On Wednesday 8 September, the AKBC held a Korea Konversations event with AUstralia’s Chief Defence Scientist, Prof Tanya Monro.
Here were the key takeaways:
• The strategic context that Australia and Korea must navigate is increasingly complex, particularly as global competition in disruptive technology increases.
• Australia must align its policy, investment, technological capabilities, and diplomacy in order to leverage our greatest strategic strength – our partnerships with our allies.
• The Department of Defence has released its More, together: Defence Science and Technology Strategy 2030 in May 2020. It recognizes that defence science and technology plays a critical role in Australia’s defence and national security by ensuring that our forces maintain a capability edge.
• This strategy acknowledges, however, that we cannot address the requirements of our defence technology alone – we must partner with the best in the world and connect our allies, our universities, and our industry together to solve mutual challenges and common threats.
• The centre piece of the “More, together” strategy are eight Science and Technology Research (STaR) shots. These articulate the key defence science and technology challenges we face as a nation. By recognising these challenges, we can bring smart people together, who can develop the ideas to problem solve and innovate. This approach also allows us to bring these challenges to our allies – this focuses collaboration on mutual issues that face both nations.
• These STaR Shots have been significant in how we work and engage with other countries and national partners in Australia. They open up a strategic dialogue and by collaborating now, we can increase the chances that we will have interoperable systems if an issue emerges.
• The work toward a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) between Australia and Korea – recently signalled by both Prime Ministers – is an important step in this direction and provides the basis for us to grow and develop our technology partnership to mitigate strategic risks and attain a capability edge.
• In 2019, we signed a memorandum of understanding on defence science and technology. This builds on 60 years of diplomatic relations and shared values. We are focusing now on three areas of strategic priority: maritime autonomy, composite analysis work for aircraft, and dispersion modelling to understand and mitigate the threats to urban environments.
• “Defence, science and technology and innovation are about the art of the possible” – by bringing experts together from different fields to tackle common problems, we can “create the space to be surprised.”
• Tech Bridge – with the theme “Application of AI to counter infectious disease” is another initiative which will allow us to build a broader and deeper set of strategic engagements.
• The collaboration between industry partners, universities and government will undergo significant growth in the coming years.
• Australia can learn from how Korea has invested in innovation, science and R&D. We are taking steps in the right direction as we look to tap the R&D capacity of our universities and industry partners.
• Through our new strategic positioning and clear policy direction, we are focusing on how Australia can prevail in contested environments. To achieve these, we need asymmetric advantage.
• The future direction of defence science and technology has been set and there is a strong foundation to work with Korea toward strong outcomes for both of our nations.