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The Necessity of an Amphibious Strategy

The Necessity of an Amphibious Strategy

Warfare transcending all boundaries and limits is termed: unrestricted warfare. This kind of war means the focus is in readiness, information is omnipresent, and the battlefield is everywhere. It means all weapons and technology can be superimposed at will, it means all boundaries lying between the worlds of war and non-war, military and non-military, will be destroyed, and it means that many of the current principles of combat will be modified, and even that the rules of war may need to be rewritten.[1]

The trouble with our comprehension of future warfare lies in the fact that it is not a traditional war as many imagine. We prefer to think of turmoil and violence in the remote region as an endless series of minor skirmishes between insignificant actors in an unfortunate context of poverty and ignorance, venality and vindictiveness. Since we focus on the institutionalized aspects of political violence and war, armed combat between contending professional armies, we overlook warfare transpiring between uncoordinated extremist and spontaneous uprising comprising or encompassing the various elements of a nascent and naïve civil society. Most crises have roots going deep into their past. It is the history of warfare, and of warning, that the extraordinary buildup of military force or capability is often the single most important and valid indication of intent.

Opposition conditions relate to the security failure nexus supporting the perception of the existential threat posed by weak, fragile, and failing states to Western and global security. This vantage point underpins strategic responses involving military intervention aimed at preemptive, defensive, humanitarian, and state-building objectives in perceived failed states. The security discourse evolved in tandem with developments in the international security architecture in the post-9/11 society. The discussion focuses the threat posed by weak, failing, and fragile states to global security. Direct or indirect threats transpire via: civil war, spillover of violence, threats arising from poverty and environmental degradation, disease, weapons of mass destruction, terrorist networks, and drug cartels supporting strategies for military interventions. Military intervention in perceived failed states are pursued along integrated strategic frameworks to protect human rights, establish stability, promote democracy, and provide economic assistance to rebuild states.[2]

Jared Diamond argues a society deters its adversary as long as it remains stable, while challenging the conditions of its domestic weakness.[3] Thus, a society becomes weaker or collapses as a result of military intervention, which is associated with the “ultimate purpose” as the underlying cause of the weakness (e.g. environmental degradation). Moreover, in many instances of state fragility, external military intervention is a factor contributing significantly to state fragility compounded with other issues such as protracted social conflict, often becoming a critical cause of collapse depending on its scale and magnitude.

Another set of considerations protracting conflict regions is the significance of stable and cooperating neighbors. Regional stabilization is pertinent relative to the evolving context of globalization associated with regional economic integration. Diamond articulates his concern about the implications for a state’s stability when trade relations and dependency on a neighbor are constrained by looming weaknesses.[4]

War is a highly institutionalized form of warfare and political violence that involves major powers and involves a penetration of political borders. Whether the decision to forward power project enables stability or responds to unrestricted warfare, the procurement and advancement of the amphibious platform capability necessitates the orchestration of an Australian amphibious strategy. Developing an amphibious strategy enables future procurement, exercise and international engagement opportunities, sets the condition for contingency response, and prepares the Australian Army to prepare for war based on national interest. Our adversaries are preparing the battlespace, and our government is transitioning towards our future.

Transitioning to future operations, an amphibious strategy enables anticipating, preparing, and organizing for forward power projection to support national interests and security. Chance favors the prepared mind. Are we anticipating, preparing, and organized for future amphibious power projection supporting our national interests?

[1] Liang, Q. & Xiangsui, W. (1999). Unrestricted Warfare. Beijing: PLA Literature and Arts Publishing House, p. 12.

[2] Yamin, S. (2011, Fall). Revisiting the Discourse on State Failure: Towards a Conflict Resolution Trajectory (Doctoral dissertation, George Mason University).

[3] Diamond, J. (2005). Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York, USA: Penguin Books.

[4] Ibid, 14.

The views expressed in this article and subsequent comments are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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