a limbo as the country is not willing to fully accept Trump’s global view, yet still remains hesitant and vigilant in regards to China’s interest throughout the Indo-Pacific. Australia should work with other regional middle powers —namely Japan and South Korea — to maintain the liberal economic and political institutions, while engaging with the United States militaristically in the region in order to create a uniform and comprehensive strategy to limit the expansion of Chinese influence.
China wants and needs to maintain economic growth, which is critical for the regime of the Communist Party to survive. To achieve this goal, China requires regional peace and stability and therefore Beijing seeks cooperation, not conflict. Its recent economic gains are indicative of a change in both economic influence and diplomatic and military might. As a result, a slow shift in regional relative power has occurred towards China and away from the US. Australian policy makers must manage the situation and our role in the region carefully, as peace and stability in South East Asia is vital for Australian energy security and trade.
Australia has made a late start in managing cyberspaces’ blowback effects – which are the negative side effects of technology advancing at a rate faster than the population’s ability to understand the changes occurring. Policy-makers now need to better focus on ensuring Australia is resilient to cyber events. To achieve this goal, cyber resilience needs to be built at the national level. The Australian government must invest now to develop indigenous cyber industries, develop greater partnership between industry, academia and government, and develop the technical capabilities, coherent national response and international cooperation needed to deal with the cyber-security challenges of the future.
To What Extent is the Privatisation of Military Services Inevitable and Desirable?
The Regionalist: No. 2
Brad Wood (First prize 2016 Future Strategic Writers Competition)
The Regionalist: No. 1
Roman Madaus (Second prize 2016 Future Strategic Writers Competition)
Future Strategic Leaders Writers Competition
All 2018 Submissions if under 35 will be considered for the 2018 Future Strategic Leaders Writers prize.
Our Future Strategic Leaders are typically those who have either joined the national security community during the last eight years or so, or are in the final phases of their studies and aspire to join the national security community.