Editor's note: this review was written by Mark O'Neill at the request of the Cove. He is the author of one of the chapters within the Long Road.
Australian Forces have been engaged in security force assistance training for over a century. Such missions have been an enduring feature of the Australian Army’s operational commitments since the Vietnam War. Literally thousands of our people have been involved in this important task over the last five decades. It is an ongoing mission today in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the South Pacific.
A new book from the UNSW Press, The Long Road, Australia’s Train, Advise and Assist Missions analyses our ‘Train, Advise, and Assist’ (TAA) missions and offers a comprehensive summary of the Australian experience. The book critically reflects upon those experiences and suggests ways to enhance or improve the conduct of these missions.
The book encompasses ten themes, ranging from the historical, political and strategic; to personal experiences and ‘legacies and lessons’. Supporting the diversity of the subject matter is the diversity of the twenty three contributing authors. They include politicians, journalists, diplomats, aid workers, historians and, crucially, veterans and serving soldiers.
Key to the usefulness of The Long Road to a professional Army readership is that it is written by experienced practitioners. The result is a collection of chapters that strongly reflect the complexity of these operations, and lived experience of our people doing them. Despite the range of subject matter expertise represented the editor maintains a coherent and cohesive narrative throughout the book.
The book will be of professional interest to Australian Army people seeking to develop their understanding and professional mastery of TAA missions. It is a highly relevant and very readable distillation of experiences, lessons and pointers to future success in this area of recurring importance.
About the author: Mark O'Neill is an experienced Australian Army officer with operational experience in Somalia, Mozambique, Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been the Chief of Army Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Joint Operations LO to the DFAT and an lecturer at the National Security College. In 2013 he earned a PhD from the UNSW. He is currently posted to Army HQ.