Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR-Nov-02.11.2011 Contents 14 | Asia Pacific Defence Reporter
Maintenance on an MH-60R Sea Hawk
helicopter aboard the aircraft carrier USS
George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).
Credit: USN / Kasey Krall
to publicly rely on, sometimes to even shelter behind, the judgement of
the CDF in relation to the Government’s policy in Afghanistan, but will not
rely on a CDF’s judgement as to how equipment is enough in the future.
The real value in such a tool is that it puts meat on the strategic bones.
One of the biggest problems in Defence is that it is not possible to go from
strategic guidance of the type that we see in the White Paper back to the
numbers and types of capabilities that the ADF should have. For example,
how many JSF’s should we have, or should we even have the JSF?
At least we should have a view on the number required and if we cannot
afford them, then so be it. But to start with the budget and then justify
the numbers might be clever politics, but it is amateurish and dangerous
strategy, and it is dishonest. In my view, the tool that I am advocating
shows clearly why we need about 100 net-enabled 5th generation fighters.
I am still not too sure that in a region possibly dominated by the PAK-FA
and J-20 series, if it should be the JSF.
What this tool does is to provide the feedback loop for the entire defence
function that is so obviously missing.
So my proposal is that we come up with a statement of the overall
operational requirement and then we make both government and defence
How do we get what might be called an Operational Accountability
Start with the force structure that Government claims will exist at some
point in time. Apply that force structure, using appropriate doctrine and
concepts, to the most demanding generic operational scenario that can be
honestly deduced from strategic guidance.
Test the impact on operational effectiveness of changes to the force
structure that government is proposing, and that government might be
directing through cancelling or delaying projects.
Hold government accountable for the impact on operational effectiveness
of its decisions to postpone, cancel or under invest.
It is my suggestion that we start with the force structure that the
government is saying the ADF will have at the end of the Defence Capability
Plan in 2021. To go outside the DCP - beyond ten years - is really difficult
because the government only indicates that it is serious about Defence by
allocating monies for that period. To go out past 10 years from now, we
start to get into the fantasy world of finance, threat, and technology.
In my view, although I found the 2009 Defence White paper very strange
indeed in its lack of logic and internal inconsistencies, the DCP delivers an
acceptable (not perfect) force structure leading in to Force 2030. But this
is only if, at some stage in the future, the proposed structure can be used
together as a joint combat force and if, in fact, we implement it over time
and if it actually works as advertised. Those are big “if ’s”.
The second step is to apply that Government-blessed force structure to
the most demanding, realistic, generic operational scenario, derived from
strategic guidance, below the level of a fight for national survival. Because
if you can do that, then anything less than that is easy.
This is not hard to come up with. Almost any of us can do it. And the
process of doing it, that is, talking and thinking about what strategic
guidance means in operational and tactical terms, and what is possible
with a given force, is a process that is worth its weight in gold anyhow.
What I need to stress is that this is a process that concerns political
leadership, as part of their education and their responsibility, as much as it
does military leadership. For a politician to leave this to the military alone,
as it does now, ignores hundreds of years of history, and is a cop out. The
best civilian leaders of the military have always been those who control
their generals the closest. This is what gives ministers ownership and
authority, and leads to accountability.
By working through a generic scenario, that is, a scenario that does not
include actual places or actual countries but does include other realistic
constraints (time, distance, etc) we avoid all the rubbish that goes on about
whether or not we would use the amphibious ships to invade China, or
whether 100 JSFs are adequate to defeat India, or why can’t we leave all
the heavy lifting to the US as we normally do. All of that kind of conjecture
we can leave to the think tanks or to the contingency planners. This is a
Also it gets around the out-dated discussion of expeditionary operations
versus defence of Australia. This was always a false distinction and still is.
Let’s suppose that a generic scenario might have the following
almost standard phases: Preliminary, Deployment, Setting the Strategic
Pre-conditions, Entry, Decisive and Transition Phases.
These phases along with essential assumptions relating to distances and
times (all of which can be, and must be, deduced from strategic guidance
based on informed military judgement and limited by actual capability)
represents the generic scenario against which operational effectiveness of
a current or future ADF can be publicly assessed.
Here is an example.
An Australian soldier looks through the scope of his HK417 rifle
during a security patrol with Afghan National Army.
Credit: CoA / Damian Pawlenko
Minehunters HMAS GASCOYNE in column with HMAS
DIAMANTINA, sails into Rabaul Harbour, Papua New Guinea.
Credit: CoA / Sarah Williams
APDR Nov 2011.indd 14
28/10/11 4:08 PM
Links Archive APDR Oct 2011 APDR Dec.Jan2012.HighRes.pdf Navigation Previous Page Next Page