Relations with Australia

  • Last updated: 15 Jun. 2020 11:24

NATO and Australia are strengthening relations to address shared security challenges. Australia is one of the top non-NATO troop contributors to NATO-led efforts in Afghanistan.

Photo By: Corporal (CPL) Ricky Fuller  Caption: Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team Leader, Lieutenant Jacob Kleinman discusses the patrol route with Brigadier John Caligari, during a brief halt in a joint Australian and Afghan patrol in Afghanistan.  Mid Caption: Deputy Commander joins his troops on the ground in southern Afghanistan.  There is an old military adage that time spent in reconnaissance is time not wasted and during his recent visit to the 1st Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force (MRTF – 1), Deputy Commander of Australian Forces in Afghanistan, Brigadier John Caligari, took the opportunity to gain a first hand experience of the world in which his soldiers operate.  Having joined the Battle Group on a mission “outside the wire” to participate in the opening of the Australian built Sorkh Morgab Basic Health Centre, the Brigadier joined MRTF – 1 Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Shane Gabriel and the soldiers from one of his Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams on a foot patrol of the surrounding region. The area has seen serious engagements with the Taliban during the eight month deployment of the 1st Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force.  The Brigadier experienced first hand the complex urban and rural environments in which his soldiers have had to operate and the oppressive heat of the Afghan summer. Brigadier Caligari also got to meet the local people who are benefiting from both Australian lines of operation, the mentoring of Afghan soldiers and the reconstruction of much needed infrastructure in the rural province.


  • NATO and Australia have been engaged in dialogue and cooperation since 2005.  Australia is one of a range of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area – often referred to as “partners across the globe” – with which NATO is strengthening relations.
  • In a joint political declaration in June 2012, NATO and Australia signalled their commitment to strengthening cooperation.
  • Since February 2013, work continues to advance through an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme.
  • Australia currently provides support for NATO-led defence capacity building efforts in Afghanistan and has committed to supporting the new NATO Mission Iraq.
  • Beyond cooperation on global challenges, the aim is to work together more closely on crisis and conflict management. An important priority is to protect the rules-based international order, promote mutual understanding of global security issues, and enhance interoperability between NATO and Australia. 
  • Cooperation is underpinned by regular high-level political dialogue, including a biennial bilateral Strategic Dialogue, and Australia is represented at summit-level meetings bringing together all nations that contribute to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.



Key areas of cooperation

Australia’s cooperation with NATO is mutually beneficial and includes:

Building capabilities and interoperability

  • Since 2014 under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative, Australia participates in the Interoperability Platform that brings Allies together with 24 partners that are active contributors to NATO’s operations. Australia is also one of six countries which have enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with the Allies (known as ‘Enhanced Opportunity Partners'1) in recognition of their particularly significant contributions to NATO operations and other Alliance objectives.
  • To deepen interoperability, Australia participates in committee work on issues such as logistics, information-sharing among operational partners, ballistic missile defence and cooperation in the armaments field.
  • Australia also participates in NATO exercises, including for example exercise Trident Juncture 2018. 

Support for NATO-led operations and missions

  • Over almost a decade, Australia was one of the largest non-NATO troop contributors to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which completed its mission in 2014. As part of a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan, Australian personnel provided security and delivered reconstruction and community-based projects. Additionally, Australia’s Special Operations Task Group operated in direct support of ISAF elements in Uruzgan Province. Australia continues to support NATO’s follow-on Resolute Support Mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces. Australia is also a leading contributor to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund, having pledged USD 440 million to the fund since 2010.
  • Both NATO and Australia are members of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and help train Iraqi forces. Australia has committed to supporting the new NATO Mission Iraq, launched in July 2018.
  • Australia and NATO also work together to strengthen maritime security. Australia is a potential operational partner for NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian. The Australian navy also cooperated with NATO to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia as part of the past operation Ocean Shield.

Wider cooperation

1. Enhanced Opportunity Partners: Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden