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  • The bottom line

    The Albanese government’s first budget puts Defence spending at 1.96 per cent of GDP in 2022-23 – less than the 1.98 per cent posted by the Coalition the previous year – as it delays new ­acquisition programs until its submarines and defence strategic ­reviews are completed in March.

    Defence spending is forecast to rise to 2.12 per cent in 2023-24 and remain at about that level for the next two years – far short of what will be required to deliver nuclear submarines and other capabilities to deter potential adversaries.

    Inflation forecasts at 5.75 per cent through 2022-23, and 3.5 per cent the following year, will slash Defence’s effective budget by the equivalent of $2.8bn this financial year and $1.85bn the next.

    In just a handful of new initiatives, the government will spend $6.9m to establish its promised Pacific Defence School, $32.2m to support defence manufacturing in Queensland, and $5.2m to develop renewable fuels for the military.

    The budget also confirms an ­already announced $1.17bn ­budget allocation to recruit new ADF ­personnel.
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
    It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

    Comment


    • ADMk2
      ADMk2 commented
      Editing a comment
      But, but, but, we’re less than years out from high intensity warfare with China aren’t we?

      Oh wait, climate change is the REAL threat, right?

      😆

  • Full story

    Budget 2022: Defence spending static despite threats

    Australian artillery soldiers fire their M777 Howitzer during Talisman Sabre 2021. Picture: Defence
    Australian artillery soldiers fire their M777 Howitzer during Talisman Sabre 2021. Picture: Defence
    • BEN PACKHAM
      FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT
    • 7:20PM OCTOBER 25, 2022
    Defence spending is forecast to remain under the 2 per cent of GDP benchmark this financial year ­despite worsening strategic circumstances and a $2.8bn cut to the department’s purchasing power due to soaring inflation.

    The Albanese government’s first budget puts Defence spending at 1.96 per cent of GDP in 2022-23 – less than the 1.98 per cent posted by the Coalition the previous year – as it delays new ­acquisition programs until its submarines and defence strategic ­reviews are completed in March.

    Defence spending is forecast to rise to 2.12 per cent in 2023-24 and remain at about that level for the next two years – far short of what will be required to deliver nuclear submarines and other capabilities to deter potential adversaries.
    Inflation forecasts at 5.75 per cent through 2022-23, and 3.5 per cent the following year, will slash Defence’s effective budget by the equivalent of $2.8bn this financial year and $1.85bn the next.

    In just a handful of new initiatives, the government will spend $6.9m to establish its promised Pacific Defence School, $32.2m to support defence manufacturing in Queensland, and $5.2m to develop renewable fuels for the military.

    The budget also confirms an ­already announced $1.17bn ­budget allocation to recruit new ADF ­personnel.

    Defence Minister Richard Marles said the budget “reinforces Defence’s readiness and capability to support our nation and promote stability and prosperity in our region”.

    “As we face the most challenging geopolitical circumstances since the Second World War, the Albanese government is committed to properly managing every dollar of defence spending, and ensuring Defence can deliver the capabilities ADF personnel need, when they need them,” he said.

    Despite largely maintaining the budget settings of the former Coalition government, Mr Marles attacked his predecessor ministers for what he branded as a “decade of wasteful mismanagement”. The minister has accused the former government of presiding over $6.5bn in Defence budget blowouts and a cumulative 97 years in project delays.

    But the Defence budget papers confirm progress will remain slow on key acquisitions, with just $943m set to be spent on the troubled $45bn Hunter-class frigate program in 2022-23, while a scant $250m will be spent this ­financial year on the navy’s $4bn guided weapon’s program.

    The army’s $5.6bn Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle program is on track to spend $686m this financial year, bringing expenditure to date to $2.5bn.

    But there is no mention in the budget papers of the delayed $27bn infantry fighting vehicle program, which could face a cut when the defence strategic review is finalised.

    There are also no new details on planned domestic missile production, the acquisition of US-made US High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or measures to speed the procurement of the Australian Defence Force’s first armed drone.

    The budget includes $220m this financial year for the in-development Ghost Bat drone, formerly known as the Loyal Wingman. The funds will be used to acquire an additional seven of the aircraft, which promises “fighter-like performance”. But, despite the essential role played by armed drones and loitering munitions in the Ukraine conflict, there is no word on when the aircraft will ­become operational.

    Mr Marles has said the cost of the nation’s planned AUKUS submarines – the most ambitious project ever attempted in Australia – would begin to be reflected in the next federal budget, after Defence delivers its nuclear submarine task force report.

    The final defence strategic review will be completed at the same time, identifying the urgent capabilities Australia will need to meet growing strategic threats.

    BEN PACKHAM
    FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT​
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
    It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

    Comment


    • Budget 2022: Real military test to come next year

      Australian Army soldiers from the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, stand with Hanwha Defence Australia Redback Infantry fighting vehicle (left) and Rheinmetall Lynx KF4 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (right). Picture: ADF
      Australian Army soldiers from the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, stand with Hanwha Defence Australia Redback Infantry fighting vehicle (left) and Rheinmetall Lynx KF4 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (right). Picture: ADF
      • 8:13PM OCTOBER 25, 2022
      The first defence budget from the Albanese government is hardly going to worry China. In fact, this steady-as-you-go, do-little budget actually sees defence spending fall from 1.98 per cent to 1.96 per cent as a percentage of GDP. Normally such a mismatch between defence funding and Australia’s increasingly ominous strategic outlook would be a damning indictment of a new government.

      But to be fair, cabinet has deliberately held fire on new spending commitments until it receives two key reports that will almost certainly kickstart a new era of much higher defence spending, to help counter a rising China and to pay for a raft of mega-projects, including a fleet of nuclear submarines.

      This why the true test of the Labor government’s commitment to national security will come early next year, when it responds to both the Defence Strategic Review and the report of the Nuclear Submarine Taskforce, both of which are due by March.

      That is when we will learn the future shape of the Australian Defence Force and the detailed plans for acquiring eight nuclear-powered submarines. That is also when the government will learn how much its defence force will actually cost, or at least how much it is willing to pay for.

      At that point, Anthony Albanese will need to make arguably the most consequential decision of his first term in power. Will he be willing to make a long-term commitment to much greater defence spending at the expense of other needy portfolios like health, education and the NDIS?

      Defence experts are all but unanimous in saying that defence spending will need to grow to more than 3 per cent of GDP at a minimum if Australia is to create a more muscular military deterrent in the face of China’s rise as a regional military giant. This includes funding its long shopping list of new items, headed by the nuclear submarines and the new fleet of frigates.

      Mr Albanese has promised to lift defence spending to over 2 per cent of GDP – a level which the government expects to achieve in 2023-24 – but he has given no commitment beyond this, except to pledge that the government will ‘‘ensure that Defence has the resources it needs to defend Australia and deter potential aggressors”.

      Significantly increased defence spending will be needed to fund a raft of crucial projects, including the purchase of long-range missiles, plans to increase the defence workforce by 18,500 by 2040, the $45bn project to built nine new Hunter-class frigates in Adelaide and the acquisition of eight nuclear-powered submarines at an estimated cost of between $116bn and $171bn.

      Of course history is littered with governments, both Labor and Liberal, which make grand rhetorical commitments to greater defence spending only to abandon this when other priorities compete.

      But the gloomy strategic outlook has elevated the importance of defence and national security to a level not normally seen in peacetime and this has forced the government to search for ways to make the defence force more potent, more quickly.

      The Ukraine war has morphed into a protracted conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the country’s south and east, which could drag on for years.

      In fact, the government’s budget has tacitly admitted this by providing $213m over five years to provide more Bushmaster armoured vehicles and lightweight howitzers, as well as help for Ukraine’s border guards and improved cyber security.

      In our region China is trying to buy off the Solomon Islands and other Pacific nations in our backyard, while Beijing continues to break new records in its defence spending while further cementing its illegal presence on disputed land in the South China Sea.

      The chief of US naval operations, Admiral Mike Gilday, warned last week that China could invade Taiwan as soon as this year.

      The sharp deterioration in the strategic outlook means that the current 10-year funding model of slow but steady rises in defence spending – which was first laid out in the 2016 White Paper and reaffirmed in the 2020 Strategic Update – will not be enough to fund the future ADF.

      The model is outdated, having been formulated when China was not considered the threat it is today and before the three-nation AUKUS agreement committed Australia to buying a nuclear submarine fleet which will be the single largest spending commitment in the nation’s history.

      The defence budget is projected to rise from $45.48bn to $48.7 billion in 2022-23, marginally above the $48.6bn forecast in May by the previous Morrison government.

      In the absence of anything much to boast about, Defence Minister Richard Marles chose to emphasise the management of defence spending rather than the absolute amount of spending.

      “As we face the most challenging geopolitical circumstances since the Second World War, the Albanese government is committed to properly managing every dollar of defence spending, and ensuring Defence can deliver the capabilities ADF personnel need, when they need them,” Mr Marles said.

      “This is in stark contrast to the decade of wasteful mismanagement by the former Coalition government.”

      As a percentage of GDP, defence spending is projected to rise progressively from 1.96 per cent to 2.08, 2.12 and 2.1 per cent in the forward estimates, but these figures will almost certainly be revised after the government receives the Defence strategic review and the nuclear submarine report.

      However, the government has at least taken welcome steps in this budget to target security, defence and infrastructure assistance to the Pacific at a time when China is seeking to strike new security deals with island nations. Commitments include $900m over four years to increase support for ‘‘development and resilience’’ and almost $150m over four years to boost security and engagement, including continuing the ADF’s deployment in the Solomon Islands.

      The budget papers contain no reference to the nuclear submarine plan because it is not yet an official project. But they do show that only $943m will be spent this financial year on the troubled Hunter frigate project which has been delayed by 18 months by weight and design problems.

      CAMERON STEWART
      ASSOCIATE EDITOR​
      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
      It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

      Comment


      • ARHmk3
        ARHmk3 commented
        Editing a comment
        The real problem isn't that Labor don't give a shit, it's that the ADF and DoD don't seem to give much of a shit either.

      • CaptainCleanoff
        CaptainCleanoff commented
        Editing a comment
        Yeah agreed.

      • unicorn11
        unicorn11 commented
        Editing a comment
        I strongly suspect its because the senior echelons of the ADF don't ever expect to get sent into a war where the enemy can shoot back with anything more effective than small arms. That's what they were up against in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

        Given that, they don't expect the government of the day to send them into combat against the Chinese, because we might actually take, shock horror, mass casualties, and they assess that our politicians are too afraid of that to risk it.

        We have a show military, its there to look nice and so the government can point to it and say, 'look, we're defending the nation', but in effect its just there to plug into someone else's low risk, pseudo-peacekeeping op.

        So the senior echelons of the ADF buy the Gucci gear in small quantities as part of doing deals with foreign companies to feather their post-retirement nests, because they think that the greatest defence force this country has is distance, and we rely on that and our great and powerful ally, for protection.

    • ‘Business as usual’ thinking must change

      Hypersonic rocket technology at Woomera could be further developed through the AUKUS arrangement. Picture: Deparment of Defence

      By Duncan Lewis

      October 27, 2022

      The strategic circumstances we face are no longer benign. We have known this for some time. Consequently, in recent years measures have been taken by successive governments to address the need for a more capable ADF.

      Work has been done to harness the sinews of national power across government and the community to provide a more comprehensive and “joined up” defence and security posture.

      Diplomatic efforts to bring together a more closely aligned group of like-minded countries have yielded results – for example the Quadrilateral Dialogue partnership and, most recently, AUKUS. These are all wise and prudent measures, but are they enough?

      Perhaps more importantly, are the actions being taken fast enough? While national security leaders are aware of this situation and monitor it constantly, the sense of urgency does not seem to penetrate down through the wider bureaucracy and has not been adequately telegraphed to the Australian community. Beyond the strategic national security leadership group and their immediate staff there remains an air of “business as usual”. This must change.

      Today there exists a dangerous gap in Australia’s exertions to defend and secure ourselves. On the one hand, there is the strong political rhetoric around the very serious deterioration in our strategic circumstances. On the other there does not yet appear to be corresponding and balancing action being taken to match the rhetoric.

      Our region is feeling the pressure of great power rivalry between the US and China and Europe is embroiled in a very serious ground war with threats of nuclear escalation. The global rules-based world order is being challenged. Democracy itself is under threat as autocratic governments seek to expand their influence.

      The current Defence Strategic Review is one opportunity for change, noting the notorious difficulty in turning the “defence ship” around. Current investment in existing capability and some soon-to- be-fielded capabilities cannot just be set aside. However, a review recommendation that we simply extend our current capabilities and force structure by a few percentage points would fail the present test.

      A few more ships or a few more aircraft won’t cut it. Any potential adversary has far more of those than we could ever field. So, beyond our centrally important alliance partnership with the US, where should we start in order to yield quick results?

      Here are three lines of action which may prove useful.

      First, make the existing force lethal and survivable to the maximum extent that technology and budget will allow. We need to fit our existing platforms with the most advanced and lethal weapon systems. We must develop the capacity to pursue “spiral growth” in those technologies and systems to ensure we remain at the leading edge into the foreseeable future. Our own domestic defence research and production capacity should be expanded to ensure we remain at the forefront of developments in weapons technology.

      We could well take a lead from Israel with respect to maintaining cutting edge, sovereign development and enhancement of weapon systems. The indigenous development of “black boxes” which enhance the lethality of older and more enduring platforms is a great and quick force multiplier. The prospective work through AUKUS on emerging and novel technologies to support our forces is to be heralded. We will, of course, need to continue with some long lead time platforms of which the nuclear-powered submarine capability is a case in point. However, a significant lift in defence capability in the here and now is essential.

      Second, is the matter of asymmetry. Australia must continue to work within the security bedrock of the US alliance structure. However, as a middle power we will never be in a position to match the full range of defence capabilities an aggressive great power can bring to bear. We must therefore make ourselves “selectively strong”. This is frequently referred to as the “porcupine strategy”. The review will no doubt look at this issue but to successfully pursue such a strategy will require investment in some new and quite specific capabilities.

      Many of these systems are available now and some are still in development. They will not be cheap. In particular long- and medium-range missile capabilities and autonomous underwater systems will be required in order to inflict damage on an aggressor.

      This is especially important in the narrow sea lanes to Australia’s north where large approaching forces would be vulnerable.

      The notion of creating asymmetry inevitably involves moving resources from one area to bolster another. This will likely be a challenge for the review, as nobody in the defence or broader national security machine likes to lose capability.

      Budget realities will require cuts to some existing parts of Defence. These cuts must yield significant resources and discerning judgment will be required.

      The third and final thought which may assist the government in implementing a successful defence review is the central matter of a social licence from the Australian community to step up defence spending. Most Australians don’t follow defence and national security issues from day to day. They are, however, generally aware of the deteriorating situation we face.

      A more detailed and focused community discussion is urgently required.

      Increasing defence spending necessarily means cutting into other programs and inevitably impacting Australians’ standards of living. We are not accustomed to this as a community and the discussion will be difficult. If we are to adequately provide for our defence and security in the emerging environment, we will have to spend more than the current 2 per cent of GDP on defence.

      The notion that the current planned budget parameters would cover the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines and particular weapon systems to achieve asymmetry, as well as building a strong Australian defence industry base is fanciful.

      The Albanese government has correctly commissioned the defence review. The recommendations of the review and the way in which the government manages those recommendations will be critical to the security of our country.

      There is no easy way out of the dilemma where our strategic rhetoric is not matched by urgent security preparation. This will be a major challenge, particularly at a time when the federal budget is under strain. We should, however, keep in mind that when it comes to defence and security “hope is not a method”.

      Duncan Lewis is a professor at ANU’s national Security College and a former Secretary of Defence.
      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
      It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

      Comment


      • Smith and Houston’s wicked problem

        The independent leads of the Defence Strategic Review Angus Houston and Stephen Smith.

        By Marcus Hellyer

        October 27, 2022

        Stephen Smith and Angus Houston, the independent leads of the Defence Strategic Review commissioned by the Albanese government, have got their work cut out for them. The scope of the review has steadily grown since the start of the election campaign and the terms of reference now require the review to assess Australia’s strategic circumstances, recommend the force structure needed to address them, identify the infrastructure and logistics needed to support that force, work out how to mobilise it and, last but not least, add up what it all will cost.

        It’s a huge body of work, indeed, as much work as a white paper. Those normally take about 18 months. Smith and Houston have eight.

        They aren’t of course starting from scratch. It appears the new government shares the high-level assessments set out in the previous government’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update including the need for new offensive capabilities and the long-overdue recognition we no longer have years of warning time for regional conflict. So there’s wide agreement on the strategic challenges we face. But there certainly isn’t agreement on the solutions.

        Many observers noted that the force structure set out in the DSU was not well-aligned with those strategic assessments; in particular Defence’s investment plan didn’t share the DSU’s sense of urgency as many key capabilities wouldn’t even start to be delivered for over a decade. In essence, the task now facing Smith and Houston is to resolve the mismatch between strategic urgency and the extended delivery time of Defence’s capability plan.

        But the task has gotten harder in the past two years.

        First, inflation is eating into the defence budget’s buying power. The government will need to increase the budget just so Defence can tread water. Adding to the shopping list will take even more money on top of that.

        Second, the Morrison government’s decision last year to pursue nuclear-powered submarines means the Navy will likely have to wait even longer for new boats, plus the higher cost of nuclear submarines puts even more pressure on the budget.

        A key task for the DSR will be to determine how to fill a likely submarine capability gap in a tight fiscal situation.

        Third, it’s increasingly clear that the planned force will require a lot more people to operate and maintain. Based on Defence’s recruitment and retention performance in recent years, there’s no guarantees it will be able to find those people, no matter how much money it throws at the problem.

        Fourth, the tasks facing the ADF are multiplying, stretching it even thinner. There’s a firm government and public expectation that Defence will make major contributions to disaster relief. In an age of climate change that’s an open-ended commitment that could sap Defence’s war-fighting capabilities.

        Fifth, there are few quick and easy capability solutions to be found by buying off-the-shelf from the US or Europe. The lesson from the war in Ukraine is that larger weapons stocks are essential, so everybody’s production lines are now booked up far in advance, especially for precision guided weapons. Meanwhile setting up local production lines, whether for ships, submarines, armoured vehicles or missiles is a slow process.

        And finally, the need to develop allied capabilities to deter China’s coercive actions has grown more pressing. China’s military capabilities are growing. This isn’t just a challenge off in the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea. China’s naval vessels are frequent visitors to our near region and its strike capabilities can reach the Australian mainland.

        To mix our metaphors, it’s a perfect storm of wicked problems. To deal with them, ruthless prioritisation will be needed and that will require recommendations from the DSR pushing the government to make some hard decisions. The first decision is narrowing down what the ADF primarily intended to do. Is it to defend the Australian continent or to work with allies wherever we have a clear interest? Australian strategic policy continues to swing between these two poles.

        The previous government’s justification for acquiring nuclear submarines rather than conventional ones seems to have been driven by the desire to operate with allies a long way from Australia in the South China Sea.

        Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has committed the Labor government to SSN’s, but has also spoken about a “porcupine strategy” which sounds more like continental defence. The DSR needs to state what it is designing the ADF to do. This also means stating what is a lower priority or indeed, what the ADF is not doing.

        Sensible decisions can be made on that issue if we acknowledge Australia will not fight alone. That will allow the DSR to make clear-eyed recommendations about what we need to do ourselves, what we only need to play a supporting role in, and what we can rely on allies and partners to do. That will allow the ADF to generate mass in areas where it is needed. An effective division of labour between allies can produce better outcomes rather than everybody seeking to duplicate their own small, supposedly sovereign, capabilities.

        Finally, the DSR’s terms of ­reference clearly state that the government wants solutions delivered in the coming decade. Again, that will require clear prioritisation. The DSR needs to break Defence out of its habit of seeking perfect capability solutions which take time. That approach may have been acceptable when time was not a factor, but now it is the one thing we can’t buy.

        The DSR needs to determine where a “good enough” solution delivered quickly and at scale meets our needs better than an exquisite one sometime in the 2030s.

        Such decisions may be unpalatable, since prioritisation means that not everybody gets what they want. Smith and Houston, and ultimately the government should it act on their recommendations, will inevitably attract criticism. But developing an ADF capable of protecting Australia and its interests is not a popularity contest.

        Dr Marcus Hellyer is a senior analyst for defence economics and capability at ASPI.
        It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
        It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
        It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

        Comment


        • Budgets will determine if review counts

          Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Defence Minister Richard Marles with Professor Stephen Smith, left, and Sir Angus Houston, right, annouce major defence overhauls in August. Picture: Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWire

          By Kim Beazley

          October 27, 2022

          In 1946 President Harry Truman, addressing Congress on the state of the Lend Lease program, observed that “On balance, the contribution made by Australia, a country having a population of about seven million, approximately equalled that of the United States.” Actually, not quite right. We exceeded that of the US. We forgave the Lend Lease debt at the end of the war.

          In my lifetime in politics American presidents have frequently praised us. They do it well. But of all the quotes I have seen this one made me most proud. It means during that war in which we perceived an existential threat we handled it and reliably assisted our ally. Usefully, Peter Dean, one of the writers on the current Defence Strategic Review team, has written heavily on the period.

          It has to be remembered, particularly at the outset, we were not popular in Washington. Our supreme allied commander General Douglas MacArthur was widely disliked. Our message of focus on the Pacific was not well regarded by those of the “beat Hitler first” orientation. Our fighting qualities evident in the Middle East weren’t comprehended, our industrial capability was unknown and our new embassy in Washington’s struggle for shipping allocation annoying. The South West Pacific zone struggled for priority in the Pacific theatre.

          But in early 1941 we had been at war 18 months. A comprehensive war production industry, often confronted by British industrialists’ hostility, had been built up since 1919. By 1941 it was coming up to speed. It was close to fully equipping six divisions with heavy equipment for a Middle Eastern battlefield but switched rapidly to concentrate on production we needed for jungle fighting in the Pacific.

          By 1945 we were supplying almost all the war production needs of our principal ally in the region for food and clothing, ammunition, and other war goods. This war production effort was backed up by a major scientific industry collaboration for every facet of jungle and island warfare. With single women conscripted for the civilian workforce, and married women pressured, we were the most mobilised belligerent of World War II.

          Speaking to America on March 14, 1942, prime minister John Curtin said, “On the one hand we are ruthlessly cutting out unessential expenditure so as to free men and women for war work, and on the other, mobilising womanpower to the utmost to supplement the men … we have no limit.”

          By 1942-43 Curtin and Chifley had lifted defence expenditure to 34 per cent of GDP. Around 70 per cent of the federal budget was devoted to defence. This mountainous effort appears in our minds as sepia tinged. Yet if we are to sustain a grip on the continent, we have to understand the dimensions of it. However in day-to-day public discourse on spending issues, defence spending rarely makes it into the mix.

          Most of what we now concentrate on is a product of a massive shift of funding burdens – many of which were previously state responsibilities – on to the federal government, that followed the centralisation of tax collection during the war and a demonstrated potency of the national character of federal government capabilities.

          When I was Australia’s ambassador to the US I was constantly nagged to lift our defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP. In our defence I would point out our governments basically received around the same public sector to GDP ratio – about 25 per cent – as they did. Their 25 per cent funded defence, social security (pensions), Medicare and Medicaid. Other spending tended to be either of an emergency character (e.g. hurricane rescue and clean up) or leveraged the states and private sector.

          Our federal public sector funded pensions, universal health care, the 35 per cent of school students in the private sector and a considerable amount to state schools, universities, supporting parents’ benefit, unemployment benefits, an array of other social spending to which I could now have added the NDIS program, as well as the type of leveraging the Americans do with their state government programs particularly in infrastructure.

          That list is not exhaustive, but it leaves a lot of ministers unfriendly to our small defence budget (around 5.5 per cent of total outlays) unlike the US where national security is a preoccupation.

          Of all constraints on the Defence Strategic Review team, financial resourcing is the most difficult.

          Australians are not aware how comparatively straitened our public sector is. Post-Covid it amounts to 27 per cent of GDP. That figure in austerity Britain is 43 per cent, Germany 48 per cent, France 52 per cent and the Scandinavian nations are around the mid-60s. Yet when it comes to social spending, they are our models.

          If our defence spending were to receive around the US figure of 3.5 per cent it would be transformative. It is unlikely to happen but some movement toward it is essential. If we were at our defence spending level in the 1980s – 2.3 per cent of GDP – that would amount to $4bn extra a year.

          We now have a more impressive and resourced military than we had in 1939. Our equipment is vastly more sophisticated, complex with much longer time impacts on production. More to the point, our capable and professional services look to our allies with whom they train and integrate. Yet we now have to look to different equipment and in large numbers: missiles, smart mines, cyber capabilities, drones and unmanned equipment in all domains. And we need to consider innovative locations and deployments.

          Outside defence we need to build national resilience involving other federal departments, the states and private sector. We have many innovative, defence capabilities invented and deployed in other industries. We also have to resolve our fuel storage capacities. We need a bigger merchant fleet.

          If the review team does this properly, we are going to have to expect the bulk of the report to be classified. Publicly it is likely to be quite bland pointing at directions rather than details. Given the end of warning time we need to be increasingly constrained on information about capabilities.

          Above all we need to develop our old defence consciousness. When I was a youngster in the 1950s our family moved into the house we were brought up in. It had an air raid shelter in the back yard. It was beautifully constructed with deep stairs down to the room which contained useful bunk beds. Of course, we never used it at night. It could have taken everything but a direct hit.

          Remember we federated in 1901 to defend ourselves. Defence’s current share at 5.5 to 6 per cent of today’s federal budget doesn’t cut it.

          Kim Beazley served as Australia’s defence minister from 1984-1990.
          It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
          It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
          It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

          Comment


          • US Air Force to deploy nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Australia as tensions with China grow

            https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-...alia/101585380

            The United States is preparing to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to northern Australia, a provocative move experts say is aimed squarely at China.

            An investigation by Four Corners can reveal Washington is planning to build dedicated facilities for the giant aircraft at Tindal air base, south of Darwin.

            The US has drawn up detailed plans for what it calls a "squadron operations facility" for use during the Northern Territory dry season, an adjoining maintenance centre and a parking area for "six B-52s".

            Comment


            • Defence acquisition set-up ‘not fit’ for times

              The AiGroup’s Defence Council’s draft review submission said Defence’s capability development, acquisition and sustainment system ‘is not fit for purpose’.
              The AiGroup’s Defence Council’s draft review submission said Defence’s capability development, acquisition and sustainment system ‘is not fit for purpose’.
              • EXCLUSIVE BEN PACKHAM
                FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT
              • OCTOBER 31, 2022
              Australia’s defence industry has condemned the nation’s military acquisition and sustainment system as unfit to respond to growing strategic threats, warning it is geared for peacetime, plagued by delays and overseen by unaccountable bureaucrats.

              The Australian Industry Group has told the federal government’s defence strategic review that urgent reform is needed to ensure Defence gets the weapons and equipment it needs, urging greater transparency and accountability, and better co-operation with defence sector firms.

              Another major industry group, the Australian Industry and Defence Network, was also highly critical of the department in its submission to the review, accusing it of taking a “stand-offish” approach to working with domestic industry players.

              The Australian obtained the submissions as the review heads, former defence minister Stephen Smith and former chief of defence Angus Houston, prepared to hand their interim report to Defence Minister Richard Marles this week. The review will develop a new force structure plan to help prioritise new investment, amid increasing military co-operation between Australia and the US through the AUKUS partnership and the rotation of US B-52 bombers through Australia’s northern bases.

              The final report will be presented to Mr Marles in March, when he will also receive the final report of Defence’s nuclear submarine task force.

              The AiGroup’s Defence Council’s draft review submission said Defence’s capability development, acquisition and sustainment system “is not fit for purpose”, given Australia could be drawn into a military conflict with little warning. It warned there was “a lack of accountability” for project approvals and delivery that caused costly delays, and “a lack of visibility and accountability” around Defence’s capability and investment plans that made it difficult for firms to make timely investment decisions and upskill their workforces.

              The submission said Defence’s Capability and Sustainment Group leaders had strong military and defence acquisition backgrounds, but lacked practical defence industry experience. It called for the government to release an updated force structure plan “with added visibility and accountability for project approvals, capability delivery and time frames”, underpinned by a funding model that reflected Australia’s strategic circumstances.

              It urged Defence to shift towards “a more genuine strategic partnership with industry”, and work with the private sector to urgently develop critical supply chains. Its submission also called for the government and industry to work together to address the skilled workforce crisis affecting the Defence sector as a “matter of national importance”.

              The AIDN said the department needed to improve the way it engaged with small and medium defence enterprises, improving its transparency around its procurement plans.

              “The relationship with defence industry remains stand-offish, a case of us and them,” it said. “This model inhibits the establishment of the effective ecosystem both sides seek, and for as long as it permeates it will never exist.”

              Its submission also called for the government to “invest meaningfully in Australian companies” to develop and sustain a national defence industry. “To have actual sovereign capability, Australia must have onshore defence industrial capability, and the development of this capability should be guided by what the Australian Defence Force requires,” it said.

              BEN PACKHAM
              FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT​
              It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
              It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
              It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

              Comment


              • Today's ABC bit ...

                --


                China slams planned US Air Force deployment of six B-52 bombers to northern Australia

                By Joshua Boscaini and Marian Faa

                Posted 9h ago9 hours ago


                The US plans to deploy six B-52 aircraft to northern Australia.(Supplied: US Defense Department/Technical Sergeant Emerson Nuñez) Help keep family & friends informed by sharing this article

                China has responded to reports the United States is preparing to deploy nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to northern Australia, saying the move could trigger an arms race.

                Key points:
                • China's Foreign Affairs Ministry says the deployment should not "harm the interests of third parties"
                • The planned deployment comes amid a upgrade of Defence assets in northern Australia
                • People in Guam have told the ABC that placing B-52s in northern Australia was "risk" to their territory

                On Monday night, the ABC's Four Corners revealed the US Air Force was planning to build a "squadron operations facility" and an adjoining maintenance centre for six B-52 aircraft at Tindal Air Base, south of Darwin.

                Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian slammed the planned deployment and said the move would increase regional tensions.

                [But a nine-dash-line claim, and armed fortress artificial reef islands, plus threats to sink US aircraft carriers, and steal all resources in the SCS didn't, of course - lying CCP wanker.]

                "Defence and security cooperation between any countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability and not target or harm the interests of third parties," Mr Zhao said.

                He said the US had "increased regional tensions, seriously undermined regional peace and stability, and may trigger a regional arms race".

                "China urges the parties concerned to abandon the old Cold War zero-sum thinking and narrow geopolitical concepts, do more to contribute to regional peace and stability, and enhance mutual trust," Mr Zhao said.


                Zhao Lijian says the deployment should not "harm the interests of third parties".(Supplied: Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

                B-52 bombers have the ability to deliver long-range strikes using both nuclear and conventional weapons and have been the backbone of the US Air Force for more than 60 years.

                Experts say having bombers that could potentially attack mainland China based in northern Australia was a warning to that country, as fears grow of an invasion of Taiwan.

                US war planners and analysts have revised their estimated timeframe for when Beijing might look to take Taiwan, to between 2025 and 2027.

                They say the growing importance of northern Australia to the US made Darwin and Tindal Air Base a target for China in a war.

                It's unknown when the deployment of the aircraft will begin, but the plan comes amid an upgrade of defence assets in northern Australia, including the expansion of the Pine Gap intelligence base.

                'It puts us in absolute risk'

                Lisa Natividad — a professor of social work at the University of Guam — said placing the B-52s in northern Australia was "not a surprise in any way" but put her island territory at "absolute risk".


                B-52 bombers can deliver long-range strikes using both nuclear and conventional weapons.(Reuters: Kim Hong-ji)

                "When we look at the six B-52s that are projected to be stationed in Tindal, it's consistent with the experience that we've had here on Guam — B-52s, B stealth bombers, B-2s, the whole arsenal of military air force planes and weaponry is stationed here."

                US prepares to deploy B-52 bombers to Australia

                A Four Corners investigation can reveal the US Air Force is planning to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Tindal air base near Darwin, as fears grow that China is preparing for an assault on Taiwan.

                A photo of a B-52 bomber aircraft flying over desert under a blue sky.
                Read more

                With Guam already holding US arsenal and weaponry, Professor Natividad said Guam could risk becoming a "prime target" of China and North Korea.

                "There is a bomb that China has in its arsenal called 'the Guam killer', that is not OK," she said.

                "We, the Indigenous Chamorros, have no beef with China but, because these bases exist here, containing those [military machines], it puts us in absolute risk.

                "We are a community that was invaded because of these [weapons] during WWII and that trauma caused a lot of problems in our community and [with] our people."

                Chinese President Xi Jinping has been ramping up militarisation rhetoric around the reunification of Taiwan, notably during last week's national congress, where he was re-elected for a third term.

                "The Pelosi visit to Taiwan heightened the tensions around what could become aggressive interaction with China and, as with Australia, these bombs could be directed towards us as a result," Professor Natividad said.

                "The cadre of what [US] have stationed here just continues to expand. So, in terms of provocation, it is very telling if you're on the other side where [these aircraft] are facing: towards China."

                More news and current affairs from ABC PacificPacific nations feel 'dispensable'

                Professor Natividad said the move "almost certainly does not" act as a deterrent to China's aggression.

                [Haha ... so what are you worried about then?]

                "We're often told by the US Department of Defense that we are safe because of their presence. But our historical experience has been the opposite. And we won't be confused about that," she said.

                Professor Lisa Natividad says the deployment of US bombers to northern Australia puts Guam at additional risk.

                "Many of our neighbours were safe from attack because they didn't have the same guns and weaponry and bases that we have on our island."

                With a strong anti-nuclear movement in the Pacific, Professor Natividad said the move "absolutely" strained the relationship between the US, Australia and Pacific nations.

                [Has her finger on the pulse of the Pacific!]

                "People in the Pacific continue to experience the very negative impacts [of nuclear testing]," she said.

                "When we hear about the threat to our peace and security in this region, it's almost as though superpowers look at us like we're dispensable because we're small islands with small populations. "But we are still here, these are our homelands. And it is not OK for us to be put at such risk in the name of these geopolitical tensions and games over power."

                [And if they get invaded, they'll be the first hypocrites screaming for help and asking for other country's men to come and die saving their ass. And certain of them can't get enough geopolitical aid money and love blackmailing to get more. Apparently, their geopolitical superiority and moral purity has a limited-liability clause ... ]

                Comment


                • unicorn11
                  unicorn11 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Lisa Natividad — a professor of social work at the University of Guam...

                  WTAF? The ABC couldn't get anyone who actually covers strategy to parrot their talking points?

                • Magnify v2.0
                  Magnify v2.0 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Objectivity r us.

                • DEW
                  DEW commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Lisa Natividad — a professor of social work at the University of Guam...

                  WTAF? The ABC couldn't get anyone who actually covers strategy to parrot their talking points?
                  Many journalists of all persuasions are inherently lazy. When pressed for time or quick copy, they go to their contact lists, or those of others, for comment. They would probably see this as adding "balance"… but activists get to lead.

                  Professor of Social Work is just her day job. She is politically active in areas of "Decolonisation of Guam" (that's US, not Chinese) and heavily involved with Guahan (Guam) Coalition for Peace & Justice. Probably an aspirant for a UN bureaucratic sinecure.

                  Of course the Guam local government, chamber of commerce or unions of labour didn't get consulted for their opinions on Australia's geopolitical policies.

              • Maybe if they stopped climbing into bed with the Chinese at every available opportunity we might trust them rather more.

                We can help with defence say Go8 uni's in review submission

                RAAF personnel aboard a P-8A Poseidon in a torpedo exercise.
                RAAF personnel aboard a P-8A Poseidon in a torpedo exercise.
                • TIM DODD
                  HIGHER EDUCATION EDITOR
                • NOVEMBER 1, 2022
                The Group of Eight universities have asked the federal government to back a new plan that will bring universities closer to the defence industry and the defence forces in an effort to boost Australian capability.

                In its submission to the government’s defence strategic review, the Go8 says more “connectivity” is crucial.

                It recommends that a pilot be started along the lines of the successful French CIFRE program, which uses talented students and university researchers who work with an industry partner in an area of defence need.
                It aims to produce a fully researched solution for industry and also train students to be ready to work in an area of skills need.

                “A small Australian pilot, leveraging existing connections between our leading research universities and defence industry could be run at a modest cost split. If effective, the program could be scaled up,” the submission says.

                The Go8, which represents Australia’s eight most research-intensive universities, says its members are ready to make a major contribution to defence preparedness.

                “The enormous defence-related research capacity in our universities has not really begun to be applied at scale in accelerating the discovery and fielding of new capability for our volunteer Australian Defence Force operators,” the submission says.

                It urges close co-operation between universities, the defence industry and government to accelerate basic research and translation into applications, followed by prototyping and scaling up to manufacture, to build Australia’s sovereign capability and the capabilities of allies in AUKUS, the Five Eyes and the Quad.

                The submission also asks the government to consider partnering with the Go8 on new models for defence research, such as the Advanced Strategic Research Agency proposed by Anthony Albanese in a policy statement before the 2022 election. “It (ASRA) will be a premier avenue for linking Australian industry (including SMEs) and universities with our AUKUS partners,” Mr Albanese said then.

                The submission also notes the defence capacity that Go8 universities already possess including the University of NSW’s Defence Research Institute, the University of Adelaide’s Defence Science Institute, and many other research capabilities including aerospace, autonomous systems, cybersecurity, hypersonics, artificial intelligence, photonics and sensing, quantum, radar and signal processing.

                It says the recently announced defence “trailblazer” program, involving UNSW, the University of Adelaide and 52 defence industry partners, is an exemplar of the approach required.

                The submission also points out that the Go8 universities have key infrastructure and facilities for defence research as well as established relationships with defence industries.

                It says the research ties Go8 universities have with universities in the US and UK can be harnessed for technology sharing envisaged under the AUKUS agreement in advanced technology areas such as nuclear, cyber, artificial intelligence, hypersonics, electronic warfare and space.

                “Australia could leverage these partnerships to support development in areas of specialist need,” the Go8 says.

                TIM DODD
                HIGHER EDUCATION EDITOR​
                It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                Comment


                • ‘Risk-averse’ Defence bureaucrats put nation’s safety at risk: Hastie

                  https://www.smh.com.au/politics/fede...02-p5buzn.html

                  Risk-averse bureaucrats are rejecting aspiring service members on questionable grounds, hobbling the Australian Defence Force’s ambitious plans to expand its workforce, opposition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie says.

                  Hastie, a former Special Air Service Regiment troop commander, said talented potential recruits were being denied a military career because of football shoulder injuries, food allergies and the use of ADHD medication in childhood.

                  Warning that “the window is closing fast” to prepare for a major conflict, Hastie said: “We need to move beyond the one-size-fits-all model and select kids who might not tick all the boxes but who can get the job done, and then some.

                  “Not every job of the future requires the fitness of a fighter pilot or the endurance of an infantry soldier.”

                  Hastie named “risk-averse gatekeepers” in the ADF as one of the main barriers to growing the nation’s uniformed personnel by 18,500 people, or 30 per cent, by 2040.
                  My favourite comment on the article is this...

                  Yet another member of the former government that suddenly knows what needs to be done. Shame he wasn't this enlightened when he was Assistant Minister for Defence from 2020 -2022 and could have done something about it.

                  Comment


                • The Guardian

                  Two former defence leaders paid almost $800,000 to review Australia’s military capabilities

                  Daniel Hurst Foreign affairs and defence correspondent - Yesterday 10:11 pm

                  Two former defence leaders are being paid close to $800,000 combined to carry out a major review for the Albanese government, including a confidential update delivered this week.

                  Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP
                  Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP© Provided by The Guardian

                  Contract records show the former chief of the Australian defence force Sir Angus Houston is being paid $470,000 for his work on the defence strategic review, while the former Labor defence minister Stephen Smith will receive $306,496.

                  Both were appointed in August and signed eight-month contracts with the government. When this work is finished early next year, Smith will take up a new posting as Australia’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom.

                  The review will spell out the defence capability needed by Australia to respond to “the increasingly challenging geostrategic environment”, as China pursues its military buildup and becomes more active in the Pacific.

                  Related: Indonesian ambassador warns Australia Aukus pact must not fuel a hypersonic arms race

                  Houston and Smith met the deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, on Thursday to provide an interim update, but the initial report was expected to remain confidential.

                  Houston and Smith were weighing up the ADF’s posture and structure and where the government should prioritise its spending.

                  The government views the review as a significant and necessary piece of work and plans to publish the final report next year.

                  It believes the review, combined with looming decisions on how Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the Aukus partnership, will lay the foundations for the country’s defence policy for decades to come.

                  So far, Houston and Smith have received submissions from 150 entities or individuals.

                  They have consulted a raft of defence contractors including BAE, Boeing, Navantia, Thales, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

                  Andrew Shearer, director general of the Office of National Intelligence, and the heads of several government departments and agencies have provided input.

                  A spokesperson for Marles said it “would be inappropriate to pre-empt the outcome or recommendations of the review”.

                  “The defence strategic review will make recommendations in relation to Defence force structure, force posture, and preparedness over the next decade and beyond; and on any other matters which are deemed appropriate to the review’s outcomes,” the spokesperson said.

                  Thinktanks consulted include the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the United States Studies Centre and the Perth USAsia Centre.

                  Houston and Smith have also heard from former defence ministers Kim Beazley (Labor) and David Johnston (Liberal). Johnston infamously said in 2014 that he would not trust the government’s shipbuilder ASC to “build a canoe” – but later expressed regret over the “rhetorical flourish”.

                  The Coalition’s defence spokesperson, Andrew Hastie, said Australia must take seriously the risk that China may initiate military action against the self-governed democracy of Taiwan this decade.

                  “The window is closing fast,” he said.

                  Given that Australia will not have the nuclear-powered submarines in the water in the near future, Hastie said Smith and Houston must consider how Australia could “hedge against the risk of conflict arriving sooner rather than later”.

                  “We need to build strike capabilities that can hold an adversary at risk beyond the archipelago to our north,” he said.

                  He said these options could include “strike bombers, precision guided missiles, and unmanned autonomous vehicles in the skies and in the seas below”.

                  While Labor has committed to annual defence spending of at least 2% of economic output, Hastie said the strategic circumstances meant that it “must be well above” that benchmark.

                  Hastie said the Australian government had “a moral obligation to the Australian people to build and maintain a strong deterrent to any regional aggressor, to show that there is a great cost for any unilateral military adventurism”.

                  Marles is likely to give a broad sense of the government’s direction when he addresses the Sydney Institute on 14 November, but any major decisions are expected to be made next year.

                  The review will take into account the separate but related work on the nuclear-powered submarines, which is also due by March.

                  Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead is head of a taskforce that is working with counterparts in the US and the UK to advise the government on how to deliver that project.

                  A key part of that work will be determining how long before the submarines can be operational – and whether there is a “capability gap” that needs to be filled in the meantime. It has been widely assumed that the first submarines may not be operational until the late 2030s.

                  Last week’s budget largely continued the defence policies of the former government amid an increasingly bleak economic outlook.

                  The cost of the nuclear-powered submarines has not yet been factored into the budget. They were listed as a “fiscal risk” in the budget papers.
                  Attached Files

                  Comment


                  • unicorn11
                    unicorn11 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    We on this forum would have done it for a daily per diem.

                    But we wouldn't have come to the pre-defined answers these two Muppets will.

                  • Bug2
                    Bug2 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Exactly..............!

                • What’s the plan for ‘sovereign’ munitions for the ADF?

                  3 Nov 2022|William Leben

                  The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought renewed focus on questions of munitions stockpiling and production capacity. Efforts to secure as many modern anti-armour weapons from whoever can provide them have been a prominent feature of Ukrainian diplomacy, for example.

                  The scramble has also been on for supplies of munitions of every conceivable nature. Recent footage suggests that Ukraine is using Iranian 122-millimetre artillery ammunition, and not old stuff, but shells apparently manufactured in 2022. More strikingly, Russia was recently reported to be buying significant quantities of ammunition from North Korea.

                  Given the high rates of ammunition consumption being reported, there has been significant attention paid to the sustainability of this usage by both sides, as well as what it might tell other countries about the robustness of their own arrangements.

                  These are not new questions and, commendably, the Australian government had already decided to do something about concerns in this area before the events of this year. The ‘Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise’ (known as ‘GWEO’ or the ‘GWEO Enterprise’) was announced in March 2021. It is intended to be the ‘enabling ecosystem to support Defence’s inventory of guided weapons and explosive ordnance’, with a long-term (beyond 10 years) goal that ‘Australia will have achieved increased sovereign design, development, manufacture and support of selected weapons’.

                  There are two parts to this issue. Quite a bit has already been written about the first—the ‘guided weapons’ component. ASPI senior analyst Marcus Hellyer’s attempt to ‘crack the missile matrix’ is perhaps the most prominent public piece of work.

                  In short, the GWEO Enterprise appears to remain some way off producing anything, and the two ‘strategic partners’ to the enterprise (Raytheon and Lockheed Martin) already produce most of Australia’s guided munitions (both offshore and onshore). Defence is at pains to emphasise that in the first instance increasing stockpiles, from whatever supply chains are available, is the first priority.

                  This initial priority for increasing stocks, not manufacturing, can creditably be seen as a tacit acknowledgement of how fraught the word ‘sovereign’ is in this area. Building anything that looks like domestically manufactured guided weapons at a relevant scale is an undeniably complex endeavour, and it is perhaps not surprising progress has been slow. This is not just true of the most exquisite missile systems.

                  Currently, primers for small-arms ammunition are reportedly 100% imported from overseas. They are readily available and low cost under ‘normal’ conditions and could be stockpiled to facilitate surge manufacturing of finished munitions in a crisis. But this would not represent a start-to-finish, independent manufacturing capability, if that were taken as the meaning of ‘sovereign’.

                  This leads us to the second aspect and the other end of munition's spectrum: how healthy are our supply arrangements for more traditional, ‘dumb’ munitions, like artillery shells, unguided bombs and rockets and the myriad small-arms and medium-calibre ammunition?

                  It bears noting that the ‘EO’ part of ‘GWEO’ itself appears to have been the product of some sort of evolution, at least of public framing. The previous government initially announced a ‘Sovereign Guided Weapons Enterprise’, and Defence subsequently introduced the ‘GWEO’.

                  Defence is, for understandable reasons, completely mum on the question of what Australia’s existing stockpiles of any munitions type look like. You can glean snippets from select guided weapons purchases (see Appendix 1 of Hellyer’s missile report: at best we might get an ‘up to’ quantity associated with a sale), but the picture doesn’t even exist to that extent for their ‘dumb’ cousins. We can assume that many of our extant stockpiles wouldn’t last long, at least at anything approaching the consumption rates being observed in Ukraine.

                  Australian Munitions, a Thales subsidiary, operates two manufacturing facilities abreast of the Murray River: one in Benalla, Victoria, and the other in Mulwala, New South Wales. The latter produces explosives and other inputs— ‘energetics’, in industry parlance—while the former is an ammunition factory. These facilities are ‘government-owned, commercially operated’.

                  With the inking of the $1.1 billion ‘Strategic Domestic Munitions Manufacturing’ contract with Thales in 2020, it was also revealed that another armament and munitions firm, NIOA, was to share the Benalla facility. NIOA is also building an artillery shell forging plant at Maryborough in Queensland, which is expected to be completed this year. The company reportedly ‘has plans, subject to government approval to produce 155mm Assegai Projectiles, 30mm ammunition for the Boxer vehicle, hand grenades, aircraft bombs and artillery fuses. At this stage, NIOA is not delivering these munitions to Australian defence users, and these plans are therefore, presumably, not part of the GWEO.

                  The GWEO leadership team from Defence provided an ‘industry update’ at the Land Forces 2022 Expo in Brisbane last month. The report on ‘progress to date’ reflected the emphasis on guided weapons. Only two items were noted specifically in terms of ‘dumb’ natures. One was the ‘BLU series’ of bombs, for which Thales has established a local manufacturing capability.

                  The second is the request for proposal for large-calibre munitions issued by Defence. Defence reported that it has received responses for 81-millimetre (mortar), 155-millimetre (artillery) and 5-inch (naval) ammunition.

                  What is interesting here is that Defence framed this development as a response to potential opportunities. It was not part of the original plan and remains unfunded in the GWEO portfolio. On the face of it, this is not a bad thing; however, it bears noting that this suggests that this component wasn’t something that emerged as a targeted priority.

                  In a second part to this piece, I’ll pose some questions about whether this EO state of play adequately reflects the potential need for these supplies by Defence, and discuss some of the barriers to realising greater ambition in this area.

                  AUTHOR

                  William Leben is an analyst on secondment to ASPI from the Australian Army. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Department of Defence, the Australian Army or the Australian government. Image: Department of Defence.

                  Comment


                  • Anthony Albanese flags Defence shake-up with drones and missiles

                    Anthony Albanese on the Sunshine Coast on Friday: ‘Where are our missile capabilities? It means drones. It means different assets. In today’s world, cyber security is very important.’ Picture: NewsWire / Sarah Marshall
                    Anthony Albanese on the Sunshine Coast on Friday: ‘Where are our missile capabilities? It means drones. It means different assets. In today’s world, cyber security is very important.’ Picture: NewsWire / Sarah MarshallAnthony Albanese has flagged his intention to reshape the Australian Defence Force and give it ­substantially more firepower, guaranteeing to spend whatever it takes to achieve this.

                    In an exclusive interview with The Weekend Australian, the Prime Minister criticised both the existing structure of the ADF and the failure of the previous ­Coalition government to bring new capabilities online quickly.

                    Mr Albanese said that, arising out of the government’s defence strategic review, there would be substantial new capabilities within the next five years, including a new emphasis on missiles, missile defence capabilities and drones.

                    At present, the ADF does not have any armed drones.

                    “A lot of the (past defence) ­expenditure was based on where Australia’s recent military experience had been, in Iraq and ­Afghanistan,” he said.

                    This, in the Prime Minister’s view, had led to military kit that was not optimally aligned with Australia’s urgent strategic needs.

                    “Now the question is: how does Australia defend ourselves,” he said. “Where are our missile capabilities? It means drones. It means different assets. In today’s world, cyber security is very important.”

                    Mr Albanese ridiculed previous acquisition decisions: “Are we going to be involved in a land war in central Queensland? Is that likely? Well, no.”

                    Mr Albanese believes that a great deal of defence effort will help strengthen Australia’s resilience beyond specific military capabilities. “Look at the cyber ­issues that have come into domestic civil security in the last few weeks,” he said.

                    “National security issues are linked up. There’s a connection between cyber security and our ability to defend ourselves.”

                    Mr Albanese was scathing about the Morrison government’s failure to produce real defence capabilities quickly.

                    The 2020 defence strategic update declared that Australia no longer had a 10-year warning time frame for major strategic threats but this did not result in the urgent acquisition of new capabilities.

                    “We need more weaponry that can actually make a difference,” he said. “The (threat) time frame changed from 10 years but there was no response to that. It was as if that was an anecdote, rather than something that needed to be ­responded to.”

                    The Prime Minister revealed that cabinet’s national security committee has been actively ­involved with both the defence strategic review, being carried out by former foreign minister Stephen Smith and former defence force chief Angus Houston, as well as the parallel study into what kind of nuclear-propelled ­submarine Australia would seek to acquire under the AUKUS ­arrangements.

                    “The NSC meets almost ­weekly, sometimes more often,” Mr ­Albanese said. “We have ­received reports (from the two ­reviews) on the way through.”

                    He guaranteed, repeatedly, that the government would spend whatever was necessary to produce the defence force that could defend Australia.

                    “Yes! Yes! We will do what is necessary to achieve it,” he said. “We’ve made that very clear. We’ve been really upfront and we’ll do what is necessary.

                    “This is not optional, it’s necessary.”

                    Mr Albanese robustly rejected criticism from the Chinese foreign ministry over the decision to have up to six US B-52 strategic bombers rotating through RAAF base Tindal in the Northern Territory. “We made our decision in 1941,” Mr Albanese said, referring to the US alliance.

                    “That was the right decision and our alliance with the US is the right partnership now.

                    “Australia will make our own decisions. China of course is entitled to express a view.”

                    However, Mr Albanese indicated that it was Beijing’s ­actions, including military ­actions, that caused concern in the region.

                    “China clearly has changed its posture in the region and that’s something that we as a middle power in the region have to take account of,” he said.

                    “Strategic competition in the region informs our view of our relationships with nations in the region.”

                    Mr Albanese will leave ­Australia soon to attend the East Asia Summit in Cambodia beginning on Thursday, the G20 summit in ­Indonesia on November 15-16 and the APEC summit in Thailand on November 18-19.

                    He believes the G20 will be an opportunity to focus global ­attention on the fight against ­inflation and possible measures to overcome inflation, such as ­increasing productivity.

                    “The G20 meeting is particularly important for Indonesia,” he said, pointing to Indonesia’s rising standing as a global player, and forecasts that it would be a top five economy by the middle of the century.

                    Mr Albanese has invited ­Indonesian President Joko ­Widodo to visit Australia next year. He suggested the G20 ­summit could offer some ­opportunity for the major economies to co-ordinate economic policy.

                    “All the central banks are targeting inflation as the priority,” he said. “I think what we saw in the UK (under former prime minister Liz Truss) was the markets responding to measures that were seen as not consistent with the actions of the central bank.

                    “That was the context of our budget, too. We wanted to make sure fiscal policy was working with monetary policy, that they were not contradicting each other.”

                    Mr Albanese is gravely concerned about the potential for Russia’s war on Ukraine to spill into nuclear conflict.

                    “I take Vladimir Putin’s threats very seriously,” he said.

                    “Putin threatening to use ­nuclear forces on Ukrainian forces or Ukrainian people – the consequences of that would be an absolute game-changer in a very bad way.

                    “Post the Cold War there was a de-escalation. This is an escalation by someone who clearly miscalculated.”

                    Mr Albanese said Australians sometimes underestimated the influence that their nation had on global affairs.

                    He argued that his government’s proactive stand on ­climate change action had ­already enhanced Canberra’s ­influence internationally.

                    “The price of admission, the price of credibility, in the international system is having effective action on climate change,” he said.

                    Mr Albanese also expressed strong support for enhancing Australia’s fuel reserves and ­recreating a merchant fleet of civilian cargo carriers.

                    “We remain vulnerable at the end of global supply chains,” he said.

                    “The idea that our fuel ­reserves are held in the Gulf of Mexico, and that we don’t have the capacity to take goods around our own coast, an island continent, is a national security issue.”

                    GREG SHERIDAN
                    FOREIGN EDITOR​
                    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                    It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                    Comment


                    • unicorn11
                      unicorn11 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I see Sheridan and Albanese are of similar opinion, neither seem to listen to the actual experts. The armour acquisition for example. I really feel that Land 400 Phase 3 is dead on arrival.

                    • DEW
                      DEW commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I really feel that Land 400 Phase 3 is dead on arrival.
                      In WW2, as soon as continental Australia was no longer under threat of invasion or significant incursion, we stopped building tanks. I would expect that things will operate in reverse. When a believable scenario for the massed employment of armour arrives, it will get a hearing. In the meantime defence at distance will lead.

                    • Magnify v2.0
                      Magnify v2.0 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      They will totally fail to grasp the importance of having a sqn of F-35B plus an army filled to the brim with nearly unlimited supplies of PGM standoff weapons and the ability to relocate everything fast.

                      An emphasis on RAAF is too short-sighted, we need the whole ADF stepped-up.

                      And need to think in terms of a 2 to 10-year conflict with related/secondary conflicts to follow for years thereafter.

                      And when Russia Balkanizes our allies are going to be more distracted. We can't presume they're going to show up in force or will stick around for a few years. It may be much less support than we currently expect.

                  • An emphasis on RAAF is too short-sighted, we need the whole ADF stepped-up.
                    The problem is what we need and what we can realistically get are two fundamentally different things. Both the RAN and army have been preoccupied with fighting an imaginary war they want to fight, rather than addressing strategic reality, culturally are the hardest to reform, and are the least capable of responding to short term strategic change. In response to a relatively distant regional war, the RAAF were always going to be the big winner.

                    The RAN realistically should be dedicated to what they can achieve in the medium to longer term, and the army need to fundamentally rethink what they're doing, because they've made themselves functionally irrelevant for the most part.

                    Comment


                    • unicorn11
                      unicorn11 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I simply repeat my previous comment.

                      "I see Sheridan and Albanese are of similar opinion, neither seem to listen to the actual experts."

                    • ARHmk3
                      ARHmk3 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Now the PM is pushing the line, that instead of the basic building blocks of a defence force that will see us actually stand a chance of surviving, he is pushing Sheridan’s idea of niche capabilities which will achieve 2/5ths of fuckall in the scheme of things.
                      This comes back to my previous post, where do we prepare for the war that may happen in five years, given there really is only 2/5ths of fuck all we can do at this point, or instead plan for its aftermath, which would require planning for decades ahead?

                      Short term planning for the war in five years has the potential to seriously distort the shape of the ADF, with the only real gain of providing the perception that successive governments have done just enough for defence to not be negligent.

                      Defence policy needs to stop tip-toeing around the fact that China is the primary threat, and we have to be able to address not only what happens five years from now, but what happens in its aftermath? Like Iraq under Saddam, if China attacks Taiwan and loses, the end result could still be four more decades of fuckery that end up being of far greater consequence than the war that kicked things off.

                    • unicorn11
                      unicorn11 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Now your talking common sense and that's not allowed.

                  • This review is shaping as the Dibb review mark 2 for the army and quiet possibly the navy. It will see no growth in spending and pushing replacements out further. ARH Is correct there won’t be any real preparation for a war in 5 years or 10 years just a shuffling of the deck to make it appear something is being done while things like the m113 replacement get deferred again

                    it will reach a point where no company will respond to tenders for us, submarines, drones and possibly the micv contracts/ tenders not reaching production. If you were a company would you spend $ responding to our tenders

                    Comment


                    • Bug2
                      Bug2 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Valid point, I've seen it happen commercially in civilian projects, some Client companies still find it difficult to get many bids, as they have switched, delayed and/or cancelled work repeatedly.

                      Long time ago now, but Defence sent an Inquiry for a new small project at the naval yard here in Perth. 16 volumes to respond to, for work we could do for less than $400K!!!

                      They were shocked when we declined, we'd done similar work for them lots of times over the previous 10 years. We told them it would cost us $1 Million plus to respond as requested for work worth a fraction of that sum.

                      They gave it to an opposing company who lost their ass in delays and scope increases that they were supposed to cover out of their contract sum. Impossible of course, but what happens when you get given something like this without reading it completely or responding completely, EXACTLY why we declined.

                      Ain't cheap to bid on work for anybody these days. People do get choosy, they have to.

                  • The problem of comparing what is happening now to the Dibb review, is that the fundamental conclusion that came out of the Dibb review is that Australia won't face a threat for the next ten years, therefore doesn't really need a defence force. The current review is a response to a threat, but only one of the three services is in any position to do anything about it. Some of this is the result of failed strategic vision and cultural disfunction, but a lot of it to be fair is the result of Australia's peculiar place on the globe, that we should be taking full advantage of. That naturally favours the RAAF, where drones and missiles can and will make a disproportionate effect on the outcome, and not even that many missiles either.

