Major General Mick Ryan
Chair, Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies
Commander, Australian Defence College
The Indo-Pacific region is at the nexus of global geopolitical shifts not seen since the Second World War. These shifts are likely to dominate the 21st century, just as ideological divisions and great power competition effected the 20th century. This will have significant implications for the rules based global order that has underpinned our peace and prosperity for so long. Increasing militarisation, rapid technological change and emerging grey zone threats are just some of the many challenges facing our region. Indeed, the now common term Indo-Pacific itself represents a paradigm shift in thinking about traditional geographical and political boundaries.
For the foreseeable future, how we respond to this changing environment will be an overarching concern of Australian Governments. The 2016 White Paper and the Integrated Investment Program that accompanied it flagged the Australian Government’s long-term strategy and articulated the investment in capabilities and planning required to execute it. However, it has been widely acknowledged that the global security environment has already altered more than predicted.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s address at the launch of 2020 Defence Strategic Update in July this year, four years after the last Defence White Paper, is a significant milestone. This Update presents a detailed response to the circumstances described in the speech and how we will continue to adapt and respond into the future.
I strongly encourage every student of strategy who seeks to apply theory to the current Australian context to read this speech.
Published online: 3 December 2020