On paper the strategic core of Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper exists in three matching pairs of strategic interests and objectives. These relate firstly to Australia’s direct security, secondly to Australia’s closer region in the South Pacific and maritime Southeast Asia, and thirdly to the wider Indo-Pacific and global security environment. Repeated injunctions that Australia should put its weight behind the global rules-based order indicate that the third of these is a major preoccupation. But how this goal connects to the ambitious force structure outlined in the White Paper is unclear. Instead, Australia’s drive to position itself alongside the United States, maximise America’s involvement in Australia’s region and develop closer connections with American forces and military technology does more to explain how this White Paper comes together. So too does an implicit argument that the defence of Australia’s maritime approaches begins further into the “Indo-Pacific” region than some may have assumed.