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Doctrine, Strategy and Military Culture

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Chapter 2

The Decade of Uncertainty: Strategic Policy Developments and Operational Undertakings, 1987-1997

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, followed promptly by the Gulf War, combined to render 1989 to 1991 a period of profound change within the international system. Yet for Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as smaller powers, the year 1987 was arguably more significant from a strategic policy perspective. In all three countries, policy was shaped by the release of Defence White Papers that, although starkly different in the policy directions they set and the context in which they were written, were nonetheless similar in that they promised to establish a new strategic direction. It is with the release of these White Papers that the period examined by this study begins.

These documents, however, were not developed in a political and strategic vacuum. Hence, the analysis in this chapter begins with an overview of the key ongoing strategic policy themes that influenced the development of the Australian, Canadian and New Zealand Defence White Papers published in 1987. Then, following a brief examination of the strategies detailed within the White Papers, the remainder of the discussion in this chapter is divided into two sections: the first examining strategic policy developments and operational undertakings in Australia, Canada and New Zealand from 1987 to 1992 and the second examining the period 1992 to 1997. By focusing particularly on strategic policy and military operations, this discussion establishes the developments that occurred in two of the key areas that influenced doctrine writing in all three countries throughout this period. Of equal importance, this discussion also provides an overview of the broader political context in which doctrine development occurred during this period. In conclusion, the key factors shaping this political context are made explicit, and it can be seen that strategic uncertainty was a key feature of the period.

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Strategic Policy Themes Prior to 1987

For Australia and New Zealand, the conclusion of the Vietnam War ushered in the end of what had been an era of strategic policy stability in the face of regional instability. Prior to the early 1970s, Southeast Asia had been at the forefront of the cold war for over two decades, beginning with the communist victory in the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Footnote 1 Subsequently, several wars were waged by Western powers with the aim of preventing the spread of communism within the region, all involving Australian and New Zealand military contributions. Footnote 2 Furthermore, Indonesian foreign policy went through a period of Konfrontasi in the late 1960s, which posed a security threat to Australia in particular, with broader ramifications for New Zealand. Footnote 3 This, coupled with the period of rule by Sukarno (during which there was the possibility that Indonesia could fall under communist control), fostered a widespread feeling of insecurity in Australia and New Zealand. Footnote 4 Finally, fears over the prospects of an expansionist Chinese foreign policy grew in Canberra and Wellington during the 1950s and intensified further following the Chinese nuclear tests in 1960s. Footnote 5 Although this fear had largely dissipated by the end of the decade, it created yet another challenge for defence planners in the interim. Footnote 6

To address this plethora of security challenges, Australia and New Zealand embraced a strategy of “forward defence” in the early 1950s. Essentially, this strategy focused on neutralizing threats to national security before they reached the shores of either country. To ensure this occurred, both countries pursued a dual-policy approach, dispatching military forces to fight in regional conflicts while carefully nurturing their alliance relationships with Britain and the US in the expectation that these allies would provide defence assistance if the national survival of either country was directly threatened. Footnote 7

By the early 1970s, however, the forward defence strategy was becoming increasingly unpopular in both countries, and anti-Vietnam War movements led many ordinary citizens to question its utility. Yet, it was international events that ultimately rendered forward defence unfeasible. The first of these events was the announcement by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1968 that Britain was withdrawing its military forces from “East of Suez.” Footnote 8 This was followed in 1969 by America’s adoption of the “Guam Doctrine,” which ended the automatic guarantee of American military assistance to its Southeast Asian allies. Footnote 9 Within the space of only two years, two of the fundamental pillars upon which Australian and New Zealand security policy had long been built had disintegrated, necessitating a strategic policy shift in both countries.

In Australia, the McMahon Government’s March 1972 Defence White Paper (the Australian Defence Review) was the first widely circulated official document to acknowledge the British and American strategic policy shifts. In declaring that Australia “should not allow its expectation of external support for its defence … to overshadow its obligations to assume, within the limits of its resources, the primary responsibility for its own conventional defence,” Footnote 10 the Australian Defence Review heralded the beginning of a policy shift towards defence “self-reliance.” Footnote 11 Despite this shift, the Review did not totally abandon Australia’s forward defence strategy, outlining where Australian forces may have been required to deploy overseas, most notably in support of Papua New Guinean interests prior to its 1975 independence (though ultimately forces were not required). Footnote 12

It was not until the election of the Whitlam Government in December 1972 (Australia’s first Labor government in 23 years) that a number of radical defence reforms occurred, at a pace some found alarming. Within months of taking office, the Whitlam Government had ended Australian involvement in the Vietnam War; abolished conscription; arranged for the Australian garrison to be withdrawn from Singapore; and officially recognized the Communist government in Beijing, ending any lingering fears about an immediate Chinese security threat to Australia. Footnote 13 Shortly afterward, Australia’s five autonomous (and competitive) government departments that had previously been responsible for formulating and implementing defence policy were amalgamated into a single Department of Defence (DOD). Footnote 14

More radical, however, was the ideological shift away from forward defence that underlay these reforms. Immediately upon entering office, the Whitlam Government adopted a policy of “continental defence,” focusing exclusively on the direct protection of the Australian continent, while substantially furthering the shift towards self-reliance. Footnote 15 This policy shift was officially expressed in the 1976 Defence White Paper (Australian Defence), Footnote 16 although, importantly, Australian Defence was not released until after the sacking of the Whitlam Government and the entry into office of the Liberal (conservative) Fraser Government. Owing largely to the ideological gap between the Whitlam and Fraser Governments, the Fraser Government never fully came to terms with the strategy espoused in the 1976 White Paper. Footnote 17 Instead, defence policy under the Fraser Government underwent what David Lee has described as a “return to the rhetoric, if not the substance, of forward defence.” Footnote 18

In order to justify its rhetoric, throughout its time in office, the Fraser Government often cited what it perceived as a growing “Soviet threat” to Australian security.. Footnote 19 At the same time, however, the defence concerns underlying this rhetoric were not substantial enough to warrant an increase in defence spending, let alone a major review of the national defence strategy. As a result, Australian defence practice under Fraser moved further towards continental defence, if only because ongoing budget cuts first imposed by the Whitlam Government (which were continued by the Fraser Government) had resulted in a substantial degradation of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF’s) ability to deploy forces overseas and, for those forces that could be deployed, sustain them once they were there. Footnote 20

As was the case in Australia, there had been growing public objection in New Zealand to the forward defence strategy. By the early 1970s, the key justifications underlying New Zealand’s adoption of the strategy—the threats posed by communist forces in Indonesia and Malaysia—had vanished. New Zealand, like Australia, experienced a change of government from National Party (conservative) to Labour in 1972. Unlike its Australian counterpart, the incoming Kirk Government found it advantageous to maintain several elements of the forward defence strategy despite its increasing unpopularity.

The Kirk Government’s motives, however, were not necessarily based on national security but rather on the diplomatic and economic benefits New Zealand received as an indirect result of its ongoing overseas military engagement. The New Zealand infantry battalion garrisoned in Singapore, for example, remained there until 1989, despite the British and Australian withdrawals from Singapore that rendered it strategically irrelevant in the early 1970s. This was partly because housing the garrison in New Zealand would have been far more expensive, partly because of the positive effect the prospect of overseas travel had on recruiting, and also because of the diplomatic goodwill generated by the garrison’s participation in multinational exercises with New Zealand’s Southeast Asian allies, particularly Malaysia and Singapore. Footnote 21

The Kirk Government also continued New Zealand’s participation in the Five Power Defence Agreement (FPDA) between Australia, Britain, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore, which had been entered into by the National Party government in 1971 in an attempt to ensure that Singapore and Malaysia remained part of the Western alliance structure and that a nominal British presence was maintained in the region. Footnote 22 Again, the Kirk Government’s decision was motivated by diplomatic rather than strategic concerns—New Zealand’s military contribution to the annual exercises (held as a condition of the Agreement) provided a convenient display of solidarity that could be cited whenever New Zealand’s relationship with Singapore and Malaysia required it. Footnote 23 In light of these benefits, the New Zealand Defence Force remained configured for forward defence despite the absence of a major threat and popular domestic sentiment against the strategy.

Following the return of the National Party to power in 1975, the focus of New Zealand’s forward defence strategy shifted to the South Pacific, driven by concerns over the internal stability of New Zealand’s northern neighbours. The National government also maintained New Zealand’s broader alliance policies, expanding New Zealand’s contribution to FPDA exercises in 1981 to include an army component (prior contributions had been made almost exclusively by the Royal New Zealand Air Force [RNZAF]). Footnote 24

Under Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, New Zealand also continued to contribute to combined military exercises with the US. In return for ongoing American participation in the ANZUS alliance, Australia maintained several combined facilities with the US military; New Zealand “upheld its end of the bargain” primarily by providing port access to US naval vessels on request. Footnote 25 It was this policy that became the growing focus for opponents of forward defence.

Opposition to forward defence had remained popular in New Zealand throughout the 1970s. In the early 1980s, this opposition underwent something of a rebirth, shifting its focus away from forward defence in its entirety and towards one element of the policy in particular: the conditions of New Zealand’s participation in the ANZUS alliance. Largely, this rebirth was a response to the Reagan Administration’s hard-line anti-communist stance, which many in New Zealand saw as a greater threat to global security than the Soviet Union. In this regard, something of a paradox developed. While a majority of New Zealanders remained in favour of the alliance, an increasing number also felt that the benefits derived from New Zealand’s participation in ANZUS were not substantial enough to justify its contributions. Over time, one contribution in particular became the focal point of broader objection to the policy: the use of New Zealand’s ports by nuclear- armed and/or powered US warships. Footnote 26 The reason for this focus was simple enough. The growing public perception within New Zealand was that the presence of nuclear weapons in the South Pacific had a destabilizing impact on regional security.

Throughout the early 1980s, protests against US foreign policy and the docking of US warships in New Zealand’s ports grew in size and frequency. The election of the Lange Labour government in 1984 was the catalyst that brought events to a head (one of the Labour Party’s election platforms had been its anti-nuclear stance). Following an ANZUS exercise in the Tasman early in 1985, the US requested permission for the United States Ship (USS) Buchanan, a warship capable of carrying nuclear weapons, to dock in a New Zealand port. The Lange Government responded to the US request by declaring that docking rights would only be granted if the Buchanan was not armed with nuclear weapons. In line with its “neither-confirm-nor-deny” policy, Washington refused to declare if the Buchanan was armed with nuclear weapons. In response, the Lange Government denied the US docking request, prompting the US State Department to warn that “New Zealand’s action would not be ‘cost-free.’” Footnote 27 What followed became known as the “ANZUS Crisis.”

In summary, the ANZUS Crisis involved three years of diplomacy and negotiations on the part of Australia, New Zealand and the US in an ultimately futile attempt to maintain the ANZUS Treaty. Footnote 28 More importantly for New Zealand’s defence policy than the crisis itself, however, was its ramifications. By the late 1980s, the US had effectively severed its ANZUS connections with New Zealand, opting instead for the continuation of a bilateral defence relationship with Australia (loosely under the ongoing label of ANZUS). Footnote 29 New Zealand, having lost the defence connection with the second of its great and powerful friends, was forced to re-evaluate its entire defence policy.

In contrast to Australia and New Zealand, Canada’s geography and strategic focus on Europe meant that the British East-of-Suez withdrawal and the US Guam Doctrine had little, if any, impact in Ottawa. Furthermore, the Canadian military never fought in the Vietnam War; Footnote 30 hence, the war’s fallout was far less significant in Canada than it was in Australia and New Zealand. Whereas the populations of those countries became embroiled in divisive debate over strategic policy as a result of their participation in the Vietnam War, many Canadians grew increasingly apathetic towards their military and strategic policy during the same period. Canadian forces stationed in faraway Europe or manning radar stations in the country’s sparsely-populated north remained “out of sight, out of mind” to most Canadians. Footnote 31 As a result, Canada’s armed forces, among the best resourced and equipped in the world in the early 1950s, had by the late 1960s become largely run-down, with much of their equipment in a state of obsolescence.

The most significant strategic policy shift in Canada during this period was the 1968 decision to unify the RCN, Canadian Army and RCAF into a single service—the Canadian Forces. Driven by Liberal Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s ambitious Defence Minister, Paul Hellyer, the unification of Canada’s armed forces has often been written off by defence commentators as a mere cost-cutting measure. Footnote 32 While cost cutting was undoubtedly one motive underlying the decision to unify the CF, the decision appears to have also been an early attempt to create what would today be referred to as “jointery” within the CF. As R. J. Clark observed:

In many respects, it was an insightful first step in the direction of joint command and control at the national strategic level, a concept that was well ahead of its time …. [H]istory has now shown that this idea of strategic joint command of individual services has taken root amongst most [W]estern militaries …. Unification into a single service, however, has remained a uniquely Canadian experiment. Footnote 33


Unfortunately, unification did not result in the creation of a dynamic “joint” force decades ahead of its time. On the contrary, the experiment failed for several reasons. Objections arose on the grounds that the decision would ruin the long-standing traditions of each of the individual services, and the creation of a single uniform soon came to symbolize the cause of these objections. Footnote 34 Several senior officers from all three services resigned in protest, and as a result, the professionalism of the CF suffered. Furthermore, the six new “commands” that took the place of the three services—Mobile Command, Maritime Command, Air Defence Command, Air Transport Command, Training Command and Material Command—took time to implement, required substantial financial investment, and were not any more conducive to cooperation or jointery than the three individual services they replaced. Indeed, the new commands did little to abolish pre-existing service rivalries, and by the mid-1970s, it was clear that distinct army, navy and air force cultures had survived in Mobile, Maritime and Air Commands respectively. Footnote 35

Under the leadership of Pierre Trudeau, who assumed the prime ministership in 1968 (within months of unification), things only became worse for the CF. Defence budgets were continually tightened and major, often urgent, equipment purchases were frequently deferred during his 16-year tenure as prime minister. Footnote 36 In order to cut costs, on taking office one of Trudeau’s first reforms dealt with Canada’s contribution to NATO. In essence, he halved the number of Canadian personnel stationed in Europe and shifted the remaining forces from a front-line role to what was effectively a reserve role. Footnote 37

This reform was then retrospectively justified by the publication of the 1971 Defence White Paper (Defence in the 70s). The White Paper set four defence priorities for Canada, in a descending order: the protection of national sovereignty, the defence of North America (in cooperation with the US), the contribution of forces to NATO, and contributing to international peacekeeping missions. Footnote 38 This order of priority was rapidly upturned, as Canadian involvement in NATO became “the government’s ‘de facto [sic] top defense priority.’” Footnote 39 Peacekeeping, which was popular among the Canadian public, also received more attention than the priority the 1971 White Paper accorded it. Footnote 40 Yet, without budgets that reflected the priorities set by the White Paper, exacerbated by the lack of a strategic policy update as the years passed and priorities changed (a subsequent White Paper was not released until 1987), the CF was forced to rely on overstretched resources and improvised military strategies to fulfil its obligations.

As time went by, however, the CF began to recover from the setbacks suffered as a result of unification and the associated reforms. By the late 1970s, it had again become politically acceptable to refer to the personnel attached to Mobile, Maritime or Air Commands as “army,” “navy” and “air force.” In 1985, the Mulroney (Progressive Conservative) Government, elected the previous year, reintroduced separate uniforms for the three services, although they were modelled on American rather than the pre-unification British designs. And, above all, for personnel recruited after 1968, the morale-crushing effect of unification was something of a non-issue. By the late 1980s, most personnel had not served before unification and did not lament the days of visibly separate services. Footnote 41 What is more noteworthy, therefore, is that the neglect of the CF continued throughout the cold war despite this reintroduction of a limited separation of the three services. As a result, the 1970s and early 1980s are remembered in Canadian military circles similarly to how they are in Australian military circles—as a period marked by heavy budget cuts and the degradation of capabilities.

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Proclaiming New Agendas: The 1987 Defence White Papers

The year 1987 was significant for Australia, Canada and New Zealand as it constituted the beginning of a period of strategic refocus, commencing in all three countries with the release of a Defence White Paper.

In 1985, the Australian Minister for Defence, Kim Beazley, commissioned Paul Dibb, a former public servant within the DOD, to undertake a broad assessment of Australia’s defence situation. His report, Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities, but more commonly referred to as “the Dibb Report,” was delivered in March 1986. It set forth a number of recommendations for the conduct of Australian defence and went on to form the basis of the 1987 Defence White Paper (The Defence of Australia 1987).

Primarily, Dibb’s recommendations stemmed from his assessment of Australia’s security situation. Beginning with the statement “Australia is one of the most secure countries in the world,” the Dibb Report went on to assert that “Australia faces no identifiable direct military threat and there is every prospect that our favourable security circumstances will continue. … It would take at least 10 years and massive external support for the development of a regional capacity to threaten us with substantial assault.” Footnote 42 Furthermore, the report recommended that “there is no need for Australia to become involved in the United States contingency planning for global war,” concluding that combined Australian-US defence facilities, and continued access to Australian ports and airfields by US ships and warplanes, was a sufficient Australian contribution to maintain the US alliance. Footnote 43

In light of this strategic situation, the Dibb Report recommended continuing the policy of self-reliance and proposed Australian defence policy opt for a “strategy of denial,” in essence a new variant on the continental defence strategy. Footnote 44 At its core, the strategy of denial emphasized that “our most important defence planning concern is to ensure that an enemy would have substantial difficulty in crossing the sea and air gap [to Australia’s north]. … To the extent that lesser enemy forces might land we will need highly mobile land forces capable of dispersed operations and having the ability to protect … the north of the continent.” Footnote 45 In March 1987, a year after the publication of the Dibb Report, Beazley presented the 1987 White Paper to Parliament. The strategy it espoused aligned almost identically with the Dibb Report’s recommendations. Footnote 46

In Canada, the 1987 Defence White Paper (Challenge and Commitment: A Defence Policy for Canada) did not establish any new strategic goals despite the 16-year hiatus since the release of its predecessor. Instead, it reprioritized strategic goals in order to bring strategic and procurement policy into alignment with practice. Hence, Challenge and Commitment renewed the Canadian Forces’ commitment to NATO, to the protection of North America as well as to Canada’s own territorial sovereignty, and to peacekeeping, in that order of priority. Footnote 47

Beyond strategic priorities, the White Paper nonetheless signalled some substantial policy shifts. Emphasizing the severity of the Soviet threat, it was largely reflective of the prevailing strategic environment (namely the rhetoric of the Reagan administration, the end of détente and the renewal of cold war tensions) and the election promises made by the Progressive Conservatives prior to their election victory in 1984. Especially noteworthy was that Challenge and Commitment proposed some tentative solutions to address the effects of the neglect the CF had suffered over the past 16 years—what it described as “the commitment-capability gap.” Footnote 48 This included an ongoing increase in the defence budget of two per cent per year after inflation, a boost in troop numbers and new equipment, including main battle tanks, fighter aircraft and (almost fantastically, given financial constraints and the small size of Canada’s navy) nuclear-powered attack submarines. Canada’s NATO contingent was also to be substantially reinforced, and most of its equipment updated. Footnote 49

Meanwhile, the late 1980s saw New Zealand busily (and quickly) re-evaluating its defence policy in the wake of the ANZUS Crisis. The first step in this process was the release in 1985 of The Defence Question: A Discussion Paper. In addition to calling for public submissions, the paper established a “Committee of Enquiry on the Future of New Zealand Strategic and Security Policies” and outlined seven areas of general enquiry. Among these, the paper mused over what “kinds of defence policies [were] appropriate to New Zealand’s stance and geographical position,” and “the importance we attach to defence cooperation in the context of our inter-relationships with Australia, our partners in the South Pacific, and others.” Footnote 50

Defence of New Zealand: Review of Defence Policy 1987); the White Paper is often referred to as “the Defence Review.” Like Australia’s 1987 White Paper, it acknowledged that “New Zealand is not threatened by invasion or large-scale attack, and no likelihood of such an attack is foreseen in the next decade.” Footnote 51 The White Paper did, however, identify several threats “which may evolve over the next decade,” including interference with trade routes and harassment of merchant shipping to or from New Zealand. Footnote 52

Regarding the ANZUS Crisis, the White Paper stated that “defence planning must proceed in recognition of the reality that, between the United States and New Zealand, ANZUS is ‘inoperative.’” Footnote 53 In place of the ANZUS alliance, the White Paper focused on New Zealand’s alliance relationship with Australia and its security role in the South Pacific. This was accompanied by a policy shift towards a greater level of self-reliance. Overall, the White Paper signalled a major shift in New Zealand’s defence policy: “For the first time we have adopted in formal policy terms the concept that New Zealand armed forces will have a capacity to operate independently, although more probably in concert with Australia, to counter low-level contingencies in our region of direct strategic concern.” Footnote 54

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Ignoring Agendas or Just Coping with Change? 1987-1992

As had been the case earlier in their strategic policy history, Australia and New Zealand’s geographic remoteness from Europe—the main theatre of the cold war in the late 1980s—meant that their strategic policy was not substantially influenced by the turbulent events of that period. Canada, on the other hand, was heavily and immediately influenced by the course of European events, especially given the priority its 1987 Defence White Paper had accorded to NATO defence in Europe. So rapid was the change in Canada’s strategic circumstances in the years following the release of the 1987 Defence White Paper that even the need to station troops in Europe had come under question by the end of the 1980s, although the emergence of this debate was by no means exclusively Canadian. Footnote 55

Furthermore, rapidly shifting European strategic circumstances were compounded by Canada’s spiralling national debt, which was a rapidly growing public concern by the late 1980s. The result was that the equipment updates promised in the 1987 Defence White Paper (itself rendered redundant within two years of its release by the changing strategic circumstances) were easy prey in a time of increasing budget consciousness. Indeed, the 1989 budget was the death knell for most of the equipment purchases promised within the 1987 White Paper, including Canada’s new submarines, main battle tanks and fighter aircraft. Footnote 56 For the CF, the immediate result of the cancellation was a major blow to morale, which had been temporarily boosted by the prospect of finally receiving a much-needed equipment update following two decades of neglect. Far more serious, however, was the prospect that the CF would be required to continue to operate with obsolete equipment.

Despite Canada’s newfound strategic aimlessness and ongoing defence budget cuts, operational demands on the CF increased in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Commitments to peacekeeping, widely popular in Canada since the 1956 Suez Crisis, had been cemented even deeper within the national consciousness as a result of the awarding of the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize to all UN peacekeepers. In honour of this event, a National Peacekeeping Memorial was built in Ottawa. As Granatstein asserted, “Canadians seemed unanimously to believe that the prize was really theirs.” Footnote 57 Over the next few years, the Canadian government seemed to develop an inability to refuse requests to contribute to the ever-expanding array of UN-led peacekeeping missions. In 1988, there were 13 UN peacekeeping missions. The CF contributed to all of them to one extent or another. By 1992, the number of missions had increased to 18. Footnote 58

However, peacekeeping was not the only type of operation the CF was required to conduct during this period, and in 1990-91, two very different operations (to both peacekeeping and each other) further stretched the CF’s limited resources. The first of these was the Canadian contribution to the Gulf War, which involved the deployment of 2,500 personnel. The most significant Canadian contributions to the war were made by CF18s, which flew sorties against Iraqi targets, and by a Canadian naval task force that contributed to the blockade of Iraq. Footnote 59 The second operation involved the provision of military aid to the civil power. Following a shootout at Oka between police and a heavily armed group of self-described “Mohawk warriors,” which resulted in the death of a police officer, the CF was mobilized by the Sureté du Quebec. Even more so than during the deployment to the Gulf War, this deployment required a high level of military professionalism and media management to be successful. The CF delivered, and the incident was ended without bloodshed, largely due to the discipline of the Canadian soldiers involved. Footnote 60 Nonetheless, the incident tied up CF resources for several weeks and further drained the already deficient defence budget.

In light of the changed strategic circumstances, fiscal restraints and Canada’s increasing operational tempo, there was soon talk of another Defence White Paper. It was, however, to no avail. In April 1991, the Toronto Star reported that “completion of the White Paper has been repeatedly postponed because of the rapidly changing East-West security situation [and] the Persian Gulf War.” Footnote 61 Academic discourse during this period did little to speed a return to stability. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, scholars had begun questioning almost every facet of Canada’s surviving cold war defence policies, including the future of NATO itself. Footnote 62 Shortly thereafter, the nature and future of the entire international system came into question. Footnote 63 The swift allied victory in the Gulf War soon added an additional dimension to the discourse, as defence commentators began talking about a technology-driven (and therefore high cost) RMA. Footnote 64

Instead of releasing a new White Paper, the government announced a “new framework” for Canadian defence in September 1991. In April 1992, a defence policy statement (DPS) was released to expand upon the framework. Titled Canadian Defence Policy 1992, the statement was similar to a White Paper. It was, however, less detailed and, importantly, appears to have been designed to allow greater flexibility in the application of its agenda without leaving the government open to criticism. Footnote 65 Signalling a major policy shift, the statement announced that the CF would be withdrawn from Europe within two years. It also announced that the strength of the regular component of the CF would be reduced from 84,000 to 75,000 by 1995-96 (offset to an extent by an expansion of the reserve element of the force). Footnote 66 Beyond this, the statement could do little but acknowledge Canada’s ongoing strategic uncertainty.

For Australia, the ramifications of the end of the cold war were comparatively minor. Australia’s Strategic Planning in the 1990s (ASP90), endorsed by the government in November 1989, noted that “[r]elations between the US and the Soviet Union are changing dramatically,” and that “East-West tensions may decline in a lasting way.” Footnote 67 Beyond this, however, there was little focus on the East-West relationship. The ASP90, instead, focused on regional developments and, in conclusion, justified the government’s decision to continue its policy of “self reliance” and the “strategy of denial.”

Despite the rhetoric, the late 1980s were characterized by a growing rift between Australian defence policy and practice. As Graeme Cheeseman has observed, by the end of 1987, Australia had already begun to drift slowly back towards a limited form of forward defence:

The first indication that the government was moving back towards a more regionally oriented defence posture occurred on 20 February 1987. In a speech to Parliament on Australia’s proposed defence initiatives in the South Pacific, Defence Minister Beazley announced that his government was “concerned to explore and develop the opportunities for defence cooperation among our island neighbours” and “to give them the same priority we give to our much older and more substantial defence relations … with the nations of South East Asia.” Footnote 68

This slide back towards an unacknowledged (publicly at least) regional forward defence strategy was soon destined to make the continental defence strategy promulgated in the 1987 White Paper redundant.

