In this issue of the Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies:
In our first issue of the Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies (AJDSS) in 2019, I wrote that the journal aimed to ‘encourage and raise the level of intellectual thinking among our defence forces’ by bringing together the wealth of knowledge within the Australian Department of Defence, academia and wider policy and security communities domestically and internationally. The new AJDSS was tasked with informing debate and honing the intellectual edge within Australian Defence Force.
This challenge was led by Commander of the Australian Defence College, Major General Mick Ryan. His vision to instil robust and contextually driven conversation by and for defence and national policymakers, decision changers and academics has seen the journal reach a broad audience within Australia, amongst our partners and allies, and across our region. Moreover, the journal now attracts world expert contributors from across multidisciplinary domains, driving the conversation and sparking debate. We will continue to bring together a wealth of debate that is much needed now and certainly into the future and build upon the AJDSS’s vision of being a platform for addressing critical issues relevant to defence and national interests. These conversations will build, drive and nurture our current and future critical thinkers and decision-makers.
Against this backdrop, the concluding chapter of Major General Ryan’s term chairing the journal, we present a concert of articles, commentaries, reviews and correspondence addressing issues relevant to Australia’s defence and strategic interest and fitting of the vision that first inspired the launch of the new AJDSS.
We begin your summer reading with Michael Clarke’s ‘What type of revisionist is China (and why it matters)?’ Clarke brings nuance to the academic debate on how the international relations concept of revisionism is applied to China, which is far too often described in simplistic binary terms in media and political commentary. Further, his paper provides insight into how China's position has shifted over the past 70 years and informs how we might better perceive (and respond to) contemporary Chinese rhetoric and foreign policy.
In the following article, Natalia Jevglevskaja and Bianca Baggiarini consider the range of potential effects artificial intelligence (AI) may have on military recruitment and retention, force structure and military readiness. As AI transforms the way we work, it will affect not just combat systems but logistics, cyber defence, transportation and administration tasks, to name just a few. But attracting, retaining and nurturing the workforce skills to operate and complement these AI systems will be just as important as the technology. Riding this wave of technological change successfully will bring opportunities and challenges but militaries must shift their thinking and start to prepare now.
The national security threat of supply chains has been all too apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. In their timely article, Andrew Dowse, Tony Marceddo and Ian Martinus raise the issue of sovereign capability in cybersecurity. The cyber risk posed by vulnerable supply chains, at both the hardware and software levels, is just one of the threats that demand a more strategic approach to resisting cyberattacks. Making cybersecurity a sovereign industry capability priority may support greater resilience in Australia’s national defence systems, helping to ensure that ADF units are not ‘taken out of any meaningful fight before they even get to it’.
In our commentary section, we open with Ahmed S Hashim’s provocatively titled ‘Can Asians fight? Organisational-cultural impediments to the conduct of high-tech conventional warfare.’ Hashim considers the Indian, Japanese and Chinese’s militaries capability in combined arms and jointness. He identifies bureaucratic bottlenecks, different strategic outlooks and service histories and particularly inter-service rivalries as factors that have impeded military effectiveness. Despite rapid modernisation programs, deficiencies in joint warfare capabilities may still have strategic implications for each country’s ability to project power in defence of their interests.
We are pleased to have two commentaries in this issue from students in the 2021 Australian War College’s Defence and Strategic Studies program. In reflecting on the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, a year after its release, Colonel Kane Wright evaluates its effectiveness as a guiding document for Defence and where modifications to it various elements might enhance Australia’s ability to purse its national interests. This is followed by Captain Andrew Willis’s ‘Australia’s polar attraction: Antarctica strategy 2001–2021’. Willis argues that Antarctica matters to Australia, in terms of our historical connections, territorial claims, its potential resources, including as a source of scientific knowledge, and national security. However, if geopolitics shifts in the region, Australia’s Antarctic strategy will need to adapt.
In our reviews section we have Yun Jiang review of Peter Martin’s China’s civilian army: the inside story of China’s quest for global power; Elena Collinson reviews Emma Shortis’s Our exceptional friend: Australia’s fatal alliance with the United States; Ross Boyd reviews General Sir Peter Cosgrove’s memoir, You shouldn’t have joined; Andrew Maher reviews Stephen Biddle’s Nonstate warfare: the military methods of guerrillas, warlords, and militias; and Darren Cronshaw reviews the Handbook of veteran and military suicide: assessment, treatment, and prevention, edited by Bruce Bongar, Glenn Sullivan and Larry Charles James.
We end the issue with a spirited debate between two world renowned experts on the challenge of the Sino-Russian relations and its strategic implications for Australia. Challenging aspects of Alexey Muraviev’s article from our previous issue, Matthew Sussex draws out the nuances of the argument to which the author responds in a robust and lively dialogue, which is sure to delight those who have an interest in this thought-provoking area.
It was a pleasure to have Major General Ryan lead the strategic vision of the first three volumes of the AJDSS. His unwavering thirst for knowledge and insatiable drive to encourage intellectual mastery within the profession of arms leaves an indelible legacy. The team here at the Centre for Defence Research thank him for his encouragement and drive as Commander Australian Defence College and as the chair of the editorial review board.
We wish Mick and his family all the best. Likewise, we wish all our readers a wonderful (southern) summer. We hope 2022 sees the return of a sense of freedom and joy which we have had to set aside over the last two years of the pandemic. So please, relax, read and enjoy.
Head of the Centre for Defence Research