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The Australian National University

Dr David Brewster

Senior Research Fellow

PhD, Australian National University; LLM, Columbia University; LLB (First Class Honours), University of Sydney; BEc, University of Sydney

David Brewster Dr David Brewster is one of Australia’s leading academic experts on strategy and security in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.

He originally trained as an international corporate lawyer and practiced for around 20 years in Washington DC, New York, London, Paris and Sydney, including as a partner in a major Sydney law firm.
Since 2006, Dr Brewster has built an international reputation in the field of strategic and security studies. He currently hold appointments as: Visiting Fellow with the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre; Distinguished Research Fellow with the Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne; Fellow with the Royal Australian Navy Sea Power Centre, Canberra.

Areas of expertise

  • Defence Studies 160604
  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • International Relations 160607

Research interests / areas of expertise

  • Indian strategic affairs
  • Indian Ocean security
  • India's security and defence relationships



1.  Competition and coexistence between India and China in the maritime domain. This project considers how China and India interact as major maritime powers in the Indo-Pacific region.  Key questions to be considered by the project include: 

  • Understanding Chinese and Indian strategic ambitions in the maritime realm and perceptions of the legitimate maritime security roles of each other.
  • How the interests of China and India will intersect in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. 
  • How developments in Chinese and Indian trade and investment flows will affect maritime security.
  • Perceptions and interests of other key regional players in the Sino-Indian strategic relationship.

2.  Strategic competition in the Bay of Bengal. This project examines strategic competition in the huge bay comprised of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. In coming years this area, along with the South China Sea, may come to represent one of the key pivot points for maritime security along the Indo-Pacific littoral. The book will focus on the growth of India’s role as a security provider to the region and its impact on regional dynamics.

3.    Australia in the Indian Ocean.  This project will examine the development of Australia’s strategic role in the Indian Ocean from imperial to contemporary times. It will focus on the competing imperatives faced by Australia in supporting its alliance partners, especially in the Middle East, taking an active role in the security of Southeast Asia, as well as addressing its own continental security.  For over a century, the Indian Ocean region has been the scene of a constant whipsaw between Australia’s competing strategic priorities – is this Australia’s strategic destiny?




Updated:  20 June 2016/ Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/ Page Contact:  Web administrator, National Security College