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26 Feb 2016| and

2016 Defence White Paper

 It’s been a big week here at The Strategist with yesterday’s release of the 2016 Defence White Paper (PDF). If you’ve been waiting as long as we have for the launch of #DWP2016, prepare to wait a bit longer—at a whopping 188 pages (compared with 132 pages in 2013, and 59 pages in 1976), you’ll need a good internet connection to download this bad boy.

And while we’re lining up, it’s interesting to see how many times core phrases were used in this year’s DWP compared to its two predecessors. ‘Maritime’ is a buzzword of this year’s DWP, clocking in with 125 mentions (in 2013, it popped up 90 times, and in 2009, just 75). Coming off second best was ‘climate change’, with only eight mentions in the whole document (up one from 2013’s seven, though both a decline from 15 in 2009). But the winner, by a country mile, is ‘rules-based global order’.

For some choice analysis of yesterday’s release, look no further than right here at The Strategist. Rod Lyon offers an assessment on Australia’s ‘beefing up’ for a strategically uncertain future, Andrew Davies asks for twelve subs with the lot, Malcolm Davis shares his thoughts on force structure across the services, Toby Feakin discusses the DWP’s treatment of cyber issues, Ben Schreer praises the Paper for its treatment of Chinese aggression, and Mark Thomson analyses the Government’s 2% of GDP promise by 2020–2021. We’ve also featured analysis from Lisa Sharland, Michael Clifford and Allan Behm. And there’s much more to come, so check back next week for regional reactions and a deeper dive into some of the Paper’s other pages.

The fun simply doesn’t stop in the South China Sea, with reports this week of a new radar facility at Cuarteron Reef in the Spratly Islands. Somewhat amazingly, it was only last week that we were all talking about the movement of a HQ-9 surface-to-air missile system and an associated targeting radar to Woody Island in the Paracels, which was somewhat sour development after the US–ASEAN retreat at Sunnylands, California. The Sunnylands summit was generally viewed as a step forward for the US–ASEAN relationship, though it’ll be interesting to see whether the Sunnylands Joint Leaders’ Statement will help ASEAN’s coordinate responses to China, or if economic ties will make ‘standing up to Beijing’ a trickier task. War is Boring takes the temperature of Thailand—the US ally slowly being ‘lost’.

This subject of this piece in Vanity FairWar Porn and Barrel Bombs: Inside Assad’s Propaganda Offensive—is pretty self-explanatory. It’s also worth a read (and watch).

With a Federal election to run in Australia later this year, and the main event continuing to unfold Stateside, political strategists and campaign directors could do worse(?) than seek inspiration from the Workers’ Party of Korea. Rudong Sinmun, DPRK’s state-sanctioned media outlet, this week published 375 new slogans, including the catchy ‘Make the whole country seethe with a high-pitched campaign for producing greenhouse vegetables!’, and the compelling ‘Let’s give a decisive solution to the problem of consumer goods!’ Exclamation points abound!


CSIS’s ‘Smart Women, Smart Power’ podcast has a strong track record of bringing forward some big female voices from the worlds of politics, business and international affairs. The latest edition canvasses Vladimir Putin’s options and actions in Syria and Ukraine, and assesses the economic position inside Russia. Catch all the episodes on iTunes.

The excellent Asia Rising podcast is back, and this time with more Soryu-class submarines. The La Trobe Asia product this week sees Executive Director Nick Bisley sit down to explain why Australia’s future submarines will come from the Land of the Rising Sun, and the impact that such a choice might impact on international diplomacy. For some background reading, check out his piece over at The Conversation on the same topic.


Tokyo Drift is so 2006—ten years later, we’re all about the Oslo drift. Check out this footage of US Marines drifting M1 Abrams Tanks, weighing in at 56,245kg, across Norway’s frozen wilderness as part of their training to fight in glacial locations.

The guys over at Flite Test had some fun recently testing out their mocked-up and tricked-out Helicarrier, on which they attempted to land some remote control aircraft. The inspiration for the drone creation is found in Marvel’s Avengers, and the replica was powered by eight Avroto motors. Catch up with how it all went with their video or blow-by-blow photo essay.

Everyone’s favorite counterinsurgency expert, David Kilcullen, recently did a string of roundtables, speeches and TV spots to promote his new book, Blood Year. If you haven’t caught him earlier, the US Studies Centre has a video of his lecture and interview, and you can also catch him on Q&A at iView.


Canberra: The ANU’s Development Policy Centre will soon host the 2016 Harold Mitchell Lecture. This year’s lecturer is Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, who will speak on the topic of ‘Exciting, challenging, frightening times—global health, development and the stuff of innovation’. Register (or stream) online.

Perth: H.E Mr Bong-hyun Kim, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Australia, will be on hand at the Perth USAsia Centre to talk ROK–Australia relations, our bilateral FTA and the prospects for the motley MIKTA crew. Get along on 10 March.