The Australian Institute of International Affairs was saddened to hear that Robert O’Neill AO, FASSO, FAIIA, passed away on 19 April 2023. He lived a life dedicated to academia and military service. O’Neill graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1958 and served in the Vietnam War as an infantry captain with the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment from 1966 to 1967.
O’Neill’s academic achievements began soon after leaving the Army. In 1965, he completed his Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford on “The Relationship between the German Army and the Nazi Party, 1933–9.” He was to later become instrumental in the development of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the ANU, and undertook the writing of the Official History of Australia’s role in the Korean War.
O’Neill’s achievements in the field of academia continued, with him holding various positions including Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and the Chichele Chair of the History of War at Oxford. He also held various chairmanship positions, including at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the Lowy Institute, and the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney. In addition to this, he was on the Advisory Board of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament until 2010
Robert O’Neill will be remembered for his significant contributions to academia and military history, and the impact he had on shaping the way we understand and approach these areas. He was recognized for his contributions when he was elected an AIIA Fellow in 2008 and when the ANU Press published “War, Strategy and History: Essays in Honour of Professor Robert O’Neill” in 2016.