In 2000, the Australian Government released the Defence White Paper, Defence 2000: Our Future Defence Force. As well as addressing the challenges posed by the rapid growth of conventional military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region and relationships between the region’s major powers, it also highlighted the emerging threats posed by terrorism, challenges to border security and the potential proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In 2003, the Government again reviewed Australia’s strategic circumstances in Australia’s National Security: A Defence Update, which reinforced the challenges to Australian security posed by new forms of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as highlighting the serious problems created by failing states. A new strategic update will be released towards the end of 2005.
Australia is facing a range of security challenges and the ADF needs to be ready to undertake operations other than conventional war both in our own region and beyond. In recent times, the ADF has been operating at a very high tempo with deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Solomon Islands and, most recently, to provide relief following the devastating December 2004 tsunami in Indonesia. In responding to these challenges, the ADF has shown its ability to respond to the complex security environment with flexibility and agility - in roles as diverse as traditional warfighting, border protection, peacekeeping and humanitarian support. The ADF has consistently demonstrated that it is among the most capable forces in the world.