Sovereign Defence Industry capabilities, independent operations and the future of Australian defence strategy

Defence Defence expenditure Manufacturing Australia

Sovereignty in defence industry is not absolute, but must balance effectiveness, cost, and reliance on allies. The ‘Sovereign Defence Industry Assessment Framework’ promised in the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement (DIPS) should be a crucial link between strategic policy and defence industry policy, and explain how we manage those trade-offs. DIPS hints at the logic of defence self-reliance, which arose from our concerns of not being able to rely on support from US combat forces in regional conflicts after the Vietnam War. The 2016 Defence White Paper is however now framing Australian policy in terms of the ability to conduct independent operations, which are an important way of securing our interests in conflicts where we fight alongside the United States.

In this Centre of Gravity paper, Stephan Frühling argues that plans for a Sovereign Defence Industry must not be a catch-all list of defence industry we want to maintain for a variety of legitimate reasons, but should comprise that industry support required in country for defending Australia in the most challenging circumstances in our own region.

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