Shaping an Australian National Security Strategy: The Perspective of Senator Jim Molan

By Robbin Laird

We have just released our new book on the evolution of Australian defence strategy from 2014 through 2020.  This is how we have described the book:

“In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, launched a new defense and security strategy for Australia. This strategy reset puts Australia on the path of enhanced defense capabilities. The change represents a serious shift in its policies towards China, and in reworking alliance relationships going forward. “Joint by Design” is focused on Australian policy, but it is about preparing liberal democracies around the world for the challenges of the future.

“The strategic shift from land wars to full spectrum crisis management requires liberal democracies to have forces lethal enough, survivable enough, and agile enough to support full spectrum crisis management. The book provides an overview of the evolution of Australian defence modernization over the past seven years, and the strategic shift underway to do precisely that.”

As one senior RAAF officer put it: “The Prime Minister of Australia, the Honorable Scott Morrison, has launched the Defense Strategic Update, which moved Australia’s defense policy away from a globally balanced approach under our Defense White Paper of 2016, towards a more regionally focused posture, founded in the principles of shape, deter, and respond. The new policy approach places great emphasis on the need for our forces to be well integrated, both internally to Australia, and across our strategic partners.”

The book is based on the bi-annual Williams Foundation seminars held since 2014 and includes insights and presentations by Australians and several key allies of Australia. In that sense, the book provides an Australian-led allied rethink with regard to how to meet 21st century defense challenges.

As Anne Borzycki, Director of the Institute of Integrated Economic Research – Australia, has highlighted:

“Dr Robbin Laird brings a unique perspective to his analysis of the journey the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been on over the last six years.  As an American, and also a European resident, he understands the military and strategic realities of Europe and the United States and is therefore able to place Australia, as a modern middle-power, into the spectrum of Western Liberal Democracies. And importantly, this book highlights the lessons that Europe and the United States could learn from Australia as the first quarter of the 21st century draws to a close.

“This book is a modern history that begins in 2014.  The year 2014 might seem recent – however given the upheavals wrought upon the world by changing global power dynamics, national domestic political challenges, military transformations and finally, the pandemic – it could just as well be 60, not 6, years ago.”

This book was released on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Kobo on December 22, 2020 in e book form with the paperback and hardback to be released in two months. The book can be purchased on the worldwide Amazon websites, including Amazon Australia.

 But what is next?

In a series of podcasts, Senator Jim Molan, who is cited by Prime Minister Morrison as a key advisor on defence thinking, has provided insights on the challenge of building a national defence and security strategy. He believes that defence cannot simply be left up to the Australian Defence Force but requires a national response and a national strategy.

We have shaped a number of key items from the transcripts which we built from the podcasts and have assembled them here into a single report.

He starts each podcast with this introduction:

“Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist tells us that strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.

“But tactics without strategy is just noise before defeat.

“My name is Jim Molan and welcome to our Noise Before Defeat podcast.”

The report can be read in PDF below:

Molan Perspective

Or in e-book below: