Tuesday, July 09, 2013

ANU Preparing Australia to Face The Next Enemy

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Dr Robert O'Neill, Planning Director for the US Studies Centre (University of Sydney) is speaking on
"Defence 2013 - preparing to face our next enemy". Dr O'Neil pointed out tht since 1945 wars had been confined to a small number of nations, constrained by international law and public opinion. However, environmental pressure over resources such as water are a source of international tension. Hunger may reduce the restraints on war.

Dr O'Neil suggested that conditions could be more dangerous for Australia due to its sparse population and natural resources. He commented that the rise of China, India and Indonesia were to be welcomed, but that the ADF would need to be strengthened.

Dr O'Neil suggested that Australia needs to prepare to go to war with little allied support, in a scenario reminiscent of the novel "Tomorrow When the War Began". He argued for making crossing the norther sea air gap and establishing a beachhead in North West Australia. This would be to deter attack using advanced weapons on a limited scale.

Dr O'Neil  called for a "brains trust" with input from the existing defence related university centres, ADF personnel, junior politicians and journalists. Given the importance of cyber-security and the use of the Internet for propaganda, I suggest that computer professionals could be added to this list. Some years ago, when a public servant at the Department of Defence I took part in a workshop at the Australian Defence College, Western Creek, with ADF personnel, security personnel and foreign affairs. Also I observed the use of the Internet at a joint Australian-US Amphibious exercise.

For the last few weeks ANU has had several public seminars each week, which seem to be around common themes of regional strategic issues, particularly tension in the South China Sea. Many also have dealt with amphibious warfare. It may be no coincidence that the ANU is now training senior Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and the ADF is working out how to conduct Amphibious Operations.

It seems to me that an issue which Australia needs to plan for now is how to "turn back boats", if a new Collocation government orders this. Such an order would place the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in a difficult situation. If those seeking asylum on a vessel refuse to turn it away from Australia it is difficult to see what practical and legal steps the RAN could take. In addition to resistance by the asylum seekers, the security forces of a country they were turned to may intervene. The RAN could detain the passengers and crews of a boat but it would not be feasible to safely "turn" them anywhere. ADF personnel need to therefore carefully consider what orders would be lawful to obey. It is difficulty for the ADF to be seen to be prepare options for a future government, or deciding what orders it will obey. However, that is a role which a university think thank can assist with.
As the Australian Defence Force prepares to leave combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, a question arises as to who our next enemy might be. For what contingencies should the ADF train? How should our forces be organized, equipped, commanded and deployed in the interval between 2014 and the next possible assignment? Shall we prove to be very good at preparing to fight our latest war, which will probably never repeat itself, or might we be able to take a well-founded look into the future and prepare the ADF for the challenges it will actually have to face?

Releasing his Centre of Gravity Paper Dr O'Neill will explore the challenges facing the ADF today and how they should prepare to face the next enemy. Previous Centre of Gravity papers can be downloaded from http://ips.cap.anu.edu.au/sdsc/centre_of_gravity.php
  About the Speaker:
Dr Robert O'Neill, AO is Honorary Professor at the US Studies Centre. O'Neill served as Planning Director for the Centre before its CEO was appointed.
One of the world's leading experts on strategic and security studies, O'Neill previously served as Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and then as Chichele Professor of the History of War and Fellow of All Souls College at Oxford University. Earlier in his career, O'Neill was Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the ANU.
Professor O'Neill's extensive record of public service includes appointments as Chairman of Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, Chairman of the Council of the Centre for Defence Studies, King's College, Chairman of the Sir Robert Menzies Centre for Australian Studies in the University of London, and Chairman of the Council of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lowy Institute for International Policy.
A prodigious author and editor, O'Neill wrote the Official History of Australia's role in the Korean War, influential reports for the Ford Foundation on reducing levels of conflict in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as dozens of academic books and innumerable articles and essays. Professor O'Neill is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in Britain.
O'Neill is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and the Royal Military College of Australia. A Rhodes Scholar, he received his PhD in Modern History from Oxford University

No comments: