Australia’s incremental steps to war: Part 2

On 11 October 2014 I wrote an article ‘Australia’s Incremental Steps to War,’ which analysed the Australian government’s gradual escalation to committing troops to fight Daesh in Iraq. I concluded with this:

The government’s expansion of Australia’s involvement in Iraq from humanitarian aid drops to the spectre of sending in soldiers has occurred incrementally. At each stage the government has refused to rule out further involvement… With further incremental advances, and without clear and defined goals, it is inevitable that Australian will become more involved.

Less than five months later Prime Minster Abbott has indeed further involved Australia in Iraq, by confirming the deployment of another 300 troops, to help train the Iraqi forces.

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Australia’s incremental steps to war

Regardless if it is technically at war or not, Australia is becoming more and more involved in the fight against Islamic State (IS). Keeping in line with the US, the operations of Australian armed forces are gradually being escalated. It is likely the Australian government had considered an extended military role in Iraq as early as August, and was encouraging the US to increase its military involvement there.1 But politicians know the unpopularity of sending Australian troops overseas, so the government adopted an incremental approach to escalation, as if breaking the news to the public gently, with each step further involving Australian armed forces in the conflict. Over the course of two months Australian operations evolved from humanitarian aid drops into airstrike missions and the deployment of SAS Commandos as military advisers. How long before the government commits ground troops to the battle?

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  1. In fact The Australian revealed that even this early the ­Abbott government was considering an extended military role in Iraq and was encouraging the US to increase its military involvement there and possibly in Syria. Morton R & Balogh S 2014, ‘Greens warning on Iraq “mission creep”’, The Australian, 26 August 2014, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/greens-warning-on-iraq-mission-creep/story-e6frg8yo-1227036515694