Monday 25 Mar 2019 | 14:24 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Defence & Security

The strategic order and the nature of conflict are changing. Security competition between nations and military strategy are growing in complexity even as new transnational challenges deepen. The Lowy Institute’s experts in security and defence look at changing strategic relations, security architecture, nuclear strategy, military capabilities and defence and intelligence policy.

National security changes – Australian style

Last week brought what are likely to be two seismic changes to Australia’s security and intelligence community. While the Independent Intelligence Review has been broadly welcomed, reaction to the establishment of a super ministry has been much more mixed even, it seems, within Cabinet.

From ONA to ONI: Getting closer to the original plan

The new report on the current state and working of the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) was prepared by two very knowledgeable, able and experienced people in Michael L’Estrange and Stephen Merchant, after wide consultation. So it must be very satisfying for those currently working in the

The Australian Intelligence tradition

Most of the early commentary on Malcolm Turnbull’s changes to Australia’s security and intelligence arrangements focused on his decision to bring together the principal domestic security agencies – ASIO, the AFP, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and

Politics and policy meet in new Home Affairs Department

After almost two decades of consideration during which the case for it has always failed to convince government ministers, the Australian Government has decided to go ahead with the creation of a new 'super department' to oversee Australia’s domestic security and intelligence system. The

Malabar 17 exercise: The China subtext

The annual Malabar naval exercise series is underway in Chennai, with the at-sea phase in the Bay of Bengal running from 14-17 July. This year’s iteration is notable for a number of reasons. While Malabar 17 won’t be the largest-ever exercise in the series – Malabar 07-2, the second of the two

The nuclear weapon ban treaty is significant but flawed

On 7 July 2017 a UN negotiating conference adopted a draft treaty banning nuclear weapons – specifically, their development, production, possession, stationing and deployment, use, threat of use, testing, and so on. The treaty will be open for signature on 20 September 2017, and will enter

Lifting the veil on jihad

In April 2015 a fresh-faced Australian-born doctor appeared in a slick Islamic State video extolling the virtues of making hijra to what he portrayed as a utopian Islamic society. The video showed the doctor, Tareq Kamleh, in a pristine and well-equipped paediatric ward tending to a premature

Explaining Australia’s sharp turn to information warfare

Australia's place in the Asian military scene took a sharp turn last week when the Turnbull Government announced the creation of the country's modified version of a US Cyber Command. The move followed the 2016 Defence White Paper, which foreshadowed a near doubling of defence spending in the decade

US-China at sea incidents are likely the new normal

There has been yet another spate of US-China incidents involving US intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) probes in and over China’s bordering seas. In February, there was a close encounter between a US Navy P-3 Orion aircraft and a Chinese surveillance aircraft 

AUSMIN: Regional issues deserve top billing

Today’s AUSMIN could hardly be better timed, following recent terrorist attacks, North Korean nuclear provocations, and the weekend’s Shangri-La dialogue.  But, as is so often the case with AUSMIN, the danger is the urgent will crowd out the important. Both Australia and the US find it

US FONOPs: Game on again in the South China Sea

According to this Reuters report, which was soon followed by others citing a Pentagon spokesman, a US Navy warship, the destroyer USS Dewey, has recently sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese-occupied Mischief Reef in the South China Sea. This was the first such challenge to Beijing by the

Countering China’s submarine operations in South Asia

As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Sri Lanka earlier this month, reports emerged that the Sri Lankan government had turned down China's request for a submarine docking in Colombo harbor. Beijing, apparently, wanted one of its submarines (ostensibly on its way to the Gulf of Aden for '

The Australian budget and counterterrorism

ASIO, ASIS and the AFP are all expected to receive substantial funding boosts in the federal budget to be handed down tonight. The additional funding for intelligence agencies - some of which will reportedly come from the foreign aid budget -  is apparently intended to facilitate 'frontline'

Islamist terrorism: The true measure of the threat

How seriously should we take the threat of terrorism? It is nigh on impossible to gain consensus on this issue. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has declared Islamist terrorism a real threat to the nation-state system, while former US President Barack Obama said it wasn’t an existential threat and

North Korea in for some Trump-style shock and awe

Co-authored by Jake Ramsamugh, a researcher at the Henry Jackson Society, working in the Asia Studies Centre. President Trump knew exactly what he was doing when he announced news of a US military strike on Syria to a stunned Xi Jinping on the final evening of the US-China Summit at Mar-e-Lago

Egypt’s Copts: Caught between the Egyptian State and IS

What should have been a joyous Easter week has turned to tragedy in Egypt. Two suicide bombings targeting St Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria (where the Coptic pope was praying just minutes before) and St George’s church in Tanta killed 44 people and injured hundreds during Palm Sunday services.

Assad and chemical weapons: The regional repercussions

The renewed use by the Assad regime of chemical weapons, possibly sarin, against civilian population centres in Syria - most recently in Idlib - is immoral, illegal, inhuman and counter-productive in every respect. It serves no military or political purpose. In terms of diplomacy, it is a complete

Civilian casualties and the media

The issue of civilian casualties in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts has received plenty of media coverage recently. From claims that a mosque was deliberately targeted in Aleppo province with nearly 50 civilians killed, through an airstrike hitting a school housing displaced families in Idlib Raqqa

London attack: Tragic and widely predicted

Yesterday’s tragic attack in London was both predictable and widely predicted. Since August 2014, the UK terror threat level has been 'severe', meaning that an attack is highly likely. The UK Government had repeatedly and very publicly warned of the likelihood of a terror attack, while

US-style Homeland Security: Back on Australia’s agenda?

There are some ideas in politics that do a lot of laps around the track before they finally find sufficient favour to turn into government policy. Few have done the distance that the proposal for a super national security department has. Recycled in various forms for more than a decade, the idea

China's defence spending: What's behind the slowdown?

China’s 2017 defence budget, announced earlier this week at the National People's Congress in Beijing, has the lowest rate of increase in years. At 7%, it is lower than the 7.6% for 2016, and represents the second year in a row that growth in defence spending has been kept below 10%, which has

The United States Coast Guard: Starving the remarkable

Reports that the United States Coast Guard (USCG) will be subject to substantial budget cuts even as the new administration proposes to increase funding for the United States Navy (USN) reflect a myopia that has deeper roots than the advent of President Trump. The USCG is a remarkable organisation

How Islamic extremism seeped into rural Australia

On Tuesday the Australian Federal Police arrested a man for attempting to provide Islamic State with advanced missile technology. What is unusual about the arrest of this Australian-born electrician is the location; not an urban centre but a remote property north of Young in the South West Slopes

Singapore’s strike eagles show up flightless kiwis

It was recently reported that New Zealand and Singapore are conducting a feasibility study into basing F-15SG multi-role fighters at Ohakea Air Base, on North Island. If the proposal succeeds, up to 500 Singaporean personnel would be stationed at Ohakea to support a detachment, if not a full

Meet the Australian pilot flying F-22s with the USAF in the NT

Last week the Lowy Institute's International Security Program director Euan Graham recorded an interview with David Skalicky, the USAF Lieutenant Colonel leading the 90th Fighter Squadron, currently deployed to RAAF Base Tindal, in the Northern Territory. In that interview we revealed that

Getting past the awful logic of nuclear weapons

In August last year I wrote on why Australia should support negotiations on a nuclear weapon ban. Subsequently the UN General Assembly voted by a three-to-one majority to convene negotiations on a ban on 27-31 March and 15 June-7 July. The General Assembly will then review progress and decide on

What's behind Russia's missile treaty violation?

Earlier this week the New York Times broke a story that Russia is fielding new cruise missiles in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). This is significant, not because Russia stands accused of violating the Treaty, but rather how and why. The INF Treaty

Beneath the surface of Pakistan's AMAN-17 exercises

Formally, the AMAN (Urdu for peace) international naval exercises that ran this week are about practicing responses to maritime threats such as piracy, terrorism and the smuggling of arms, drugs and people. But swirling not far beneath the surface of the Arabian Sea manoeuvres and the Karachi

US signals to China from Darwin with F-22s

Last Friday’s statement from Defence Minister Marise Payne that a squadron of US Air Force F-22 Raptors was arriving at RAAF Base Tindal to begin a rotation under the Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) agreement sparked surprisingly little media interest. The announcement, made on the very day of

Living with terror in Lahore

It's been some time since I lived on Mall Road near Lahore's busy Mayo Hospital which treats most emergency cases but ambulance sirens still wake me at night, a feature now sometimes of nightmares where I see again the dead bodies and terror victims I have reported on through the years. On 15

Pages