This year marks 20 years since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, the precursor to US-led military operations in Afghanistan, joined by Australia.  

For the two decades, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in theatres far from both the US and Australian mainlands was the dominant, operational focus of the Australia-US alliance. Now both Australia and the United States look to focus the Alliance much closer to Australia, the Australia-US alliance a key element in a network of allies and partners working on a wide array of challenges in the Indo-Pacific. What lessons should both countries take from the twenty years since 9/11 for this next phase of the Australia-US alliance?

To explore these questions, the United States Studies Centre hosted USSC Non-Resident Senior Fellow Duncan Lewis AO, DSC, CSC and General David H. Petraeus (US Army, Retired). Both held senior leadership roles in uniform and in civilian life during the post-9/11 conflicts and are uniquely well placed to discuss this topic. Moderating the conversation was USSC Visiting Senior Fellow Jane Hardy, whose most recent posting was as the most senior Australian civilian representative at INDOPACOM in Honolulu. 

Duncan Lewis rose to the rank of Major General in the Australian Army and was appointed the inaugural commander of Australian Special Operations in January 2001. In civilian life, Lewis served as National Security Adviser in the Rudd government (2008-2011), Secretary of the Department of Defence (2011-2012) and Director-General of Security (2014-2019) under Coalition governments. He joined the United States Studies Centre as Non-Resident Fellow earlier this year.

David Petraeus served in the US Army for 37 years, with leadership roles including serving as commanding general, Multi-National Force - Iraq (2007-2008), US Central Command (2008-2010) and commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from 2010-11. He served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2011-12) during the presidency of Barack Obama. In 2009, Petraeus was awarded an honorary Order of Australia.