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The Institute for Regional Security

Kokoda Papers 

Kokoda Papers are the major research reports published by the Institute.

Kokoda papers are the product of a major, multi-disciplinary research project involving contributions from government, corporate and academic experts.

The Institute's research is independent and non-partisan. The Institute For Regional Security does not take institutional positions on policy issues nor do sponsors have editorial influence. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in the Institute's publications should be understood to be solely those of the author.

Future IFRS research papers will also be overseen by the IFRS research committee.  All research undertaken by the IFRS will be an extension or, or addition to the sim of total knowledge on national security topics.

Kokoda Papers

Cullen AM, CSC, Simon, ed. Jack Ayoub, Countering Unmanned Aerial Systems KP23 September 2019

Cullen AM, CSC, Simon, Unmanned and Autonomous Vehicles in the Maritime Environment circa 2035: Opportunities and Challenges for the Royal Australian Navy KP22 November 2018 Summary

Waters, Gary, Biddington, Brett, Valli Craig Building a Resilient Cyber Security Eco-System: National and Regional Considerations KP 21 (November 2016).  Summary

Biddington, Brett Girt By Sea: Understanding Australia’s Maritime Domains In A Networked World
KP 20 (November 2014): Summary

Waters, Gary, Blackburn AO, John Australian Defence Logistics: The Need to Enable and Equip Logistics Transformation KP 19 (June 2014):  Summary

Waters, Gary Getting it Right: Integrating the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Enterprise
KP 18 (April 2014): Summary

Pacey, Brice Sub Judice: Australia's Future Submarine KP 17 (Jan 2012): Summary

Pacey, Brice Under the Sea Air Gap: Australia’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Challenge KP 16 (May 2011): Summary

Babbage, Ross, Australia's Strategic Edge in 2030 KP 15 (Feb 2011): Summary

Blackburn, John and Waters, Gary Waters Optimising Australia's Response to the Cyber Challenge
KP 14 (Feb 2011): Summary

Biddington, Brett; Sach, Roy Australia’s Place in Space: Toward A National Space Policy KP 13 (May 2010): Summary

Biddington, Brett Skin in the Game: Realising Australia’s National Interests in Space to 2025
KP 7 (May 2008): Summary

Behm, Allan Strategic Tides: Positioning Australia’s Security Policy to 2050 KP 6 (February 2008): Summary

Titheridge, Alan; Waters, Gary, Babbage, Ross Firepower to Win: Australian Defence Force Joint Fires in 2020 KP 5 (October 2007):  Summary

Babbage, Ross, Australia's Future Underwater Operations and System Requirements KP 4 (April 2007): Summary

Connery, David National Security Community 2020: Six Practical Recommendations for the Australian Government KP 3 (April 2007): Summary

Nicholson, Peter; Connery, David, Australia's Future Joint Strike Fighter fleet: How much is too little?
KP 2 (October 2005): Summary

Babbage, Ross, Preparing Australia's Defence for 2020: Transformation or Reform? KP 1 (October 2005): Summary

Kokoda Papers with Summaries

KP 22 (November 2018)

Cullen AM, CSC, Simon, Unmanned and Autonomous Vehicles in the Maritime Environment circa 2035: Opportunities and Challenges for the Royal Australian Navy KP22 November 2018

The Institute for Regional Security Research Paper explores the application of unmanned and autonomous vehicles in Royal Australian Navy operations circa 2035. It discusses Australia’s
security context, the rapid advancements in technology currently occurring in this field, challenges to be overcome and opportunities for operational employment. It recommends the Royal Australian Navy embrace a degree of risk in this area, form partnerships with industry and establish test and trials units for surface and sub‑surface vehicles with a view to rapidly introducing this technology into the Fleet during the coming decade.

KP 21 (November 2016)

Waters, Gary, Biddington, Brett, Valli Craig Building a Resilient Cyber Security Eco-System: National and Regional Considerations KP 21 (November 2016). 

The global economy is a complex cyber ecosystem.  The movement of goods and services across cities, nations and the world assumes secure and assured access to the internet.  Many processes are becoming automated and all manner of devices are being connected to the internet at an accelerating rate, a phenomenon known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

In March 2016 the Australian Government released its Cyber Security Strategy and this document provided important context for this IFRS study.  The study also sought to understand the implications for Australia of regional approaches to cybersecurity and the roles that Australia might play to strengthen the cyber resilience of regional nations to their benefit and to Australia’s as well.

This short report seeks to use plain English to explain concepts that have been for too long relegated by political and business leaders to technical staff who, their best efforts notwithstanding, have struggled to articulate the policy and legislative challenges that the internet, and cyberspace more generally present to national and global society.

The report, based on the individual contributions and collective judgments of a group of well-informed individuals from diverse backgrounds, makes some recommendations and suggestions that, if implemented, we think will deliver a more secure, resilient and trustworthy internet to Australia and to the region.

KP 20 (November 2014)

Biddington, Brett Girt By Sea: Understanding Australia’s Maritime Domains In A Networked World

Abstract: Against a rapidly changing region dominated by the rise of China, India and, closer to home, Indonesia, Australia’s approaches to understanding its maritime domains will be influenced by strategic factors and diplomatic judgements as well as operational imperatives.  Australia’s alliance relationship with the United States and its relationships with regional neighbours may be expected to have a profound impact on the strength of the information sharing and interoperability regimes on which so much of Australia’s maritime domain awareness depends.

The purpose of this paper is twofold.  First, it seeks to explain in plain English some of the principles, concepts and terms that maritime domain awareness practitioners grapple with on a daily basis.  Second, it points to a series of challenges that governments face in deciding how to spend scarce tax dollars to deliver a maritime domain awareness system that is necessary and sufficient for the protection and promotion of Australia’s national interests.

KP 19 (June 2014)

Waters, Gary, Blackburn AO, John Australian Defence Logistics: The Need to Enable and Equip Logistics Transformation (plus related Infographic)

This report aims to highlight to the wider Defence community the challenges faced by Defence Logisticians and the lack of priority that Defence leaders have placed on Logistics systems in the past. Its fundamental contention is that Defence will need to place greater emphasis on the Defence Logistics function if it is to meet the challenges of a more complex and challenging operating environment in the future. Given the complexity of the Logistics challenge, the report provides a high-level overview of Defence Logistics.

KP 18 (April 2014)

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) functions are essential for effective operations spanning military, border protection and law enforcement activities, as well as in strategic decision-making. These functions provide greater situational awareness and better predictive intelligence necessary for superior decision-making at all levels. ISR synchronises and integrates the planning and operation of platforms, sensors, data, and people.

The ISR process must be treated as an integrated process, moving it in complexity, speed, and effectiveness beyond the current model of inter-agency cooperation. Australia can continue its modest trajectory in improving ISR or it can drive step-change improvements that will necessitate adopting a whole-of-nation approach, achieving closer engagement with the public, accelerating the data-to-decision cycle by leveraging the benefits of Big Data and synchronising ISR capabilities.

KP 17 (Jan 2012)

Pacey, Brice Sub Judice: Australia's Future Submarine

Media Release

Since the Second World War, Australia’s strategic geography has helped insulate it from the ambitions of regional competitors and the centres of great power conflict. But the influence of geography is not static. The benefits have accrued from Australia’s membership of a dominant maritime alliance and through access to technologies that have helped maintain a capability edge in the maritime domain.

In the 21st Century, new powers are rising and deploying new asymmetrical military technologies that threaten to weaken some of the advantages of geography and technology on which Australia has traditionally relied. There are developments underway which may progressively erode the freedom of movement of Australian and allied naval forces and maritime trade.

To meet these challenges during the decades ahead, Australia will require a reinvigorated strategy and investment in force elements that are not only potent but also survivable in an increasingly complex and potentially dangerous maritime environment. Submarines and their operations will be central to any viable strategy. They may be the only force structure elements capable of persistent operations in a maritime region that is fundamental to Australia’s interests.

The purpose of this Kokoda study has been to assess how best to deliver a submarine capable of meeting a unique requirement for range, endurance and stealth, able to operate over the vast distances inherent in Australia’s strategic geography and to exploit the depth that it affords.

KP 16 (May 2011)

Pacey, Brice Under the Sea Air Gap: Australia’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Challenge

In the rapidly changing regional security environment, Anti Submarine Warfare is emerging as a national interest of the highest order. Australia’s strategic geography, while generally beneficial, exposes it disproportionately to any future undersea threat. Extended sea lines of communication and offshore resource industries, upon which so much of Australia’s wealth depends, are particularly vulnerable to any future underwater attack by either state or non-state actors. The consequences of such an attack on Australia, employing submarines or submersibles, could be catastrophic in strategic, economic and environmental terms.

This study attempts to identify issues surrounding Australia’s Anti Submarine Warfare capabilities that will require greater scrutiny in the period leading up to the 2014 Defence White Paper. The context is provided by the Australian Government’s commitment to a program of ongoing rigorous and periodic reviews of the mix and scale of Australia’s defence capabilities and their appropriateness to emerging challenges in Australia’s strategic outlook.

KP 15 (Feb 2011)

Babbage, Ross, Australia's Strategic Edge in 2030

The most fundamental changes to the security environment are being caused by the nature, scale and speed of China’s military expansion.  The report highlights how China is starting to contest the Western Allies operational sanctuary in pace, the security of their operational bases in the Western Pacific, the security of their naval vessels at sea, the security of Western Pacific airspace and the security of allies surveillance, situational awareness, logistics and other information networks.

The primary conclusions and recommendations from this study conclude that Australia does not have the option of ignoring or standing aloof from these developments.  Moreover, a ‘steady as she goes’ simple modernisation of Australia’s current national security capabilities would not be effective in balancing and offsetting the rising People’s Liberation Army and optimising Australia’s security for the medium and long-term.

KP 14 (Feb 2011)

Blackburn, John and Waters, Gary Waters Optimising Australia's Response to the Cyber Challenge

Media Release

Attorney-General Media release

The Kokoda Foundation embarked on a study of the cyber challenge faced by Australia for two reasons. First, the government’s identification of cyber security as a national security priority; and second, because of concerns that whilst the actions taken by the government and some segments of industry are highly laudable, the breadth, scale and growth rate of the threat are such that the current cyber security program is simply not sufficient.

This report examines the nature of the cyber challenge confronting Australia. It reviews how government, industry and the public are responding to the threat both individually and collectively from both a domestic and international perspective.

KP 13 (May 2010)

Biddington, Brett; Sach, Roy Australia’s Place in Space: Toward A National Space Policy

Media Release

Australia is embarking on a journey to develop, for the first time, a national space policy. This activity is not occurring in a vacuum or from a clean slate. Many policies and activities in this country make reference to space activities and are reliant on assured and secure access to space-based systems – notably for timing and navigation, communications and remote sensing data.

“Why now?” and “Why at all?” are two important questions which this report addresses as it goes about its prime purpose of suggesting what might or might not be included in a national space policy and how those points might be addressed in the policy.

This report also considers some principles which the policy drafters might consider as they set about their work. A diverse group of Australian stakeholders in and outside of government as well as Australia’s allies and neighbours will need to be convinced about the intent of the policy, as well as its implementation path, for it to succeed.

KP 12 (April 2010)

Thompson, Edwina  Smart Power: Making Australia’s Whole-Of-Government Strategy Work in Fragile States and Situations

This report considers future options for the Australian Government’s holistic response to conflict- or crisis-affected states and situations. It maps the broad challenges and commitments of the Government’s engagement in such fragile environments, reviews the obstacles to achieving effective cross-department cooperation when responding to the challenges, and proposes what needs to be done to improve the approach. Previous Kokoda Papers have dealt with the issue of how to improve Australia’s whole-of-government, and indeed whole-of-nation, responses to security; therefore this study should be read in light of those contributions.

KP 11 (January 2010)  

Pacey, Brice Australia’s Future Surface Combatants Force 2030

Force 2030, Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century, or the Defence White Paper 2009, announces the Government’s intention to acquire a new class of eight Future Frigates, to purchase up to 20 new multi-role Offshore Combatant Vessels and to consider the need for a fourth Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer. These vessels will form part of a larger force used for maintaining freedom of navigation, protecting shipping, and lifting and supporting land forces.

But the future roles for Australia’s next-generation surface combatants have been contested. At the time that the Defence White Paper 2009 was drafted the weight of professional opinion supported a continuing role for surface combatants across a broad spectrum of plausible contingencies. Nevertheless, there was recognition that the main objections relating to the utility and survivability of these vessels in the 2030-2050 timeframe would need to be examined further and in considerable detail leading up to the next Defence White paper, in 2013-14.

This study examines the influences on and options for the shape and size of Australia’s future surface combatant force in light of the capability priorities identified the Defence White Paper 2009. It is designed to contribute to thinking about these major defence investments and encourage further constructive discussion and debate.

KP 10 (August 2009)

Hurley, Erin Securing Australia’s Energy for the Future

Australia’s ability to access and exploit the resources necessary to sustain and support political sovereignty, 
the necessities of daily life and economic growth will define our Energy Security in the remainder of the 21st century. The Australian Government has identified energy security as a ‘master resource’ and a critical national security interest. There are two key issues: first, the adequacy of domestic resources and import arrangements to meet domestic energy consumption; and second, the demand for and safe transport of Australia’s energy exports to regional and international markets

This paper considers both issues with a focus on the forces that will shape Australia’s energy security for the future.

Australia’s resources and trade and her energy infrastructure, technology and environmental priorities are discussed as internal issues while the Global Energy Market and Geopolitics are examined as interrelated external influences on Australia’s energy security. The paper concludes with five recommendations. The recommendations seek to provide a path to strengthening Australia’s energy security that is defined by an integrated national security community committed to enhanced regional cooperation, reduced dependency on imports, widespread adoption of low emission sources, and policymaking for an informed public.

KP 9 (July 2009)

Schmidtchen, David The Wealth of a Nation: Preparing Australia's Human Capital for 2030

In a globally mobile and knowledge-based labour market, the stark reality for human capital is that the country needs skilled Australians more than skilled Australians need the country. The risks and challenges to Australia’s human capital have increased through exposure to globalisation, tighter economic and social networks, and dependence on technology. The solutions to Australia’s future human capital challenges will be found in a broader appreciation of the interdependencies within Australian society and the relationships across the agencies that are responsible for delivering the Australian Government’s ambitious human capital agenda.

The Australian Government is the strategic change agent driving the transformation of Australia’s human capital.

How effectively government agencies respond will determine the future growth, capability and performance of Australia’s human capital. The quantitative human capital challenge for Australia is to attract and retain sufficient skilled people in a global labour market to remain economically competitive. The qualitative challenge is to improve the overall quality of Australia’s human capital through improved outcomes in education, health and welfare.

The primary conclusions and recommendations from this study focus on driving long-term reform in the national administrative system that will deliver the Australian Government’s human capital agenda. However, similar reforms are also needed within the national security community. The study identifies the principles of the emerging ‘human capital system’ and its importance to Australia’s long-term national security.

KP 8 (May 2008)

Babbage, Ross Strategic Decision-Making: Optimising Australia’s National Security Planning and Coordination for 2015

This report is about optimising Australia’s highest level national security decision-making. It examines the workings of the National Security Committee (NSC) of the Australian Cabinet and the various other committees and arrangements that support high-level national security decision-making in Australia.

How have Australia’s highest level national security decision-making systems performed in recent years? What aspects have worked well and what have been sub-optimal? What lessons can be learnt from the

national security decision-making systems of the United States, Britain, Sweden and Singapore?

This report concludes that there are some aspects of Australia’s high-level national security decision-making system that are truly outstanding and the envy of senior officials in other countries. However, there are also aspects of National Security Committee operations and systems that are less than optimal and should be improved. Indeed, if left unattended, some current weaknesses will become much more serious problems during the coming decade.

KP 7 (May 2008)

Biddington, Brett Skin in the Game: Realising Australia’s National Interests in Space to 2025

Space is no longer the sole preserve of the national security community. Australia is dependent on foreign owned and operated satellites for basic services such as timing and navigation, communications and remote sensing. However, Australia has very little influence on the bodies that govern and regulate the peaceful use of space-based utilities. Any disruption or denial of these services will have a negative impact not only on national security but also on the economic and social well-being of the nation.

Australia has been spared the substantial costs associated with investing in the development and sustainment of national space capabilities. These investments were met largely through alliance relationships, in particular with the United States. Australia gained significant strategic and operational benefit from space-based utilities by permitting ground stations to be based on its soil. This situation is no longer sufficient.

New technologies have reduced the traditional barriers to operating satellites. An increasing number of nations and commercial bodies are developing space-based capabilities. In turn, as the competition intensifies, so the risk weapons being deployed into space also grows. In order to participate as a middle-level power in the emerging debates about space security, many of which have global implications, Australia must put ‘skin in the game’ to ensure it has a confident, credible and respected voice. This report outlines a modest investment program that will allow Australia to protect and advance its national interests in space into the future.

KP 6 (February 2008)

Behm, Allan Strategic Tides: Positioning Australia’s Security Policy to 2050

Strategic Tides is a major new study that examines Australia’s strategic prospects and the decisions that Australia will need to make.  This Kokoda Paper considers the major forces that are shaping Australia’s strategic environment and conditioning Australia’s future strategic choices. It argues that a reactive, incrementalist approach will only serve to compound complexity. The emerging economic (and population) powerhouses of China and India, the evolving nature of US power, the looming contest between the liberal values of the West and the absolutist values of radicalised Islam and the many troubles of the small nations of the Pacific are dramatically reshaping Australia’s strategic environment. Consequently, Australia’s future strategic position will be determined as much by the quality of its policy initiatives in the field of strategic security as by the effectiveness of its responses to emergent situations.

Future Australian governments will need to establish the parameters within which they can exercise their strategic options, to Australia’s strategic advantage and that of the near region. And while those parameters will need to have inbuilt flexibility and encourage agility in decision-making, there must also be clarity and agreement on those things for which Australia is willing to fight. The solution requires the disciplined development of integrated force options based on careful analysis of emergent strategic fault lines, scientific innovation that exploits technology rather than the overworked members of the ADF, capability acquisition that delivers real value for the dollars spent, partnership between government and industry that substantiates the fact that defence is a whole of nation enterprise – and, above all else, decision-making systems that are robust and quick. It requires a change in policy mindset that will create the conditions where the synergies between strategic diplomacy and decisive lethality are combined into a purposive, long-term security strategy.

KP 5 (October 2007)

Titheridge, Alan; Waters, Gary, Babbage, Ross Firepower to Win: Australian Defence Force Joint Fires in 2020

The Australian Defence Force’s future combat success will depend on an effective ‘Joint Fires’ capability. Joint Fires is demanding and complicated as it requires close inter-service coordination, is often time-sensitive, usually entails the delivery of lethal force, and its consequences can be far-reaching. Significant progress has been made in recent years in developing both an integrated system and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers to coordinate Joint Fires in forwarding locations; however, a great deal remains to be done.

This Kokoda Paper investigates the main issues that the Australian Defence Force should be considering as it develops its Joint Fires capability for 2020. This Paper recommends developing future Joint Fires as a system, leveraging an advanced synthetic environment for training and exercising, strengthening the communications network, striving for information and decision superiority, improving the adaptability and flexibility of command and control, adopting a national effects-based approach, and becoming international leaders in Joint Fires’ education and training.

KP 4 (April 2007)

Babbage, Ross, Australia's Future Underwater Operations and System Requirements

If the Australian Defence Force is to be in a position to accept the new-generation underwater capabilities when HMAS Collins phases out of service in 2025, a great deal will need to happen quickly. Most importantly, the research, studies, trials and investigations into options for the next generation of underwater systems will need to be completed within the coming three years. By late 2011, the Australian Government will need to make clear decisions about which projects will proceed during 'first pass' consideration. At the time of 'second pass' consideration in 2014-2015, the government will need to decide all primary elements of these programs, together with the key features of a rapidly-paced acquisition plan. Construction contracts would subsequently be let with the first submarine of the new class probably completing trials in 2024 and entering service in 2025.

This Kokoda Paper investigates the main issues that the Australian Government should be considering about its future underwater operations and system requirements. This paper shows that underwater forces will become even more important to Australia's security over the next twenty-to-thirty years especially as these forces develop an increasingly broader role in future military operations. Maintaining an underwater force will require a significant outlay, but continued investment in this area could provide Australia with a real advantage over those who rely on the sea, but fail to invest in forces able to protect or exploit this domain.

KP 3 (April 2007)

Connery, David National Security Community 2020: Six Practical Recommendations for the Australian Government

The Australian Government has done well to adapt its structures, instruments, processes and legislation for national security policymaking since 2001. However, more changes will be needed if the system is to remain relevant in the increasingly demanding and complex security environment of the next decade.

This Kokoda Paper - which has been developed in consultation with experts inside the Australian Government, the states, business, not-for-profit groups and academia - examines national security policymaking in Australia and proposes six recommendations to develop a 'national security community'. The recommendations include a proposal to examine the method for creating a national security strategy; changes to the division of ministerial responsibility between the Attorney General and his 'junior minister' ; a suggestion to create an operational strategy that integrates national power; measures to improve training and education for national security professionals; new 'national security outreach officers'; and a crisis coordination centre for domestic security incidents.

KP 2 (October 2005)

Nicholson, Peter; Connery, David, Australia's Future Joint Strike Fighter fleet: How much is too little?

The Australian Government is about to decide whether to spend up to A$16.5 billion dollars to purchase a fleet of Joint Strike Fighters: but there is a debate within defence circles about just how big that fleet should be. This report examines the factors that will influence the size of Australia’s air combat force, before examining what three different fighter fleets can achieve undefined and the risks that will need to be accepted with each fleet.

While force structuring is often a question of ‘how much is enough?’, this report contends that the stealth, speed, precision firepower and significant range of new information capabilities means that the main question concerning the future Joint Strike Fighter fleet will be whether the Government is buying enough of these aircraft to meet Australia‘s strategic needs.

KP 1 (October 2005)

Babbage, Ross, Preparing Australia's Defence for 2020: Transformation or Reform?
This report reveals a consensus amongst senior defence experts that many parts of the Australian Defence Organisation are under severe stress and will be unsustainable in the long term. Already some important functions are being neglected, management systems and processes have been weakened and the overall performance of the Defence Organisation away from military operational theatres has declined. This report discusses what needs to be done, and asks whether a dramatic transformation or, rather, a more gradual process of defence reform is required.


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