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Having given my paper, I could sit back and listen to the other presentations. The standard was very high.

The papers on Somalia and East Timor were particularly good. The Australian Army's greatest asset remains its ability to learn and the prime reason it can do so is its broad cynical and self-deprecating streak. Army admits that it is not a combat experienced organisation. The surge of public support that accompanied the deployment to East Timor is regarded as an anomaly which is not expected to recur. The media are regarded as hostile elements that the Rules of Engagement forbid them from shooting.

There was a thought-provoking paper on the prospects of increasing defence co-operation with Canada. I thought that the difficulties of a coalition between two partners of (roughly) equal size had been under-estimated. It surprised even the speaker how interested the Canadian forces were interested in our experience. Of course, Australians remain unconvinced that we can learn anything at all from Canada.