Niche Wars

Niche Wars

Australia in Afghanistan and Iraq, 2001–2014

Edited by: John Blaxland orcid, Marcus Fielding, Thea Gellerfy

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Australia invoked the ANZUS Alliance following the Al Qaeda attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001. But unlike the calls to arms at the onset of the world wars, Australia decided to make only carefully calibrated force contributions in support of the US-led coalition campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why is this so?

Niche Wars examines Australia’s experience on military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 to 2014. These operations saw over 40 Australian soldiers killed and hundreds wounded. But the toll since has been greater. For Afghanistan and Iraq the costs are hard to measure. Why were these forces deployed? What role did Australia play in shaping the strategy and determining the outcome? How effective were they? Why is so little known about Australia’s involvement in these campaigns? What lessons can be learned from this experience?

Niche Wars commences with a scene-setting overview of Australia’s military involvement in the Middle East over more than a century. It then draws on unique insights from many angles, across a spectrum of men and women, ranging from key Australian decision makers, practitioners and observers. The book includes a wide range of perspectives in chapters written by federal government ministers, departmental secretaries, service commanders, task force commanders, sailors, soldiers, airmen and women, international aid workers, diplomats, police, journalists, coalition observers and academics.

Niche Wars makes for compelling reading but also stands as a reference work on how and why Australia became entangled in these conflicts that had devastating consequences. If lessons can be learned from history about how Australia uses its military forces, this book is where to find them.


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ANU Press
Social Sciences: Military & Defence Studies
Australia; Middle East

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Niche Wars »

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Part 1: Policy and strategy

  1. A minister’s perspective (PDF, 0.2MB)Robert Hill doi
  2. A departmental Secretary’s perspective (PDF, 0.2MB)Ric Smith doi
  3. A Chief of Defence Force’s perspective (PDF, 0.5MB)Chris Barrie doi

Part 2: On operations in Afghanistan and Iraq

  1. Australia’s intervention in Afghanistan, 2001–02 (PDF, 0.7MB)Dan McDaniel doi
  2. Air Operations Control and Reporting Centre (PDF, 0.7MB)Chris Westwood doi
  3. Conventional stability operations at the battle group level in Iraq (PDF, 0.7MB)Anthony Rawlins doi
  4. Maritime operations (PDF, 0.8MB)Peter Jones doi
  5. Embeds (PDF, 0.1MB)Jim Molan doi

Part 3: Joint forces, enablers and partners

  1. Command and control (PDF, 0.6MB)Michael Crane doi
  2. Intelligence in Afghanistan (PDF, 0.2MB)Mick Lehmann doi
  3. Civil and humanitarian assistance (PDF, 0.2MB)Alan Ryan doi
  4. The military and the media (PDF, 0.2MB)Karen Middleton doi
  5. The Australian Federal Police in Afghanistan, 2007–14 (PDF, 0.5MB)Col Speedie and Steve Mullins doi
  6. AusAID stabilisation (PDF, 0.5MB)David Savage doi
  7. The gender dimension (PDF, 0.5MB)Elizabeth Boulton doi

Part 4: Lessons and legacies

  1. Lessons and legacies of the war in Afghanistan (PDF, 0.4MB)William Maley doi
  2. American and British experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2001–04 (PDF, 0.5MB)Dan Marston doi
  3. Lessons and legacies of the use of force (PDF, 0.2MB)Peter Leahy doi
  4. The Official History of Australian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor (PDF, 0.2MB)Craig Stockings doi
  5. Final reflections (PDF, 0.1MB)John Blaxland doi

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