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Strategy (Spotlight Brief 5/21)

Department of Health and Human Services officer, Georges Haddad (left) and Australian Army soldiers from the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, Trooper Keegan Veivers (centre) and Trooper Rylan Green (right) conduct door knocking in Colac, Victoria during Operation COVID-19 Assist.

Military Responses to COVID-19, Emerging Trends in Global Civil-Military Engagements

Review of International Studies – Jan 21

Militaries have a long history of participating in health initiatives both domestically and abroad. In this article, Fawzia Gibson-Fall maintains that the COVID-19 response is a pivotal moment in this continuum of military health engagements. She canvasses the roles that militaries have played in national responses to COVID-19 and identifies three emerging categories of engagement: minimal technical military support, blended civil-military responses, and military-led responses. Gibson-Fall outlines the impetus for each type of response and explains how each response typically affects health outcomes. Some reasons for resistance to military involvement include concern with military motives and the fear of politicising health interventions. Other factors that influence military engagement include differing political systems, levels of institutional capacity, political legitimacy, justice systems, media freedom, contagion levels, institutional legacies, and acceptance of the virus. Analysis of trends demonstrates that military engagement primarily compensates for institutional gaps in the civilian realm. Analysis of military responses thus provides an unprecedented opportunity to identify critical gaps in public health systems.


‘Medical Experts Call for Australia’s Defence Force to Help Ramp Up COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-Out,’ SBS, 19 Jun 21

‘Interoperability and Flexibility: Military Engagement During the Covid-19 Pandemic,’ European Army Interoperability Centre, 26 May 21

‘Top Defense Official Calls Military's COVID Effort 'Phenomenal,’ Department of Defense News, 23 Mar 21

‘COVID: How the Military's Been Involved In Fighting Coronavirus,’ Forces.Net, 18 Feb 21

Civil-Military Relations: “What Does It Mean?”

Strategic Studies Quarterly – Summer 21

As a volunteer military in a democracy state, the relationship between the military and civilian worlds is critical to the success of the ADF. At almost every level, civilians provide essential capabilities to uniformed forces and the numbers are often hidden; as of June 2020, the ADF was approximately 43 percent civilian, including APS and contractors. Army personnel have also seen increased working with civilians through domestic assistance missions and international disaster responses. All of this underscores the importance of understanding and building civil-military relations, and in this article, General Martin Dempsey provides his views. As a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey worked with a number of senior civilians and two Presidents across an enormous organisation with a number of strategic challenges. He describes several areas to be aware of, and stresses the importance of understanding two factors: loyalty and the hidden influence of culture.


‘Understanding the Value of Defence,’ RAND Corporation, 13 Jul 21

‘Another “Crisis” in Civil-Military Relations?,’ War on the Rocks, 08 Jul 21

‘Indonesian peacekeeping and civil–military relations: a double-edged sword,’ The Strategist, 06 Jul 21

‘Keeping Norms Normal: Ancient Perspectives on Norms in Civil-Military Relations,’ Texas National Security Review, 26 May 21

‘Examining the Relationship between Defence and Civil Society,’ Defence Connect, 25 Mar 21

Defence Mobilisation Planning Comparative Study

RAND – 2021

Following the development of the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, RAND were engaged by the ADF to undertake a series of studies related to mobilisation. This document is the result of one of those studies – a comparative analysis of mobilisation plans within the United States, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Singapore. Their findings highlight the importance of a flexible mobilisation system, already seen to be essential with bushfires and COVID-19, as well as broader contributors beyond the Department of Defence.


‘Unprecedented is Not a Reason to be Unprepared,’ Griffith Asia Insights, 11 May 21

‘Australia to Produce its Own Guided Missiles as Part of Billion-dollar Defence Manufacturing Plan,’ ABC News, 31 Mar 21

‘Indonesia’s National Mobilisation Strategy: Growing Deeper Roots?’ S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, 09 Feb 21

‘Pezzullo Explains How Planning for Anything Got Australia through the Worst of COVID-19,’ The Mandarin, 03 Feb 21

‘National Mobilisation: What are the Strategic Risks to Australian National Security Planning?’ Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies, 21 Aug 20

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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