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Militarydiplomacy

LieutenantGeneral(Ret.)PeterLeahyistheDirectoroftheNationalSecurityInstituteat
theUniversityofCanberra.HewasAustraliasChiefofArmyfrom2002to2008.

Executivesummary

Inanincreasinglycomplexglobalsecurityenvironmentmilitarydiplomacyaddsanewand
veryusefuldimensiontotraditionaldiplomacy.
Militarydiplomacyrequiresaninvestmentinrelationshipsandtakestimetodevelop.
Thesuccessofmilitarydiplomacyprovidestheleadtonewtypesofdiplomacyfromthe
AustralianFederalPoliceandeventuallytheAustralianBorderForce.

Ininternationalaffairs,diplomacyhasbeentheprimarymeansbywhichcountrieshaveadvancedtheirnational
interests.Whendiplomacyfailed,thoseinterestsweremostoftenpursuedthroughtheuseofmilitarypower.Innational
securitytermsdiplomacyisoftenreferredtoassoftpowerwhilemilitarypowerisreferredtoashardpower.Todaythe
distinctionisnotthatclearcut.Militarydiplomacyisprovingtobeanextremelyusefulmeansofpursuingnational
interestsshortofconflict.
Somemightviewtheconceptofmilitarydiplomacyassomethingofanoxymoron,somewhatakintomilitary
intelligence,butinanincreasinglycomplexglobalsecurityenvironmentitisprovingitsworth.Somuchsothatrecently
theMinisterforDefence,DavidJohnston,declaredhimselftobeverystrongonmilitarydiplomacy.
TheMinsterforDefencesrecententhusiasmformilitarydiplomacyisnodoubtlinkedtotworecentexamples
demonstratingtheclearbenefitstobeaccrued.Chineseinvolvementintheinternationalsearchforthemissing
MalaysianAirlinesflightMH370,offPerth,wasgenerousandwellreceived.Italsoopenedanopportunityforfurther
cooperationanddialoguebetweenthetwocountries.AnexampleisajointexercisewithAustralian,USandChinese
forcesinthesecondhalfof2014.
FollowingEastTimoreseindependencetherewerestrainsintherelationshipbetweenIndonesiaandAustralia.These
tensionswereeasedbytheextensiveinvolvementofAustralianmilitaryforcesinreliefeffortsafterthetsunamioff
NorthernSumatrain2004.Thesoldiersofbothcountriesrealisedthattheycouldworktogetherandpatternsofdialogue
werereestablishedbetweenseniormilitaryofficers.AnotherexamplewithIndonesiaisthedevelopmentofabroad
basedalumniassociationofmilitaryofficers.AtatimeofstraineddiplomaticrelationshipsbetweenAustraliaand
Indonesia,DavidJohnstonswarmreceptionattheJakartaInternationalDefenceDialoguein2014wouldcertainlyhave
reinforcedinhismindthevalueofmilitarydiplomacy.
DiplomatsinUniformHowdoesitwork?
TheDepartmentofForeignAffairsandTradeistheleadagencypursuingAustraliasoverseaseffortstostrengthenits
securityandenhanceitsprosperity.TheyworktogetherwithotherdepartmentsincludingtheDepartmentofDefence.
Thisistheformalaspectofmilitarydiplomacyasmilitaryofficersareaccreditedtooverseasmissionsandworkatthe
directionoftheAmbassadororHighCommissioner.Theycarrydiplomaticpassportsandhavethesamerightsand
privilegesasotherembassystaff.Theyarediplomatsinuniform.
InthisroletheMilitaryAttachandtheirstaffsupporttheformaldiplomaticmissionthroughdirectdiplomacysuchas
meetingsandnegotiations,deliveringdefencecooperationprograms,providingadviceoncapabilitydevelopment
options,supportinghumanitariananddisasterreliefmissionsanddirectlyparticipatinginevacuationandintervention
operations.
Somemaybesurprisedbytheinvolvementofthemilitaryindiplomaticactivities.Theymaybewonderinghowrough
militarytypescanbehaveinadiplomaticortactfulmanner.Militaryofficialsworldwideshareacommoncultureand
professionalapproachbasedondirectness,precisionandcommonexperiences.Themilitaryclearlyunderstandthe

ThissubmissionwasoriginallypartoftheCentreOfGravitypaper#17DefenceDiplomacy:Isthegameworththecandle?
http://ips.cap.anu.edu.au/sdsc/publications/centregravityseries