Initially, it was claimed that the motive behind this unofficial policy shift was concern over renewed Soviet interest in the Pacific. Footnote 69 It quickly became apparent, however, that any such concerns were relatively minor. Rather, disquiet over domestic developments within several Pacific countries was the primary cause of the shift. In May 1987, for example, a small naval task force along with a rifle company was deployed to Fijian waters following a military coup. However, the situation stabilized within days, and the force promptly returned to Australia with the rifle company never having been disembarked. A subsequent evaluation of the operation identified a number of equipment and training shortfalls within the ADF and made a number of recommendations for changes to its structure to better allow it to conduct regional missions. Footnote 70

In December 1989, Foreign Minister Gareth Evans released a ministerial statement asserting that Australia was now prepared to intervene militarily in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries. Footnote 71 In 1991, Force Structure Review made the strategic policy shift official. In addition to confirming the objectives set in the 1987 Defence White Paper, it added an additional task to be undertaken by the ADF: the provision of military assistance to countries in the South Pacific should they request it. Footnote 72 Henceforth, the ADF would be required to implement a dual strategy of denial and limited forward defence, although it was not given a funding increase to match the broad variety of tasks that might consequently have been required of it.

As it turned out, the ADF was not required to undertake many operations during this period. The end of the Vietnam War in 1972 had brought about what is remembered in Australian defence circles (particularly within the Army) as “the long peace.” During the long peace, the ADF conducted very few operations, most of which were tokenistic contributions to UN peacekeeping missions. Although not truly over until the deployment to East Timor in 1999, the long peace receded somewhat in the late 1980s, beginning with the deployment of a contingent of Royal Australian Engineers to Namibia in April 1989 (subsequently withdrawn a year later). This was followed by the deployment of RAN ships to the Persian Gulf in August 1990 to participate in the blockade of Iraq (Australia’s contribution to the Gulf War) and the deployment of 500 ADF personnel to Cambodia in 1991. Footnote 73

Despite the comparative dearth of Australian operations, detrimental effects resulting from a significant funding shortage were common to both the ADF and the CF during this period. In Australia’s case, the 1987 Defence White Paper had not provided any details about the costs of the acquisition proposals contained within it. Instead, it was commonly assumed that the figures contained within the Dibb Report, which called for a 3.1 per cent growth in the defence budget in real terms from 1986 to 1991, were an accurate account of spending requirements. Footnote 74 As it transpired, the Australian defence budgets during this period left the ADF $AU3 billion short of reaching Dibb’s goal. Consequently, the DOD and ADF were forced to close the acquisitions funding gap by “diverting resources from the other ‘softer’ areas of the defence budget—primarily personnel and operating costs … or deferring or cancelling certain smaller projects.” Footnote 75 Although not as rundown as the CF, the ADF also entered the 1990s grossly underfunded and with much of its equipment in a state of obsolescence.

For New Zealand, the effects of the ANZUS Crisis continued to be the cause of ongoing strategic uncertainty during the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was despite the policy shift detailed in the 1987 Defence White Paper, the release of which had been followed by much discussion; drawing on this, New Zealand’s 1991 Defence White Paper (The Defence of New Zealand 1991: A Policy Paper) presented a substantial refinement of the defence policy shift first outlined in 1987. New Zealand was to continue a forward defence strategy within the South Pacific despite the loss of its American ally (although the White Paper labelled this “greater self-reliance” rather than forward defence, which it defined as including the permanent stationing of forces abroad). Footnote 76 Rather than relying on America, the 1991 White Paper instead shifted New Zealand towards Australia and broader coalition operations:

[New Zealand’s core defence strategy is] self reliance [sic] in partnership: to protect the sovereignty and advance the well-being of New Zealand by maintaining a level of armed forces sufficient to deal with small contingencies affecting New Zealand and its region, and capable of contributing to collective efforts where our wider interests are involved. Footnote 77

However, owing to a change of government in 1990 that saw the National Party under the leadership of Jim Bolger oust Labour, the goal of re-establishing New Zealand’s defence ties with the US had also been included in the White Paper. Footnote 78

Despite this, New Zealand’s strategic policy was nonetheless more closely aligned with operational realities and capabilities than Australia’s or Canada’s during the same period. By the late 1980s, although much of New Zealand’s military equipment was aging and the country’s defence expenditure had been cut, underfunding was not yet as bad in New Zealand as it was in Australia and Canada. When New Zealand responded to the 1987 coup in Fiji by dispatching naval vessels to Fijian waters, it did not encounter the same difficulties Australia did, albeit that this may have been due to New Zealand’s response being substantially smaller in scale. Footnote 79 New Zealand’s strategy of greater self-reliance was well-defined (if inaccurately named) and suited the country’s circumstances. As a result, New Zealand did not suffer from the same strategic policy duality that Australia did during this period.

What the deployment to Fiji did reveal was the lack of an apparatus for operational coordination between Australia and New Zealand. Given the emphasis New Zealand’s strategic policy was now placing on its alliance with Australia, this revelation was deeply worrying in Wellington (and somewhat perturbing in Canberra). The situation was quickly rectified, and when riots occurred in Vanuatu in 1988, Australia and New Zealand had a coordinated plan in place for the possible evacuation of their nationals, although on that occasion implementing the plan turned out to be unnecessary. Footnote 80 Moves towards Australian and New Zealand defence cooperation continued rapidly, and in 1991, the overhaul was labelled “Closer Defence Relations” (CDR). Under the rubric of CDR, Australia and New Zealand continued to act to enhance their interoperability across all three services, to the extent that the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) began to prepare to participate in the continental defence of Australia in addition to pursuing New Zealand’s own strategic interests. Footnote 81

However, the relationship with Australia was not the only one New Zealand pursued, even if it was by far of the highest priority. In addition to fostering relationships with South Pacific countries, New Zealand, like Australia and to an even greater extent Canada, prided itself on its participation in UN peacekeeping operations. As with Australia, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, New Zealand dispatched contingents to Namibia and Cambodia as well as sending a frigate to the Persian Gulf in 1990 as a display of support for the Gulf War coalition. Footnote 82 Owing to the smaller size of the NZDF, these deployments meant it was operating at a higher tempo than the ADF during this period.

In 1991, the Bolger Government cut the defence budget by 10 per cent in real terms. This was, to an extent, justified by the 1991 Defence White Paper, which in light of the lack of an identifiable threat to New Zealand had determined that the country required only a “credible minimum” defence force. The White Paper did not, however, define exactly what a credible minimum was, leaving the matter open to much debate. Furthermore, the 1991 budget established a trend that was to continue into the mid-1990s: between 1990 and 1994, New Zealand’s defence spending fell by 23 per cent overall. Footnote 83 Over the same period, personnel numbers fell from 12,400 to 10,000, and a further 770 civilian staff were also downsized. Footnote 84 Aside from this reduction, a few base closures and a decline in the number of annual training exercises, the NZDF initially weathered the cuts fairly well, especially since virtually overnight it had found itself suffering from the same budgetary constraints as the ADF and CF. As James Rolfe noted, “there seems to have been little reduction in defence outputs to show where savings had been made. Instead, it seems that there are greater efficiencies within the system to compensate for reduced allocations.” Footnote 85

Table of Contents

Responding to Ongoing Uncertainty, 1992-1997

As the above discussion reveals, there were many similarities between Australian, Canadian and New Zealand strategic policy and operational undertakings between 1987 and 1992. In addition to their forces serving in many of the same theatres, budgetary constraints, already a detriment to the maintenance of robust forces prior to 1987, worsened for all three countries’ forces. Albeit for vastly different reasons, strategic policy in all three countries was also undergoing substantial upheaval. In Australia, this was caused by ongoing tension between continental and forward defence strategies; in Canada, by the strategic turbulence brought about by the end of the cold war; and in New Zealand, by ongoing adjustment to a post-ANZUS defence strategy. For all three countries, this upheaval continued to have ramifications into the mid-1990s.

Yet by 1992, the emergence of a new global security environment had also begun to impact on the development of Australian, New Zealand and, especially, Canadian national defence strategies. The concept of a “new world order,” first proclaimed by US President George H. W. Bush in a speech explaining the reasons underlying the US decision to participate in the Gulf War, had by 1992 become a widely used term, although disagreement as to its nature and consequences was also widespread. Footnote 86 Related to the debate over the shape of the new world order was the concept of “collective security,” which foresaw an increased role for the UN in resolving world conflict. This theory was initially supported by the rapid expansion of UN peacekeeping operations; as stated above, they had increased from 13 in 1988 to 18 in 1992. The trend continued, and by the end of 1994, the number had ballooned to 35, with the additional 17 operations requiring a total of 80,000 new peacekeepers. Footnote 87

For Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the most significant of these operations were those undertaken in Somalia (1992-93), Rwanda (1994) and the Balkans (1992-95). In these locations, as well as in several others, the nature of peacekeeping began to change. Traditional facets of peacekeeping (such as well-defined mandates, the consent of all the warring parties to the presence of peacekeepers, and a mission designed to monitor a ceasefire agreement between states) failed to apply in these locations. Instead, UN peacekeepers found themselves arbitrating intrastate wars that had disabled or destroyed the state apparatus. With weak mandates for the application of force (such as in Rwanda, where Australian peacekeepers witnessed the slaughter of thousands of Hutu without being allowed to intervene to prevent it), Footnote 88 UN forces found themselves caught between warring factions or tribes that did not necessarily abide by ceasefire agreements. For the armed forces of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the awkward move towards “peace enforcement” had begun. Footnote 89 In each of the three countries, this shift would have a different effect on strategic policy as well as societal perceptions of, and relations with, the military.