                    Look what a couple of dozen HIMARS launchers did to the Russian army, now consider that the PLAN have about 200 ships of consequence, and the USAF will have about 400 LRASMs, enough B1s to launch all of them basically simultaneously, and China have displayed no ability to do anything to stop them. Then we have the effect of several thousand JASSMs launched via B52, and even just half a dozen SSNs in the vicinity of Taiwan, and the PLA is going to get proper pasted.

                    As I said before, if the result of the review means they can get the fuel and spare parts situation under control, their hands on several billion dollars worth of missiles, a long range air and missile defence system in place and a clear path to the SSNs, they'll have the fundamental building blocks in place to prevent China from winning a major regional war in the short term. This is all that really can be done, but is also all that really needs to be done in the short term. But the big question is what happens after the war?

                    Comment


                    • ADMk2
                      ADMk2 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I hope DSR doesn’t make the same mistake that many do, thinking this war we are supposedly going to have will be a many thousand strong missile firing exercise and that is it, with magazines exhausted on all sides after a few weeks.

                      War doesn’t look like that and I doubt it ever will.

                    • Magnify v2.0
                      Magnify v2.0 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      We better make sure our missiles almost always hit a high value target. Either way, RAAF will need to operate from FARPS, and that can't occur without the army and navy being capably equipped, exercised, and trained for routinely doing this. It also won't work too well without F-35B to enable the army to defend FARP sites against landings to take them away.

                      DEW: "When a believable scenario for the massed employment of armour arrives, it will get a hearing."

                      This is the main problem arguing for armor, it's hard to foresee where its value will make the offensive difference.

                      DEW: "In the meantime defence at distance will lead."

                      I don't think this means RAAF should be the only stick though. Our army must enable FARP ops and take and hold strategic points, to enable FARP operations.

                      Because of the maritime geography, and the abysmal lack of RAAF numbers, to my mind the army must have several effective types of long-range standoff weapon, with >>50 km range, up to at least 750 km, and never just rely on RAAF to show up, to kill things attacking the army.

                      PrSM and NSM seem nearly ideal for this and mostly are achievable in a 5-year window, given HIMARS has been ordered.

                      A truck-based ~170 km Harpoon is the easiest to obtain interim missile option for our army to take forward. Harpoon will still be useful into next decade, for strikes between 10 km and 170 km, plus to keep smaller ships at a distance (the Chinese will have thousands). We need to negate their ability to come closer in numbers and survive.

                      Harpoon I would move into the Army immediately, with C4ISR, UAS to enable these at up to 300 km targeting range, and build-up army long-range attack capabilities as quickly as possible, from there.

                      Add to that a light mobile SHORAD to guard against airborne attack on islands we are present on. We should be thinking in terms of being present at and maintaining air and surface control around a large mountainous jungle islands like Manus, and maintaining continuous regional SA and initial targeting capability out to 200 km around islands like that, then expand that out to 750 km.

                      This is physically doable inside of the 5 years.

                      Without these, PLA will pickoff whatever's sent to take, hold and operate there, including logistic supports.

                      So and F-35B also needs to be ordered immediately (and pilots for these developed immediately in parallel with the US Marines).

                      ADF F-35Bs need to be structurally and functionally attached to and operate with the Army 100% of the time. They are army airpower, and nothing else. ADF F-35B won't need A2G weapons, just A2A weapons to ensure they survive and remain present with the army.

                      They only need to be an air capability which PLA can't defeat or remove, and which can constantly maintain the army's real-time regional SA, provide a constant flood of contacts (for secondary UAS to sift) and provide a continuous priority targeting data flow via its data fusion engine for army stand-off missile attack (without needing a RAAF strikefighter to show up to do attacks), so the army can hit long range targets from 1 km to 750 km range, reliably, in minutes.

                      We need to get this done inside the 5-years so RAAF, army and navy can fight and win a regional sea & air control battle against the PLA.

                      This structure can prevent PLA making effective expansionary moves plus will limit their strike range against Australian targets.

                      IMO, having an army that can do this, will quickly become more important than having pre-filled RAAF to the gills with deep-strike missiles.

                      i.e., I think it is a vast error to abandon ADF joint operations.

                      JOINT STRIKEFIGHTERS should be enabling ADF JOINT WARFARE approaches to defeating PLA in war.

                      -
                      Last edited by Magnify v2.0; 06-11-22, 12:03 AM.

                  • War doesn’t look like that and I doubt it ever will.
                    The problem with looking at historic examples is it doesn't take into account the effect of technological advancement. There is also the additional problem of finding a valid comparable historic war, as there have only really been two maritime dominated wars in the last century, WW2 in the Pacific and the Falklands. 'War' isn't just a singular monolithic entity. WW2 is nearly at the end of that century, leaving the Falklands as really the only valid example to draw lessons for a modern naval war.

                    One of the big lessons was that Britain probably would have been proper fucked if Argentina had credible warstocks of Exocets rather than just five, and the loss of a single carrier would have cost them the war.

                    Comment


                    • DEW
                      DEW commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Unfortunately, apart from individual weapon and systems performance of the time, there is very little that is analogous to a potential 21st century conflict, especially one between peer opponents.

                      It was very much a case of "diplomacy by other means". It was conducted within a fixed arena (exclusion zone) and limited by operational restrictions. That Britain was able to fulfil the task at significant cost while staying within those parameters probably provides little for comparison. Other than perhaps…yes, war stocks are important, but also…don't attempt a naval/amphibious operation before neutralising your opponent's air capability.

                    • unicorn11
                      unicorn11 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      You must also realise that the UK fought the entire Falkland's campaign essentially with one arm tied behind its back.

                      They could have sent their SSNs to start sinking Argentinian naval vessels near their ports, in Argentinian coastal waters, but didn't.
                      They could have conducted sub-borne commando strikes on Argentinian mainland bases close to the water, of which there are many, but chose not to.
                      They could have struck at Argentinian air bases radars with HARM fired from Nimrods and other aircraft, but chose not to.
                      They were aware that the Argentina government was scouring the world for more Exocets, and applied diplomatic pressure to stop those attempts, but could just as easily had the Argentinian arms buyers disappeared.

                    • ARHmk3
                      ARHmk3 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Other than perhaps…yes, war stocks are important, but also…don't attempt a naval/amphibious operation before neutralising your opponent's air capability.
                      I don't know if I misread something, but that was actually the whole point. China has no means to neutralise allied air power.

                      You must also realise that the UK fought the entire Falkland's campaign essentially with one arm tied behind its back.
                      Maybe, but if Argentina had enough Exocets to hit the carriers and/or amphibs, they'd be stuffed either way.

                  • Originally posted by ARHmk3 View Post

                    The problem with looking at historic examples is it doesn't take into account the effect of technological advancement. There is also the additional problem of finding a valid comparable historic war, as there have only really been two maritime dominated wars in the last century, WW2 in the Pacific and the Falklands. 'War' isn't just a singular monolithic entity. WW2 is nearly at the end of that century, leaving the Falklands as really the only valid example to draw lessons for a modern naval war.

                    One of the big lessons was that Britain probably would have been proper fucked if Argentina had credible warstocks of Exocets rather than just five, and the loss of a single carrier would have cost them the war.
                    It does if you allow for the fact that the weapons available in these historical scenarios were the bleeding edge of their time.

                    History shows fad ‘wunder’ weapons have a disproportionately large psychological effect, yet a disappointingly small military effect. Hence my point about the Ukraine’s Switchblades… Good bit of kit sure, but 10x systems will make no difference whatsoever in battle, but make a great media play…

                    There is a reason technological development led to high-speed jets in military service and that is low and slow aircraft are vulnerable to being shot down far too easily. An example is RAAF 77 Sqn’s Mustangs and Meteors being withdrawn from air combat ops in Korea when faced with a MiG-15 threat… L-M’s have come a long way quickly without much opposition, mainly because the sorts of weapons used to shoot down ‘low and slow’ aircraft have been withdrawn from service, being useless of course against high flying, fast jets. They are returning though and for L-M’s to remain survivable, they will invariably increase in speed and altitude and simply and inevitably come back to simply being missiles…

                    The point of this rambling of course comes back to my contention that any war against China will not just be a missile / drone exchange and then everyone returns home. If China goes to war, it won’t be with one arm tied behind it’s back. It will be with a military built from the ground up, with everything they can provide it.

                    Arguing we should do any less, within our means of course, is pointless. Moreso it’s dangerous.

                    Comment


                    • Magnify v2.0
                      Magnify v2.0 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      ... Hence my point about the Ukraine’s Switchblades… Good bit of kit sure, but 10x systems will make no difference whatsoever in battle, but make a great media play…
                      If they had a capable tested loiter weapon and comms plus UAS, in local production, before 2020, they could have quickly begun nailing tube and rocket artillery around their cities, by the score each day. It took Ukraine many months to begin killing artillery and its supports in sufficient number. This Ukraine army and gov failure is what did almost all of the significant damage to Ukraine today. Those systems killed Mariupol in April and maybe 1,000 other cities, towns and villages were smashed the same ways. Ukraine would still be a livable and economic going concern today with civil systems that still worked and be much better able to defend itself and fight back, than now.

                      They blew their opportunity the same way Canberra is blowing our window of opportunity, for the past 10 years.

                      The asymmetric 'wonder-weapon' class needed to preserve these cities already existed, the Ukraine army and gov simply didn't foresee the need, nor developed or acquired and realistically tested these earlier. They mostly went for the subsequently nearly useless to ineffective traditional weapons for defence and offense. Those classic weapons are not working or effective in Kherson, but the new 'wonder-weapons' are working and effective.

                      And those would have been, and were disastrous, without simple ATGM wonder-weapons in big numbers, and the fielded ISTAR and communications support, plus intel support.

                      If Israel had supplied in February and early March, a capable loiter weapon, and if the USA had these already, in mass production and stocks, this would have been a very different sort of war, and Russia would have failed on the battlefield very much sooner.

                      So it's crucial to explore and properly ID the necessary simple but advanced weapon type(s) (and they did that with Stugna-P), and the supports needed, early, and motivate a responsive government and defense department, which Australia thoroughly lacks, to go early and big, with the right new weapon to mass defend and mass offend.

                      Australia is making all the same mistakes, on a bigger scale, and our DOD and politicians seem completely oblivious to this and that's genuinely dangerous for the population of Australia if combating China.

                      Classic and otherwise competitive battlefield weapons are not the solution or a 'winning edge', so we need to change our ways drastically, and be much earlier, and more adventurous and aggressive to act big -NOW- to survive and win with the right weapons and supports.

                      What Ukraine has shown above all, is that light, small, nimble, precise, data-driven and stealthy, with range, defeats classic battle weapons.

                      [For example; a fast cheap to build automated reusable swarming point-defence UAS that can intercept and kill a transonic cruise weapon (or a light aircraft) should be among our first AD priorities. Fly those on the threat axis or against a homing contact and wait for it to fly into them. Do that, and the bulk of Chinese strike weapons would be rendered ineffective. We need systems that prevent a military loitering close by and killing ADF, or creating a Mariupol level destruction and dysfunction. Such a point-defence UAS placed on our offshore and onshore oil and gas hardware, and/or also on civil and naval ships as a CIWS layer, may also be enough to preserve these against most standoff attack types.]

                      I see no other reason to be involved in such a site and discussion, if not to explore and ID the right new weapons, tech and supports, and the ways of using these. It's just disheartening that our gov, agencies and defence hierarchy and its services seem asleep at the wheel, constantly thinking in disappointing old and outdated terms, that will lead us to failures we can't afford to have, using the wrong weapons to defeat an enemy like China.

                      I hate all politics and politicians, but this becomes a pointless process if we cannot make the system informed and responsive to the immediate defence needs and we ignore those winning needs, ourselves.

                      IMO, arguing to avoid an emphasis on new wonder-weapons is not the way. Weapons that are thoroughly tested, in advance, tend to work in exercise and battle.

                      As we see in Ukraine, those weapons and their wonder supports, have been essential, and if Ukraine did not have these in large numbers, they would have lost the war in June. Instead, they got a minimal HIMARS capability and its supports from about July 10th, and it changed everything since then.

                      It will be light, small, nimble, precise, data-driven, range, and stealthy wonder-weapons, in high enough production which will defeat Putin.

                      This is what will also defeat the CCP.

                      These are the weapons that we can locally license or create, test and deploy, in big enough numbers, at cheap enough cost, inside of 5 years, and expand on this from there.

                      -
                      Last edited by Magnify v2.0; 06-11-22, 11:35 PM.

                    • Bug2
                      Bug2 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Might I add, we do have a few companies that already can build Loitering Munitions, just not, at the moment, on the size and scale we require.

                      With a little bit of funding, that could change overnight, so to speak. BUT it has to be done now!!! NOT run a 2–3-year review programme to see what / if / maybe?

                    • ADMk2
                      ADMk2 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      There are business opportunities too, with Varley now contracted to start building Spike LR2 warheads within Australia…

                      Seems to me integrating a Spike LR2 warhead onto an indigenous L-M design, would provide the level of capability we need, leverage existing infrastructure and help justify the local investment.

                  • You need to remember that we are not looking at a Ukraine-style invasion of Australia, but a Taiwan defence situation.

                    Only if Taiwan falls and the US's defence security guarantees are seen to be not worth the paper they are written on, would China be in a position to even consider an attack on Australia, and not for at least another 5 years post a successful invasion of Taiwan.

                    So talking about loitering weapons for the ADF to use against Chinese artillery is all well and good, but is not what is needed for a defence of Taiwan scenario.

                    That is first and foremost air power, so step forward RAAF (F35s), using PGM against surface and ship targets, backed up by tankers, Growlers, Peregrine's and Wedgetails, with the cargo fleet ensuring that forward deployed aircraft (for example an air task force operating from Singapore) are supplied with ammunition and spares.

                    The next capability is submarines, and its here that Navy has seriously dropped the ball, with at least one and possibly two Collins out of service in LOTE refits during the period of maximum risk, and all not being as capable as they should be. That's all on Navy for frakking up Collins LOTE management, irrespective of which sub was chosen to replace Collins, the Collins would need to be upgraded, but Navy didn't seem to consider it important..

                    Navy's inept management of the high-end warfighting capability is also a national disgrace, all we're left with is a couple of Hobart class, some Anzacs and two replenishment ships that would be best used as part of a US carrier group's defensive ring. The rest of the fleet is either useless (Cape's, Armidale's & Arafura's) or too vulnerable (the amphibious ships)

                    Army, for all people here talk about putting HIMARS and ATACMS on a plane and flying to the Philippines to shoot missiles at the Chinese island bases, is not the correct service for this conflict. That presumes we have the launchers, the ammunition, the targeting data and the permission from the Philippines to position forces there and de-facto having the Philippines as a shooting ally against the Chinese, something I doubt will be the case

                    On the other hand, if China wins and then turns its eyes to Australia, Army will definitely be the primary service, hammering the Chinese from the moment they pass through the straits in the Indonesian archipelago and heading our way.

                    So while loitering munitions are a good piece of kit, and should be pursued for the Army, they aren't what's needed for the defence of Taiwan scenario. What's needed there are ranged PGMs is significant quantities, and the fact that we STILL don't have any movement of note on the sovereign guided weapons capability is a national disgrace.

                    Remember, we here in Australia are only at risk if China can successfully invade and hold Taiwan. If they lose there, failing to lodge an overwhelming force across 150KM of strait, they pretty much forfeit the capability and ability to look to a lodging 3,000 km away.
                    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                    It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                    Comment


                    • ARHmk3
                      ARHmk3 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Army, for all people here talk about putting HIMARS and ATACMS on a plane and flying to the Philippines to shoot missiles at the Chinese island bases, is not the correct service for this conflict.
                      Not ATACMS at land bases in the SCS, but PrSM at the PLAN and PLAAF bases in China. A half dozen batteries could close off the entire South China Sea, and mean Chinese ships also have to contend with defending against ballistic missiles, as well as LO cruise missiles coming at them. Given it's one of the perilously few ways the army can make themselves relevant, outside of local force protection, I would have thought the army would be gunning for the capability, rather than sticking to the same story that they are a limited division support asset.

                    • DEW
                      DEW commented
                      Editing a comment
                      (for example an air task force operating from Singapore)
                      Sorry, but I don't see Singapore getting involved in a Taiwan defence scenario, nor any other of our SE Asian neighbours. At least not until the outcome looks decided, but most likely, not at all.

                      We will be providing tanking, ISR, logistic support and relatively safe haven basing, perhaps some rear area escort (certainly surveillance), but very little in-theatre presence. Perhaps a token F-35/Growler deployment to say we were there. With our limited capabilities within the 5-year scenario, we would be mostly just in the way.

                      If it were to blow up into something much bigger… well that's another matter. Without an impending threat to their particular wellbeing our neighbours would probably still remain aloof.

                  • The Australian's clickbait columnist speaks.

                    Anthony Albanese and Richard Marles publicly disclose the equipment mess in Australian defence:

                    Robert Gottliebsen


                    Anthony Albanese and Defence Minister Richard Marles have now truthfully disclosed to the public the equipment mess in Australian defence. Picture: Gary Ramage/NCA NewsWire
                    Anthony Albanese and Defence Minister Richard Marles have now truthfully disclosed to the public the equipment mess in Australian defence. Picture: Gary Ramage/NCA NewsWire
                    • 10:03AM NOVEMBER 7, 2022
                    In separate statements, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Defence Minister Richard Marles have now truthfully disclosed to the public the equipment mess in Australian defence.

                    For Australia to have outlaid huge sums on defence equipment and made so many mistakes is surely one of our great national scandals, albeit no surprise to readers of The Australian, including my commentaries.

                    Albanese and Marles placed the whole blame on the Morrison government. While the Coalition governments, under defence ministers prior to Peter Dutton, must accept a chunk of the blame, there are much deeper causes.
                    If those causes are not isolated and corrected, we will simply repeat the past mistakes in coming decades.

                    Meanwhile, commentators pinpointing our defence equipment mess do not have the same impact as ministers of the crown confessing that while China has been skilfully building up it’s military over the last two decades, we have been pouring vast sums down the defence drain.

                    China was well aware of our mistakes and I suspect this led to China’s lack of respect for Australia and perhaps contributed to the trade embargoes

                    Albanese told The Australian that our defence preparedness is better equipped to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq than defend the nation. We will need drones missiles and missile defence systems urgently.

                    The Marles’ revelations came in the parliament and were even more critical than his Prime Minister.

                    Marles revealed that Australia has 28 different programs that are running a total of 97 years overtime

                    Australia’s frigates are four years late and $15bn over budget; the Spartan battlefield aircraft is four years late and unable to fly into a battlefield; offshore patrol vessels are a year late “and that’s before we even start talking about submarines”, Marles told the parliament.

                    But Marles did not mention arguably the biggest mistake of all — the Joint Strike Fighter -F-35. Marles loves to point out that in the nine Coalition years, Australia had six different defence ministers at a time when we were facing the most precarious strategic circumstances since the Second World War. But leaving aside Dutton and Marles, Australia has not had a really top defence minister since Kim Beazley stepped down in 1990

                    Australia’s defence blunders can be traced back to 1999 when the then Defence Minister John Moore sacked the head of the department Paul Barrett. Some years earlier, Barrett had been attracted back to the public service by Prime Minister John Howard, who wanted to improve public service talent.

                    The Barrett affair sent a message through the Australian public service that defence was a department you should avoid. While we promoted excellent fighting people, the department did not attract forward thinkers who could make and administer big equipment decisions.

                    In that environment, the 1999 Public Service Act, which signalled greater ministerial roles in decision-making, therefore set Australia on a dangerous path.

                    Marles has appointed former defence chief Angus Houston and former defence minister Stephen Smith to inquire into what went wrong. Hopefully they will not simply turn their inquiry into a Coalition bashing exercise, albeit that the coalition perform badly in defence.

                    They need to go back further and isolate those early warning signs, which will not be easy because they both had personal involvement

                    For example, Angus Houston was deeply involved in the JSF-F35 aircraft purchase, which was then also supported by the government. Around 2001 the US was considering an expanded role for the F-22, but we chose the high risk JSF-F35, which is still plagued with countless problems.

                    While the JSF-F35 may serve some purpose in future air defence, the ambitious aims that came in the 2002 decision to join the program were never realised. The 2002 decision did not contain I clear exit timeline. But Smith, as a later defence minister, could have pulled the plug, but he didn’t.

                    As occurred in so many defence purchase decisions over the last two decades, politics was deeply involved. In the JSF-F35, the influence of the major contractor Lockheed Martin played a huge role in the US.

                    The Australian parliament was not told the full truth many times about the progress of the aircraft, and that practice became almost a defence tradition covering many equipment areas.

                    The good news for Australia is that thanks to the “events” in the previous defence minister’s office, Peter Dutton took over as defence minister in March 2021 and tackled the submarine disaster and created the AUKUS nuclear submarine project and invigorated the QUAD alliance.

                    While Marles is critical of the Coalition he took those two Dutton initiatives to the next stage and showed the US, the UK and the region that while Australia might have domestic political issues, when it comes to defence, both major parties are headed in the same direction.

                    And Marles is now setting out that defence purchases must be seen as major undertakings and must have “objective criteria metrics” and proper reporting systems – exactly what has been missing for two decades.

                    And we also need to recognise that managing major defence projects requires very different skills to those used on the battlefield.

                    ROBERT GOTTLIEBSEN
                    BUSINESS COLUMNIST​
                    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                    It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                    Comment


                    • DEW
                      DEW commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Pure Gottliebsendygook. Straw men and imaginary happenings everywhere, conclusions drawn from fantasy become fact.

                      Click bait certainly! … Why do I do it? … time I'll never get back.

                    • Bug2
                      Bug2 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I've stopped reading anything he prints............just more crap, ill researched and even less understood.

                  • Universities call for foreign students to study for defence jobs

                    Universities Australia says opening Defence work experience and employment to AUKUS, Five Eyes and Quad nations’ candidates could provide a ‘critical mass’ of new Defence personnel.
                    • BEN PACKHAM
                      FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT
                    • NOVEMBER 7, 2022
                    Australian universities want ­Defence internships and work opportunities that are currently only available to Australian citizens to be offered to more than 100,000 international students a year from the nation’s closest strategic partners.

                    In a submission to the government’s defence strategic review, Universities Australia said opening Defence work experience and employment to AUKUS, Five Eyes and Quad nations’ candidates could provide a “critical mass” of new Defence personnel.

                    It told the review, chaired by former defence minister Stephen Smith and former chief of the ­Defence Force Sir Angus Campbell, that universities were “uniquely positioned” to help Defence meet its workforce challenges.

                    Universities, which have been heavily reliant on Chinese students to fund their operations, called for the government to consider expanding university places in Defence-relevant courses, and increase the number of students sponsored y by the department.

                    The submission urged a dramatic increase of the Defence work experience program from 170 placements a year to “help ­Defence build a pipeline of interested students with an understanding of Defence culture as well as formative professional experience in their chosen occupation”.

                    Opening the Australian-only internships to students from ­“allied” nations would expand the number of potential applicants each year by about 107,000, the submission said, including more than 91,000 from Quad partner India.

                    The potential pool would also include 6300 students from Quad nation Japan, 2800 US and 3700 British students from the AUKUS and Five Eyes allies, and 3000 from Five Eyes partner Canada.

                    “Universities educate over 400,000 international students annually. About a quarter of these students come from Australia’s key strategic allies and Five Eyes partner countries,” the submission said.

                    “While there are valid national security considerations to be considered, the current policy settings restrict access to a wide cross-section of the Australian university cohort and limit Defence’s ability to recruit internationally, despite the rigorous existing vetting and risk mitigation procedures in place.”

                    Defence has pledged, with bipartisan backing, to expand its ADF and civilian workforce by at least 18,500 personnel over the next two decades to meet growing strategic threats. But the number of workers required with ­Defence-relevant skills is far higher, given the need to expand Australia’s sovereign defence ­industry to build nuclear submarines, sub-hunting frigates, and sophisticated new missiles and drones.

                    The universities said they stood ready to work with Defence to address the “wicked problem” of growing strategic uncertainty, rising defence equipment costs and worsening skills shortages.

                    The nation’s 39 member institutions were well-placed to support Defence through research programs on weapons and military systems, culture and languages, and systems design; and by “producing workers trained to think about defence-specific problems”, the submission said.

                    In its submission, the sector urged closer co-ordination between Defence and universities on future workforce needs, including a joint analysis of the personnel requirements of planned new capability and sustainment proposals.

                    “Australia needs more trained and trainable people to support our nation’s defence,” it said.

                    “The Australian teaching system needs to teach enough people to provide breadth and depth across many areas of Defence need.”

                    While students were given preferential subsidies by the former government to pursue ­science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses, Universities Australia said humanities and social science programs were also “critical to producing graduates for the Defence workforce and should be considered of equal importance as STEM programs”.

                    “Universities produce knowledge workers with the capability to teach themselves skills, because their university education has taught them how to learn, and how to continue learning throughout their lives,” it said.

                    “These are exactly the kinds of people needed to contribute to the changing Defence landscape.”

                    Expanding Defence sponsorship of university places, which ­require students to agree to serve for a period in the ADF, “could open greater recruitment pathways for Defence by attracting students with a wider range of further education interests than are currently offered”.

                    Australia’s eight most research-intensive universities also provided a submission to the ­review, urging talented students and university researchers to be paired to work with industry partners in an area of defence need.

                    BEN PACKHAM
                    FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT​
                    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                    It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                    Comment


                    • ARHmk3
                      ARHmk3 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      $$$$$

                    • Magnify v2.0
                      Magnify v2.0 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Gold-digging whores in a white wedding dress.

                    • Bug2
                      Bug2 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Well, at least we are agreed on THAT!

                  • How Australia plans to triple its offensive cyber capabilities

                    By Nigel Pittaway

                    Nov 7, 09:00 PM

                    Cyberwarfare specialists with the Royal Australian Air Force participate in an exercise focused on integrating cyber units with the broader joint environment. (Australia Defence Department)


                    MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s largest health insurer said Oct. 26 a cybercriminal had hacked the personal data of its 4 million customers. The thief has demanded a ransom and reportedly threatened to expose the diagnoses and treatments of Medibank’s high-profile customers.

                    The incident comes a month after Australia’s second-largest wireless telecommunications carrier, Optus, became aware that personal data of more than one-third of the country’s population of 26 million had been stolen.

                    But these hacks represent just a small portion of the cyberattacks that target Australia. “Throughout recent years, Australia has been targeted by a range of actors conducting cyber operations that pose a significant threat to our security,” Rachel Noble, who heads the Australian Signals Directorate, wrote in a document outlining Redspice, the government’s plan to bolster its cyber capabilities.

                    Redspice — which stands for Resilience, Effects, Defence, Space, Intelligence, Cyber, Enablers — is set to receive AU$9.9 billion (U.S. $6.3 billion) over the next decade, the government of then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in March.

                    The funding represents the largest-ever investment in Australia’s national cyber and intelligence capabilities.

                    Where will the money come from?

                    Formed 75 years ago, the Australian Signals Directorate, or ASD, is part of the Defence Department and is entrusted to provide foreign signals intelligence, cybersecurity advice and offensive cyber operations to meet the needs of the department and the military.

                    The funding for Redspice is meant to triple Australia’s current offensive cyber capability, double its persistent digital hunting activities, develop advanced artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities, and quadruple the global footprint of ASD. It’s also meant to bring on 1,900 new employees and open offices in Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne.

                    The Australian Signals Directorate’s cyber and foreign intelligence facility in Canberra. (Australian Defence Department)

                    “This investment in ASD recognizes the deteriorating strategic circumstances in our region, characterized by rapid military expansion, growing coercive behavior and increased cyberattacks. It acknowledges the nature of conflict has changed, with cyberattacks now commonly preceding other forms of military intervention — most recently demonstrated by offensive cyber activity against Ukraine,” then-Defence Minister Peter Dutton said in March.

                    “Redspice ensures Australia keeps pace with the rapid growth of cyber capabilities of potential adversaries. It provides new intelligence capabilities, new cyber defence capabilities to protect our most critical systems, and is a real increase in the potency to strike back in cyberspace,” he added.

                    While the exact capabilities and activities of ASD are a closely guarded secret, Noble provided some details when she testified in April before a Senate panel on government spending.

                    “Our job in ASD is as an operational agency with particular regard to cybersecurity — so providing technical advice and assistance to all Australians,” Noble said. “That’s a very different role to the Office of National Intelligence, which is to essentially provide strategic intelligence assessment[s].”

                    The director general added that the “vast amount” of increased capability to be delivered will come from the increased workforce and the establishment of the new offices around the country.

                    Although the funding stretches over 10 years, Noble said, the workforce would triple by the 2026-2027 time frame — growing by 400 personnel in 2023-2024; 600 in 2024-2035; 500 in 2025-2026; and about 200 in 2026-2027.

                    According to the first budget released by the current government on Oct. 25, spending in the 2021-2022 financial year was AU$1.17 billion. Redspice will see funding for 2022-2023 rise to AU$1.7 billion, and then AU$2.32 billion for 2023-2024.

                    With Redspice funding at AU$9.9 billion over 10 years, AU$4.2 billion of that has to be found in the four-year forward estimates period. (Australia’s forward estimates include the level of expenses proposed by the government for future years, based on economic, demographic and forecasting assumptions.)
                    People walk past a Medibank branch in Sydney, Australia, on Oct. 26, 2022. The largest health insurer in the country said a cybercriminal had hacked the personal data of all its 4 million customers. (Rick Rycroft/AP)

                    Of the AU$4.2 billion, only AU$588.7 million will be new money, requiring AU$3.6 billion to come from the Defence Department’s Integrated Investment Program, a fully funded plan meant to set the course for defense acquisition over future years. In other words, if a project is listed as part of the program, funding is available for that project over the specified time frame. It is unusual — but not unheard of — for a project to be removed from the IIP.

                    It’s unclear where the remainder of the funding total will come from.

                    So far, this has resulted in the cancelation of the Royal Australian Air Force’s AU$1.3 billion MQ-9B SkyGuardian armed drone program. The direct link was confirmed before a Senate hearing by Matt Yannopoulous, in the acting role of defense secretary. Deliveries were expected to begin in the middle of this decade under Project Air 7003 Phase 1.

                    Australia chose to ax the SkyGuardian procurement effort because it had yet to reach Gate 2 approval, and was therefore easier to cancel. However, the new defense minister, Richard Marles, has promised to study the previous government’s decision as part of a Defence Strategic Review to be completed in the first half of 2023.
                    Australia’s SkyGuardian drone program was axed to provide more funding to Redspice. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

                    Another major defense acquisition effort yet to gain Gate 2 approval is the Army’s Land 400 Phase 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle program, worth AU$18-$27 billion.

                    Up to 450 new IFVs — either Hanwha Defense’s AS21 Redback or Rheinmetall’s Lynx KF41 — are to replace the Army’s Vietnam-era M113 armored personnel carriers. However, both bidders have been told they must submit their respective bids based on an order of 300 vehicles, with options for three tranches of 50 vehicles each.

                    However, Defence Department officials have denied that vehicle quantity decrease is due to the need to fund Redspice, saying a government decision on Land 400 is yet to be made.

                    Still, a shortfall in funding remains in the forward estimates period. At least some of this funding shortfall will come from three existing ASD projects, which will now be subsumed under Redspice.

                    “None of [the three ASD projects] have been canceled. There was already funding in the IIP, and I’ll speak about them broadly because two of them in particular are highly classified,” Noble said at the Senate hearing. “One is for building our capability in signals intelligence mission systems; another is for offensive cyber; and one is for components of the CESAR [Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response] program.”

                    “The programs were funded in the IIP, but have now moved forward in time [and] are, in some respects, being subsumed and added [to Redspice]. Let’s take offensive cyber for example: We might have been on a pathway to deliver an offensive cyber capability, and now what Redspice is enabling is that, while we are on that pathway, we would do it sooner and have more money and capacity to do three times as much as what we were already,” she added.

                    No longer ‘business as usual’

                    Fergus Hanson, director of the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said Redspice is critical because of the massive increase in the Australian population’s digital footprint over the last decade.

                    “This has created major opportunities for both offense and defense, and there’s just no way a ‘business as usual’ approach could keep pace with the rate of change that we have in terms of digital uptake,” he told Defense News.

                    Hanson pointed to Australia’s membership in the intelligence-sharing alliance Five Eyes as also driving the financial investment.

                    “The urgency is partly geopolitical and partly just the pace of change in the digital world,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any world in which [Australia] can get close to the U.S. in cyber capability, but I think to remain a meaningful contributor in our areas of specialization is the ambition.”

                    He also cited the country’s deteriorating relationship with regional neighbor China, which has implemented trade sanctions against Australia, and the strategic defense agreement AUKUS, which will see Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States work together on nuclear-powered submarine technology.

                    “We used to believe that we didn’t have to choose between our largest trading partner and our most important ally, but with AUKUS we well and truly chose,” Hanson said. “China took a strategy of trying to push us to our limit and seeing if they could break us, and they ended up pushing us from one side to the other, so that to me adds up to Redspice.”

                    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

                    Comment


                    • Richard Marles has vowed the ADF will get long-range weapons to hold enemies at bay

                      Defence Minister Richard Marles says the scale of the national endeavour required to build nuclear submarines is ‘huge’, given the nuclear stewardship requirements Australia needs to meet. Picture: AFP
                      Defence Minister Richard Marles says the scale of the national endeavour required to build nuclear submarines is ‘huge’, given the nuclear stewardship requirements Australia needs to meet. Picture: AFP
                      • BEN PACKHAM
                        FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT
                      • NOVEMBER 8, 2022
                      Richard Marles has flagged a new national military doctrine of “impactful projection” requiring the Australian Defence Force to be given new firepower to hit adversaries at much longer ranges than it is currently able to do.

                      The Defence Minister told a conference in Canberra on Tuesday that a looming overhaul of defence priorities would be the most significant in 40 years, providing a “significant reset” of the requirements the nation placed on the ADF.

                      “Increasingly we’re going to need to think about our Defence Force in terms of being able to provide the country with impactful projection … meaning an ability to hold an adversary at risk much further from our shores, across kind of the full spectrum of proportionate response,” Mr Marles told the Submarine Institute conference.

                      His comments add to growing expectations that precision guided missiles and long-range drones will be at the top of the government’s shopping list after it receives the final report of its defence strategic review in March, while the army’s planned new infantry fighting vehicles could struggle for funding.

                      Mr Marles said “impactful projection” was “a different mindset” for the ADF, which had previously been concerned with protecting the continent and maintaining Australia’s position as a good global citizen and significant player in the region.

                      He said long-range submarines offered “impactful projection more than any other platform that we have within our Defence Force right now”, making Australia’s nuclear submarines partnership with the US and UK vitally important.

                      Mr Marles revealed he would meet with his US and UK counterparts towards the end of the year to work on the final details of the nuclear submarine partnership ahead of the release of the government’s nuclear submarine taskforce report, which is also due in March.

                      Chief of Navy Mark Hammond told the same conference that Australia, as an island nation, needed “impactful power projection” to protect the sea lanes and communications networks that sustained the country’s economy.

                      “You don’t need to invade a country to hold it at risk,” Vice Admiral Hammond said.

                      Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, speaks to personnel from the Australian Submarine Force during a visit to Fleet Base West in Western Australia. Picture: Defence Imagery
                      Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, speaks to personnel from the Australian Submarine Force during a visit to Fleet Base West in Western Australia. Picture: Defence Imagery

                      Mr Marles said by acquiring nuclear-powered submarines, Australia was “buying a large question mark in our adversaries’ mind”.

                      Earlier, a Senate estimates committee heard revealed taxpayers paid an extra $591m for the cancelled Attack-class submarine program than previously disclosed, including a $300m writedown in the value of works at Adelaide’s Osborne shipyards, and $291m for Australian shipbuilder ASC to re-employ former staff of French submarine company Naval Group.

                      Greens senator David Shoebridge said the additional costs had been "ferreted away off the defence budget" to hide the extent of the losses associated with the cancelled submarine project.

                      "Only in a bungled multi-billion defence project would a government even try to hide a lazy $591 million in additional costs," he said. "When we pay an extra $591 million for not building submarines, we lose those funds for public housing, schools or income relief.’’

                      Mr Marles said the scale of the national endeavour required to build nuclear submarines was “huge”, given the nuclear stewardship requirements Australia needed to meet.

                      He said the Adelaide shipyard where the boats would be built now needed to be rated to withstand a one in 10,000-year seismic event, compared to a one in 500-year event to build conventional subs.

                      “Everything needs to be harder. Everything needs to be more robust. This is an example of the degree to which we need to go to make sure that we are able to be good nuclear stewards, from cradle to grave,” Mr Marles said.

                      Vice Admiral Hammond said Australia’s strong relationships with international partners were countering potential concerns over Australia’s nuclear submarine ambitions.

                      “For all the conversations I’ve had in the last 120-plus days as I’ve settled into this job, I have had no indication from any of my counterparts that this issue is anything but a good idea,” he said.

                      BEN PACKHAM
                      FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT​
                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                      It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                      Comment


                      • DEW
                        DEW commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Mr Marles said the scale of the national endeavour required to build nuclear submarines was “huge”, given the nuclear stewardship requirements Australia needed to meet.
                        This may seem obvious, but we are the only nation (and will probably remain so indefinitely) to attempt to integrate and operate a nuclear powered vessel while not having any significant nuclear industry or history.

                        It makes you realize that this would have all been so much easier and probably less costly, except for the impediment of local political constraints. Who would dare remind the Australian public of that fact. That we are involved in these contortions simply because, while there was a logical course, we dared not provide a minority with an electoral weapon.

                        The French LEU SSN option would have slid through back in 2016 and we wouldn’t once again be pursuing the most expensive bespoke high risk course. (Choosing the most seismically active region of Australia to build them is just showing off.)

                        I’m thinking that if we pull this off, it will be our own national “moon shot”.

                      • unicorn11
                        unicorn11 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Brazil didn't when they started either.

                      • DEW
                        DEW commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Brazil didn't when they started either.
                        Brazil has had a stated intention to become self sufficient in nuclear technology since the 1970s. Only economic constraints have limited its advancement. They have had a commercial reactor operating since 1982. Three percent of their electricity is generated by 2 reactors with a third planned.

                        The point is, that their SSN program is just a progression of 50 years of activity in the field. Meanwhile we produce isotopes for medical and allied industries from an Open Pool facility provided by an Argentinian company… and that's it.

                        We have a task ahead. Just about everyone else does it a different way.

                    • Probe into ex-ADF personnel 'sharing national secrets'

                      BEN PACKHAM
                      Dennis Miralis, the defence lawyer for former US fighter pilot Daniel Edmund Duggan, detained in Australia under a veil of secrecy.

                      Mr Duggan will "vigorously" fight his extradition to the US and is seeking the intervention of an intelligence watchdog, his lawyer said on November 4. Mr Duggan was arrested on October 21, the same week the British government issued a rare warning about China's recruitment of retired military pilots.

                      The Department of Defence is working with a joint AFP-ASIO counter-foreign interference probe into the sharing of “our nation's secrets” by former ADF personnel.

                      Defence Minister Richard Marles revealed this morning he had asked Defence to commence a “detailed examination” of “the policies and procedures that apply to our former defence personnel and particularly those who come into possession of our nation's secrets”.

