The Australian Way of War: strategic culture, alliances and the use of force in the antipodes

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Event details

SDSC War Studies Seminar Series

Date & time

Monday 13 February 2017


Theatrette 2.02, Sir Roland Wilson Building (120), McCoy Circuit, ANU


Associate Professor Peter J. Dean


Bell School

The concepts of strategic culture and the notion of a national ‘way of war’ are both widely used and hotly debated in strategic studies. However, very few studies have concentrated on defining these concepts in relation to Australia. This talk presents an updated understanding of Australian strategic culture based on some of the most recent conceptual thinking on the topic. It outlines: that despite being made up of a series of competing strategic subcultures Australia’s strategic culture has been dominated by its relationship with its great and powerful friends; and that since the Second World War the debate within Australian strategic elites has been dominated by competing views about how to set strategic policy, force structure and how to use military force within the confines of the ANZUS alliance. This strategic subculture has largely driven the way Australia has used military force, determining two streams in Australia’s way of war: a more prolific coalition or alliance-based approach and an equally important (but less often needed), joint and largely self-reliant approach to regional military operations.


Associate Professor Peter J. Dean is the Acting Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University as well as an Adjunct Fellow in the Pacific Partners Initiative at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C. He was the 2014–15 Fulbright Scholar in Australia–United States Alliance Studies, is the series editor of the Melbourne University Press Defence Studies Series and an editorial board member of Global War Studies and the Australian Army Journal. He is the author/editor of six books including The Architect of Victory (2011), Australia 1944-45: Victory in the Pacific (2016) and Australia’s American Alliance (2016).

Image source: Flickr Photo By: Corporal (CPL) Ricky Fuller

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