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A versatile force: The future of Australia's special operations capability

By Andrew Davies, Peter Jennings and Benjamin Schreer

Over the past decade, the demands of the ADF’s global and regional operations saw an unprecedented growth in Australia’s special operations capability. Indeed, Special Operations Forces became the ‘capability of choice’ for the Australian Government. However, as the ADF enters a period of transition from almost constant high-tempo operations to what might be a ‘soft power decade’, there’s a need to consider the future of the capability.

Against this background, this study aims to inform policy decisions by providing an understanding of the special operations capability and what it offers to government in both peace and wartime. It argues against possible temptations to cut the capability. In a changing strategic environment, Special Operations Forces will continue to be an important instrument of Australian defence policy. The study entails a number of concrete policy recommendations to strengthen and readjust the special operations capability for a new era.