Academic journal article Naval War College Review

The Renaissance of Anzac Amphibiosity

Academic journal article Naval War College Review

The Renaissance of Anzac Amphibiosity

Article excerpt

Australia and New Zealand should look for opportunities to rebuild our historical capacity to integrate Australian and New Zealand force elements in the Anzac tradition.


In 2010, Rod Lyon of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute wrote: "With the return of the more strategically-extroverted Kiwi, it is a good time for Australia and New Zealand to be putting more meat on the bones of their Closer Defence Relationship."1 Various areas of the "closer defence relations" between Australia and New Zealand are ripe for cooperative enhancement, but one of the most obvious is amphibious operations. Both nations have recognized that their amphibious forces provide a means to further jointness among national service branches, but the current international interest in amphibiosity means they are also a tool for effective engagement and for enhancing interoperability.2

Australia and New Zealand are in the unique position of developing their own amphibious capabilities concurrently, albeit with major differences in size and scope. The process seems particularly apt, given that the Anzac (originally, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) relationship was forged during the course of one of the most notorious amphibious operations in history. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has expressly stated: "Since fighting side by side as 'ANZACs' in the Gallipoli campaign of World War I, New Zealand and Australian defence forces have forged a close relationship."3 While it would be easy to dismiss Gallipoli as an anachronism-which, in many ways, it is, in the context of amphibious operations-the reality is that a shared interest in the South Pacific and the close defense ties that Australia and New Zealand maintain ensure that cooperation in the area of amphibiosity is extremely important.4

Since interoperability is a critical concern for the Australian amphibious force, the requirement to operate alongside the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) must be considered. As Australia is New Zealand's closest ally, the former's development of an amphibious force has been a source of great interest to the latter, especially given the NZDF's concurrent development of what was referred to originally as the Joint Amphibious Task Force (JATF), but now is known simply as the Joint Task Force (JTF). A number of measures have been enacted to facilitate the interoperability of the two amphibious forces, but there is room for further progress.

This article will consider the utility of amphibious capability in Australia and New Zealand's strategic environment and trace the development of both countries' forces, including the historical influences on Australian Defence Force (ADF) and NZDF planning. The achievement of interoperability between the ADF and the NZDF, as well as with other likely multinational partners, which has been developed through various means, will be assessed. Ultimately, the article will contend that, while the ADF and NZDF maintain a relatively high level of interoperability, further enhancements in the area of amphibious capability could be achieved through greater integration, specifically through emulating the model adopted by the United Kingdom / Netherlands Amphibious Force (UKNLAF).


The Australian government has established that the nation's primary operating environment "extends from the eastern Indian Ocean to the island states of Polynesia, and from the equator to the Southern Ocean."5 In their comprehensive and far-reaching assessment of Australia's approach to amphibious warfare, Beyond 2017, Ken Gleiman and Peter Dean noted that most of the population centers and strategic infrastructure in Australia's primary operating environment are situated within twenty-five kilometers of the coastline. Although just 5 percent (approximately) of that coastline can be used to unload large ships, 75 percent can be accessed by hovercraft and 95 percent can be used by small boats. …

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