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Prospects for Establishing a U.S.-Australia-Singapore Security Arrangement: The Australian Perspective

Prospects for Establishing a U.S.-Australia-Singapore Security Arrangement: The Australian Perspective

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This policy brief advocates a stronger U.S. and Australian alliance with Singapore.
This policy brief advocates a stronger U.S. and Australian alliance with Singapore.

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Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on May 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Over the years,Australia has made numerousadjustments to its defenseplanning in an attempt topositively position itself in
the uid regional security
environment. The Australian
Defence Force is highly capable,and the alliance with the UnitedStates, established in theAustralia, New Zealand, UnitedStates Security Treaty (ANZUS),
remains strong. Nonetheless a
number of issues still exist.
remedy these problems,ANZUS should considerestablishing a multilateralsecurity arrangement withselect Association of SoutheastAsian Nations (ASEAN) states.Singapore, in particular, wouldbe an ideal and realistic partnerfor both Australia and the United
States. Singapore’s military
capability and dynamic foreignrelations network would proveinvaluable to ANZUS, and atrilateral alliance of this naturewould serve to enhance stability
in the Southeast Asia region,
Oceania, and Indian Ocean.
Young Strategists Forum
Policy Brie 
Prospects for Establishing a U.S.-Australia-Singapore Security Arrangement: The Australian Perspective
by Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi 
1744 R Street NWWashington, DC 200091 202 745 3950F 1 202 265 1662E ino@gmus.org
May 2012
It has been 60 years since the Australia,New Zealand, United States Secu-rity reaty (ANZUS reaty) cameinto orce.
Since its signing in 1951,Australia and the United Stateshave ought together in the KoreanWar, Vietnam War, the First Gul War, and the wars in Aghanistanand Iraq.
Recently, the alliance hasbeen strengthened urther when inNovember 2011, Prime Minister JuliaGilllard agreed to station a U.S. MarineCorps task orce in Darwin, Australia,
 and again in March 2012, whenCanberra and Washington revealedplans to establish a joint airbase on theAustralian-controlled Cocos Islandsin the Indian Ocean. However positivethese recent developments are, utureprogress may be slowed by the issuesAustralia aces, both with its deenseplanning and because o less-than-
The ANZUS Treaty was signed on September 1, 1951,and came into force on April 29, 1952. However, NewZealand’s defense obligations have been suspendedsince 1986.
Immediately after the terrorist attacks in the UnitedStates on September 11, 2001, the then Australian PrimeMinister John Howard invoked the ANZUS treaty for therst time to ght alongside the United States.
The rst batch of 200 infantry Marines arrived in Darwinon April 2, 2012.
ideal relations with its Asian neigh-bors.
Australia’s Strategic Concerns
While it is clear that Australia and theUnited States share a very entrenchedand intimate security relationship,Canberra aces two glaring concernsthat directly impact its commitment tothe alliance with Washington.Te rst dilemma emanates romAustralia’s deense planning. Canber-ra’s plans to adjust and strengthenthe Australian Deence Force’s (ADF)capabilities to conorm to the 2009Deence White Paper and DeenceCapability Plan have been hampered,largely due to scal constraints.
 Canberra’s planned acquisitionsoutlined in the 2009 Deence WhitePaper, which includes 100 F-35s,Canberra-class Landing HelicopterDock (LHD) vessels, and 12 newsubmarines, seems too ambitious. Notonly do these acquisitions stretch thealready-tight deense budget, but it
Alan Dupont, “Inection Point: The Australian DefenceForceafter Afghanistan,”
Policy Brief 
(March 2012). Pp9-10
Policy Brief 
Young Strategists Forum
rm stance against Beijing in spite o its economic relianceon China.
Strengthening the Australia-United States Alliance
ANZUS needs to be ne-tuned in order to maximize andsustain its eectiveness. Above all, Australia has to do itspart to realign its own deense capabilities as opposed tosimply relying on the United States to ll in the gaps. Treequestions need to be answered regarding Australia’s uturecapabilities and strategies:
For what? For when
? And
Of what 
? Additionally, both Australia and the United Statesmust think about the alliance’s relations with the regionalstates — particularly ASEAN.
Preparedness for What?
For ANZUS, the answer to the “
 for what? 
” question is airly straight orward — stability in the Asia-Pacic. Histori-cally, Australia’s deense planning has been less threat-based and more scenario/mission-based. In other words,rather than designating a specic state or actor, Canberraocuses on contingencies within a strategic periphery (i.e.territories, o-shore resources and Sea Lines o Communi-cation in Southeast Asia, Oceania and the Indian Ocean).Tis requires the Australian Deence Forces (ADF) to beprepared to deal with a wide variety o instabilities andirregular wars in a geographically vast strategic environ-ment.
Preparedness for When?
Given the nature o the threats it aces, Australia ocusesprimarily on conicts that require short warning/expansiontime. Te issue is that Australia covers an extremely vastregion, and the characteristics o the theaters vary signi-cantly (viz. Indonesian archipelago, Malay Peninsula,
Dupont, “Inection Point: The Australian Defence Force after Afghanistan.” p. 4
Perhaps the most controversialand serious dilemma for Canberrais its relationship with Beijing.
is also questionable whether they truly t with Australiassecurity environment and strategy.
 One may argue that ANZUS lightens Australia’s deenseoutlays. Indeed, the U.S. Marine Corps presence in Darwinand the planned drone base in the Cocos Islands wouldurther strengthen the alliance’s capabilities. However,the capabilities stationed (or planned to be stationed) inAustralia do not substitute or the platorms Canberraplans to acquire. Hence Australia’s deense planning burdenwould remain more or less unchanged unless Canberraadjusts its deense proposals.Second, due to its location, Australia is xed to engage withits neighbors not only in Southeast Asia and Oceania, butalso in Northeast Asia. Australia, however, aces numerousissues in its relations with the Asian states.
