National security wrap

The Beat

Narcotic control strategy reports

What’s that? You want to read about international narcotics control strategies? Well, you’re in luck. Both the United Nations and the US State Department have recently released reports on drug control strategies from international and national perspectives. The UN International Narcotics Control Board released its Report for 2015 which assesses international implementation of and compliance with international drug control conventions. It includes an analysis of the global situation with a chapter dedicated to Oceania—offering a neat summary of some of the policies Australia has implemented in recent years. And the US has released its 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report in which Volume II—Money Laundering and Financial Crimes—includes an evaluation of Australia’s performance on financial crime prevention and prosecution.

Australia’s anti-bribery legislation shakeup

Recently opened court files have found Australia’s tourism, education and property sectors have received corrupt money from bribes by low-level Chinese officials. The details come not long after an act to amend legislation relating to criminal law, law enforcement and background checking received Royal Assent last week. The reforms will strengthen the capacity of regulators to investigate, prosecute and penalise companies and individuals that facilitate or conceal bribery.

CT Scan

HMAS Darwin first counter terrorism patrol success

HMAS Darwin has seized a significant weapons cache during its first patrol as part of Combined Task Force 150, responsible for maritime counterterrorism operations in the Middle East. The weapons were discovered during a flag verification boarding of a fishing vessel 313km off the coast of Oman. 1,989 Ak-47 assault rifles, 100 grenade launchers, 49 PKM general-purpose machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes were seized from the ship. The ADF identified the weapons were destined for Somalia where the militant Islamist group al Shabaab controls territory and provides havens to terrorists.  Read more about Somalia’s security challenges here.

ISIS isn’t Syria’s biggest problem

Jennifer Cafarella, Syria Analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, has reported that Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, are actually more dangerous than ISIS. While the two groups share a common goal in establishing a caliphate, ISIS’ tactics have made it the focus of US military efforts while Jabhat al-Nursra has quietly been cultivating local relationships and building capabilities ready to return to the global stage once ISIS is defeated. Read here for a map of the Jabhat al-Nursra organisation.

The US’ new plan to tackle Boko Haram

As part of a recent confidential assessment by US Special Operations Commander for Africa, Brigadere General Bolduc, the US will send hundreds of military advisers to help address security issues in north-east Nigeria and neighbouring countries in response to Boko Haram. The plan calls for US forces to serve in non-combatant advisory roles rather than entangle US troops on the ground. Read more about the situation here.


Weaponising the European migration crisis

Senior NATO commander in Europe, US General Philip Breedlove, has stated that Russia and Syria are using migration as a belligerent strategy by ‘deliberately weaponising migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve’. He referred to specific attacks targeting Syrian civilians as direct attempts to mobilise them abroad. Of the 1.2 million asylum seekers applying to the EU for sanctuary in 2015, Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans topped the list. So far in 2016, as many as 129,500 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea and 1,545 more have entered by land. With Greece at the heart of the migration surge and struggling to manage the influx, the European Union has just brokered a readmission agreement with Turkey (who, from January to mid-February, managed to stop 24,120 irregular migrants travelling to Greece), enabling the latter to receive migrants rejected by the EU.

First Responder

US sending disaster relief to Ethiopia

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on 3 March that the US will dispatch a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Ethiopia in response to a severe drought caused by El Niño. DART—an elite team of disaster experts—will provide technical assistance to the Ethiopian Government, conduct humanitarian assessments and coordinate with government and humanitarian organisations to provide emergency food assistance, safe drinking water and nutritional treatment and drought-tolerant seeds. The Ethiopian Government estimates that more than 18 million people in the country are either chronically food insecure or in need of relief food assistance. USAID has an analysis of El Niño in Ethiopia here.

Costs of natural disasters to rise

The total economic cost of natural disasters in Australia is expected to rise from $9 billion annually in 2015 to an average of $33 billion by 2050, according to a Deloitte Access Economics Report released last week. ‘Building resilient infrastructure’, a report commissioned by the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities, found the major share of natural disaster costs will arise from damage to critical infrastructure, a cost that will be borne by governments, and ultimately taxpayers. An analysis of the report and its companion report ‘The Economic Cost of the Social Impact of Natural Disasters’ can be found at The Guardian.