The United States is facing multiple challenges to sustaining its military-technological edge in the Indo-Pacific. But could its "Third Offset" strategy be the key to bolstering its military power in the region?

A report released today by Alliance 21 research fellow Brendan Thomas-Noone analyses the set of strategies in the Third Offset which mobilise innovation, new technologies and institutional reform to allow the US military to retain its technological superiority. He argues that the direction of the Third Offset – and its success or failure – should inform Australia’s strategic outlook, and that Canberra should seek to expand Australia’s defence research coordination and collaboration with the United States, along with its engagement on testing, exercises and simulations that will form new Third Offset military concepts.

"The Third Offset strategy is perceived as a solution to matching the US defence budget with US strategic ambitions – to find means of sustaining its military-technological advantage in this new era of great power competition," Thomas-Noone said.

"For Australia, the Third Offset’s success or failure will have profound implications for the United States’ future military posture in the Indo-Pacific."

Key points

  • The United States is placing ‘bets’ on a series of new technologies, from artificial intelligence to hypersonic weapons, that will allow its military to project force in contested environments.
  • Australia needs to expand its engagement with the United States on the testing, exercises and simulations that will form new Third Offset military concepts.
  • Canberra should explore the possibility of hosting, or jointly funding, an international Defence Innovation Unit Experimental Office, providing strategic coordination on technological developments, resourcing and opportunities for Australian defence firms. A US-Australia Defence Technology Workshop should also be established to generate new ideas.

View report

Media enquiries

Drew Sheldrick
T 02 9114 2622