Following on from my post about the Defence Symposium held in Darwin, some of the papers are now available. If you are interested in obtaining some background, the details of the economics of the defence forces in the NT 2000/1 are here.
The (very heavily
censored?? edited) presentation by Kim Beazley obviously alluded to the changes instituted while he was Minister for Defence and consequently used terms such as disciplined, strategic planning and far sighted. As in ;
This massive change in the location of our defence forces was a product of a disciplined approach to defence planning with a clear-eyed understanding of the national interest.
It is under threat now from a political leadership seeking more a partisan opportunity with prejudice than addressing our real needs.”
Compared to the disorganised, knee jerk, short term lack of planning evident in today’s ADF….
Mr Beazley claimed Australian defence planning was in a state of complete confusion, with the government finding it hard to settle on a strategy from which armed services operational doctrine can be developed and force structure prioritised.
Well he would say that wouldn’t he ? (wasn’t that first said by someone else that had something to do with Profumo ?) However some of the other speakers bolstered Bomber’s arguments with similar sentiments.
For instance Professor Paul Dibb said;
the Government’s new defence posture suggests that the defence of Australia doctrine will be wound back in favour of expeditionary capabilities with the US.
The professor continued ….
Australia’s defence policy stands at a crossroads. Either we continue to give priority to the defence of Australia as the primary determinant of the ADF’s force structure or we move more to an expeditionary force designed for coalition operations with our US ally. The current indications are that influential individuals in the debate in Canberra are attempting to move us decisively in the latter direction.
And asked the questions …..
should we now restructure the ADF for the so-called war on terror and, if so, just how is that to be done without stripping away from our small Defence Force its high technology, conventional war fighting capabilities? ….. Aren’t we better off sticking to the successful formula of having available niche capabilities that are in short supply in the US order of battle from within an ADF primarily structured as a balanced force for the defence of Australia?
This principle of self-reliance reflects, fundamentally, said the White Paper “our sense of ourselves as a nation”. It went on to state that this provides a clear basis for our defence planning, which is clearly understood both by Australians and our neighbours. We should not rely on others having either the capacity or willingness to defend our own country, especially if we have not taken the effort to provide effectively for our own defence. There has been no public discussion whatsoever of whether tanks are an appropriate niche capability for Australia to be contributing to coalition operations with the United States. What difference will 50, or even 100, Australian tanks make to US military operations? (It has over 7,600 main battle tanks). The US has much more important deficiencies in such capabilities as Special Forces, tanker aircraft, airborne early warning and control aircraft, and even submarines.
IMO the most telling conclusion made by Air Commodore Steven Walker was ;
We should never have to use the expression ‘with hindsight’. If that were the case, we would have failed to understand the significance of a piece of information, or failed to pass it to someone who did.
Unfortunately, if his words are applied to what happened in Bali, who was the ‘someone’ responsible ?
A fascinating review of TERRORISM IN EUROPE SINCE 9/11: RESPONSES AND CHALLENGES by Joanne Wright covers 30 pages and gives readers plenty to think about.
My conclusions from the material presented at the symposium are;
1. SNAFU – the bureaucrats in Canberra have no idea of what’s going on at the bleeding edge.
2. There seems to be a (widening) gulf between theory and practice.
3. The emphasis is shifting from ‘protecting Australia’ to ‘positioning the ADF for expeditionary forays’.
4. While recognising that if the Indonesian economy turns to shit that country could be a terrible threat to Australia, no cognisance whatsoever has been taken of the potential for India (four times the population and how many times the firepower of Indonesia ??) To completely overwhelm us. I couldn’t find one reference to India or Indian in the hundreds of pages of presentations.
Am I paranoid or what ?