dangersofwarandarekeentotakeeverysteptofosterpeaceandsecurityandavoidconflictifatallpossible.Even
adversariesworkwelltogetheratthetaskofmilitarydiplomacy.Asanexample,duringKonfrontasiwithIndonesiainthe
1960s,militaryattachsfrombothcountriesremainedinplace.
Essentiallythemilitarytalktoeachotherinbothaformalandinformalmanner.Thisdialoguestrengthensestablished
relationshipswithalliesandfriendstosupportalliances,aidinteroperabilityandbuildcapabilitybyexchanging
technology,enhancingtraining,improvingdoctrineandsharinglessonsfrommilitaryexperiences.Itisnotonlymilitary
officerswhoengageinmilitarydiplomacy.Defencediplomacyhappenswhendefencecivilians,ratherthanmilitary
officers,worktoenhancerelationships.Animportantexampleofthisiswhenseniorcivilianofficialstraveltoregional
countriestoinformthemofthecontentsofdefenceofficialdocumentsincludingDefenceWhitePapers.
Dialoguecanalsooccurwiththemilitaryofcountrieswhereformaldiplomacyispoorlydevelopedorundergoingstrain.
Intheseinstancesmilitarydiplomacycanhelptomaintaindialogueandbuildconfidencetoavoidconfusion,
misapprehensionandmisunderstanding.Italsoestablishesrelationshipsandprovidesthechanceformoreformal
discussionsatlateroccasions.
Militarydiplomacydoesntjusthappen.Butitisnotasthoughitcanbeplanned.Itrequiresabroadbasedinvestment,
takestimetomatureanddoesntworkineverycase.Oftenitcandevelopfromattendanceatschoolsorcoursesor
participationinUnitedNationsmissionsyearsprior.Morerecentactivitieshaveinvolvedcooperationonthealltoo
frequenthumanitariananddisasterreliefmissions.InthiscaseimprovedrelationshipsbetweenJapanandAustraliacan
belinkedtocooperationonUNmissionsinCambodia,EastTimor,IraqandAustralianmilitarysupporttonatural
disastersinJapan.
AstrongexampleofthelongterminvestmentrequiredisthewarmrelationshipbetweentherecentlyretiredAustralian
ChiefofDefenceForceDavidHurleyandhisIndonesiancounterpartGeneralMoeldoko,whorecentlyattendedGeneral
HurleysretirementceremonyinCanberra.AsayoungcadetattheRoyalMilitaryCollegeDavidHurleyhosted
IndonesiancadetsonavisittoAustralia.HissubsequentrespectforandinterestinIndonesiaiswellknowninIndonesia
andhascarriedforwardtoincludehisinvolvementinfrequentandsubstantivecontactwithseniorIndonesianmilitary
officials.
Mostofthedialogueisamongseniorofficersbuteffortsaremadetoincludemorejuniorofficerssuchasthrough
exchangingcadetsatrespectivemilitarycolleges.Thisisanimportantinvestmentinfuturerelationships.Another
exampleoflowerlevelengagementistheconductofrifleshootingcompetitions.TheAustralianArmysSkillatArms
Competitionattractsenthusiasticteamsfromacrosstheglobe,includingteamsfromIndonesia.
Noteveryinvestmentinmilitarydiplomacywillpayoff.Everyoneleavesthemilitaryatsomestage,careerspathsmay
changeandrespectivenationalinterestsmaybesodivergentthatmilitarydiplomacymaynotwork.Butwhenitworksit
workswellandcanbeaforcemultiplierofconsiderableimpact.Inmyownexperience,asaseniorArmyofficer,military
diplomacymeantthatIwasabletotalktoforeigncolleaguestospeeduptheacquisitionofmilitarycapabilitiesand
ammunitionforoperationsinIraqandAfghanistan.Iwasalsoabletousepersonalcontacttodefusepotentialtension
overAustralianmilitarydeploymentstoEastTimorin2006.
ItisgoodthattheMinisterforDefenceisstrongonmilitarydiplomacy.Hewoulddowelltomakesurehisdepartment
knowsofhisenthusiasm.Inanareawherethepayoffisnotimmediatelyobvioustherecanbeatemptationtolookfor
savings.Militarydiplomacyisnottheplacetolook.Ifheislookingforaplacetoreinforcehismessageheshouldfocus
ontheStaffCollegeandtheCentreforDefenceandStrategicStudiesatWestonCreek.Theyaremodelprogramsof
militarydiplomacyanddelivergreatbenefittoAustraliaandtheregion.
Conclusion
Tomanytheinvolvementofthemilitaryaddsanewdimensiontodiplomacy.Tosometherearesuspicionsaboutits
efficacy.Welltheybettergetusedtoitasitisprovingtobeaveryeffectivewayofimprovingtrustandconfidence
amongcountriesandenhancingoveralleffortstobuildpeaceandsecurity.Inaglobalisedworlditisclearthatthetaskof

ThissubmissionwasoriginallypartoftheCentreOfGravitypaper#17DefenceDiplomacy:Isthegameworththecandle?
http://ips.cap.anu.edu.au/sdsc/publications/centregravityseries

diplomacydoesnotonlybelongtodiplomats.Criticsshouldanticipatethecontinuinguseofmilitarydiplomacyand
mightwellanticipateanincreasedinvolvementofothernondiplomatictypesindiplomaticeffortssuchasthe
AustralianFederalPoliceandtheabouttobeestablishedAustralianBorderForce.

Policyrecommendation
ThattheMinistermaintainhisinterestinmilitarydiplomacyanddirecttheADFtoseekwaysoffurther
enhancingmilitarydiplomacywithafocusontheAsiaPacificRegion.

ThissubmissionwasoriginallypartoftheCentreOfGravitypaper#17DefenceDiplomacy:Isthegameworththecandle?
http://ips.cap.anu.edu.au/sdsc/publications/centregravityseries