The Multi-Domain Requirements of an Australian Defence Strategy

By Robbin Laird

The first of two seminars of the Sir Richard Williams Foundation in 2024 was held on 11 April 2024 at the National Gallery of Australia.

The seminar was entitled, The Multi-Domain Requirements of an Australian Maritime Strategy and the aim of the seminar was identified as follows:

“To examine the enduring and emerging multi-domain requirements of an Australian maritime strategy in the context of the Defence Strategic Review.   The Seminar examines the requirements through a Defence lens but will consider all national means that contribute to a maritime strategy and the need for coherence across concepts, doctrine, equipment, basing and preparedness. This strategic coherence is needed to synchronise effects across the Whole of Australian Government, Defence and industry, as well as international partners.”

Last year’s DSR highlighted the ramped-up threat to Australia and the need to focus on the region, its partnerships and a more effective defence effort by Australia in the regional deterrence context.

The focus of the government in its subsequent priorities has tended to focus on longer term acquisitions, first in terms of nuclear submarines through the AUKUS relationship and for a new surface fleet in its recently released surface fleet review.

A multi-domain operations discussion builds on the work of the Foundation since I have been writing the reports since 2014 upon building a fifth-generation force, which after all revolves around sensor-shooter relationships built across an integrated force delivering multi-domain effects or what I prefer to call a kill-web enabled force.

The focus is upon how you get full value out of your force now and to build out that extant force in the future to become more lethal and survivable. If you are focused on the fight tonight, which any credible combat force must focus on, then long range assets are projections of the possible, not augmentations of the credibility of the operational force.

So any multi-domain discussion inevitably focuses on the way ahead for the force in being, rather than a force planning discussion of a projected future.

When you add a specific target of what is that force in being operating in support of, inevitably gaps are identified, and the question then is how do you close the most significant gaps which threaten your security and defence interests.

Such a focus is in turn raised if one raises the question of the means to the end of what one might consider a maritime threat envelope and strategy to deal with that envelope.

In other words, one would expect the seminar discussion to focus more on the transition challenges of the ADF and the nation to deal with threat environment in the near to midterm rather than in 2040.

That is what happened at the seminar in which speakers started by highlighting the importance of focusing on the here and now rather than on the force that might exist in 2035 or 2040.

Download Report

Enter your name and email below to download the report directly.