35th AUS-CSCAP Meeting
Thank you Professor [Jennette] Hackett for that introduction.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a pleasure to be at today’s meeting of the Australian Member Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (AUS-CSCAP).
AUS-CSCAP is an important network of some 120 security and foreign policy experts comprising Government officials, military, industry and academic representatives.
This network provides AUS-CSCAP and its participants with an opportunity to influence attitudes and debate in Australia and the region on the range of national security issues.
It is particularly appropriate that this meeting is being held at Curtin University, named after Australia’s great World War Two Prime Minister John Curtin. Curtin laid the ground work for our Alliance with the United States which continues to grow and develop to meet the strategic and security challenges we face, including in the Asia-Pacific.
Historic Shift towards Asia
In this century, the Asia-Pacific will become the world’s centre of gravity.
The rise of China is a defining element of Asia’s growing influence, but it is far from the only or whole story.
Everyone sees the rise of China but the rise of India is still underappreciated, as is the rise of the ASEAN economies combined.
The major and enduring economic strengths of Japan and South Korea also need to be acknowledged.
So must the great individual potential of Indonesia – as it emerges from a regional to a global influence.
The ongoing shift in influence is, however, not just about economics or demographics, it is also about military power.
The Asia-Pacific is home to four of the world’s major powers and five of the world’s largest militaries – the United States, Russia, China, India, and North Korea.
The implications of this historic shift continue to unfold.
Some seem to implicitly assume that the economic and strategic influence of the United States, the world’s largest economy and superpower, will somehow be rapidly eclipsed overnight as a result of the new distribution of power.
That is not Australia’s view.
In Australia’s view, the United States has underwritten stability in the Asia-Pacific for the past half century and will continue to be the single most important strategic actor in our region for the foreseeable future, both in its own right and through its network of alliances and security relationships, including with Australia.
The importance of the United States will be highlighted during the forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama, which will mark the 60th anniversary of our Alliance with the United States.
An ongoing United States presence in the Asia Pacific is essential to peace and stability in our region. Indeed as the world moves to the Asia Pacific it is even more important that there is a United States presence, indeed an enhanced presence, in our region.
These considerations have informed our discussions with the United States on the US Global Force Posture Review, which have acknowledged that our respective military forces must be able to respond in a timely and effective way to the range of contingencies that may arise in our region.
Stability in the Asia-Pacific has enabled economic and social development and prosperity, as well as the creation of a regional framework based on APEC and ASEAN.
Present and Future Challenges
With the rise of the Asia-Pacific comes a range of challenges.
Some have been with us for years. Others are more recent, non-traditional security challenges.
Our region sees a number of conventional security problems, some of which, like the Korean Peninsula, are leftovers of past conflicts. Others stem from past grievances and unresolved territorial disputes.
Amidst continuing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, we commemorated the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong earlier this year.
It was for its actions in the Battle of Kapyong that the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, was awarded a US Presidential Citation for “extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of combat duties in action” in helping stop the Chinese Communist Army’s final attempted breakthrough to Seoul.
Almost sixty years later, in November of last year, we saw the shelling of Yeonpyeong-Do Island. This followed reports of North Korea developing a sophisticated uranium enrichment program in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions and the earlier North Korean attack on the South Korean corvette Cheonan which claimed 46 lives.
These events have been deeply troubling and threaten stability on the Korean Peninsula and North Asia.
Tensions have also increased over maritime and territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas.
This has been an issue of concern throughout the region and an issue in my discussions with regional counterparts, including at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore in June, Australia United States Ministerial Consultations
(AUSMIN) in San Francisco in September, and last week at the Five Power Defence Arrangements Defence Minister’s Meeting in Singapore.
Australia reiterates our national interest, along with the international community, in freedom of navigation, the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea.
We do not take a position on the competing territorial claims in the South China Sea and call on nations to clarify and pursue their territorial claims and accompanying maritime rights in accordance with international law, including the Law of the Sea Convention.
Australia welcomes the July agreement between ASEAN and China on a set of guidelines to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
The Declaration encourages each of the parties to comply with their commitments, including exercising self-restraint and resolving their disputes through peaceful means.
This is a good starting point but more needs to be done.
We reiterate our opposition to the use of coercion or force to advance the claims of any party or interfere with legitimate economic activity.
Defence Engagement with South East Asia
The importance of the Asia Pacific for Australia’s strategic interests is reflected in our extensive and growing Defence engagement with partners in our immediate region.
There is a strong historical basis to this engagement.
In December 1941, Australian battalion group Gull Force deployed to Ambon to assist Netherland East Indies troops defend the Bay of Ambon and the airfields of Laha and Niang.
Throughout the Second World War, Australian personnel served alongside South East Asian troops, fighting in the region against advancing Japanese forces.
Australia suffered heavy casualties during campaigns in Malaya and Indonesia, and in land, sea and air operations over much of South East Asia.
Significant campaigns were also fought in Java and over 4,000 Australia personnel fought alongside Philippine troops in the Philippines campaign.
While in Singapore last week, I laid a wreath at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery (Kranji) in Singapore. Kranji Cemetery is the final resting place of over 4,000 soldiers killed during the Battle of Singapore and the subsequent Japanese occupation of the island and other parts of the region during the Second World War.
Australian troops were among the first personnel to be deployed to keep the peace under United Nations auspices when they were sent to monitor the ceasefire between the Dutch and fledgling Indonesian forces in 1947.
The relationships forged in the region during the Second World War have adapted over time in response to changing strategic circumstances and security challenges in the region.
Between 1950 and 1963, Australia contributed to the anti-communist campaign in Malaya and Singapore as part of the “Malayan Emergency”. In the 1960s during the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, Australia assisted with the response to “confrontation” or “Konfrontasi” along the Indonesian border.
In 1955, Australia provided a contingent to the newly established South East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) Headquarters in Bangkok.
In 1971, Australia joined with Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to form the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), conceived originally to provide for the defence of Malaysia and Singapore until these new states could fend for themselves.
Between 1962 and 1973, some 60,000 Australians, including ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in the Vietnam War.
In 1973, an Australian Army Infantry Company was established as Rifle Company Butterworth in Malaysia. This provided a protective and quick-reaction force to assist our regional partners during a resurgence of the Communist insurgency.
In the 1990s, Australian and South East Asian personnel served together in United Nations peacekeeping operations, including in Cambodia and Somalia.
Australia led the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) which restored security in East Timor following the 1999 post-independence ballot violence, and continues to be a major contributor to the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET). Contributions by South East Asian partners to this mission were a key to its success. Today, the Australian Defence Cooperation Program helps to prepare regional partners make contributions to UN peacekeeping missions.
As well as support during operations, Australia has a well-established program of training for Defence counterparts in our region. From the 1950s and 1960’s, military officers from Thailand and Indonesia started to attend Australian military colleges. In 1964, an Australian military officer was the first foreign student to attend the Indonesian Army staff college.
Since 1994, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has trained over 6,700 South East Asian Defence personnel in Australia. In addition, the ADF deploys Mobile Training Teams to countries in the region to deliver niche training programs and supports Defence Cooperation partners to participate in bilateral or multilateral military exercises.
Australia’s engagement with the region has adapted to the modern nontraditional security challenges faced by Australia and the region. This effort comes from across Australia’s national security and technical agencies, including the ADF.
While retaining conventional training elements, Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program in the region now focuses heavily on counter-terrorism (CT), maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The ADF has played a leading role in building the counter-terrorism capacity of regional militaries. Australia has delivered Special Forces training to counterparts in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia.
This is squarely in Australia’s national interest, the interests of our regional partners and central to promoting regional stability. We will continue to deliver CT and other military capacity building programs bilaterally, regionally and in partnership with the US.
While we build the capacity of regional partners to counter modern security challenges, Australian Defence training promotes the lifting of professional military standards, governance, accountability mechanisms and respect for human rights. It is through enhanced Defence engagement that Australia is able to promote both our security interests and our expectation that regional partners exercise respect for human rights standards. This is central to our training programs. The ADF will continue to play a leadership role on human rights in our region.
When accusations of human rights abuses are raised, Australia encourages countries in the region to investigate the allegations thoroughly and act on any evidence by prosecuting individuals suspected of committing violations. Defence also takes measures to avoid engagement with individuals who have been subject to accusations of violating human rights.
Defence engagement with Indonesia
I note that later this morning you will discuss Australia’s relationship with Indonesia. The importance of the strategic and bilateral security relationship between Australia and Indonesia was reflected with the 2006 Framework for Security Cooperation (the Lombok Treaty), which came into effect after I exchanged notes with Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr Wirajuda in Perth in February 2008.
Today, Indonesia is a key Defence and security partner for Australia. Personnel exchanges are strong, spearheaded by frequent reciprocal visits by senior military personnel and high level dialogue.
In the near future, we plan to hold with Indonesia the inaugural bilateral Defence and Foreign Ministers 2 + 2 dialogue with Indonesia. This is complemented at the officials level with the Indonesia-Australia Defence Strategic Dialogue. We also look forward to hosting a visit to Australia by the Indonesian Chief of Defence Force (Panglima TNI) later this year, the first such visit since 2007.
CT Exercises DAWN KOOKABURRA and KOMODO involve Australian and Indonesian Special Forces, are held annually in Australian and Indonesia. This year, the Australian and Indonesian navies conducted a second coordinated maritime patrol, and the Indonesia-Australia Defence Alumni Association was formed.
There has of late been some commentary on Indonesia’s Papuan provinces. President Yudhoyono recently issued two decrees setting out new policies aimed at improving the welfare of the Papuan people, including in education, health, governance and infrastructure, as well as policies for political, economic and cultural development.
While there have been some difficulties with implementing the Special Autonomy Policy, Australia has been pleased to see the security situation in the Papuan provinces improve under the Yudhoyono Administration, while noting recent reports of violence.
Australia continues to urge Indonesia to investigate thoroughly any allegations of human rights abuses and to hold perpetrators to account. Australia’s Defence training reinforces professional standards and respect for human rights.
Five Power Defence Arrangements
The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) brings together Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia and the UK and provides a framework for our Defence engagement with Singapore and Malaysia. The FPDA was established in 1971 to provide transitional security assurances for the newly formed independent states of Malaysia and Singapore. As Singapore and Malaysia’s Defence capabilities increased, the Arrangements have developed into a forum for continued multilateral Defence interaction between members.
Today, the FPDA retains conventional capabilities while also adapting to deal with modern non-convention challenges, such as counter-terrorism, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
While in Singapore and Malaysia last week for the FPDA Defence Minister’s Meeting, I met with Australian personnel participating in Exercise BERSAMA LIMA – a regular FPDA command post exercise and tactical field training exercise. This year, Australia contributed over 700 ADF personnel, eight F/A18 Hornets and a Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft as well as a naval component to the exercise.
Australia continues to enhance interoperability with Singapore Armed Forces and to engage on counter-terrorism and regional maritime security. Reflecting the maturity of Defence relations, Singapore conducts its own training activities in Australia. Currently, around 5,500 Singapore Armed Forces personnel are training at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland. Singapore also maintains a helicopter training detachment at the Army Aviation Centre in Oakey, QLD.
Similarly with Malaysia, Defence cooperation focuses on counter-terrorism and maritime security; with a continued Australian presence at Butterworth. Australia also co-chairs with Malaysia the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) Maritime Security Expert Working Group. The establishment of the ADMM-Plus offers real opportunities for practical military to military and defence to defence cooperation, including for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. The Maritime Security Expert Working Group will help foster a positive and constructive dialogue to improve maritime cooperation in the region and help address maritime security challenges as they emerge.
Other significant ASEAN partners
With Thailand, the ADF delivers education and training, including training on international law and human rights, peacekeeping and counter-terrorism activities, conducts an annual bilateral land exercise in Thailand involving Rifle Company Butterworth and personnel from the Royal Thai Army, and annual air combat and maritime exercises held in both Thailand and Australia.
ADF cooperation with the Philippines includes capacity building in counterterrorism and maritime security, along with assisting the Philippines to reform and modernize its Defence force.
Defence is increasing its strategic and practical engagement with Vietnam. This year, Defence conducted its inaugural upgraded Defence Cooperation Talks in Canberra and recently hosted a senior level Vietnamese delegation to view ADF training organisations and policy. Defence conducts professional exchanges with Vietnam and cooperation between ADF and Vietnamese Special Forces personnel will develop specialist training in peacekeeping over the next year.
ADF cooperation with Cambodia is tailored to build Cambodia’s capacity to take a more active role in regional security, including in counter-terrorism and maritime security.
India and the Indian Ocean
India’s role and place in the Asia Pacific Century continues to be under-appreciated.
In my first speech as a Minister I said Australia needed to engage more with India.
I also said that Australia and the region needed to look west as well as east.
I have also said that the Australia-India relationship is like a Twenty-20 cricket game whereas it should be more like a Test series.
That is, we need to move from a relationship of fits and starts and short bursts of enthusiasm followed by lengthy periods of inactivity to a relationship where we work with diligence, dedication, application and perseverance day in and day out to extend the partnership.
I again made these points at the opening of the new Indian Consulate in Perth in the presence of Indian Foreign Minister Krishna during CHOGM week.
India is of course the largest democracy in the world.
As India assumes the mantle of global influence accorded to it by its democratic status, growing economy and capacity, its strategic weight in the world will naturally increase.
India is now rightly making its voice heard in the corridors of regional and international fora.
India has global interests, but India’s expanding strategic role has increasingly focused on our shared Asian neighbourhood.
This is a natural progression of the imaginative and valuable ‘Look East’ policy launched by former President Narasimha Rao in the 1990s.
The critical strategic importance of the Indian Ocean is substantially underappreciated.
The countries of the Indian Ocean Rim are home to more than 2.6 billion people, almost 40 per cent of the world’s population.
The security of its waters goes to the heart of global, regional and Australian strategic interests.
The proportion of world energy supplies passing through critical transport choke points, including the Straits of Malacca, the Straits of Hormuz and the Suez Canal will increase in the coming years.
The Indian Ocean already ranks among the busiest highways for global trade. It will become a crucial global trading thoroughfare in the future. Australia and India have common interests in securing and exploiting these trading routes.
Crucial trading routes, the presence of large and growing naval capabilities, as well as transnational security issues such as piracy, drive Australia to put the Indian Ocean alongside the Pacific Ocean at the heart of our maritime strategic and defence planning.
In recognition of this imperative, Australia has joined the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), an initiative of the Indian Navy.
Australia will host the IONS Conclave of Chiefs in Perth in 2014.
India and Australia have also joined to take leadership in the region. With India the current Chair and Australia the Vice Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), we are jointly leading efforts to further develop the regional security architecture of the Indian Ocean, with a particular focus on maritime security.
After India’s two year period as Chair of IOR-ARC, Australia will then take over as Chair for a further period of two years, and Indonesia thereafter. This will give Australia, India and Indonesia a good opportunity to work together to provide leadership in our region and to develop further the role of IOR-ARC in dealing with regional challenges.
Bilateral Defence and Security Relationship with India
I am optimistic about the future of the Australia-India defence and security relationship.
In signing the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation in 2009, Australia and India affirmed our shared desire to promote regional and global security, as well as our common commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
The challenge now is to follow through.
This is why I proposed to Defence Minister Antony that Australia and India institute an Annual Defence Minister’s dialogue. I look forward to my first visit to India as Defence Minister planned for next month.
As Foreign Minister I set myself the challenge of travelling to India on an annual basis and this is a commitment I intend to carry through as Defence Minister.
Senior political engagement is important, as is the strengthening of links between our defence forces. Our Chiefs of Defence Force have instigated a regular dialogue and we have increased the seniority and frequency of the bilateral defence strategic dialogue.
In recent years, our defence forces have begun to engage in joint exercises, particularly maritime exercises. Military engagement is now occurring across the full range of activities, including ship visits, professional exchanges, and collaboration in research and development. There is much more that can, and will, be done in the fields of law enforcement and scientific and technical cooperation.
Strategic engagement has involved a number of high-level visits and ongoing strategic dialogue between Australia and India. Australia’s Chief of the Defence Force and India’s Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee commenced a formal strategic dialogue in 2008.
Inaugural Army staff talks were conducted in February last year, followed by the fifth iteration of Navy staff talks in April this year. Our Chief of Defence Force visited India in April 2010 and India’s Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee visited Australia in March this year. Inaugural Defence Policy Talks were held in India in December last year.
Each year we offer Indian Officers positions on the Australian Command and Staff Course and the Defence and Strategic Studies Course. Last year, an Indian Officer also participated in the Foreign Academy Exchange Program with the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
Australia also invites Indian Officers to undertake Joint Warfare studies, Aviation Safety, Maritime Security Cooperation and Emergency Management courses. The exchanges are two way. Australia sends Australian Defence Force personnel to the National Defence University and the Indian Staff Course in New Delhi, as well as participating in short course training opportunities.
Our service to service links are strong. Our Navy to Navy relationship continues to grow—a natural progression given our shared maritime security interests as Indian Ocean littoral states. Recent examples of this include the Indian Navy Destroyer INS Rana’s visit to Australia in June 2010. In January last year, a Royal Australian Navy vessel participated in maritime exercise MILAN in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
I will explore options with Minister Antony to further deepen the people to people links between our national security bodies when we meet in India later in the year.
The continuing rise of China is part of the defining change in the world order.
Australia is positive and optimistic about China’s emergence. Australia wants, as the Chinese would say, China to emerge into a harmonious environment or as Bob Zoellick would say to be a responsible stakeholder.
With this rise comes added strategic responsibilities for China, including the need for greater openness and transparency in relation to capabilities and strategic doctrine.
Australia has committed to developing strong and positive military and defence relations with China through dialogue and practical activities.
As part of our growing military cooperation with China, the Royal Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Warramunga conducted reciprocal visits in September last year to the Chinese ports of Qingdao and Zhanjiang. During her visit HMAS Warramunga successfully completed the first live firing exercise of its kind with the Chinese Navy off the coast of China. HMAS Warramunga also conducted joint helicopter operations, search and rescue drills and personnel exchanges.
As HMAS Warramunga’s Commanding Officer Commander Legge said at the time, “There is nothing more effective than working closely together in a military exercise to build trust and friendship between Navies and nations.”
At the same time, two PLA-Navy ships, the training ship Zhenghe and frigate Mianyang, conducted reciprocal visits to Sydney and Darwin. In a historic first, the PLA Navy extended an invitation for two Australian Midshipmen from the Australian Defence Force Academy to join the training ship Zhenghe on her journey from Auckland to Sydney.
In December last year, the Secretary of our Department of Defence and our Chief of the Defence Force held the 13th Defence Strategic Dialogue with the Chief of the General Staff of the PLA, General Chen Bingde, in Nantong in China.
This followed the 2010 visit to Australia by General Guo Boxiong, China’s most senior uniformed military officer.
Earlier this week, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the PLA General Ma Xiaotian co-chaired the 14th annual Australia-China Defence Strategic Dialogue with the Vice Chief of Defence Force and Deputy Secretary Strategy at HMAS Watson in Sydney.
Australia values these senior visits and exchanges and the opportunity to have frank and open conversations in issues of mutual concern and to exchange views on areas of common interest.
Indeed, at AUSMIN, Australia and the United States agreed