From an Australian perspective, there is a resultant shift in strategic thinking toward a more maritime outlook. Our enduring strategic geography is maritime, and so we must be able to operate across the sea, land, and air environments. We need to be able to maintain situational awareness and presence over very large areas of ocean.
For navies and maritime forces these are significant shifts; the sea is much more than the means of transport envisioned by Alfred Thayer Mahan and Julian Corbett, and our thinking must be agile enough to evolve as well. These shifts pose a new imperative to maintain good order at sea. The value of the great global commons is increasing as nations grow in their desire and capacity to utilize marine resources. The challenge for all nations and their maritime forces is thus both to cooperate in a task that is beyond the ability of any one nation to address alone and to provide options for governments to use naval diplomacy to ease tensions and manage competition. This can only be achieved by routine, repeatable, working-level engagement among mariners, which develops and maintains these habits of cooperation.
The Royal Australian Navy will be aiming to make its contribution to this process through its chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium in 2014 and whenever other opportunities arise. Even though the challenges may be new, or posed in a new area or form, the means of addressing them are familiar: cooperation and collaboration in pursuit of mutual interests. It will require ongoing engagement as different maritime forces will have different experiences and motivations, and promoting constructive engagement is never a trivial task.