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Assessing the Defence White Paper 2009

By Rod Lyon and Andrew Davies

This Policy Analysis, authored by Rod Lyon and Andrew Davies, reviews the recently released Defence White Paper Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030.

Media reporting has tended to focus on the hardware acquisition aspects of this document.

And that is not surprising—there is a lot of it. It will take time to deliver this ambitious program and, in fact, the White Paper is somewhat aspirational in nature. Firm decisions on some of the new capabilities will be taken a decade or more from now.

But just as importantly, if downplayed in reporting to date, this paper does some significant re-positioning of Australia’s declaratory strategic policy. While noting the shifting sands of the security structures of the wider Asia–Pacific region, the White Paper takes a firm geography-based line focused closer to home in terms of the force structure determinants.

It also contains some passages that will attract interest among our neighbours and allies.