Canberra hashad an awkward relationship with Jakarta since the early post-WWII period, but especially since the secession o imor Leste in 1999 and the Bali bombings in 2002. Soalthough the United States has been building close relationswith Indonesia in recent years, a lot remains to be donein order or Canberra and Jakarta to orm a solid security relationship.Perhaps the most controversial and serious dilemma orCanberra is its relationship with Beijing. China is Austra-lia’s biggest trading partner and many prominent deenseanalysts, including Hugh White, have expressed theirconcerns about this, arguing that i ANZUS attempts tocontain or boldly deter China, this could incur severeeconomic consequences or Australia.
Robert Ayson notesthat, “Australia’s problem is that its robust stance towardsthe changing balance o military power in Asia is not inte-grated with its huge economic reliance on China.
GivenChinas increasingly assertive behavior and military build-up in the region, Canberra may soon be orced to take a
For Australia’s foreign relations in recent years, see
Trading on Alliance Security: Australia in World Affairs, 2001-2005
, ed. James Cotton and John Ravenhill (SouthMelbourne, Vic. Oxford University Press, 2007) and
Middle Power Dreaming: Australia inWorld Affairs 2006-2010
, ed. James Cotton, John Ravenhill, and Australian Institute of International Affairs (South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press in associationwith the Australian Institute of International Affairs, 2011).
Hugh White, “Between America and China: Australia’s Strategic Choices in the AsianCentury,”
 Jakarta Globe,
February 12, 2012.
Robert Ayson, “Robert Ayson: Rise of Chinese dragon could divide Australia and NZ,”
(April 20, 2011).
Policy Brief 
Young Strategists Forum
Even if Australia manages toacquire all the capabilitiesproposed in the 2009 DefenceWhite Paper, it is questionablewhether the ADF will have thesufcient power projectioncapability to penetrate China’sAnti-Access/Area Denial strategy.
Malacca Straits, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands).Plans to boost the ADF’s amphibious capabilities wouldindeed enhance Australia’s physical preparedness or short-warning conicts. However, it remains unclear whetherCanberra has established suitable protocols and strategies inorder to successully deploy its new capabilities.ADF’s ability to respond to threats with little warning timerests in the competence o its intelligence agencies.
Soar the intelligence sharing agreement between Australia,Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the UnitedStates has operated ree o any signicant interruptions.ANZUS would need to ensure that this seamless coordina-tion and intelligence sharing is maintained. In order to doso, Australia would not only need to enhance the capabili-ties o its own intelligence agencies, but also ensure that theForeign Intelligence Coordination Committee maximizesits intelligence relations with the United States.
Preparedness of What?
Ten we ace the “preparedness o what?” question. Giventhat the alliance would primarily ocus on engagements inirregular and o-shore conicts, exible, and speedy capa-bilities would be pivotal. Te 2009 Deence White Paperaddressed this specic issue by ocusing on strengtheningthe power projection aspects o the ADF’s amphibiouscapabilities, as well as enhancing the Special Forces’ strikecapabilities and adaptability to cyber-warare.Te problem is the limitations o what Australia
 contribute to the ANZUS alliance outside o its ownperiphery. In particular, issues may arise should Australiaever need to commit to contingencies that involve directconict with China. Even i Australia manages to acquire allthe capabilities proposed in the 2009 Deence White Paper,it is questionable whether the ADF will have the sucientpower projection capability to penetrate China’s Anti-Access/Area Denial strategy. In his article,
U.S.-Australia Alliance Relations: an Australian View,
amed Australiandeence policy and regional security proessor Paul Dibb
Australia’s main intelligence organs include the Australian Security IntelligenceOrganisation (ASIO); the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS); Defence IntelligenceOrganisation (DIO); Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO); DefenceSignals Directorate (DSD); and the Ofce of National Assessments (ONA). Also see PhilipFlood, “Report of the Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies,” in
Parliamentary Paper (Australia. Parliament); 2004, no. 197.
, ed. Minister Australia. Dept. of the Primeand Cabinet (Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2004).
writes, “Te realistic military contributions that Australia
make to alliance operations are…niche contributions.
 Hence, given Australias specic capabilities and strategies,Australia should stay ocused on its own periphery ratherthan pushing or capabilities that may be beyond its deenseplanning capacity.
Rationalizing the Alliance’s Capabilitiesand Strategies to ASEAN Neighbors and China
It is in the interests o both Australia and the United Statesto prioritize the maximization o the alliance’s capabili-ties. However, Canberra’s dilemma over its capabilities andpersonal regional relations must also be taken into account— particularly regarding China. But like Japan, Australiamust deal with its strategic interests separately rom itstrade interests.
Australia does not necessarily need toboldly contain China, but Canberra should ocus on how itcan counter Beijing’s excuses or exercising over-assertiveactions in the region.
Paul Dibb,
U.S.-Australia Alliance Relations: An Australian View 
, ed. Studies National
Defense University. Institute for National Strategic, Strategic forum ; no. 216 (Washington,DC: Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, 2005). p. 2
In an interview, Australia’s Ambassador to the United States, Kim Beazley argued,“China trades with Australia because it’s in their interest to do so and vice-versa. Wedon’t need to be anything other than straightforward and direct in the reasons for ourstrategic relations.” See Eddie Walsh, “How Australia Sees America,”
The Diplomat New Leaders Forum
(April 14, 2012).

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