Volume II: Australia and the “New World Order”: from peacekeeping to peace enforcement, 1988–1991 (provisional title)

This volume is concerned with Australia’s role in the peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations that resulted from the end of the Cold War. At that time old rivalries began to dissolve in favour of what President Mikhail Gorbachev called a “new world order”, and the United States and the Soviet Union began to cooperate to help end a series of conflicts around the world. With the exception of Cambodia, to which Australia committed small numbers of personnel in 1989 and 1991, this volume covers missions that began between 1988 and 1991, and follows them through to their cessation.

By the beginning of 1988 Australia had deployed forces on UN and other peacekeeping missions for more than 40 years, and claimed a proud record of contributing positively to UN peace making and peacekeeping endeavours. Yet, at that time Australia had only 13 military personnel deployed on multinational peacekeeping operations and, apart from a few notable instances in the early 1980s (for example Rhodesia and the Sinai), the numbers of Australians committed to such activities had not changed much over 40 years. Between August 1988 and October 1991, however, Australia deployed more than 2,300 military personnel to peacekeeping and similar operations in Iran, Namibia, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Western Sahara. In the context of the end of the Cold War and the claim of a new world order, the volume explains how and why Australia’s approach to peacekeeping changed, and how these changes affected Australia’s defence and foreign policies. It also seeks to assess the effectiveness of Australia’s contribution to these missions.

The volume is divided into three parts. The first part examines strategy and policy between 1988 and 1991. It explains how the world strategic environment changed with the end of the Cold War and how these changes affected Australian defence and foreign policy.

The second part describes the new major peace missions to which Australians were committed forces during this period. These include the commitment of engineers to Namibia in 1989, the deployment of observers to Iran in 1988 (following the Iran–Iraq War), and the role of the humanitarian deminers in Pakistan and Afghanistan beginning in 1989.

The third part is an account of Australia’s involvement in the Gulf crisis and First Gulf War (1990–91). The story begins with the Australian Government’s decision to deploy naval forces to sanctions operations in the Gulf of Oman in August 1990, and describes why the government decided to take part in the Gulf War that began in January 1991. The focus moves between the decision-making in Canberra and the operations in the Gulf.

The volume is supported with maps, photographs, and substantial appendices, including lists of units, numbers of personnel, a discussion of Gulf War syndrome, and an account of Australia’s involvement in chemical warfare allegations in the 1980s.

Author: Professor David Horner, Official Historian (General Editor)

Professor David HornerProfessor David Horner

Update: David is presently preparing Volume III for publication.

Professor David Horner is the professor of Australian defence history in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. A graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, the Australian Army’s Command and Staff College, the University of New South Wales, and the Australian National University, he served as an infantry platoon commander in Vietnam and held various regimental and staff appointments until he retired from the army as a lieutenant colonel in 1990.

David has both written and edited 25 books on Australian military history, strategy, and defence, including Crisis of command (1978), High command (1982), SAS: phantoms of the jungle (1989), Inside the war cabinet (1996), Blamey: the commander-in-chief (1998), Defence supremo (2000), Making the Australian Defence Force (2001), and Strategic command: General Sir John Wilton and Australia’s Asian wars (2005). He is the editor of the Australian Army’s military history series and has been the historical consultant for various television programs. As an Army Reserve colonel, from 1998 to 2002 David was the first Head of the Australian Army’s Land Warfare Studies Centre. In 2004 he was appointed the Official Historian of the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations.

Further information:

CANA/89/0312/32 Members of 14th Field Troop serving with UNTAG, on Buffel training (vehicles protected against land mines). Northern Namibia, 1989CANA/89/0312/32

CANA/89/0313/04 Australian Field Engineers serving with UNTAG conduct mine awareness training for Kenyan Battalion Engineers. Namibia. 1989CANA/89/0313/04

P01403.067Boarding Iraqi vessel, Gulf of Oman . 1990P01403.067