Rethinking Sustainable Defence Forces: A Discussion with Dr. Alan Dupont

May 9, 2023

~ By Robbin Laird. Originally published at

In an earlier discussion with David Beaumont, I focused on the challenge facing the ADF of managing what I called the strategic triangle for force enablement.

That triangle is conceptualized in the featured graphic for this article. At the core of the triangle is the challenge of sustainability, the provision of supplies, magazine depth and what can produced by the allied arsenal of democracy.

At the 28 March 2023 Williams Foundation Seminar, Dr. Dupont looked at the sustainability challenge as understood in terms of the capabilities of the defence industrial base. He provided an assessment of the significant limitations facing the Western industrial base to support sustainable defense forces which could endure through a significant period of conflict.
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Defence Strategic Review: Bold changes send clear message to potential enemies

April 25, 2023

~ Alan Dupont

Shrewdly timed to coincide with Anzac Day commemorations, the Albanese government has taken a major step forward in delivering on its promise to make the ADF a more “impactful” force, with the much-anticipated release of its response to the Defence Strategic Review. This sends an unambiguous signal to potential adversaries that while Australia is committed to preserving the peace, we won’t be a pushover if it comes to a fight.

The ADF is now set on a path of transformation – from a boutique force with niche capabilities but little punch to a harder, more lethal, self-reliant military that is also more interoperable with allies and friends. Higher levels of interoperability will be crucial to offset the advantages that autocracies have in their ability to mobilise resources and prosecute the untrammelled ambitions of their rulers.
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Failure not an option in this generational opportunity

March 18, 2023

Nothing less than a revolution in our approach is going to solve a problem that threatens to derail the ambitious nuclear submarine program and the ADF restructure.
~ Alan Dupont

The magnitude of the nuclear submarine challenge should not obscure a wider strategic problem. Our defence industrial base is so thin and under-resourced that we are at serious risk of losing a high-intensity military conflict within a few weeks against a well-prepared adversary.

Tinkering at the edges won’t make any difference. Nothing less than a revolution in our approach to defence industry, innovation and weapons acquisition is going to solve a problem that threatens to derail the ambitious nuclear submarine program and the Albanese government’s restructure of the Australian Defence Force.

This is a strategic failure long in the making. And it’s not just an issue for Australia. The US defence industrial base is in serious trouble and Europe’s is on life support. Their problems are also ours since most of our military equipment is imported from the US or Europe.
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Don’t ditch the tank if you want real firepower

January 18, 2023

~ Alan Dupont, published in the Australian

War concentrates the mind like few other activities, so it’s not surprising that the Ukraine-Russia conflict is generating widespread media coverage of the combat power of the two protagonists.

Far from being a morbid fascination with the weapons of war, the debates they stimulate are critical to the functioning of a healthy democracy. Democracies that fail to gain public support for essential defence projects and policies are unlikely to be victorious on the battlefield.
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If we went to war, our ammo would not last a week

November 7, 2022

~ Alan Dupont, published in the Australian

Despite the increasingly contentious blame game about who is responsible for the chronic failure to deliver promised defence capabilities on time and on budget, Labor and the Coalition agree that Australia needs a viable defence industry.

Yet Australian industry participation in major defence projects has declined significantly since the last of our locally built Anzac-class frigates was christened in 2008. Labor and the Coalition have talked a good game but seldom walked the walk.
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Radio National: Defence spend to skyrocket

October 15, 2022

Can Australia afford the big spend defence commitments from AUKUS? If so, can we ensure delivery in a timely manner?

Listen here.


Dr Alan Dupont, Defence Analyst
Retired Major-General Gus McLachlan, Senior Adviser at Bondi Partners
Sam Roggeveen, Director of the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program.

Defence gets ready for thefight of our lives

October 1, 2022

In March next year, the Albanese government will consider the recommendations of the most important defence review in a generation, with an interim report due on November 1 this year. The strategic review will shape the structure, capabilities and posture of the Australian Defence Force for the next decade and “outline funding needs” that could reach nearly half a trillion dollars, depending on the cost of our nuclear-powered submarines.

The key question to be answered is whether the ADF is fit for purpose. If not, whatcan be done to fix the force, how much time do we have, what is the threat, how serious is it and what strategy will we employ to defend ourselves?
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Interchangeable forces key to submarine success

October 30, 2021

The Morrison government’s groundbreaking AUKUS agreement has the potential to accelerate the transformation of the Northern Territory from strategic backwater to vital alliance hub.

It won’t be realised without an integrated plan to leverage increased investment in the Territory’s defence infrastructure to strengthen allied capacity and reach.
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Biden ignored advice on how quickly Kabul would fall to Taliban

August 23, 2021

There are many reasons for the collapse of Afghanistan after 20 years of fruitless bloodletting and wasted treasure. But as with most debacles the primary cause is a failure of strategy and policy, not intelligence.

President Joe Biden is certainly complicit. But he is not the main architect of the Ghani government’s demise, a title that rightly belongs to Donald Trump the self-styled “master of the deal”. The businessman turned president committed the cardinal negotiating sin of gratuitously committing to withdrawing US forces – the main Taliban objective – thereby forfeiting all leverage in the farcical, drawn-out peace talks that continued right up to Kabul’s fall.
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Australia a crucial hub for NATO in Asia

June 15, 2021

The Group of Seven meeting in Cornwall may well be a turning point in the democratic push back against China’s competing brand of assertive authoritarianism.

Having the US, Japan and the big European democracies on board will provide much needed moral and practical support for Scott Morrison’s determination to resist Beijing’s economic and diplomatic coercion.
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