The effect was most profound—and, from a military perspective, most detrimental—in Canada, following the revelation that in March 1993 peacekeepers from the Canadian Airborne Regiment (CAR) had tortured a Somali teenager to death. According to Jocelyn Coulon, the incident went on to “unleash a political storm in Canada.” Footnote 90 Under political pressure, Kim Campbell, then Minister of Defence, announced the establishment of a military board of inquiry into CAR’s activities in Somalia. Eight soldiers were also tried by courts martial for various offences ranging from negligent conduct to murder. In early 1994, as the courts martial continued, the Canadian media reported that a cover-up of certain aspects of CAR’s activities had been attempted by senior military officers. This prompted the newly appointed Liberal Minister of Defence, David Collenette (the Liberals had defeated the Progressive Conservatives in the 1993 general election), to establish a civilian commission of inquiry into the entire Somalia operation, including pre- and post-operational developments. Footnote 91

Meanwhile, the newly elected Jean Chrétien Government had also begun a defence review immediately after its election, leading to the release of Canada’s most significant strategic policy document of the period, the 1994 Defence White Paper. In a far more confident tone than the 1992 defence policy statement, the 1994 White Paper stated that:

Progress toward a safer world, most evident in the dramatically reduced threat of global war, is balanced by the persistence of conflict within and between states. It is impossible to predict what will emerge from the current period of transition, but it is clear that we can expect pockets of chaos and instability that will threaten international peace and security. In short, Canada faces an unpredictable and fragmented world, one in which conflict, repression and upheaval exist alongside peace, democracy and relative prosperity. Footnote 92

In its attempt to establish Canada’s place in this paradoxical world, the 1994 Defence White Paper continued what had become a longstanding tradition in Canadian defence policy—it emphasized the need for “multi-purpose, combat capable forces” but did not set aside much funding for them. As Douglas Bland contended, the programme it established was designed “to substantially rebuild the armed forces, but rejected the obvious need to pay for the renewal.” Footnote 93

Of equal importance was a break with tradition. Unlike the 1971 and 1987 Defence White Papers, the 1994 Defence White Paper did not establish a hierarchical list of defence policy priorities. Instead, the security policy issues confronting Canada were examined in three chapters, by discussing issues relating to domestic security and sovereignty, Canada-US defence cooperation, and Canada’s contribution to international security. Footnote 94 Canada’s participation in NATO was relegated to a section within the third of these chapters, alongside a new-found focus on collective security. Footnote 95

The public focus was, however, elsewhere. “After he tabled the 1994 Defence White Paper,” wrote Bland, “Collonette became increasingly embroiled in the so-called Somalia Affair and he was not able to devote his full attention to managing defence policy.” Footnote 96 Slow to get underway, the commission of inquiry had not begun hearings until September 1995. Further controversy followed as the commission unearthed what appeared to be a systemic failure in the leadership of the CF, exacerbated to a great extent by a funding crisis and operational overstretch. As it investigated further, the commission began to probe the role government policy had played in the CF failure in Somalia. Then, in January 1997, “the government wound up the commission just before it started scrutinizing the role played in the fiasco by … politicians and higher machinery of government.” Footnote 97

On July 2, 1997, the commission delivered its 1600-page, four-volume report, titled Dishonoured Legacy: Lessons of the Somalia Affair. Footnote 98 The report offered a scathing indictment of CF culture, which was summarized by John English:

Constant buffeting by the cross-currents of unification, bilingualism, and peacekeeping had, in addition to the overt civilianization of NDHQ [National Defence Headquarters] seriously eroded the professional foundations of army educational and training establishments set up after the [Second World War] … the only kind of experience that counted was one’s own, preferably gained in officially approved usually highly bureaucratized slots. Footnote 99

Over the course of the commission’s investigation, three chiefs of the defence staff had resigned or been dismissed. In 1995, following the release of video footage of an unsavoury regimental induction ritual, CAR itself was disbanded. Footnote 100 Amid the political tempest generated by the Somalia affair, the video was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

By 1997, the Somalia Affair had dominated the CF’s public relations for four years, despite its other activities, which included a comparatively (if not absolutely) successful deployment to the Balkans from 1992 to 1995. Footnote 101 Over the months following the publication of Dishonoured Legacy, an organizational self re-evaluation began within the CF on a scale comparable to the US military’s post-Vietnam War adjustment. Footnote 102 Like the post-Vietnam War US military, the CF would ultimately take several years to adjust its organizational culture in the wake of the Somalia Affair. Towards the end of 1997, determining an appropriate strategy to address the 160 recommendations contained within Dishonoured Legacy was the top priority for the CF, to the extent that it eclipsed any other issues regardless of their importance.

The ADF and the NZDF did not undergo any comparable experiences to the Somalia Affair and emerged from the mid-1990s with their reputations unsullied. Furthermore, for Australia, which released a Strategic Review in 1993, strategic policy remained fairly stable. In its opening, the Review highlighted numerous changes in the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region, including the force-modernization occurring within several countries; the shifting focus of US foreign policy interests; and the growing significance of China, Japan and India. Footnote 103 Despite these changes, however, the Review did not substantially shift Australia’s defence strategy. In much the same vein as the 1991 Force Structure Review, it prioritized continental defence but also catered for the limited dispatch of forces overseas if required to participate in collective security activities. Footnote 104

What Strategic Review 1993 did change was some of the strategies for maintaining continental defence. Self-reliance was continued virtually unaltered, but instead of the strategy of denial, Australia was to adopt a defence-in-depth posture. This involved “meeting credible levels of threat by presenting an adversary with a comprehensive array of military capabilities, capable of independent defensive and offensive operations in the sea-air gap to our north and throughout Australian territory.” Footnote 105 The phrase “short-warning conflict” was coined to describe the most likely type of attack Australia could expect against its territory. Although who would perpetrate it or why was not mentioned, the concept envisaged that the greatest threat to Australian security would take the form of small, limited-scale attacks against Australia’s economic assets in its northern territories or against its sea lines of communication (SLOCs). Although not a danger to national survival, such attacks were a security concern as they threatened to substantially disrupt Australia’s economic well-being. Footnote 106

Less than a year later, the Keating Labor Government released what would be its last major strategic policy statement prior to its defeat in the 1996 federal election. Titled Defending Australia, the 1994 Defence White Paper constituted “an incremental advance … rather than a bold new statement.” Footnote 107 Largely a refinement of the Strategic Review 1993, it too perpetuated the primacy of Australia’s continental defence strategy while confirming that limited overseas deployments (mostly under UN auspices) would continue. Footnote 108

Yet the 1994 Defence White Paper was subtly influenced by the fluidity of the international, and especially the South-East Asian, security environment. For example, concerns about the post-cold war modernization of several military forces within the Asia-Pacific region as well as the ongoing RMA debate and lessons learned from the 1991 Gulf War appear to have influenced a discussion about the possibility of, and threat posed by, a short-warning conflict. Footnote 109 The increasing volatility of peacekeeping was also acknowledged, with the White Paper noting that “[t]he experience of the last few years has shown the limits as well as the potential of peace operations.” Footnote 110

Despite these limits, the ADF’s major deployments during the mid-1990s were all peacekeeping operations. The first (and largest) of these was the deployment of a battalion group to Somalia in 1992-93. This was followed by the deployment of a contingent of 300 personnel to Rwanda in 1994. In 1997, a truce-monitoring group was sent to Bougainville. Footnote 111

Accompanying these deployments was a growing debate over whether the ADF should continue to be structured for “traditional” conflicts or whether a lighter force, geared more towards peacekeeping, would be more appropriate. This was resolved largely by the 1994 White Paper, which made it clear that “[t]he structure of the Defence Force is determined by its essential roles in providing for the defence of Australia.” Footnote 112

The final noteworthy Australian event of the period 1992 to 1997 was the election of the Howard Liberal / National Coalition (conservative) Government in 1996, following 13 years of Labor Party Government. Owing to the ongoing dichotomy between the Labor Party’s preference for continental defence and the Liberal and National Parties’ preference for forward defence, Howard’s election was the catalyst for a shift in Australian strategic policy. Although the majority of the shift would occur in the late-1990s and early-2000s, Ian McLachlan, the incoming Minister for Defence, foreshadowed the direction it was likely to take as early as May 1996. Importantly, the new direction included a renewed focus on the US alliance and the possibility of an increased role for the ADF in maintaining regional security. Footnote 113

New Zealand entered 1992 in recession, and as a result, the Bolger Government maintained an economic rather than defence policy focus into the mid-1990s. As noted above, this focus had already resulted in substantial defence budget cuts. As the decade wore on, these began to take their toll on the effectiveness of the NZDF. With the single exception of a new strategic sealift ship (Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship [HMNZS] Charles Upham), no new acquisitions were authorized between 1991 and 1996. Following the release of the 1991 Defence White Paper, a force structure review was undertaken for each of the three services. Insignificant in themselves, as they recommended few changes to the existing force structure, all three nevertheless influenced the development of a Long-Term Force Structure and Consolidated Resources Plan that was presented to cabinet in February 1993. Footnote 114 The Plan was rejected by cabinet, which did not want to commit to funding a long-term acquisitions plan in the midst of a recession. Footnote 115 It would be a further three years before another strategic policy review occurred in New Zealand.

