The Defence White Paper of December 2000 declares that the main task of the ADF is to maintain the capability to defend Australian territory from any credible attack without relying on the combat forces of any other country. Australia is unusual among contemporary Western states in affirming such a policy. Most other states are reordering their priorities to put less emphasis on conventional conflict and more on tasks such as peacekeeping and border protection, while assuming that in the event of major conventional conflicts they are likely to be involved as subsidiary members of a coalition led in most cases by the United States. Should Australia follow this trend? The article reviews this question in the light of a number of scenarios for the use of Australia's armed forces in the period ahead, and concludes that the arguments for change are not persuasive.