August 10, 2018

Defence innovation is critical for the future of the Australia–US alliance

By Daniel Kliman and Brendan Thomas-Noone

The outcome of the recent AUSMIN meeting—the annual gathering of the secretaries of state and defence from the United States and the foreign and defence ministers from Australia—was a signal of the alliance’s increasing focus on the Indo-Pacific region.

The joint statement stemming from the meeting announced the creation of a ‘joint work plan’ that would focus future efforts on the Indo-Pacific, touching on diplomatic, security and geoeconomic activities throughout the region. On the defence collaboration front, a new agreement was signed to jointly develop, research and test new cyber capabilities. Hypersonics were singled out as an area where cooperation between the two countries should be strengthened, particularly on concept development, testing and ‘validation’ of high-speed flight technologies.

This was a welcome shift in direction. But considering the location of the meeting—Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley—it was a missed opportunity to drive an ambitious agenda for how the alliance can invest in joint defence technology projects and use private sector innovation to address shared national security challenges.

Since the Cold War, traditional defence companies and national laboratories have lost the monopoly they once had on developing the cutting-edge technologies that will be central to future military advantage. In select areas, research and development funding has also shifted from the government to the private sector. Innovative major companies and even start-ups are making advances in fields important to national defence, such as machine learning and quantum technology.

Harnessing these advances is critical for the future of the alliance. Despite growing defence budgets, Australia and the US can’t spend their way out of the mounting security challenges in the Indo-Pacific—ranging from an increasingly assertive and militarily capable China, to a still nuclear-armed North Korea and resilient terrorist networks in Southeast Asia. Harvesting technologies from the commercial sector can help offset the cost of new defence capabilities while addressing some of these shared challenges.

Read the Full Article at ASPI

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • July 29, 2020
    Can China’s Military Win the Tech War?

    The United States and its allies should take seriously Beijing’s efforts to militarize China’s technological base....

    By Anja Manuel & Kathleen Hicks

  • Transcript
    • May 20, 2020
    Transcript from Emerging Concepts in Joint Command and Control

    On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, the CNAS Technology and National Security Program hosted a virtual panel discussion on emerging concepts in joint command and control featuring Hon...

    By Robert O. Work, Chris Dougherty & Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • Space News
    • May 13, 2020
    What the government should or should not do to help space industry

    The COVID-19 economic slowdown will have lasting implications on the new space sector. Yet the United States cannot afford another lost decade of commercial space innovation. ...

    By Mikhail Grinberg

  • Commentary
    • The Washington Examiner
    • April 5, 2020
    Time for the US to declare independence from China

    Americans now know they can’t rely on China or even our allies to produce the goods we need during a pandemic. That’s why it’s time for the United States government to do what...

    By Anthony Vinci & Dr. Nadia Schadlow

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia