Developing an approach to warfighting at the operational level : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts in Defence and Strategic Studies at Massey University

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Massey University
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For nearly a century, the armed forces of Australia and New Zealand have been actively engaged in the defence of Australia's and New Zealand's vital interests. This defence has been marked by tactical proficiency and an ability to operate effectively with the forces of major allies, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. For many years, Australia's and New Zealand's armed forces were organised principally on the basis of what they could contribute to wider allied causes. While this integration with allies has ensured the protection of Australian and New Zealand interests and resulted in a high degree of tactical expertise within their respective forces, it has also meant that there has been little experience of planning at the operational level. In essence, this level provides the link between the strategic and tactical levels. By the end of the Vietnam conflict, and the subsequent downsizing of the US presence in South East Asia, it was clear that both nations required a new approach that recognised their global commitments and the need for the ability to act alone or in partnership within the region. The Australian focus on the defence of its mainland, the policy of 'self reliance' and the increasing joint approach of the three services have been major contributors to the creation of a force capable of not only acting in support of alliances but, as its fundamental role, independently defending Australia and Australian national interests. Similarly, New Zealand has developed a policy of 'self reliance in partnership' and, in advocating a policy of closer defence relations with Australia, supporting its closest neighbour in time of crisis. This approach has led both Australia and New Zealand to realise the need to develop expertise in the planning and conduct of operations across all levels of war, and in particular at the operational level.
Defence strategy, Defence tactics, Defence relations, Australia and New Zealand defence forces