Responses to catastrophic disasters and complex security challenges in the Indo-Pacific require a coordinated, joined-up response, drawing on broad-ranging civil-military-police expertise.
Australia’s experience in managing conflicts and disasters overseas has developed significantly over the past 20 years. Responses to catastrophic disasters and complex crises across Asia and the Pacific, and across the globe have reinforced the value of civil-military-police approaches.
The number of government, non-government, and private sector agencies contributing specialist capabilities and expertise to offshore responses has also substantially increased.
To ensure cross-agency policy, strategy and response is coordinated, all relevant agencies need to be involved from the beginning. Enhanced preparedness between agencies is crucial to the success and effectiveness of today’s civil-military-police responses.
Effective civil-military-police coordination is best achieved through a collaborative culture that recognises the unique capabilities of individual agencies and maximises the diversity of different expertise, roles, responsibilities, and approaches to planning.
Each agency has well-developed processes which meet their own requirements and agencies do not need to adopt the same approach. In fact, adopting a single unified or tightly integrated approach would reduce individual capacity and limited our ability to leverage the value that comes from bringing together diverse approaches, skills and ways of thinking.
Effective civil-military-police partnerships are also founded on the skills and attributes of our people. This is especially true in crisis situations that are ambiguous and chaotic. Successful crisis leadership, at all levels, is not just a product of the position we hold but of our capacity to influence, collaborate, negotiate and maximise the value of diversity.
At the centre of all our work is the strengthening of Australia’s civil-military-police capability. We deliver a unique program for Australian agencies focused on building these partnerships through the development of knowledge resources, preparedness and education programs, facilitated conversations, expert advice, and lessons and evaluation. We work in partnership with regional and international agencies to develop good practice, guidelines and operating procedures. Over the last ten years we have developed Guiding Principles for Civil-Military Interaction and the training resource Same Space – Different Mandates, developed a comprehensive preparedness and exercise program that leverages military exercises, built residential practitioner education programs for the region, and established a whole-of-government lessons and evaluation practice. We also deliver bespoke thematic events for the civil-military-police community focused on delivering outcomes and recommendations for advancing conflict and disaster management, including on Women, Peace and Security, Search and Rescue and Maritime Security Cooperation.