America’s defence strategy in the Indo-Pacific is in the throes of a serious crisis. Faced with an ever more capable and assertive China, the US military urgently needs to refocus on the requirements of great power competition and rebuild its strength after years of costly conflict in the Middle East.

Washington, however, appears unable to sufficiently focus its armed forces on this goal; while budget uncertainty and political instability has seen Congress fail to deliver a defence spending plan commensurate with the overall scope of US strategy. The result is an increasingly dangerous mismatch between America’s strategic ends and available means.

In a special report from the United States Studies Centre, Ashley Townshend, Brendan Thomas-Noone and Matilda Steward argue that in the absence of hard choices by US leaders to spend more or do less in the world, America will confront rising levels of strategic risk with destabilising consequences for the Indo-Pacific. To avert a deeper crisis, they recommend that Australia take steps to advance a strategy of collective defence to offset shortfalls in America’s regional military position and bolster a favourable balance of power.

The report was launched in Canberra with a panel discussion featuring the report authors and Lisa Murray from The Australian Financial Review.