The Military and Security in the Pacific Islands Past and Present

  • Stewart FirthEmail author


This chapter provides an overview of militaries and socio-political transformation in the Pacific. Formal security arrangements link some Pacific island countries with more powerful external states. New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna, as parts of overseas France, come under the security arrangements of the French Republic. The Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau are protected by New Zealand, which is legally responsible for their defence. Seven Pacific island entities, together accounting for large areas of the Pacific Ocean, are the defence responsibility of the USA—Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. Papua New Guinea (PNG), a country of almost 8 m, is promised consultation with Australia in the event of attack on its territory and is receiving more military assistance under a revamped defence cooperation programme with Australia. The remaining Pacific island countries fall under an informal security guarantee from Australia and New Zealand and to a lesser extent the USA. Australia has long seen its immediate neighbourhood as a strategic interest second only to the defence of the Australian continent itself. This chapter is an attempt to provide a coherent approach to understand these complex security dynamics and their history in a culturally diverse part of the world.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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