Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 133
The recent and continuing changes in Southeast Asia - the economic calamity in 1997-98, the overthrow of President Soeharto's New Order and the tenuous establishment of democracy, and the horrific circumstances of East Timor's independence - have disturbed Australia's security situation more seriously than anything since the 1960s, when Australia was at war (albeit covertly) with Indonesia in Borneo and had a task force in Vietnam. The rate of technological change is also unprecedented, especially in the area of information technology (IT) and its manifold applications, promising a revolution in military affairs (RMA), some aspects of which are very attractive for Australian defence planning.
At the same time, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) faces the imminent prospect of 'block obsolescence' - when major platforms such as the F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighter aircraft, the F-111 strike fighters, the P-3C Orion long-range maritime patrol aircraft, and all of the navy's surface combatants, will need to be replaced (or their tasks foregone).
Addressing these issues will require the development of a sound appreciation of Australia's security environment, and of clear and coherent strategic guidance for defence force planning. The purpose of this volume is to assist and inform these processes.
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