Government sources

The ANZUS Alliance, Address to the Bradfield Forum, Brendan Nelson, Minister for Defence, 8 September 2006

“Interoperability refers to the structured effort by two or more countries in an alliance to ensure that their forces can operate together seamlessly.  In practical terms this means things such as operating procedures, common communications links, common doctrine and standards, and compatible equipment.

“In 2004, Australia and the United States agreed on a Statement on Interoperability to inform the development of an interoperability implementation program, with progress and forward planning to be reviewed and endorsed annually at subsequent AUSMIN meetings. This statement of principles seeks to improve interoperability by enhancing information exchange, collaborative planning as well as the conduct of combined operations, joint exercising, research, development, test and evaluation and technology sharing.”

“Looking forward, the level of practical cooperation between Australia and the US will continue to grow over coming years, largely because of technology.  Technology offers us new opportunities to work together, and to deepen our defence cooperation in many areas.  It also provides new imperatives to achieve closer integration and interoperability of our defence capabilities and systems.  In an era of high technology warfare the Alliance needs systems that can deliver operational levels of detail in real time.”


Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations 2008 Joint Communiqué, Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations, 2008.

Both countries noted the significant benefit of working together in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and agreed to establish a combined team to pursue options for enhancing collaboration in the field.

Australia and the United States agreed to finalise negotiations on a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to the continuation of the Joint Combined Training Capability, and noted the Joint Combined Training Capability’s significance in reducing the cost and improving the quality of combined training.

Australia and the United States signed a Statement of Principles establishing a military satellite communications partnership. Both governments committed to taking forward the partnership in a manner which benefits the defence capabilities of the Australian Defence Forces and the U.S. military. Australia and the United States also agreed on principles for enhancing aspects of the intelligence relationship.

Australia-US Joint Statement of Principles on Interoperability, Key Outcomes from AUSMIN 2004, 2004 Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations

  • “The signature of the Australia-US Joint Statement of Principles on Interoperability provides a strong practical foundation to further developing Australia-US military cooperation.

  • “The Statement of Principles provides an overarching and long-term statement that will guide decision making on the interoperability of Australia and US defence forces.   This will enable us to work more closely and effectively in support of shared regional and global security interests.

  • “Australia and the US have already agreed to enhance interoperability between our defence forces in areas such as communications and information exchange, operational planning and training.”

Review of Operational Level Interoperability Between the Military Forces of Australia and the United States of America, Australian Defence Force and U.S. Pacific Command, October 2004. [PDF, 7.5 MB]

“The MILREPS (more specifically, the Australian Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) and the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC)), established under the auspices of Article VIII of the ANZUS Treaty, are the military advisors to the AUSMIN. They address the interoperability obligations of Article II of the Treaty. A key objective of the MILREPS over the years has included the development of interoperability at the strategic, operational, and tactical level. More specifically, two of their goals are to (1) maximize Australia-U.S. interoperability at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels, and (2) continue the development of U.S.-led/Australia-supported, and Australia-led/U.S.-supported, combined operations through the conduct of regular exercises and activities.

“In recognition of Australia’s shared interest in regions outside of USPACOM’s area of
responsibility (AOR), USCINCPAC and CDF have agreed to invite representatives from other unified commands to future MILREPS meetings to improve collaboration. The invitees include representatives from U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), and U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM).”

Joint Directive by Chief Of The Defence Force and Secretary, Department Of Defence to Air Commodore D.A. Pietsch, Director General Of Interoperability, Directive 23/2004, July 2004

“CDF at COSC endorsed a recommendation from the report of the Operational Level Review of the effectiveness of interoperability between the armed forces of Australia and the United States to establish an Office of Interoperability. Conduct of the Review was directed by Minister for Defence and the U.S. Secretary of Defense during the Ministerial Meeting (AUSMIN) in October 2003. The Office will be established within the Capability Development Group. Initially, the Office will be responsible for the implementation of the Operational Level Report (October 2003) and with the follow-up action for those recommendations arising from the Strategic Level Report (October 2002) not yet completed. In the longer term, the Office will be required to turn its attention to the issues of joint and combined interoperability, addressing associated capability issues, and operational interoperability requirements.”

