Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 October 2021
Australia entered the Second World War with considerable experience of coalition warfare, mainly based on the events of the First World War. Reflecting its recent history as a group of separate British colonies, by the First World War the new nation had not developed a foreign service and had little capacity for independent strategic decision-making. The Australian Government learned that its troops had landed at Gallipoli four days after the event; it had not even been advised, let alone consulted. By the last year of the war, however, the Australian Prime Minister was sitting in the Imperial War Cabinet, although this was not a permanent arrangement. Similarly, at the operational level, the formations of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) became part of the wider Empire’s military forces and were deployed and employed by British commanders, who rarely consulted the senior Australian commanders. But by the last year of the war senior Australian commanders had learned to scrutinise the plans of their British superiors. Coalition warfare is therefore essentially about strategy and command.
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