Occasional Papers Series


The ACSACS on-line publication series embodies UNSW Canberra’s commitment to engaging in public discussion and, where possible, the development of public policy. This series was created in response to requests from Centre Fellows and Adjunct Lecturers for a vehicle to gain an audience for research and writing that relates to specialist topics that are not addressed in standard scholarly publications.  Three broad categories of work are ‘published’ in the Series – Position Papers, Working Papers and Occasional Papers – each reflecting the length and purpose of the manuscript rather than its academic discipline.

Position Papers are 2,000-4000 words in length and seek to shape debate, direct discussion or outline a position on some aspect of policy. The emphasis is on highly topical work embodying the opinion and judgements of the contributor on matters of contemporary concern. Working Papers are 3,000-5,000 words and are intended to be ‘work-in-progress’. Papers in this category are offered for comment from other scholars working in the area. These papers are ‘first drafts’ of more substantial pieces of writing and present interim conclusions. Occasional Papers exceed 5,000 words and constitute completed work. Papers in this category include high quality descriptive and analytical work that might be too specialised or too topical for a scholarly journal. There is no upper word limit for papers in this category.

These papers are available in identical HTML and print-ready PDF formats and include an author note, illustrative material and references for further ready. The series is promoted through UNSW Canberra and ACSACS Twitter accounts operated by the Centre Manager.

Submission Guidelines

Researchers interested in having their work appear in the series are encouraged to contact the Director of ACSACS in the first instance. Prospective contributors need to decide whether their submissions are to be assessed as Position, Working or Occasional Papers. Copies of the UNSW Press Author Pack containing guidelines on style and format are available from the Centre Manager.

Occasional Paper Series No: 4 - Intelligence analysis: what is it good for? The problem with probabilistic forecasting

There are a number of challenges associated with trying to measure the value of intelligence analysis. One current solution that has gained popularity is to focus on predictive intelligence, and to use statistical techniques to test predictions against the actual course of events. I will to demonstrate that this approach is not only fundamentally flawed in terms of method it is also dangerous because it gives priority to idle speculation about unknowable futures. I want to show that intelligence analysis is best measured by its ability to give decision-makers the broadest set of options and that its value resides in the outcomes of the actual choices that are made. My arguments and conclusions are based on two case studies: the Battle of Kursk during 1943 and the 2012 Malian coup. This approach will assist senior managers and strategic direction setters across intelligence agencies whose output includes predictive intelligence. It will be especially helpful to officials grappling with the problem of how to measure the quality and value of their intelligence analysis. 

Occasional Paper Series No: 3 - Australian Political Perceptions of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin

Occasional Paper Series No: 3 - Australian Political Perceptions of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin

On Easter Day 1916, the radical Irish Republican Brotherhood launched a rebellion against British rule with support from the Irish Volunteers. In the hope of inspiring a mass movement across they country, the rebels occupied a number of key buildings across Dublin including the General Post Office. The ‘Rising’ was largely confined to the Irish capital and quickly defeated by British military forces. The leading rebels including Thomas Clarke, Sean MacDermott and Patrick Pearse were summarily executed. This occasional paper examines Australian political perceptions of the Easter Rising. While the British Government considered the Rising to be a serious wartime threat to the British Empire, Irish-Australians were less than convinced. While many non-Irish Australians saw the Rising as sedition, their attitudes changed in the wake of the executions and the continuing brutal suppression of republican spirit in Ireland.

Nobility Down Under: How the Duchess became an Australian

Occasional Paper Series No: 2 - Nobility Down Under: How the Duchess became an Australian

The loss of HMAS Voyager after a collision with HMAS Melbourne off Jervis Bay on 10 February 1964 left 82 men dead and created a serious operational problem for the RAN. On completing her work-up, Voyager was due to return to South East Asia with HMAS Vampire for service in the Strategic Reserve. With the loss of HMAS Voyager, it seemed the best solution was to order Vendetta to accompany Vampire to the Strategic Reserve in May. HMAS Quiberon, which was to pay off, would remain in commission. She would be refitted in early June at Williamstown Naval Dockyard and relieve Vendetta at the end of the year. This action was subsequently agreed by the Naval Board. Yet, the RAN was still one destroyer short of what it needed to fulfill extant strategic demands and long-standing operational commitments. A crisis was looming.

Occasional Paper Series No: 1 - Soldiers, Squadrons and Strategists

Occasional Paper Series No: 1 - Soldiers, Squadrons and Strategists

The Western world is weary of conflict. Fifteen years of war since 2001 have drained the resources of many First World nations and have left an indelible stamp on their armed forces. Many militaries are now struggling to change and adapt in the aftermath. They are facing an identity crisis that must be resolved if they are to be prepared for future challenges. Cultural issues and the need for a better defined virtue-ethic from the tactical to the strategic sits at the heart of the struggle. Guiding this change is a major opportunity for the military ethicist who can contribute to the thinking of individuals, groups and strategists. This article outlines three ethical priorities – the resurgence of operational mentoring as a core role for ground forces; the ethics of operating in modern, massive multinational operations; and, the future ethics of robotics and the automation of war – which require the recasting of virtue ethics and their nuanced application by individuals, groups and strategists.