“You are appointed Director General of Interoperability (DGI) within Capability Development Group. You are responsible to the Chief of Capability Development Group (CCDG) through the Head of Capability Systems Division (HCS) for oversight of interoperability issues concerning capability development that impact on interoperability. You are also to be responsive to the Chief of Joint Operations, for progressing interoperability issues arising from the warfighters’ perspective. It will be necessary for you to maintain close contact with the Strategic Policy Group concerning current and emerging strategic policy issues effecting interoperability. Interoperability issues include consideration of joint, combined and coalition operations and activities, and information sharing policies.

“Specifically, you are to:

“a. Oversee, provide guidance, and coordinate implementation of the Strategic Level
Review and the Operational Level Review and their recommendations. In some
cases this may involve initiating staff action as a precursor to other ADO agencies
continuing implementation action.

“b. Develop expertise and oversight for joint and combined interoperability with United States and other potential coalition partners including New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.

c. Maintain effective liaison with the appropriate United States Combatant and Unified Commands and Agencies responsible for implementation of combined and U.S. specific recommendations. In particular cooperate with USPACOM as the lead U.S. Combatant Command with responsibility for implementation of the Operational Level Review across the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Five-Eyes Fora

Australia is a member country of the following  organisations estabished to foster interoperability amongst  member countries, which include the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. Most of these organisations are known as Five-Eyes groupings, though in cases where one or more is excluded, Four-Eyes or Three-Eyes respectively.

American, Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand International Military Standardization Fora, Washington Staff Handbook 2006

Detailed material on the Multinational Interoperability Council (MIC); the Combined Communications Electronics Board (CCEB); the America, Britain, Canada and Australia Armies Standardization Program (ABCA); the Air and Space Interoperability Council (ASIC); the Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States of America Naval Command, Control, Communications and Computers Organization (AUSCANNZUKUS); and the Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP)

Combined Communications-Electronics Board (CCEB),

An Introduction to the CCEB, Joint Chiefs of Staff, United States

“101. The Combined Communications-Electronics Board (CCEB) is a five-nation joint
military communications-electronics (C-E) organization whose mission is the coordination of any military C-E matter that is referred to it by a member nation. Themember nations of the CCEB are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The CCEB Board consists of a senior Command, Control, Communications and Computer (C4) representative from each of the member nations. The members of the board are known as the CCEB Principals.

“107. In 2005, the CCEB Principals adopted the following purpose statement: Enable Interoperable C4 Capabilities That Make Warfighters More Effective in Coalition Operations

“123. The CCEB is the organization responsible for enhancing joint interoperability of
allied C4 and coordinating C4 initiatives among the multinational interoperability

“124. A key group involved in CCEB interoperability solutions is the Multi-national
Security Accreditation Board (MSAB). Means to broaden and strengthen the current
relationship between the organizations are currently being explored and may result in a formal Statement of Cooperation (SOC).”


Multinational Forces Standing Operating Procedures (MNF SOP) Collaboration Site, Multinational Planning Augmentation Team (MPAT) Program

“Increasing Multinational Cooperation / Coordination for Military Operations Other Than War”

What is MPAT?, Multinational Planning Augmentation Team (MPAT) Program.

Analysis and Commentary

Aust/US Military: Importance of collaboration in counter terrorism, Karen Snowdon with General Gene Renuart, ABC, 2008-02-11 [Audio]

“Commander of the US Northern Command, Airforce General Gene Renuart, one of the United States’ most senior military commanders, says the US and Australia should be cooperating more on counter-terrorism measures and intelligence sharing in Asia.”

Briefing Notes: Expansion and Upgrading of Joint Australia-US Training Facilities, Richard Tanter, Austral Peace and Security Network, 19 June 2006

“In 2004 the Australian and US governments announced initiatives to heighten military collaboration between US forces and the ADF, including missile defence, the establishment of an Australia-US Joint Training Centre, and an Australia-US Joint Statement of Principles on Interoperability. This has led to plans for expansion of several defence facilities in northern Australia: Bradfield Defence Training Area in the NT and the Yampi Sound Training Area in WA. Both areas have significant environmental values. The Bradshaw facility was established following a Native Title Agreement. The upgrading of joint Australia-US training capacity in part flows from US initiatives to establish a Global Joint Training Infrastructure, developed from the US Joint Forces Command Joint National Training Capacity. The Australian Joint Training Centre will be networked together with the US facility in 2007.”