In the interim, the NZDF’s high operational tempo continued. A small deployment of peacekeepers sent to Bosnia in 1992 was supplemented in 1994, the same year the RNZAF flew supplies to Rwanda in support of the UN mission there. Footnote 116 In 1997, a truce-monitoring group was sent to Bougainville following the cessation of conflict on the island. Footnote 117

The supplemented deployment to Bosnia, which reached 250 in August 1994, was the first time New Zealand’s soldiers had deployed to a war zone since the end of the Vietnam War. Like the mixed Australian-New Zealand infantry unit that had deployed to Vietnam, the New Zealand force deployed to Bosnia with its own equipment but was under the operational command of a British battalion. Footnote 118 Unsurprisingly, given the budget cuts of the early-1990s, the deployment revealed several capability “gaps,” for example, insufficiently ranged weapons on armoured personnel carriers that rendered them unable to retaliate when engaged. Footnote 119

Despite the insufficient capabilities revealed by the Bosnia deployment, the strategic policy debate in New Zealand had, by the mid-1990s, greatly subsided from the post-ANZUS Crisis hype that had surrounded it in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Hence, when the government began a strategic review process in March 1996 that would eventually lead to the classified November 1997 Defence Assessment and a publicly released Defence White Paper based thereon, there was little public reaction. Footnote 120

Similar to Australia’s 1994 Defence White Paper, New Zealand’s 1997 White Paper (The Shape of New Zealand’s Defence: A White Paper) was not a bold new policy statement. Rather, it explicitly confirmed the continuation of the defence policy that had been established by the 1991 White Paper, stating: “The defence policy set out in the 1991 White Paper continues to be the most appropriate policy framework to guide our defence effort in response to the future security environment. … Self-Reliance in Partnership is the strategy used for implementing this policy.” Footnote 121 In response to New Zealand’s aging military equipment and capability shortfalls, the White Paper offered only modest relief, outlining an average annual increase in funding of $NZ72 million over five years and “capital injections” of up to $NZ300 million. Footnote 122 As Rolfe contended: “What this White Paper does not do is make hard expenditure decisions.” Footnote 123 These were deferred, although until when was not stated. In the interim, the NZDF would have to continue to make do with its existing equipment.

Table of Contents

Conclusion: The Broader Political Context
During the Decade of Uncertainty

As the discussion in this chapter has shown, there were several common themes between Australian, Canadian and New Zealand strategic policy and operational undertakings during 1987-1997. Importantly, however, there were also several differences among all three countries, especially regarding the concepts each developed or adapted to form the basis of their strategic policies. These common themes, along with the key unique developments within each country, substantially contributed to shaping the broader political context in which doctrine development was undertaken from 1987 to 1997.

The first and most important common denominator was the benign threat environment that characterized the period. The results of this environment were that the armed forces in all three countries were neglected and that other issues that attracted more public attention were accorded higher priority. One such issue was the economic recession that gripped all three countries during this decade. As there was no immediate threat to national sovereignty, military budgets proved an easy target when budget cuts were required. In turn, budget cuts had numerous flow-on effects, including the ongoing use of antiquated or obsolete equipment as acquisition funding dried up. Training exercises were also wound back, and attempts to generate savings through cuts to personnel numbers were commonplace. Overall, this had a negative influence on the professionalism of the armed forces in all three countries that increased in severity as the decade progressed.

Budget cuts and their flow-on effects had two major ramifications for the shape of the broader political context during this period. The first was the generation of competition between different branches of the services of each country, as each vied to get a slightly larger slice of the funding pie. The second ramification was civil-military relations, which soured as budget cuts increased. Although the democratic structure and stability of all three countries prevented this from having serious political consequences, it nonetheless caused much disillusionment amongst senior military personnel. At the lower levels, budget cuts or, more precisely, knowledge that acquisitions that would have made life easier were passed over due to budgetary constraints had a detrimental impact on morale.

Another common denominator that characterized this period was the impact of the transformation of the global security environment. Despite the lack of threat to the sovereignty of any of the three countries (with the exception of the Soviet threat to Canada, which had vanished by 1991), the operational tempo of the armed forces of all three gradually, but steadily, increased. This was due largely to the proliferation of peacekeeping operations and the experimentation with “collective security” that occurred in the wake of the cold war. It was also accompanied by a shift in the nature of peacekeeping, which led to the emergence of the concept of peace enforcement. Inevitably, operational lessons learned as a result of this new type of mission influenced doctrinal development in all three countries throughout the decade, particularly at the operational level.

Furthermore, the conduct of the ADF, CF and NZDF elements that were involved in these operations shaped the civil-military relations of the period. Most often this took place through a media conduit, and the reporting of controversial activities occurred far more frequently than the reporting of good deeds. Hence, the importance of the good conduct of soldiers while on operations became an increasingly important factor in the success of operational deployments. That said, despite the occasional reaction to a widely-publicized incident, the public attitude to the armed forces of all three countries remained largely apathetic throughout the period; hence, it was only catastrophic events such as the Somalia Affair that were able to sustain public attention over a prolonged period.

Alliance relationships, particularly the alliance with the US, must be considered as an additional common denominator influencing strategic policy development throughout this period, although the impact within each country was different. For Australia, maintaining the US alliance remained important; it was not, however, the driving force for Australian strategic policy development. As a result, Australia’s alliance with the US remained both stable and largely unchanged throughout the period. For New Zealand, the opposite transpired, and managing the fall out from the ANZUS Crisis was a major strategic policy driver during this period. Having lost the US alliance in the mid-1980s, New Zealand had not regained it by the mid-1990s; the alliance relationship with Australia instead came to fill the void. Lastly, for Canada, the US alliance also remained fairly stable. More important was the NATO alliance, which was Canada’s key priority in 1987. By 1997, however, its priority had substantially declined, and the CF had been withdrawn from Europe without causing much upset amongst Canada’s allies.

Finally, key differences between the strategic policies of Australia, Canada and New Zealand affected the political context within each country during this period. Concepts such as Australia’s “strategy of denial,” New Zealand’s “self-reliance in partnership” and Canada’s pursuit of “multi-purpose, combat-capable forces” had ramifications for force structures and, hence, doctrine and significantly shaped the political context (particularly with regard to individual services). Despite the different defence concepts embraced within each country, however, it is noteworthy that the variety of roles the armed forces of each were required to undertake remained similar. The difference in strategic policy mainly influenced the priority each role (and hence each service) was given in relation to the others.

From overarching shifts in the strategic environment to the planning ramifications of insufficient budgets, the decade from 1987 to 1997 was characterized by consistent, rapid change. Over the course of the decade, this change permeated every facet of the armed forces of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, from their public relations to their personnel numbers, from government strategic policy to the operational conduct of the forces themselves. Yet often this change was unforeseen, and it is only with the benefit of hindsight that it can be said that the key characteristic of the period was the uncertainty that played a major role in shaping events.



Footnote 1

William Wei, “‘Political Power Grows Out of the Barrel of a Gun’: Mao and the Red Army” in A Military History of China, eds. David Graff and Robin Higham (Cambridge: Westview, 2002), 229-48.

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Footnote 2

The first of these was the Malayan Emergency (1948-60); the second was the Korean War (1950-53), which also involved a significant Canadian contribution; and the third was the American-led Vietnam War (1962-75). Peter Dennis and Jeffery Grey, Emergency and Confrontation: Australia in Military Operations in Malaya and Borneo 1950-1966 (St Leonards, Allen & Unwin, 1996), 173-74; and Jeffery Grey, The Commonwealth Armies and the Korean War: An Alliance Study (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988), 88-108. Note that the French War in Indochina (1946-54) is not included in this list, as France’s primary motivation for the war was not anti-communism but rather an attempt to reassert its colonial domination within the region. Bernard Fall, Street without Joy (London: Pall Mall Press, 1964), 22-31.

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Footnote 3

J. Soedjati Djiwandono, Konfrontasi Revisited: Indonesia’s Foreign Policy under Soekarno (Jakarta: Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 1996), 1-7.

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Footnote 4

Adrian Vickers, A History of Modern Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 152-56.

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Footnote 5

Gregory Clark, In Fear of China (Melbourne: Lansdowne Press, 1967), 161-211.

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Footnote 6

Lachlan Strahan, Australia’s China: Changing Perceptions from the 1930s to the 1990s (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 160-80.

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Footnote 7

This approach led to the signing of the ANZUS Treaty in 1951.

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Footnote 8

John Darwin, “Britain’s Withdrawal from East of Suez,” in Munich to Vietnam: Australia’s Relations with Britain and the United States Since the 1930s, ed. Carl Bridge (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1991), 140-58.

