Australian Defense Forces Chief Says Region Experiencing Great Power Competition

A possible intelligence leak by the United States was a "serious" incident, Angus Campbell, the chief of Australia's Defence Force, said on Tuesday, adding that the U.S. was engaging with its partners to understand the consequences.

Three U.S. officials have said national security agencies are reviewing how they share their most sensitive secrets inside the government and tackling the diplomatic fallout from the release of dozens of confidential documents.

Great Power Competition

"The issue of maintaining security of information is critical to the development of national capability and to the trust and confidence across allies and partners," Campbell said in response to questions after a speech at the Lowy Institute.

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In the speech, Campbell said that the region was experiencing great power competition that would last for some time, and that Australia was focused on deterring conflict and deepening its engagement with partners.

The AUKUS partnership with Britain and the United States for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines was the most prominent example of engagement, he said, but Australia was also working with Pacific island and South East Asian nations.

Trends including large-scale military modernisation, technological disruption and climate risks made the prospect of state-on-state conflict "less remote than it was", he said.

"Military capability within the region, of both range and lethality, is challenging across all domains: sea, land, air space and cyber," he added.

Taiwan Role

Asked whether Australia had a role in a conflict over Taiwan, Campbell said, "Anything that undermines the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region in which we live is of interest to Australia."

He added, "The question then might arise what particular circumstance or scenario enlivens what form of interest and in what form of response."

The war in Ukraine showed that there was no way to predict how any conflict would unfold, Campbell said.

"I encourage all parties to areas of international tension to find other ways to resolve that tension ... A stable secure free and open Indo-Pacific for all nations is in Australia's interest," he said.