Danford W. Middlemiss and Denis Stairs, “The Canadian Forces and the Doctrine of Interoperability: The Issues”, Policy Matters/Enjeux Publics, June 2002, Vol. 3, No. 7. [PDF]

“These obstacles are commonly grounded in such factors as disagreements or misunderstandings over mission goals, priorities and rules of engagement (ROEs); the reliance of different coalition contributors on different types of equipment, or on similar equipment with different specifications; the commitment of the various national forces involved to incompatible tactical, organizational, leadership or other professional doctrines; the involvement in coalition campaigns of units that have been exposed to unrealistic and/or insufficient training and preparatory exercises; and a variety of other factors, ranging from different organizational cultures to outright policy disagreements at the highest levels of national decision-making. Left unattended, such sources of behavioural divergence can create havoc in the field, particularly when many of the national contingents involved are not large enough to be logistically, and in other respects, self-sufficient.

Deployment Integration of United States Marine Corps and Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Squadrons: Is it a viable concept? Jonathan O. Gackle, Major, USMC, U.S. Army Command And General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 2000.

“The U.S. National Security Strategy advocates an integrated strategic approach to security embodied by the terms Shape, Respond, and Prepare Now. Deployment integration is predicated on the third element–Preparing Now for an uncertain future. The research model chosen for this study integrates an Australian F/A-18 squadron into the Marine F/A-18 unit deployment schedule at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.

“The study concludes that deployment integration is indeed a viable cooperative security strategy that should be pursued. Although the research model is not recommended as a permanent arrangement, USMC and RAAF F/A-18 squadron integration is advanced as an important contingency capability. The effect of this arrangement is likened to a force multiplier in that when hostilities break out anywhere around the globe, an existing F/A-18 unit exchange can transition to an immediate RAAF contingency capability in Northeast Asia. The advantage of this contingency capability is added flexibility for geographic combatant commanders to use U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 squadrons in other regions of the world when circumstances demand it.”

Interview with MAJ James Murray, Operational Leadership Experiences, Combat Studies Institute, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 30 January 2006

“A Royal Australian Corps of Signals officer, Major James Murray served at the Australian National Headquarters, Middle East Area of Operations (ASNHQ-MEAO) from November 2002 to January 2003 – co-located with US Central Command’s forward deployed headquarters at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar – as the deputy J6 for Australian forces building up in theater in preparation for what becomes Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was also dual-hatted as the commander of a 10-man Australian signals element ‘that was going out there to physically build and stand up the headquarters in Camp As Sayliyah.’ Murray was responsible for communications and information systems support to the ASNHQ-MEAO and for planning the same to all Australian force elements to be assigned to OIF, including air, land, maritime and special operations forces. In addition, he planned host nation support and interoperability with US forces and regularly participated in combined planning with the CENTCOM J6 staff. ‘I had been picked to deploy partly because I commanded the high-readiness deployment signal unit’ in Australia, Murray explained, ‘but also based on my previous exchange and operational service with the US Army. I can speak American and, more importantly, military American – and even a subset of that which is technical signals military American.’ In this interview, Murray shares the full range of his experiences in helping establish what he called ‘the largest and most ambitious communications architecture the Australian Defense Forces had deployed to foreign operations.’ He also provides a wealth of insights into the always complex world of coalition warfare, discussing everything from information sharing among coalition partners to his advice for other international officers who’ll be working with American forces in the future.”

The MSDF Indian Ocean deployment – blue water militarization in a “normal country”, Richard Tanter, Austral Policy Forum: 06-10A 30 March 2006

“More generally, the Indian Ocean deployment has been of enormous value to the MSDF itself, by providing a very large portion of the MSDF’s ships and personnel with war zone experience. The MSDF thus gained practical experience of multilateral operations in theater, with all the trials of inter-operability, communications difficulties, differing rules of engagement, and differences in organisational culture. “Inter-operability” – the capacity to work together with military forces of other nations, is clearly a technical requirement for any effective multinational force – whether under UN auspices or any other. Almost immediately in 2001, the MSDF rapidly discovered how little prepared it was for large-scale operations far from home – and hence welcomed the opportunity for expansion of its capacities as a true “blue-water navy”.

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
11 June 2008