Worry abounds. There are calls for radically new defence policies, a defence Plan B, a doubling of defence spending, a nuclear deterrenta conventional one and, most recently, a national security strategy. However, before jumping to a solution, let’s think for a moment.

In recent decades, Australia’s defence policies have been driven more by risk management than by strategies. The defence budget has been conceived in insurance policy terms: the ADF will be developed to ensure that if a bad event occurs the losses Australia suffers will be minimised—or at least kept to a tolerable level—through ADF defensive operations. There’s a clear logic in that approach, but now it might be time to change and embrace strategy.

Strategy can be thought of algebraically as ends = ways + means—or, in words, strategy is the way in which the means (for example, the ADF) are used to achieve the desired ends. A good strategy can increase the power of Australia’s defence capabilities, and, as the formula hints, a bad strategy can reduce them. Getting more bang for the buck is appealing, but successful strategies are intellectually hard to devise. Moreover, a defence strategy isn’t something created independently; instead, it is a product of a grand strategy.

Please click here to read the full ‘A grand strategy Plan A for Australia?‘ article published at The Strategist, written by Griffith Asia Institute Visiting Fellow, Dr Peter Layton.