Australia's Defence doctrine since the mid 1980's has largely been defined by the Dibb review of 1986. This assessment advocated Australian defence self-reliance, and the ordering of defence priorities according to geographic proximity to mainland Australia. However, since 2001 Australian defence doctrine shifted perspectives and priorities as the DOD acknowledged that the threat of conventional attack on Australia had diminished while the ADF was increasingly likely the be deployed well beyond Australia as part of an international coalition. In various releases from the DOD and statements from the Minister the government strongly affirmed that it had changed the way it approached the defence of the nation. .
The Government's willingness and ability to adapt the ADF in the wake of these changes and to anticipate further changes in the strategic environment has been relatively weak. Despite a fundamental shift in the perceived threats to Australia, little has changed in the ADF's force planning to meet these new challenges. The government has also been reluctant to limit or prioritize the ADF's operational scope, effectively making an ADF deployment far from Australia as equally conceivable as deployment in Australia's immediate neighborhood. Prevention-of and response-to terrorism, as well as prevention of WMD proliferation are likely to be the operational goals of any ADF deployment in the near future, despite only a small portion of the ADF being suited to these types of operations. .
Australia's lack of long-term defence strategy has definite ramifications for the Asia-Pacific region, with regional actors having quite different opinions.
Australia is a middle power who has previously been willing to act on issues not directly affecting Australia, while the ADF is among the most technologically capable defence forces in the region (thanks to the US-Australia alliance) .
While Australia's willingness to join, and its justification for joining, international coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq have had detrimental effects on relations with predominantly Muslim Southeast Asian countries.