Dougal Robinson is a Lowy Institute Defence Intern.
In this final video in the Defence in Depth series, we asked experts whether Australia's defence strategy is smart. You can watch the whole Defence in Depth series and read commentary about it on this debate thread.
Peter Cosgrove argues that Australia's strategy has generally been intelligent, but most of those questioned responded negatively.
Rodger Shanahan posits that Australia does not have a defence strategy, and, according to Hugh White, our strategy is either lousy or non-existent, because Australia lacks a coherent conception of the risks it faces and the capabilities it requires. Similarly, there is no logical relationship between our defence strategy and defence expenditure, Peter Jennings argues.
A critical yardstick of the value of Australia's defence strategy is the orientation of its defence force. According to Ian McPhedran, Australia needs to focus on its region rather than prepare for action alongside the US. We need to have a flexible range of capabilities, says James Goldrick, and must avoid preoccupation with either expeditionary operations or the defence of Australia. Chris Barrie correspondingly contends that Australia should assume a leadership role our immedate region.
A smart strategy, according to some experts, avoids over-dependence on the US. Australia can espouse the 'Defence of Australia' doctrine and free ride on the US as the guarantors of our security, says Mark Thomson. But we should not therefore go blindly into battle with Washington, warns Brendan Nicholson.
In the aftermath of the Defence White Paper, and in this atmosphere of pessimism among experts, it seems wise to consider Jim Molan's words: the articulation of strategy is not the end product of a defence policy; rather, Australia's priority must be a defence force that works.