Royal United Services Institute of Australia

United Services Institute of the Australian Capital Territory


30 November

Dr Stephan de Spiegeleire

On Wednesday 30 November, international security and defence policy expert, Dr Stephan de Spiegeleire, spoke at the Defence College on designing future armed forces.  Dr de Spiegeleire is visiting Australia for two months, working with a number of sections of the Department of Defence.  In a passionate presentation, he challenged long-held assumptions about the very nature of security and defence; contended that current force design methodologies are necessary but not sufficient; and argued with great passion for a new approach in which force designers would present government with a portfolio of alternative future forces, rather than just one future force.  (Photo: USI)

24 November

2016 Christmas Drinks

On Thursday 24 November we marked a very successful 2016 at our annual Christmas Drinks. Nearly 100 members and guests, including several of our 2016 speakers, gathered in a relaxed social setting at the Officers Mess of the Australian Defence Force Academy.  

In addition to the seasonal festivities, Leo Mahoney Bursary winner Cameron Hawker was presented with a certificate by Mr Roxley McLennan of Rolls Royce Australia and Honorary Membership of the USI by President Mike Crane.  National President Simon Cullen presented Geoff Roberts with a certificate recognising his contribution to the national website.

You can find more photos here.  

9 November

2016 Blamey Oration - The Dragon and the Snakes: Emerging and Future Security Threats in the Post-Cold War Order: Dr David Kilcullen 

On 9 November, Dr David Kilcullen delivered the first Blamey Oration in the ACT in over a decade. The Blamey Oration typically explores contemporary strategic defence and security issues, or strategic leadership.  In a wide-ranging address, Kilcullen foreshadowed an ever more chaotic world as state (dragons) and non-state (snakes) actors combine to challenge western supremacy using a combination of conventional and unconventional techniques, threatening to overwhelm western decision makers who are already war weary and lack the will to respond.

The text of the Oration is available here and the video here.   You can access photos from the evening here.

The 2016 ACT Blamey Oration was proudly sponsored by L3 Communications Australia and the Department of Defence.

(Photo: USI)

13 October

Contestability in Defence – Opportunities and Challenges

n 2016, USI of the ACT explored the implications of the First Principles Review and the Defence White Paper.

The FPR's 'One Defence' approach has, at the cornerstone of the strong strategic centre and the new end-to-end approach to capability, "a mechanism for providing internal contestability, at arm's-length from owners and sponsors, throughout the capability life cycle, to ensure strategy, plans and resource allocations are tightly aligned and appropriately prioritised".  Just how the function will work is still maturing, as are the relationships between the new Contestability Division and the capability managers.

This session brought together senior Defence policy practitioners to canvass the opportunities and challenges Defence is facing as it introduces the new function. 

Panel speakers:

  • First Assistant Secretary Contestability, Mr Michael Shoebridge
  • Head Force Design, AVM Mel Hupfeld
  • Head Modernisation & Strategic Planning - Army, MAJGEN Gus McLachlan
  • Director General Modernisation - Air Force, AIRCDRE Graham Edwards

8 September

General Jim Mattis USMC (Retd) challenges and inspires at the Defence College

On Thursday 8 September 2016, 200 members and guests of the United Services Institute of the Australian Capital Territory gathered at the Australian Defence College to hear General Jim Mattis speak on The Gap Between Civil and Military Perspectives.

The charismatic former US Marine held the audience rapt during his presentation, then gave candid answers to questions ranging from how to promote innovation in a defence force to the relationship between a theatre commander and the commander in chief.

USI of the ACT gratefully acknowledges GEN Mattis’s generous support in making himself available for what proved to be a challenging and inspiring session.

(Photos: USI of the ACT)

4 August.  Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell DSC AM, spoke at the Australian Defence College on The Ryan Review - enhancing professional mastery in the Australian Army through renewal of training, doctrine and education.  General Campbell sketched the challenges facing the Army in recruiting and developing its human asset and outlined his vision for the approaches Army will need to take if it is to succeed.

(Photo: USI of the ACT)

21 July.  Analysing the 2016 Defence White Paper.  Master of Ceremonies Andrew Kirby hosted Peter Leahy AC (University of Canberra), John Blackburn AO (strategy consultant), Jacinta Carroll (Australian Strategic Policy Institute), John O'Callaghan (Australian Industry Group Defence Council) and Brendan Nicholson (Defence Editor, The Australian) at the Australian Defence College to discuss the merits of the 2016 Defence White Paper.

(Photos: UC, Blackburn, ASPI, AIG, The Australian)

2 June.  Mr Bill Farmer AO, former Ambassador to Indonesia, spoke at the Australian Defence College on Indonesia and Australia: moving on from boats, bombs, beef, bugging and Bali.

Mr Farmer outlined the noise and distractions in Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.  This presentation looked at the bigger picture, at how Australia and Indonesia could cooperate in a wider world order and how this positive relationship can grow into the future.

(Photo: Farmer)

11 May.  Mr Peter Baxter, Deputy Secretary Strategic Planning & Intelligence, spoke at the Australian Defence College on Getting to the White Paper: the Considerations.  Mr Baxter spoke under Chatham House Rules, and no transcript will be provided.


(Photo: Defence)

3 March. Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs AO, CSC, RAN, Vice Chief of Defence Force, spoke at the Australian Defence College on Implementing the First Principles Review.

(Photo: Defence) 

Contact details:
USI of the ACT is located in Canberra. For further information please contact:

Secretary USI of the ACT Inc.
CP3-1-157 Campbell Park Office


Mail address: 
Australia Post Mail to:
CP3-1-157 PO Box 7912 CANBERRA BC ACT 2610

Membership and Treasurer enquiries:

Tel: 0410 496 721


ABN: 69 739 962 119

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