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Footnote 9

Robert Litwak, Détente and the Nixon Doctrine: American Foreign Policy and the Pursuit of Stability, 1969-1976 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 52-54.

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Footnote 10

DOD, Australian Defence Review, 1972, 14.

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Footnote 11

“Self-reliance” in this context is defined as Australia’s ability to defend its national territory without relying on assistance from its allies. Michael Lankowski, “Assessing Self-Reliance in Australian Defence and Alliance Policy, 1966-2006” (PhD study, University of Queensland, 2006), 23-26.

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Footnote 12

DOD, Australian Defence Review, 1972, 5.

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Footnote 13

Graeme Cheeseman, “From Forward Defence to Self-Reliance: Changes and Continuities in Australian Defence Policy 1965-90,” Australian Journal of Political Science 26 (1991): 433; and Lachlan Strahan, Australia’s China: Changing Perceptions from the 1930s to the 1990s (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 291-92.

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Footnote 14

Eric Andrews, The Department of Defence, vol. 5, The Australian Centenary History of Defence (South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2001), 196-98.

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Footnote 15

David Lee, Search for Security: The Political Economy of Australia’s Post-war Foreign and Defence Policy (St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1995), 73-74.

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Footnote 16

DOD, Australian Defence (1976 Defence White Paper), 10.

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Footnote 17

It is worth noting at this juncture that the divide between various incarnations of forward defence and continental defence has been an ongoing feature of Australian politics since Federation, with Conservative governments generally preferring policies akin to forward defence and Labor governments pursuing variations of continental defence. See Michael Evans, “Overcoming the Creswell-Foster Divide in Australian Strategy: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century Policy Makers,” Australian Journal of International Affairs 61, no. 2 (June 2007): 193-214.

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Footnote 18

David Lee, “Australia’s Defence Policy, A Historic Overview” in Australia’s Security in the 21st Century, ed. Mohan Malik (St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1999), 27.

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Footnote 19

Graeme Gill, “Australia and the Eastern Bloc” in Diplomacy in the Market Place: Australia in World Affairs, Vol. 7, 1981-90, eds. P. J. Boyce and J. R. Angel (Sydney: Longman Cheshire, 1992), 227.

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Footnote 20

David Lee, “Australia’s Defence Policy, A Historic Overview” in Australia’s Security in the 21st Century, ed. Mohan Malik (St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1999), 28.

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Footnote 21

James Rolfe, Defending New Zealand: A Study of Structures, Processes and Relationships (Wellington: The Printing Press, 1993), 97-106.

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Footnote 22

Carlyle Thayer, “The Five Power Defence Arrangements: The Quiet Achiever,” Security Challenges 3, no. 1 (February 2007): 81.

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Footnote 23

Ian McGibbon, “The Defence Dimension,” in Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, ed. Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005), 26-27.

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Footnote 24

Ian McGibbon, “The Defence Dimension,” in Southeast Asia and New Zealand: A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations, ed. Anthony L. Smith (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005), 27.

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Footnote 25

Joseph A. Camilleri, ANZUS: Australia’s Predicament in the Nuclear Age (South Melbourne: McMillan, 1987), 133

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Footnote 26

Paul Landais-Stamp and Paul Rogers, Rocking the Boat: New Zealand, the United States and the Nuclear-Free Zone Controversy in the 1980s (Oxford: Berg, 1989), 17-22.

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Footnote 27

Hyam Gold, “Labour’s First 300 Days,” in New Directions in New Zealand Foreign Policy, ed. Hyam Gold (Auckland: Benton Ross Publishers, 1985), 2.

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Footnote 28

For details of how the ANZUS Crisis unfolded, see Michael Pugh, The ANZUS Crisis, Nuclear Visiting and Deterrence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

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Footnote 29

Joseph A. Camilleri, ANZUS: Australia’s Predicament in the Nuclear Age (South Melbourne: McMillan, 1987), 140-47.

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Footnote 30

Although Canadian Army officers were deployed to Vietnam as part of the International Commissions on Supervision and Control, established during the 1954 Geneva Peace Talks, they did not participate in the American-led Vietnam War in a combat capacity. Shane B. Schreiber, “The Road to Hell, Part 1: Canada in Vietnam, 1954-1973,” Canadian Army Journal 10, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 73-85.

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Footnote 31

This is still the case regarding Canada’s northern security. Peter Haydon, “Editorial: Arctic Security,” Canadian Naval Review 1, no. 4 (Winter 2006): 4. See also Aaron P. Jackson, “Defending the ‘Empty North’: Comparing Canadian and Australian Challenges and Strategies,” Canadian Naval Review 3, no. 4 (Winter 2008): 4-9.

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Footnote 32

J. L. Granatstein, Canada’s Army: Waging the War and Keeping the Peace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 354.

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Footnote 33

R. J. Clark, “Joint Organization: A Canadian Way Ahead,” (research paper, Command and Staff Course 31, Canadian Forces College, Toronto, n.d.), 14-15.

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Footnote 34

While this may seem trivial to the casual observer, to most military personnel—who commonly embrace a set of values that emphasize “honour,” recognize deeds of hardship and feel a strong sense of belonging to the sub-community within their unit—the wearing of uniforms that emphasize their values (often by embodying the history of a unit) is the source of great pride and, hence, morale.

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Footnote 35

Air Command was formed in 1975 following the merging of Air Defence and Air Transport Commands. Desmond Morton, A Military History of Canada: From Champlain to the Gulf War, 3rd ed. (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1992), 261.

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Footnote 36

Trudeau was prime minister from April 4, 1968 to June 3, 1979 and, following a nine-month stint in opposition, from March 3, 1980 to June 29, 1984. Cardenas, 107.

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Footnote 37

Edna Keeble, “Rethinking the 1971 White Paper and (Pierre Elliott) Trudeau’s Impact on Canadian Defence Policy,” American Review of Canadian Studies 27, no. 4 (Winter 1997): 545-69.

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Footnote 38

Canada, DND, Defence in the 70s: White Paper on Defence, 1971, 16.

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Footnote 39

Edna Keeble, “Rethinking the 1971 White Paper and (Pierre Elliott) Trudeau’s Impact on Canadian Defence Policy,” American Review of Canadian Studies 27, no. 4 (Winter 1997), 553.

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Footnote 40

Henning A. Frantzen, NATO and Peace Support Operations 1991-1999: Policies and Doctrines, (Abingdon: Frank Cass, 2005), 120-21.

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Footnote 41

J. L. Granatstein, Canada’s Army: Waging the War and Keeping the Peace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 377.

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Footnote 42

Paul Dibb, Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities, Report to the Minister for Defence, 1986, 1.

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Footnote 43

Paul Dibb, Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities, Report to the Minister for Defence, 1986, 4.

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Footnote 44

Paul Dibb, Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities, Report to the Minister for Defence, 1986, 5-6.

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Footnote 45

Paul Dibb, Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities, Report to the Minister for Defence, 1986, 5.

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Footnote 46

DOD, The Defence of Australia 1987, Presented to Parliament by the Minister of Defence, Kim C. Beazley, 1987. This correlation was partly because Dibb himself was one of the authors of the White Paper.

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Footnote 47

DND, Challenge and Commitment: A Defence Policy for Canada, 1987, Chapter 4.

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Footnote 48

DND, Challenge and Commitment: A Defence Policy for Canada, 1987, 43.

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Footnote 49

DND, Challenge and Commitment: A Defence Policy for Canada, 1987, 43-67.

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Footnote 50

New Zealand, Ministry of Defence (MOD), The Defence Question: A Discussion Paper (1985), 2, 21.

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Footnote 51

MOD, Defence of New Zealand: Review of Defence Policy 1987, 11.

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Footnote 52

MOD, Defence of New Zealand: Review of Defence Policy 1987, 10.

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Footnote 53

MOD, Defence of New Zealand: Review of Defence Policy 1987, 18.

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Footnote 54

MOD, Defence of New Zealand: Review of Defence Policy 1987, 38.

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Footnote 55

David G. Haglund and Olaf Mager, “Bound to Leave? The Future of the Allied Stationing Regime in Germany,” Canadian Defence Quarterly (February 1992): 35-43.

Return to footnote 55 referrer

Footnote 56

Donald A. Neill, “Back to the Basics: Defence Interests and Defence Policy in Canada,” Canadian Defence Quarterly (December 1991): 41.

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Footnote 57

J. L. Granatstein, Canada’s Army: Waging the War and Keeping the Peace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 397.

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Footnote 58

J. L. Granatstein, Canada’s Army: Waging the War and Keeping the Peace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 397.

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Footnote 59

Desmond Morton, A Military History of Canada: From Champlain to the Gulf War, 3rd ed. (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1992), 274-75.

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Footnote 60

Desmond Morton, “Bayonets in the Streets: The Canadian Experience of Aid to the Civil Power 1867-1990,” Canadian Defence Quarterly (April 1991): 34; and Claude Beauregard, “The Military Intervention in Oka: Strategy, Communication and Press Coverage,” Canadian Military History 2, no. 1 (Spring 1993): 23-48.

