In the Australian strategic consciousness the Pacific Islands loom very large. There is more than two hundred years of history including seminal moments such as capturing German New Guinea in World War I, fighting the Imperial Japanese Forces in World War II and the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands in 2003.
Today there are three significant issues driving Australian strategic thinking about the Pacific Islands: geostrategic competition, climate change and a new Pacific Island regionalism. Australia has seized the moment to refocus on the region and implement a new regional strategy, the Pacific Step Up. This plays to the nation’s strengths and is in harmony with the 2018 Pacific Island Forum’s Boe Declaration on Regional Security.
This forward-looking paper moves from today’s national and regional strategies to 2040 with its possibilities for myriad outcomes and alternative futures. The paper argues that emerging aerospace technologies, human security constructs and different organisational concepts could combine to enhance Australia’s Pacific Step Up strategy in the future. Air power is not usually discussed in terms of human security. However, in the Pacific Island case reality intrudes and, perhaps surprisingly, air power has much to offer.