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Footnote 61

Quoted in James H. Allan, “Canadian Defence Policy after the Gulf,” Canadian Defence Quarterly (October 1991): 21, http:// (accessed October 29, 2012).

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Footnote 62

Allen Sens, “Canada, NATO and the Widening Atlantic: Canadian Defence Policy into the 1990s,” Canadian Defence Quarterly (February 1991): 11-16.

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Footnote 63

For two popular examples that are illustrative of the diversity of the debate, see John Mearsheimer, “Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War,” Atlantic Monthly 266, no. 2 (August 1990): 35-50; and Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1992).

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Footnote 64

For example, see: Alvin Toffler and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War: Survival at the Dawn of the 21st Century (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1993); and Eliot Cohen, “A Revolution in Warfare,” Foreign Affairs 75, no. 2 (March/April 1996), 37-54.

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Footnote 65

DND, Canadian Defence Policy 1992.

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Footnote 66

DND, Canadian Defence Policy 1992, 9, 14.

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Footnote 67

The public version of ASP90 was not released until 1992. DOD, Australia’s Strategic Planning in the 1990s, endorsed November 27, 1989, 1.

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Footnote 68

Graeme Cheeseman, The Search for Self-Reliance: Australian Defence Since Vietnam (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1993), 16.

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Footnote 69

Graeme Gill, “Australia and the Eastern Bloc” in Diplomacy in the Market Place: Australia in World Affairs, Vol. 7, 1981-90, eds. P. J. Boyce and J. R. Angel (Sydney: Longman Cheshire, 1992), 240.

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Footnote 70

Graeme Cheeseman, The Search for Self-Reliance: Australian Defence Since Vietnam (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1993), 18-19.

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Footnote 71

Graeme Cheeseman, The Search for Self-Reliance: Australian Defence Since Vietnam (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1993), 19.

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Footnote 72

Australia, DOD, Force Structure Review: Report to the Minister of Defence, 1991, 1-2, 28.

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Footnote 73

N. F. James, “A Brief History of Australian Peacekeeping,” Australian Defence Force Journal, no. 104 (January/February 1994): 10-13.

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Footnote 74

Graeme Cheeseman, The Search for Self-Reliance: Australian Defence Since Vietnam (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1993), 108.

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Footnote 75

Graeme Cheeseman, The Search for Self-Reliance: Australian Defence Since Vietnam (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1993), 109-110.

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Footnote 76

MOD, The Defence of New Zealand 1991: A Policy Paper, 49, 53.

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Footnote 77

MOD, The Defence of New Zealand 1991: A Policy Paper, 9-10.

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Footnote 78

Ramesh Thakur, “New Zealand: The Security and Tyranny of Isolation,” in Strategic Cultures in the Asia-Pacific Region (see note 68, Chapter 1), 305

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Footnote 79

McGibbon, The Oxford Companion, 170.

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Footnote 80

Ramesh Thakur, “New Zealand: The Security and Tyranny of Isolation,” in Strategic Cultures in the Asia-Pacific Region (see note 68, Chapter 1), 313.

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Footnote 81

James Rolfe, Defending New Zealand: A Study of Structures, Processes and Relationships (Wellington: The Printing Press, 1993), 11.

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Footnote 82

John Thomson, Warrior Nation: New Zealanders at the Front, 1900-2000 (Christchurch: Hazard Press, 2000), 333-34.

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Footnote 83

Colin James, “A Force Still Fit to Fight?” New Zealand Defence Quarterly, no. 5 (Winter 1994): 5.

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Footnote 84

Colin James, “A Force Still Fit to Fight?” New Zealand Defence Quarterly, no. 5 (Winter 1994): 5; International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 1989-1990, (London: Brassey’s, 1989), 170; and International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 1994-1995 (London: Brassey’s, 1994), 184.

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Footnote 85

James Rolfe, Defending New Zealand: A Study of Structures, Processes and Relationships (Wellington: The Printing Press, 1993), 12.

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Footnote 86

G. Wahlert, “The New World Order: Meaning and Effect - Two Years On,” Australian Defence Force Journal, no. 96 (September/ October 1992): 12-16.

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Footnote 87

J. L. Granatstein, Canada’s Army: Waging the War and Keeping the Peace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 397.

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Footnote 88

The incident is commonly known as the Kibeho Massacre. Peter Londey, Other People’s Wars: A History of Australian Peacekeeping (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2004), 203-5.

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Footnote 89

Ann Hughes, “Peace Enforcement,” in Encyclopaedia of International Relations and Global Politics, ed. Martin Griffiths (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), 643-46.

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Footnote 90

Jocelyn Coulon, Soldiers of Diplomacy: The United Nations, Peacekeeping, and the New World Order (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), 96.

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Footnote 91

Jocelyn Coulon, Soldiers of Diplomacy: The United Nations, Peacekeeping, and the New World Order (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), 88-100.

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Footnote 92

DND, 1994 Defence White Paper, 1994, 3, (accessed October 29, 2012).

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Footnote 93

Douglas L. Bland, Canada’s National Defence, vol. 1, Defence Policy (Kingston: School of Political Studies, Queens University, 1997), 282.

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Footnote 94

DND, 1994 Defence White Paper, Chapters 4-6.

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Footnote 95

Douglas L. Bland, Canada’s National Defence, vol. 1, Defence Policy (Kingston: School of Political Studies, Queens University, 1997), 284-85.

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Footnote 96

Douglas L. Bland, Canada’s National Defence, vol. 1, Defence Policy (Kingston: School of Political Studies, Queens University, 1997), 285.

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Footnote 97

John C. Blaxland, Strategic Cousins: Australian and Canadian Expeditionary Forces and the British and American Empires (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006), 176.

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Footnote 98

Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia, Dishonoured Legacy: The Lessons of the Somalia Affair, 1997.

Return to footnote 98 referrer

Footnote 99

John C. Blaxland, Strategic Cousins: Australian and Canadian Expeditionary Forces and the British and American Empires (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006), 176-77.

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Footnote 100

J. L. Granatstein, Canada’s Army: Waging the War and Keeping the Peace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 407.

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Footnote 101

Sean M. Maloney and John Llambias, Chances for Peace: Canadian Soldiers in the Balkans, 1992-1995 (St Catharines: Vanwell Publishing Limited, 2002), 1-24.

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Footnote 102

J. L. Granatstein, Canada’s Army: Waging the War and Keeping the Peace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 412.

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Footnote 103

DOD, Strategic Review 1993, 1-2.

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Footnote 104

DOD, Strategic Review 1993, 14.

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Footnote 105

DOD, Strategic Review 1993, 44.

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Footnote 106

DOD, Strategic Review 1993, 43.

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Footnote 107

Zhivan Jared Alach, “Facing New Challenges: Adapting the NZDF and ADF to the Post-Cold War Security Environment” (PhD thesis, Auckland University, 2006), 272.

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Footnote 108

DOD, Defending Australia, 1994.

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Footnote 109

DOD, Defending Australia, 24-25.

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Footnote 110

DOD, Defending Australia, 105.

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Footnote 111

Peter Londey, Other People’s Wars: A History of Australian Peacekeeping (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2004), 179-206, 216-25.

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Footnote 112

DOD, Defending Australia, 1994, 5.

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Footnote 113

Zhivan Jared Alach, “Facing New Challenges: Adapting the NZDF and ADF to the Post-Cold War Security Environment” (PhD thesis, Auckland University, 2006), 276.

Return to footnote 113 referrer

Footnote 114

New Zealand, Minister of Defence, Long-Term Force Structure and Consolidated Resources Plan of the New Zealand Defence Force (Wellington: Letter to the Chair of the Cabinet Committee on External Relations, Defence and Security, 1993).

Return to footnote 114 referrer

Footnote 115

Zhivan Jared Alach, “Facing New Challenges: Adapting the NZDF and ADF to the Post-Cold War Security Environment” (PhD thesis, Auckland University, 2006), 184-85, 187.

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Footnote 116

John Thomson, Warrior Nation: New Zealanders at the Front, 1900-2000 (Christchurch: Hazard Press, 2000), 333.

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Footnote 117

Judith Martin, “Bougainville Brokers,” New Zealand Defence Quarterly (Autumn 1998): 2-7.

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Footnote 118

James Rolfe, “Bosnia: Where Being Shot at May Mean No Shooting Back,” New Zealand Defence Quarterly (Winter 1994): 20-21.

Return to footnote 118 referrer

Footnote 119

Zhivan Jared Alach, “Facing New Challenges: Adapting the NZDF and ADF to the Post-Cold War Security Environment” (PhD thesis, Auckland University, 2006), 186-87.

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Footnote 120

Zhivan Jared Alach, “Facing New Challenges: Adapting the NZDF and ADF to the Post-Cold War Security Environment” (PhD thesis, Auckland University, 2006), 189-90.

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Footnote 121

MOD, The Shape of New Zealand’s Defence: A White Paper (1997), 7.

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Footnote 122

MOD, The Shape of New Zealand’s Defence: A White Paper (1997), 38-39.

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Footnote 123

James Rolfe, “Hard Decisions Deferred - For Now,” New Zealand Defence Quarterly (Summer 1997): 12-13.

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