                      He declined to offer further details, but said Defence was supporting the joint AFP-ASIO taskforce “which is currently investigating a number of cases”.

                      Mr Marles said there was an enduring obligation on those who had knowledge of Australia’s national secrets “to maintain those secrets for as long as they are secrets”.

                      He said the obligation persisted well after Defence personnel left their service.

                      “And to breach that obligation is a very serious crime. And that is clear and unambiguous.

                      "Having said that, it's really important that we have the most robust framework possible that is in place to protect Australia's information and protect our secrets,” Mr Marles said.

                      The move follows the arrest of a former US fighter pilot who is now an Australian citizen, at the request of US authorities.

                      Ex-marine Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, was arrested in NSW on October 21 – the same week the British government issued a rare warning about China’s recruitment of retired military pilots.

                      Mr Duggan was said to be a "well-regarded" fighter jet pilot and had recently worked in China training commercial flight crew.

                      Mr Marles said after becoming aware of reports last month that ex-Australian Defence Force personnel may have been approached to provide military related training to China, he asked this Department to "urgently investigate".

                      "The information provided to me so far presents enough evidence to warrant the need for a detailed examination into the adequacy of current Defence policies and procedures addressing this matter," he said,

                      "It’s no secret that Defence activities, people and assets are targets for Foreign Intelligence Services."

                      Mr Marles said there were already a range of policies in place to protect Defence people, information and assets from foreign collection but if weaknesses in the system were identified "the Albanese Government will strengthen them".

                      "We will have more to say upon receiving the recommendations in due course," he said.

                      The Australian reported last month that Australian pilots of a western cohort of about 30 pilots had been approached in recent months through a South African flight school acting as an intermediary offering half million dollar packages to help train the Chinese military in various attack aircraft such as Typhoons, Jaguars, Harriers and Tornados.
                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                      It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                      Comment


                      • Bug2
                        Bug2 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Certainly NOT Typhoons, Jaguars, Harriers and Tornados!!!

                      • Redacted
                        Redacted commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Poorly worded sentence imo. Seems more likely it's training 'about' x, y, z, rather than 'in' x, y, z i.e. capabilities and vulnerabilities rather than how to switch on the air con, where does the CD go for some Kenny G, is there a cruise control button, and how do I make the fuzzy dice stay the right way up if I'm upside down.

                      • Magnify v2.0
                        Magnify v2.0 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        " ... Mr Duggan was said to be a "well-regarded" fighter jet pilot and had recently worked in China training commercial flight crew. ..."
                        This sentence reads like an ex-military guy, who's working in his own professional field, and now trains Chinese airline pilots.

                        If that's all he was doing, this is a nothingburger (and a stupid beat-up, actually).

                    • Pre-war conditions require much to be done quickly

                      PETER LAYTON


                      A Russian drone flies over Kyiv during an attack in October. Picture: AFP
                      A Russian drone flies over Kyiv during an attack in October. Picture: AFP
                      • NOVEMBER 9, 2022
                      Australia’s Strategic Defence Review is well under way examining basing, acquisition scheduling and mobilisation. Forget the rest, the last is the key issue. As in earlier wars, Australia will fight future wars with a mobilised defence force, not today’s peacetime, business-as-usual one. Today’s armed force is at best a core, only partly related to a wartime mobilised force. Ukraine and Russia now both understand this very well.

                      But time seems to be running out. Two years ago, Australia’s strategic update said war might be less than 10 years away, but the situation has recently markedly worsened, says Angus Houston, a review author. Last month, US Navy chief Admiral Mike Gilday said war might be in 2023.

                      Making defence force improvements quickly seems problematic. Most overseas missile production lines are fully taken up meeting Ukraine war demands and can’t meet new orders for five to six years. Moreover, their complicated manufacturing means any new submarine, warship or fighter jets ordered won’t arrive until next decade.
                      What can be done quickly and affordably?

                      First, the Ukraine war highlights how modern conflicts use emerging technology to find hostile forces and make the battlefield transparent. Adversary units are then killed using indirect fire; that is, long-range artillery, rockets, drones and missiles. As demonstrated, this holds for war on land and on sea. On the other hand, friendly forces, to survive, will need to be small, hard to find and highly mobile. Large, slow, heavily armoured vehicles will be quickly targeted and killed.

                      Buying these capabilities from offshore would take many years. However, there’s many small to medium-sized Australian companies able to build much of what would be necessary. Some technology is already being prototyped through defence innovation seed-funding and could be fielded swiftly. Crucially, being designed for fourth industrial age manufacture they could be rapidly built in large numbers.

                      However, for defence traditionalists, a culture shift away from relying on a few big land, sea or air vehicles to quickly buying many small systems would be intellectually difficult. Thinking is the big barrier, not technology or money.

                      Second, expanding defence needs all Australia. Australia’s defence force moving beyond its peacetime business-as-usual settings means redirecting, reallocating or repurposing resources from across the whole nation.

                      To do this, having resilient, global supply chains is crucial. In both world wars, Australia’s great-power allies – not Australia – decided what merchant shipping would come here, so our exports and imports were at others’ mercy. This was again highlighted in the pandemic and needs fixing.

                      The most vulnerable supply chain is importing petrol. Australia could be quickly shut down by a major conflict in Korea or Taiwan, or even Europe, that saw shipping diverted or the world’s largest shipping fleet (China’s) denied us. Australia would be just collateral damage. We need to have our oil stockpile in Australia, not Louisiana, build a sustainable jet fuel industry as Qantas seeks, and work to cut our dependence on overseas petrol by embracing electric and hydrogen vehicles.

                      Last, people are essential in mobilisations with the major workforce problem always being a shortage of skilled personnel.

                      Analysing key defence and industry sectors now could determine which skills were likely to be scarce in a mobilisation and need husbanding, which jobs can be simplified to allow lesser-skilled people to undertake them and accelerated training approaches developed for new staff hires. In this, any expansion of a peacetime military initially requires growing its training capacity; let’s start doing this now. Moreover, the largest single sector in Australia’s defence workforce is contractors.

                      Expanding the contractor base would involve keeping those in it when mobilisation begins; making the best use of these staff; and bringing more in. Let’s start preparing for all this now, not in a rush after a war starts.

                      Mobilisations don’t happen by themselves. Governments must provide the guidance, direction and controls to make mobilisations succeed. However, this is not World War II when the Australian government was interventionist, took charge and directed the nation.

                      Today’s “regulatory state” is designed differently. The federal government focuses on policy, with others performing implementation. Pandemic experience with the Vaccine Taskforce and the International Freight Assistance Mechanism program showed there is a “missing middle” between policy and implementation that would need filling when mobilising. Such small cells would not be needed regularly and might be kept in a backup state using reservist staffing, military or civilian.

                      Without this, future mobilisations would be initially disjointed and valuable time lost reinventing what is already apparent will be needed.

                      Australia needs defence innovation, assured access to merchant shipping, a reduced dependence on overseas petrol and hard thinking about using people in the best way possible. Much can be done quickly. It’s not rocket science. It just needs effort.

                      Peter Layton is a visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and the author of Grand Strategy.
                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                      It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                      Comment


                      • Beijing says it ‘values relations with Australia’ ahead of Xi Jinping, Anthony Albanese meeting in Bali

                        China says it is now ready to repair its fractured relationship with Australia, days before Xi Jinping is due to meet Anthony Albanese in Bali.
                        China says it is now ready to repair its fractured relationship with Australia, days before Xi Jinping is due to meet Anthony Albanese in Bali.Beijing’s most authoritative mouthpiece has said China is now ready to repair its fractured relationship with Australia, days before Xi Jinping is due to meet Anthony Albanese in Bali.

                        In what was likely the most positive Chinese party state media editorial written about Australia in more than five years, the China Daily said Beijing wanted to improve the relationship which has sunk to a 50-year low.

                        “China values its relations with Australia, and regards Australia as an important partner for dialogue and co-operation,” said the China Daily in an editorial on Thursday.
                        “So long as the two countries meet each other halfway by working together toward the goal of mutual benefit and win-win co-operation, they will surely be able to rebuild mutual trust and pave the way for the sound and healthy development of Sino-Australian relations in the future.”

                        Beijing has been sending positive signals towards Canberra for months, as it attempts to mend ties with Australia, by far its dominant source of iron ore and a crucial supplier of LNG and other strategic resources.

                        Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Penny Wong spoke with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi for the third time in five months.

                        Foreign Minister Penny Wong with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Picture: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade via NCA NewsWire
                        Foreign Minister Penny Wong with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Picture: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade via NCA NewsWire

                        Counsellor Wang said there had been “positive changes” between the two countries.

                        At their previous conversation in September, Mr Xi’s envoy said China was now ready to meet Australia “halfway” in the biggest shift in Beijing’s diplomatic approach since its relationship with Canberra imploded in 2020.

                        On Tuesday, Liberal leader Peter Dutton — Canberra’s most prominent China hawk — met Chinese ambassador Xiao Qian.

                        While the rhetoric coming out of Beijing and Canberra has moderated, the raft of disputes that led to the breakdown are unresolved. The Albanese government has sought to lower expectations about the extent to which the relationship can improve.

                        Australians Cheng Lei and Yang Hengjun remain in prison in Beijing. Trade bans on Australian exports previously worth $20bn a year are still in place.

                        Beijing has not forgiven Canberra’s prominent role in global efforts to push back on China.

                        “Australia was the first country to exclude Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from the development of its 5G network, and has been closely toeing the line of the United States‘ ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’ to contain China, for example, by taking a confrontational stance toward the country on such issues as the South China Sea and Taiwan,” the China Daily wrote in its Thursday editorial.

                        But the party state masthead — which is used to send messages to foreign governments — struck a pragmatic note, a departure from its strident approach with Australia over the last five years.

                        “It is encouraging to see that despite the differences that still exist between them, Australia and China have maintained effective communication and contact, and are working for the easing and improvement of Sino-Australian relations, which serves the fundamental interests of both,” the China Daily said.

                        “The common interests of China and Australia far outweigh their differences,” it added.

                        Prime Minister Albanese on Wednesday said it would be a “positive thing” to meet with President Xi at the G20 Leaders’ summit in Bali next week.

                        Mr Albanese said no separate sideline meeting had yet been arranged, but negotiations are continuing between both sides.​


                        WILL GLASGOW
                        NORTH ASIA CORRESPONDENT​
                        It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                        It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                        It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                        Comment


                        • PM’s likely meeting with Xi won’t alter strategic realities

                          PETER JENNINGS


                          Anthony Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping are due to meet at the G20 in Bali. Picture: NCA NewsWire
                          Anthony Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping are due to meet at the G20 in Bali. Picture: NCA NewsWire
                          • NOVEMBER 10, 2022
                          Anthony Albanese leaves Australia on Friday for nine days of international summitry at a time of global turmoil but with no clear plan about how to counter growing risks to our security.

                          The Prime Minister is paying the price for years in opposition when Labor avoided hard choices on defence and foreign policy, instead claiming an unexamined bipartisanship. That counts for nothing in government. Without considered policy foundations the government must rely – like Scott Morrison – on instinct and quick reactions. As in Morrison’s time, these qualities are not always on display.

                          Credit where it is due: Albanese consistently has been right to support Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid and to denounce Russia’s brutal invasion. “I will remain, on behalf of the Australian people, a fierce opponent to Russia’s immoral and illegal invasion of Ukraine,” Albanese said on Wednesday.

                          The Prime Minister’s view on Ukraine is absolutely the correct one, based on understanding that democracies must help each other against aggressive authoritarian regimes. Albanese should use his trip to quash any wavering in international support for Kyiv.

                          Albanese’s trip, however, lacks a sharp policy point. In Cambodia Albanese will attend an East Asia Summit and an ASEAN-Australia Summit. Albanese says: “Australia strongly supports ASEAN’s central role in the region and its vision for the region is closely aligned with our own.”

                          But there is no achievable ASEAN vision for the region and “ASEAN centrality” is a diplomatic fig leaf. Southeast Asia has no counter to Beijing’s plan for dominating the region, driven by its military takeover of the South China Sea.

                          Australia’s influence in Southeast Asia, along with that of many developed democracies, is declining as the region tilts more to communist China.

                          Albanese says: “My role at these summits will be one of advocacy for not only Australians but also for those of our Pacific neighbours who face many of the same pressures that we do.”

                          Why does the Prime Minister want that advocacy role? How is it that Australia as a large, developed, continent-sized, energy-exporting powerhouse can claim to “face many of the same pressures” as a collection of microstates with few economic assets?

                          Australia has unique ties to the Pacific Island states and should engage sympathetically with their concerns. But we have no interest in subcontracting our policy concerns on climate (or any issue) to the island states, notwithstanding the ABC’s relentless advocacy on that front.

                          Australian media attention will be devoted to whether Albanese meets Xi Jinping. Spoiler alert: there will be a meeting. That much is clear from Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s call with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Tuesday.

                          A risk for Albanese is that a handshake with Xi will be presented as a warming relationship. Handshake or not – Xi is not into hugging – there will be no change in the underlying strategic differences between Canberra and Beijing.

                          The reason Australia and China have had such difficult relations during the past few years is because the countries have different aims: China wants to dominate the Indo-Pacific. It wants to reduce the influence of the US by weakening America’s alliances and making regional states more dependent on China.

                          Australia will accept none of this. Having denied the problem for years, since the last half of Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership, Australian governments have resisted Beijing’s political influence buying, economic coercion and attacks on alliance co-operation. Albanese won’t change this approach.

                          The problem is that no Australian government in the past decade has been courageous enough to explain what these big strategic trends mean, and that China’s continued regional assertiveness may well lead the Indo-Pacific into conflict.

                          The result is confusion about how to engage China.

                          This week we had the nationally embarrassing sight of West Australian Premier Mark McGowan meeting Chinese state-owned enterprises and so-called private companies in Perth, declaring “the state government is committed to strengthening our relationship with China into the future”.

                          The last thing Australia needs is more Chinese ownership of our critical infrastructure.

                          This creates vulnerabilities to economic coercion and, given the all-pervasive influence of the Chinese Communist Party and its intel­ligence agencies, the risk of cyber disruption to our economic interests.

                          Federally, Australia failed to prevent a Chinese foreign investment into lithium refining in WA. This is a strategically vital commodity for defence and energy transition uses. Even ultra-cautious Canada last week ordered three Chinese firms to divest ownership of Canadian lithium mines.

                          On Wednesday the NSW parliament passed legislation that opens the possibility of the Port of Newcastle establishing a container-handling terminal. The economic case for establishing a second container facility in competition with the Port of Botany is murky, to say the least, but what should concern Australians most directly is that the Port of Newcastle is on a 98-year lease, half-owned by Beijing’s state-owned entity, China Merchants.

                          China Merchants has been a key champion of Xi’s Belt and Road strategy, building debt-leveraged exclusive economic relationships with developing countries through port developments – such as Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port – and by controlling a vast global network of container traffic.

                          Could anyone really believe that it’s in Australia’s strategic interests to allow a Chinese state-owned entity greater control of our international supply lines?

                          The NSW parliamentary vote will force early federal consideration of a vital strategic decision: where to locate a new east coast navy base for nuclear-powered submarines. The Port of Newcastle along with Port Kembla and (less realistically) Brisbane Port were identified by the Morrison government as possible locations.

                          We will know in March next year if Albanese will proceed with nuclear propulsion when an AUKUS plan comes to government. Government ministers are talking as though this is already a done deal.

                          Readers can be guaranteed that the US as the provider of nuclear-propulsion technology will not allow a submarine base to be located near a Chinese-leased port. Beijing has lobbied vigorously against AUKUS internationally. How will that affect China Merchants and the Port of Newcastle and Albanese’s approach?

                          As a company, China Merchants is older than the CCP, but the party calls the shots. Last month Tian Huiyu, the former president of China Merchants’ bank arm, was expelled from the party for corruption. By such means Xi extends his authority and direction over every sizeable Chinese business.

                          Australia’s security is no longer just about the size and location of the Australian Defence Force. The safety of our critical infrastructure and our economic security are equally important. That means “business as usual” with Chinese companies and Chinese foreign investment is no longer just economics.

                          The biggest strategic challenge for Albanese is to shape and then explain a strategy for Australia’s national security in a way that previous Coalition governments failed to do. That reasonably could start with the security of the nation’s port infrastructure.
                          It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                          It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                          It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                          Comment


                          • Holy hell MRH-90 is getting hammered at Estimates and ADF have clearly had a gutful of this lemon…

                            Salient points (beside the rather embarrassing slap at Government for not already acting on such frank advice…)

                            $48k per flight hour. More than any other ADF aircraft, including C-17, Super Hornet and JSF.

                            All 7 of RAN’s former MRH-90 are sitting on “blocks” at Airbus Helicopters in Brisbane, being fully “preserved” but not otherwise flown. For all their budget at best RAN could only ever generate one single flight from MRH-90. It’s able to do the same by increasingly surging existing Romeo airframes to generate 9 operational flights from 23 aircraft.

                            Army’s whole MRH-90 fleet can currently (almost) sustain it’s requirements for rotary wing support for Special Operations high readiness CT roles (8 aircraft split between West and East) and a single detachment (3 aircraft ~) for amphibious operations, plus a training flight. It cannot routinely operate even 15 aircraft from it’s fleet of 40. Contrary to media reporting, Army did not receive the “7” RAN helicopters, they have been in storage since removal from RAN service and are awaiting Government direction on disposal. Army currently has no TTH capability due to MRH-90 unavailability and priority placed on airframes for ‘urgent’ roles (special ops and media friendly regional deployments at government direction) and are forced to use Chinooks in the role at massive cost and strain on our Chinook fleet.

                            MRH running costs (not even counting unavailability cost and use of other helicopters such as Chinook and the leased AW139 helicopters in Townsville to cover the role) are 3x higher than UH-60M and Government has not budgeted the cost of covering our supposed TTH capability. Army simply does not have the cash to run the fleet. It is substantially cheaper to replace the whole MRH-90 fleet with new build Blackhawk 1 for 1 AND run them at higher hours than it is to retain MRH-90 as is.

                            Flying hours for the fleet have been reduced by more than 1000hrs for 2022-2023 and Army assesses it will still not get anywhere near that reduced figure. Army helicopter pilots are at present retaining their flight ratings on the leased AW139’s currently deployed in Townsville.

                            Defmin has been fully briefed on this and Army has been awaiting Government direction on this point for months… Meanwhile we have effectively zero TTH capability.

                            MRH-90 is assessed as ‘never’ going to be able to fill all required six capability milestones for Army for the fleet including special operations, land and maritime mobility roles. RAN has assessed the MRH-90 as unsuitable for shipboard operations in any context, with certain non-disclosed issues leading the Service to immediately withdraw them from all flying operations and the abrupt retirement of it’s entire MRH-90 fleet from service…

                            Jeebus, wept…




                            Comment


                            • ADMk2
                              ADMk2 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Seeing this stuff discussed openly makes it easy to understand why user nations en masse are dumping this turd, it’s not just us.

                              The French may be upset, but what can we do? Continue to pay a fortune for effectively zero capability apart from a niche role the aircraft isn’t even wanted in?

                            • CaptainCleanoff
                              CaptainCleanoff commented
                              Editing a comment
                              If UH-60M is that much cheaper, then we should be getting substantially more of them, upwards of 60+ and then more again for SOCOMD. Also, given the clear cut case for a need of more battlefield mobility with C-27 being reduced to a non-combat role, doubling CH-47F fleet should be a priority.

                            • Magnify v2.0
                              Magnify v2.0 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              It's a disgrace this is only being heard about now.

                          • Oh those issues have been known within Navy pretty widely.

                            Massive corrosion issues.
                            Requiring a full internal freshwater washdown after every flight.
                            Rotor brake issues on the flight deck, meaning the rotors spin in the breeze on the flight deck, requiring crew to try and lasso the rotors as they spin.
                            Issues with rotor folding, takes too long and degrades the component time every time you fold them.
                            Issues with EM interference requiring ships to shut down certain sensors when the aircraft flies to avoid frying its computers due to inadequate shielding.
                            Limitations on internal cargo weights.
                            Limitations on slung weights.
                            Vertrep limitations due to cabin configuration limiting pilot visibility above flight decks.
                            Very poor gust response while hovering over a moving flight deck.
                            Loss of power when the engines take in hot air from the ship's gas turbine exhausts while approaching the fight deck and while hovering over it.
                            Limitations on how close you can fly the helicopter to the ship's deck during HIFAR (Helicopter In Flight Refueling).


                            Trust me, Navy had EXTREMELY good reasons for locking them up and not using them at the earliest available opportunity.
                            It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                            It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                            It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                            Comment


                            • ADMk2
                              ADMk2 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Someone in Australia really liked the things though…

                              Cough… got a job… Cough

                            • Magnify v2.0
                              Magnify v2.0 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              $48k/hr operation hasn't been known though. I'm talking about the public knowing about this, not just inside the navy.

                            • Bug2
                              Bug2 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              The thing that pisses me off with Defence and the Forces at the moment, is that they allow this shit to persist for years, not just weeks or months, but years!

                              Nobody in Industry would allow this to happen without there being a HUGE stink, and a direct court case wherever they thought best for a win. There are clauses written into base contracts about Performance and the Standards that are expected, and guaranteed by the manufacturer, to be met.

                              So where is it in this case? What was the Guarantee period, and why was it allowed to lapse when they knew from day one that they had problems?

                              WHY do people in Defence here, think that Boeing is copping a multi-BILLION dollar kick in the cojones over KC-46 Tanker problems???? It's their problem, not the USAF's or DoD, Boeing PAY!

                          • Originally posted by ADMk2 View Post
                            Holy hell MRH-90 is getting hammered at Estimates and ADF have clearly had a gutful of this lemon…

                            Salient points (beside the rather embarrassing slap at Government for not already acting on such frank advice…)

                            $48k per flight hour. More than any other ADF aircraft, including C-17, Super Hornet and JSF.

                            All 7 of RAN’s former MRH-90 are sitting on “blocks” at Airbus Helicopters in Brisbane, being fully “preserved” but not otherwise flown. For all their budget at best RAN could only ever generate one single flight from MRH-90. It’s able to do the same by increasingly surging existing Romeo airframes to generate 9 operational flights from 23 aircraft.

                            Army’s whole MRH-90 fleet can currently (almost) sustain it’s requirements for rotary wing support for Special Operations high readiness CT roles (8 aircraft split between West and East) and a single detachment (3 aircraft ~) for amphibious operations, plus a training flight. It cannot routinely operate even 15 aircraft from it’s fleet of 40. Contrary to media reporting, Army did not receive the “7” RAN helicopters, they have been in storage since removal from RAN service and are awaiting Government direction on disposal. Army currently has no TTH capability due to MRH-90 unavailability and priority placed on airframes for ‘urgent’ roles (special ops and media friendly regional deployments at government direction) and are forced to use Chinooks in the role at massive cost and strain on our Chinook fleet.

                            MRH running costs (not even counting unavailability cost and use of other helicopters such as Chinook and the leased AW139 helicopters in Townsville to cover the role) are 3x higher than UH-60M and Government has not budgeted the cost of covering our supposed TTH capability. Army simply does not have the cash to run the fleet. It is substantially cheaper to replace the whole MRH-90 fleet with new build Blackhawk 1 for 1 AND run them at higher hours than it is to retain MRH-90 as is.

                            Flying hours for the fleet have been reduced by more than 1000hrs for 2022-2023 and Army assesses it will still not get anywhere near that reduced figure. Army helicopter pilots are at present retaining their flight ratings on the leased AW139’s currently deployed in Townsville.

                            Defmin has been fully briefed on this and Army has been awaiting Government direction on this point for months… Meanwhile we have effectively zero TTH capability.

                            MRH-90 is assessed as ‘never’ going to be able to fill all required six capability milestones for Army for the fleet including special operations, land and maritime mobility roles. RAN has assessed the MRH-90 as unsuitable for shipboard operations in any context, with certain non-disclosed issues leading the Service to immediately withdraw them from all flying operations and the abrupt retirement of it’s entire MRH-90 fleet from service…

                            Jeebus, wept…



                            So just to clarify for those of us outside Australia who might not be keeping track of nomenclature MRH-90 is otherwise a variant of the NH-90 by Eurocopter.
                            The very one certain Europeans and Pro-EU voices have consistently advocated for the UK and others......

                            I find it particularly ironic about the use of AW139s.

                            Comment


                            • unicorn11
                              unicorn11 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Well, we have 47 that you could have at a reasonable price, AUKUS mates rates and all...

                            • Bug2
                              Bug2 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Don't say that! There are too many dumb asses in MoD to feel safe with such comments......

                            • ADMk2
                              ADMk2 commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Zen9 - correct, we chose the designation MRH-90 when we selected the TTH variant of NH-90.

                              The very one European nations are increasingly dumping and we are about to as well, once the current Government find a politically expedient excuse for why they have delayed the most obvious decision in the world, for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

                          • Forget Xi, PM’s real mission is slowing China dominance

                            JOHN LEE
                            • NOVEMBER 13, 2022
                            Anthony Albanese has departed Australia for a week of regional and global summitry. There is great interest in whether a formal meeting with China’s Xi Jinping will finally take place or if Australia will be shunned again.

                            A face-to-face meeting with the leader of our largest trading partner is no small matter. Assuming one occurs, and even if there is a promise to reverse coercive trade measures against us, the negative underlying dynamics of the Australia-China relationship doesn’t change because Xi’s plan to create a neighbourhood of submissive states hasn’t changed.

                            What has received less attention but has more impact than a meeting with Xi is whether Australia can work better with Southeast Asia to prevent it from becoming a Sino-dominated and compliant subregion. That, and not a bilateral meeting with Xi, is the more important reason Albanese will be in Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand this week.

                            Beijing knows the future of the Indo-Pacific will be determined by the extent to which the commercially vibrant maritime trading economies can be persuaded or compelled to fall meekly in line with Chinese plans. Because of Beijing’s belligerence and bad faith, determination in Japan, Taiwan and even South Korea to prevent Chinese hegemony is strong and growing.

                            Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hold a short informal discussion at the ASEAN gala dinner in Cambodia. Picture: TVK
                            Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hold a short informal discussion at the ASEAN gala dinner in Cambodia. Picture: TVK

                            This makes Southeast Asia the pivotal subregion. It is the soft underbelly in the sense that it is these countries that are most susceptible to Chinese coercion, seduction and influence.

                            This brings us to the appointment of former Macquarie Group head Nicholas Moore as special envoy for Southeast Asia with the mission to accelerate trade and investment with this region. One can see why someone with Moore’s background was nominated. Deepening the economic relationship is important.

                            While the Association of East Asian Nations (the 10 Southeast Asian member states and soon to be 11 with East Timor) sits behind only China and the EU as our largest two-way trading partner, the investment relationship remains underdone. The commercial opportunities are obvious.

                            The fastest growth of middle classes in the next decade could occur in economies such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. Southeast Asia will benefit from some of the supply chains exiting China because of geopolitical tensions and the more oppressive environment under Xi. This means the substance and optics of appointing a former business leader to this role makes sense.

                            Even so, every economic action in the region these days has an unavoidable geopolitical underlay and achieving our broader interests in Southeast Asia means more than just doing business whenever there is money to be made. Consider a common exhortation among many Southeast Asian nations that they must not be forced to choose between China and other nations.

                            This is a misleading declaration that should be challenged because some of these nations are constantly making decisions in the name of maximising short-term gains without regard to longer-term risks.

                            Consider the support some are offering for China’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trading bloc that seeks to advance liberal economic rules and higher economic standards. True, Chinese ascension would lead to better access to its domestic economy for other members and lower transaction costs of doing business with Chinese firms.

                            At the same time, Beijing is already using state resources and other illegitimate means to ensure it becomes an increasingly dominant supplier to the region when it comes to adding more value in less sophisticated sectors or emerging as the only option for smaller states when it comes to advanced, hi-tech sectors.

                            Southeast Asian states know Chinese membership in the CPTPP will help permanently entrench Chinese advantages in those sectors that will determine the winners and losers of economic activity in the future at the expense of all others.

                            In another context, the ostensible refusal of some Southeast Asian states to buy into the hi-tech decoupling between China and the West is a choice with enormous consequences because it will mean they will be tempted to choose the default option of the lower-cost Chinese supplier.

                            Once reliant on the Chinese state-controlled hi-tech ecosystem, they are captured as leaving is prohibitive from a cost perspective or technically impossible. This is Beijing’s plan and we all know it. The decision nevertheless to overlook Chinese Communist Party motivations and allow the latter’s standards to be entrenched outside China is a clear choice with impacts for their nations and beyond.

                            Albanese and envoys such as Moore have their work cut out for them. We cannot directly stop other nations from making poor decisions for immediate or short-term gain.

                            United States President Joe Biden and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese after a bilateral meeting during the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
                            United States President Joe Biden and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese after a bilateral meeting during the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

                            But we should not create diplomatic cover for doing so or enable poor choices by support­ing projects and institutions that entrench Chinese ad­van­­tages. We can impose oppor­tunity costs indirectly by prior­itising agreements and deals with those nations choosing to take a broader view of their responsibilities through avoiding Chinese capture and the advance of authoritarian rules and standards.

                            China’s approach is to reduce the individual and collective agency and resolve of Southeast Asian nations, thereby rendering them submissive and compliant. Our purpose is the opposite – to offer alternatives and work with those nations seeking to make proactive and wise choices for the sake of their longer-term interests. This begins with abandoning the delusion that important decisions need not be made.

                            John Lee is a nonresident senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. From 2016 to 2018 he was senior adviser to the Australian foreign minister.
                            It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                            It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                            It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                            Comment


                            • ABC NEWS

                              Kim Beazley calls for massive defence spending increase to prevent Australia being 'lost'

                              By defence correspondent Andrew Greene - 56m ago

                              Former defence minister Kim Beazley.  (ABC News: Hugh Sando)
                              Former defence minister Kim Beazley. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)© Provided by ABC NEWS

                              Former defence minister Kim Beazley has called for a dramatic increase in military spending, warning Australia could be "lost" if not enough is done to prepare the country against threats.

                              Appearing at a UNSW conference discussing the AUKUS partnership, the one-time Labor leader also suggested Australia could help break China's dominance of the global supply chain in rare earths.

                              Mr Beazley, who served as ambassador to the United States for six years, noted that although defence spending is close to two per cent of Australia's GDP, the National Disability Insurance Scheme now accounts for more of the federal budget.

                              "This year our expenditure in the budget on disability insurance surpassed our spending on defence – there needs to be a truly massive smartening up here, and if AUKUS can do that for us, that would be a very good thing indeed," he said.

                              The influential Labor figure said the AUKUS strategic partnership with the UK and US presents a good opportunity to lift defence spending from the current level of around six per cent of the budget up to eight or nine per cent of overall government expenditure.

                              Speaking to the ABC's Afternoon Briefing program after his Canberra address, the former defence minister expanded on his comments.
                              "I was not criticising the disability insurance – that's been a really important addition over the last couple of decades to our social base, in a very important area," he said.

                              "But I think that it would come as a surprise to people, which is why I used the figure, that that particular element of our social policy now exceeds the defence function.

                              "Whenever you hear people talk about defence they say 'the cost of one F-35 will allow us to do this or that' — well what it will allow you to do if you decide to cut it back excessively is to lose your country."

                              Mr Beazley warned Australia had "dropped the ball, massively dropped the ball", on defence spending for decades.

                              "You know, when I was defence minister, we were at about 2.5 per cent of GDP and eight to nine per cent of the budget. We're now at 5.5 per cent of the budget and about just two per cent of GDP again, after 25 years."

                              Mr Beazley's comments will be keenly noticed inside government, with the former Opposition leader considered close to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as well as fellow West Australian Stephen Smith who is overseeing Labor's Defence Strategic Review.

                              During his UNSW address, he also warned that Australia and western allies are far too reliant on China for valuable rare earths used in advanced technologies.

                              Mr Beazley, who served as ambassador to Washington between 2010 and 2016 also suggested rare earths needed to be a focus of the AUKUS partnership claiming Australia had the resources and potential capacity to help break China's stranglehold

                              "I'm talking about 5-10 years to extract and to process sufficient of those materials to completely replace the dependency that the United States, and for that matter Europe, has on China."

                              Earlier in the day Japan's ambassador to Australia told the conference his nation was prepared to host Australia's future nuclear submarines and wants to participate in the AUKUS alliance on "specific projects".

                              "Japan stands ready to discuss with Australia, the US and the UK areas where we can co-operate bilaterally on defence technology," Ambassador Shingo Yamagami said.
                              Attached Files

                              Comment


                              • Anthony Albanese to have one on one meeting with Xi Jinping at G20

                                By political reporter Matthew Doran in Bali

                                Posted 2h ago, updated 4m ago


                                Anthony Albanese has arrived in Bali for the G20 summit. (ABC News: Matthew Doran ) Help keep family & friends informed by sharing this article

                                Anthony Albanese has confirmed he will hold formal talks with China's President Xi Jinping at the G20 meeting on Tuesday.

                                Key points:
                                • It will be the first formal meeting between an Australian leader and the Chinese president since Malcolm Turnbull was prime minister
                                • Chinese state media has reported China was "ready to meet Australia halfway"
                                • Mr Albanese said he was entering the meeting with "goodwill" and "no preconditions"
                                The prime minister revealed the meeting would occur just after landing in Bali, while speaking to the media on the tarmac.

                                It will be the first formal bilateral meeting between an Australian leader and the Chinese president since Malcolm Turnbull was prime minister in 2016, although Scott Morrison had a brief discussion with Mr Xi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in 2019.

                                The announcement came after Mr Albanese met China's Premier Li Keqang at a gala dinner in Cambodia on Saturday night – a conversation the prime minister said was "polite".

                                Following that brief chat, Chinese state media said China was "ready to meet Australia halfway" on repairing the strained relationship.

                                "Australia will put forward our own position, I look forward to having a constructive discussion with President Xi tomorrow," Mr Albanese said.

                                On whether the prime minister was hopeful Beijing's trade sanctions on Australian products would be lifted, Mr Albanese was circumspect.

                                "We enter this discussion with goodwill, there are no preconditions on this discussion, I'm looking forward to having constructive dialogue," he said.

                                "I've said since I became the prime minister, but before then as well, that dialogue is always a good thing.

                                "We need to talk in order to develop mutual understanding."

                                Chinese President Xi Jinping was named as as head of the Communist Party for a third term in October.(Reuters: Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Pool)

                                Mr Albanese was asked whether he would use the opportunity to pressure the Chinese president to take a harder line on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

                                "We have a very clear position, and it's a consistent position," he replied.

                                "There is a need for Russia to withdraw from this aggressive action, that is against international law and that is creating hardship – particularly, of course, in Ukraine – but is also damaging the international economy and damaging international food security."

                                Mr Li said there was a traditional friendship between the people of China and Australia.

                                “The bilateral relationship has gone through a period of hardship and twists and turns," he said.

                                Anthony Albanese arrived at I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport ahead of G20 Summit on Monday.(Reuters: Fikri Yusuf/G20 Media Center)

                                "After you [Mr Albanese] became the prime minister of the new Labor-led Australian government, you said that the Australian side wanted to work together with China to push Australia-China relations back on the right track.

                                "The Chinese side is also willing to work with Australia to meet each other halfway and take the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations as an opportunity to promote the sustainable, healthy and stable development of China-Australia relations.”

                                On Sunday, Mr Albanese met US President Joe Biden in Phnom Penh – the issue of China's relentless ambition in the Asia Pacific one of the topics of discussion.

                                After those talks, the White House's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Mr Biden "was able to coordinate with the Australian Prime Minister" on issues relating to China.

                                Mr Albanese was reluctant to divulge details of his discussions with the President.

                                Mr Biden and Mr Xi are meeting in Bali on Monday evening, Australia time.

                                Comment


                                • unicorn11
                                  unicorn11 commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  Meet Australia halfway?
                                  We weren't the one that blacklisted Australian products
                                  We weren't the one who imprisoned Australians without cause and trial
                                  We weren't the ones threatening Australia with destruction
                                  We weren't the ones bribing politicians
                                  They can Frak right off.

                                • Magnify v2.0
                                  Magnify v2.0 commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  We also weren't the ones who deliberately spread a global pandemic around the globe, via refusing to halt airlines from exporting it, which has since killed ~6,615,000 people.

                                  And now Xi Jinping pretends innocence about that too. He's a murderer of millions.

                                  But our PM must get a photo-op with him ...

                              • Defence’s strategy of secrecy is no longer defensible

                                JIM MOLAN


                                Australian soldiers fire a portable missile at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021. Picture: ADF
                                Australian soldiers fire a portable missile at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021. Picture: ADF
                                • NOVEMBER 14, 2022
                                Last week, I participated in Senate estimates for the government’s October budget. This was not my first estimates, but my first from opposition. Like previous estimates, I found it to be a civil, sometimes collegiate, yet generally unenlightening experience.

                                We are fortunate to have a democracy requiring ministers and senior bureaucrats to regularly present themselves for scrutiny on how they spend public money and run their departments. Estimates, when it works well, can encourage defensible policy-making and implementation. It can also shed light on poor behaviour and force governments to justify their decisions and positions.

                                But it doesn’t always work well. In my area of focus, defence and national security, estimates has proven frustrating from government and opposition. In public and parliamentary forums where oversight is sought, Defence, more than any other department, conceals its activities behind a veil of security.

                                Last week, I asked Defence officials what war they were preparing to fight. I asked Penny Wong, representing the Minister for Defence, her views on the nation’s preparedness for conflict. I sought Defence’s response to the declining strength of our traditional ally, the US, and the impact on Australia’s need for self-sufficiency. This offered an opportunity for frank dialogue with the Australian people. Yet, each question was avoided or deflected.

                                Nearly a century after “loose lips sink ships” entered our lexicon, the idea that tactical, operational details involving our Defence Force remain secret is familiar and accepted by Australians. We would not expect a government to publicly air details of a live counter-insurgency operation, or technological capabilities that give our forces a competitive edge. Information that could compromise the safety of our personnel or reduce their advantage in battle must be closely guarded.

                                However, tactics and strategy are two very different things. National defence strategy is broadly about how future operations will be conducted or wars fought – by defining how, where and who the force will fight, we can construct the force we need. It is possible to outline this in an unclassified way (with a more brutally honest version existing in the classified domain). Far from panicking the nation, strategic frankness engages people and gives them confidence in a secure future. It also has broader benefits – how can you deter an adversary without giving them at least some idea of your capacity to strategise?

                                In recent years, the Americans have adopted a more open approach. Their latest National ­Defence Strategy states: “The Department of Defence owes it to our All Volunteer Force and the American people to provide a clear picture of the challenges we expect to face in the crucial years ahead – and we owe them a clear and rigorous strategy for advancing our defence and security goals.” This is, fundamentally, government making a pact with its people: we will level with you because, when the time comes, we’ll need to call on you to fight, or at the very least to pay the bill through your taxes.

                                There are those who see this level of openness as inciting hostility and hindering diplomatic ­efforts. Yet the Ukraine war has demonstrated the benefits of openly acknowledging strategic threats and publicly sharing intelligence.

                                Earlier this year, we saw an unprecedented willingness from international leaders to broadcast their concerns at the prospect of a Russian invasion ­before it occurred. This mobilised worldwide condemnation and ­cemented a strong coalition against Putin from virtually day one – importantly, not at the expense of favourable battlefield outcomes.

                                US political scientist Joshua Rovner observes: “Gone are the days when secrecy was the coin of the realm, and when a state’s possession of private information was the key to strategic success.” Ukraine, which has been preparing for this invasion since 2014, and other governments around the world appear to have reached this realisation. Australia’s leadership has not.

                                Critics of this viewpoint will undoubtedly accuse me of attempting to score political points and ignoring the previous Coalition government’s similarly tight-lipped approach. I have long maintained that the former government accomplished much for our defence and security.

                                Yet during my time with the Coalition, and in the decades prior, I advocated publicly and privately for strategic openness – both to reduce national complacency and to make sure that we actually had a strategy.

                                In 2018, as chair of the parliamentary defence sub-committee, I tabled a report entitled Contestability and Consensus, recommending a new bipartisan, stat­utory committee to enable par­liamentary oversight of strategy, with the same arrangements for classified access as the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security.

                                Such a body would ensure that, even when valid reasons exist for withholding details from the people, at least some of the people’s representatives can see the full story. In the context of the current parliamentary inquiry into armed-conflict decision-making, this alternative model is worthy of renewed consideration.

                                While removing the veil of security to enable deeper parliamentary scrutiny would be a good first step, it is not sufficient. A more open, frank dialogue is required between Australia’s government and its people about the challenges that lie ahead.

                                War is now more likely than at any point in the past 80 years, but our next conflict won’t involve a few thousand troops on far away shores. It will occur on our doorstep, impacting the entire nation. And if government is hoping that when this happens, it can rely on Australians to fight in our defence or at the very least pay the bills, now is the time to start a very candid discussion.

                                Jim Molan is a Liberal senator for NSW and a former major general in the Australian Army.
                                It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                                Comment


                                • Originally posted by unicorn11 View Post
                                  ... We are fortunate to have a democracy requiring ministers and senior bureaucrats to regularly present themselves for scrutiny on how they spend public money and run their departments. Estimates, when it works well, can encourage defensible policy-making and implementation. It can also shed light on poor behaviour and force governments to justify their decisions and positions. ... ​
                                  What uselessness this is though when there's no accountability for the failure to utilise a "10-year warning window" to prepare the ADF for NOW.

                                  Senior ministerial and bureaucratic accountability are effectively a joke, when there's a complete failure of responsibility and accountability, where and when it matters, when the primary function for all this spending is being totally ignored.

                                  Show me how this allegedly wonderous Australian Commonwealth system of government accountability in defence spending issues is going to make sure this cannot and will not ever happen again.

                                  Comment


                                  • I'm assuming there is going to be a plan-B for the long range strike capability, as the submarines won't be doing it for quite some time.

                                    Comment


                                    • Bug2
                                      Bug2 commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      Ohh and the F-35's need to be Block 4 or later preferably with the uprated engines (more power, greater range)

                                    • unicorn11
                                      unicorn11 commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      The Block 4s aren't a thing until probably the back half of this decade.

                                    • Magnify v2.0
                                      Magnify v2.0 commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      Block 4 was originally a 4-phase program that morphed into an incremental continuous software and hardware upgrade process, projected to wrap-up in 2025. The 4 phases lost identity about 2 years back. It's already underway and will remain indefinite, defined by incremental capability addition with some bigger step-ups. So, it may be finalised in 2027/28, but significant parts of it will already be operating well before that. So it's not really a back of the decade change in capability, except in media conceptions of it. But engine updates or replacement should be about last. But the sensor, computer and progressive weapon additions before that will change much (and hopefully an added EFT before the engine is installed). Possibly a DIRCM and better decoys and countermeasures, better EA and ESM, etc. That said, my knowledge about it is no longer current, going to have to brush up.

                                  • Australia ‘massively dropped the ball’ on defense spending, Beazley warns

                                    Kim Beazley is best known for leading the Labor Party from 1996-2001, but also served as Minister of Defence from 1984-1990 and ambassador to the United States from 2009-2016.

                                    By COLIN CLARK

                                    on November 14, 2022 at 7:09 PM


                                    Then Governor of Western Australia, Kim Beazley inspects troops at the Pilbara Regiment Colours Parade. Credit: ADF Sgt. Gary Dixon.

                                    CANBERRA — One of the giants of Australian politics and defense is calling for a “massive” increase in defense spending by the island continent, saying his country “dropped the ball, massively dropped the ball” over the previous three decades when it comes to defense investments.

                                    Kim Beazley is best known for leading the Labor Party from 1996-2001, but also served as Minister of Defence from 1984-1990 and ambassador to the United States from 2009-2016. Most recently, he ended a four-year term as governor of West Australia in June. Over his decades-long career in the public eye, Beazley has developed a reputation as a keen thinker on defense and geopolitics.

                                    Perhaps more importantly, he is considered close to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. He also knows Stephen Smith, a fellow Western Australian, who leads Labor’s Defence Strategic Review, due out in March.

                                    Speaking at a conference called Advancing AUKUS, put on by a consortium of three universities, the University of New South Wales, Arizona State University and King’s College of London. Beazley didn’t mince words, saying “You know, when I was defense minister, we were at about 2.5% of GDP and 8-to-9% of the budget. We’re now at 5.5% of the budget and about just 2% of GDP again, after 25 years.”

                                    Beazley said that, had Australia stayed at that investment level, today it would be spending $8 AUD billion more than it is now.

                                    “I got Marcus Hillyer from ASPI to do some stats on what would have happened to our spending figures over the last 25 years if we’d kept them up. If we’d done that, at the minimum, we would be now spending $8 billion a year more on defense,” Beazley said.

                                    “Our defense forces would look absolutely nothing like the way they appear now,” he said. “This year, our expenditure in the budget on the disabilities insurance surpassed our spending on the [defense] fix. There needs to be a truly massive smartening up here.”

                                    Beazley also took the opportunity to press for the US to help break the tight grip China has on the international market for rare earth minerals. Beazley noted that 3,400 American weapons use Chinese rare earth minerals and China has signaled that it could cut off the flow.

                                    “The Chinese have already sent in legislation, in 2019 and 2020, that they will not permit rare earths to be sold from them to any company which is producing weapons for a potential enemy. I have never been able to figure out why the Chinese in the circumstances of our current competition, don’t pull the trigger on that, particularly after the decisions that have been taken on selling [computer] chips to China, for example, but they haven’t,” he said.

                                    In Western Australia and the Northern Territory are mines that, he said, could “in very short order” be revived and, in five to 10 years, the allies could “extract and process sufficient of those materials to completely replace that dependency that the United States — for that matter, Europe — has on China.” While Australia is the geographic home of the resources, he noted that Japan keeps the one active mine up and running, and called on the US and other partners to increase investments in that area.

                                    The conference also involved discussion of quantum computers, communication devices and related technologies, an area where China has a bold plan to become the global leader, alongside artificial intelligence. One of the world’s top quantum scientists — who was actually named Australian of the Year in 2018 in part for her work on the subject — believes that “we’ve been too complacent for too long in the West in general, thinking that we’ve got leadership in these different areas.”

                                    Michelle Simmons, director of the center of excellence for quantum computation and communications technology at the University of New South Wales, told the conference that allied democracies must do more. “But leadership comes about from hard work and being hungry and moving fast. And so right now, I mean, I’m very much in the view that we need to be moving faster, working harder and working together. And I think it’s absolutely imperative that we do so. We can’t afford to underestimate under what’s happening.”

                                    One country outside of the AUKUS agreement — Japan — stands ready to offer help across these issues.

                                    Earlier in the day Japan’s ambassador to Australia, Amb. Shingo Yamagami, told the conference his nation was prepared to host Australia’s future nuclear submarines and wants to participate in the AUKUS alliance on “specific projects.”

                                    “Japan stands ready to discuss with Australia, the US and the UK areas where we can co-operate bilaterally on defence technology,” he said.

                                    Comment


                                    • Magnify v2.0
                                      Magnify v2.0 commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      Can always rely on Beazley for a self-back-pat.

                                    • ADMk2
                                      ADMk2 commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      @DEW

                                      He also glossed over the Defence of Australia doctrine he was almost single-handedly responsible for, which in real terms achieved nothing except to cripple Australian defence capability for a generation or more, that we are still struggling to recover from…

                                      Let’s also not gloss over what 2.54% of GDP meant in 1986. It meant a defence budget of $10.7b a year.

                                      1.98% GDP in 2022 equals $48.6b…

                                    • DEW
                                      DEW commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      Let’s also not gloss over what 2.54% of GDP meant in 1986. It meant a defence budget of $10.7b a year.

                                      1.98% GDP in 2022 equals $48.6b…
                                      Relevance? Call 2.54% $62b in today's money then.

                                      Of course in 1990 we should all have foreseen the economically spoon-fed China coming back to bite us. Just don't call the upcoming Defence Strategic Review a new Defence of Australia doctrine I suppose.

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                                    • Xi diplomacy is secondary to defence strategy

                                      PAUL KELLY


                                      The meeting between Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping in Bali is a ‘success because it ­happened’. Picture: AAP
                                      The meeting between Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping in Bali is a ‘success because it ­happened’. Picture: AAP
                                      • NOVEMBER 15, 2022
                                      The Australia-China bilateral leaders’ meeting between Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping is a diplomatic breakthrough for the new Labor government, ending the long freeze between the nations – but nobody should think this constitutes any strategic reset by Australia.

                                      The reality is just the reverse. This was made clear in the speech by Defence Minister Richard Marles to the annual Sydney Institute dinner on Monday night on the eve of the Albanese-XI meeting, with similar sentiments expressed by Foreign Minister Penny Wong in her Whitlam Oration last weekend.

                                      Marles aspires to the most ambitious defence policy for Labor since Kim Beazley held the portfolio in the Hawke government. It is anchored in the conviction that Australia faces strategic challenges unprecedented in its history and driven by China’s aspirations to become the regional hegemon.

                                      His warnings as Defence Minister could not be more explicit. Marles said the world is “more uncertain and more precarious than at any time since the end of the Second World War”. Mainly alluding to China, he said the Indo-Pacific was the site of the “biggest military build-up we have seen anywhere in the world over the past 70 years” with the risk that “this competition becomes confrontation”.

                                      Chinese PLA soldiers in Beijing. Picture: AFP
                                      Chinese PLA soldiers in Beijing. Picture: AFP

                                      Marles builds upon but also shifts the dynamics in the defence policy of the Morrison government. His speech came with three main messages. First, in response to a more threatening environment, the new “cornerstone” of Australian strategic policy must be “impactful projection” which means holding potential adversaries at a distance through our ability to project military force.

                                      This requires an Australian Defence Force that augments its self-reliance and can “deploy and deliver combat power” through greater strike capability. Australia must seek to defend its national interest by operations “within our immediate region”, the purpose being to “project power to shape outcomes and deter threats”.

                                      This requires decisions that “strengthen the lethality, resilience and readiness of the ADF”. It means “hard choices” to reconfigure the ADF.

                                      Marles says the world is ‘more uncertain and more precarious than at any time since the end of the Second World War’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
                                      Marles says the world is ‘more uncertain and more precarious than at any time since the end of the Second World War’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

                                      For Marles, a nuclear-powered submarine capability is “at the heart” of force projection. As Deputy Prime Minister, Marles is unwavering in his support for the AUKUS arrangement initiated by Scott Morrison with the UK and US. Marles not only supports the nuclear submarine capability but is re-fashioning strategic doctrine to locate the nuclear capacity within a framework of power projection. He said nuclear-powered submarines would give Australia “an unmatched strategic advantage” and “revolutionise the ­potency of the ADF”.

                                      This entire narrative is driven by China. Senior ministers, of course, aren’t indiscreet enough to articulate the obvious. Marles renewed his pledge to announce in March – significantly, with the Prime Minister – the type of submarine and its optimal pathway. Critical in this decision is the arrival timetable and whether delivery can be brought forward.

                                      Pivotal to this process is the Defence Strategic Review being conducted by Sir Angus Houston and former defence minister Stephen Smith that Marles previously said would be even “bigger” than the review by Paul Dibb for minister Beazley that transformed Australian defence policy in the 1980s.

                                      Second, Marles has an activist view of the US alliance. He said the days “of simply paying the entry price to obtain our security guarantee” from America are finished. A more dangerous region renders the old thinking obsolete.

                                      His foundational principle is that the US alliance, far from weakening Australia’s sovereignty as critics claim, actually “builds our sovereignty and reinforces our place in the region”.

                                      This repudiates critics arguing that deeper military and technological ties with the US compromise our autonomy and sov­ereignty and undermine our standing with Asian neighbours.

                                      “The Albanese government is completely committed to making Australia the most active participant in the alliance that we can be,” Marles said.

                                      He said using the US to secure superior technology guaranteed Australia “more agency and sovereignty”, and that meant greater leverage within the region. Marles said he was pursuing deeper defence partnerships with Japan and India, his first two bilateral visits after taking office.

                                      A Chinese PLA Navy destroyer conducts a live-fire drill. Picture: Supplied
                                      A Chinese PLA Navy destroyer conducts a live-fire drill. Picture: Supplied

                                      Australia’s purpose was not just to bolster its own security but work with regional structures to “contribute to an effective balance of military power” to ensure “no state will ever conclude that the benefits of conflict outweigh the risks”. Again, the undeclared yet obvious goal is balancing against China.

                                      Third, Marles said that in a more dangerous world, Australia must make a greater defence effort, and it must have the will “to act on our own terms when we have to”. The defence budget would need to grow. This necessitated a new relationship between the Defence Department on one hand and Treasury and Finance on the other.

                                      Marles criticised what he called the previous government’s paradigm of exempting defence from budget disciplines, saying it prioritised quantity over quality in the spend. The politics are obvious. Marles will face a moment of financial truth in the cabinet when ministers, facing competing demands, must decide between defence and social spending around health, aged care, and the NDIS. In making his case, Marles must be able to argue defence spending accountability, otherwise he has no hope.

                                      The overall defence policy framework Marles outlines will incite progressive political hostility. As a realist, Marles would know his propositions about ­“impactful projection”, the US alliance and greater defence spending will attract dissent and fury in some quarters.

                                      But Marles has one central ­advantage. It is the recognition among senior ministers, based on their security briefings, that China is embarked on a strategy of regional assertion with a willingness to use coercion. The case still mounted by critics who say China’s rise is relatively benign has no currency within the government’s higher reaches. That debate, in effect, is over.

                                      The real debate is the reach and nature of Labor’s defence reconfiguration. Marles is aiming high and will need Albanese’s ­support to prevail. For Labor, this looms as an issue of destiny – it ­either embarks upon unprecedented defence decisions in response to China, or retreats before the security challenge as a government unfit for the task.

                                      Last weekend, Wong said Labor would co-operate with China where it could and disagree where it must. But Wong invoked Gough Whitlam for her cause. She said the China of today is not the same as the China of the 1970s or even the 2000s and “it is an insult to all Gough did to prepare us for the future if we act as though we live in a world that has long since passed”. This is the authentic voice of Albanese Labor on China. No illusions.

                                      Albanese’s triumph is the restoration of dialogue. His related triumph, it seems, is dialogue without Australian concessions. He correctly says the meeting with Xi is a success because it ­happened.

                                      Every sign is that Albanese is a hardnosed realist on China. That is imperative for Australia’s national interest and Labor’s electoral success.

                                      Albanese seeks to normalise relations as far as possible yet, in reality, there are severe limits on any normalisation. Don’t get ­mesmerised by the diplomacy; check out the defence policy.

                                      PAUL KELLY
                                      EDITOR-AT-LARGE​
                                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                      It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                                      Comment


                                      • Open up to Chinese trade, Xi tells Albanese

                                        Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping meet at the G20 Summit.
                                        Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping meet at the G20 Summit.Beijing has said the “most difficult time for China-Australia relations has passed”, but told Canberra to improve the relationship the Albanese government needs to reduce hurdles on Chinese businesses.

                                        President Xi Jinping brought up China’s long standing unhappiness with investment hurdles for Chinese businesses in Australia during his Tuesday meeting with Anthony Albanese.

                                        “It is hoped that the Australian side will provide a good business environment for Chinese enterprises to invest and operate in Australia,” Mr Xi told Australia’s Prime Minister, according to China’s official broadcaster CCTV.

                                        The Turnbull government significantly raised hurdles for Chinese investment in Australia’s critical infrastructure and was the first government in the world to ban Chinese giant Huawei from its 5G network.

                                        In opposition, Mr Albanese was a sharp critic of the Turnbull government for not blocking the purchase of the Port of Darwin by the Chinese firm Landbridge. The Prime Minister has said the port’s ownership is under review, setting it up as a potential flashpoint in the still strained relationship.

                                        The initial Chinese party state media reports on the first substantial meeting in six years between China’s leader and an Australian prime minister noted “positive signs”, but cautioned about the outlook.

                                        Yu Lei, chief research fellow at the research centre for Pacific island countries of Liaocheng University in East China‘s Shandong Province, said much would depend on the future of China-US relations.

                                        “It is too early to determine if the current Australian government would maintain such maturity, and keep being pragmatic in handling ties, as the shift in attitude would be a product of both international and domestic factors,” he told the Global Times.

                                        Mr Albanese said that China’s leader did not bring up AUKUS during their Tuesday meeting, but Mr Xi did include a swipe at the US and its alliance network during his address to the G20 summit.

                                        Mr Xi warned about “group politics and bloc confrontation” and “the Cold-War mentality” in a pointed passage of his speech, which mostly focused on his “Global Development Initiative”, a banner phrase for Beijing’s development-focused foreign policy.

                                        “No one should engage in beggar-thy-neighbour practices, building ‘a small yard with high fences,’ or creating closed and exclusive clubs,” China’s leader said.

                                        In their Tuesday meeting, President Xi downplayed the historic rift in the relationship, telling his Australian counterpart that “there has never been a fundamental conflict of interest between China and Australia”, according to CCTV.

                                        After the meeting, the Global Times listed some of China’s ongoing grievances with Australia, including the banning of Huawei from Australia’s 5G network in 2018 and anti-dumping investigations against Chinese products.

                                        “Only if Australia gives Chinese companies fair treatment can the country promote efficient and mutually beneficial trade and economic co-operation with China,” the party state masthead said.

                                        However, even Beijing’s most pugilistic masthead struck a more moderate tone than it has in recent years.

                                        “The most difficult time for China-Australia relations has passed,” the Global Times editorialised.

                                        “We hope the meeting between the two heads of state in Bali will become a new starting point for broader communication between the two sides to resolve their differences and promote healthy and stable development of trade and economic relations.”

                                        It said that any further improvement would turn on whether Canberra could “properly handle” relations with its biggest trading partner, which continues to blacklist Australian exports previously worth $20 billion a year.

                                        WILL GLASGOW
                                        NORTH ASIA CORRESPONDENT​
                                        It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                        It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                        It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                                        Comment


                                        • unicorn11
                                          unicorn11 commented
                                          Editing a comment
                                          One of the replies to this article summed it up quite well.

                                          "We'll open Australia up to China when Australian's can buy land in China, not before."

                                        • Bug2
                                          Bug2 commented
                                          Editing a comment
                                          And a lot of this rubbish-speak is all about getting their greedy little mitts on Rare Earth materials, knowing we'll cut them out of a big chunk of Refining sooner than later.........

                                          There are a number of little company groups owned part or wholly by Chinese interests that do Gold Mining etc. Funny how they have Chinese project "engineers" ghosting everyone, when neither the size of the project, nor the number of Aussies employed, justify having such a large Chinese presence. Basically, they are being trained for when or if they get allowed to expand their operations. Chinese operators do nothing for Australian employment, or money/wealth, it all goes to China.

                                      • New dawn, but the same old dragon

                                        Despite the thaw in our relations with China, the strategic dangers haven’t changed.

                                        By GREG SHERIDAN
                                        The Albanese government must now avoid a new danger, which is to be seduced into misinterpreting Xi’s honey words as if they mean a new chapter in relations with China, writes Greg Sheridan. Picture: AAP
                                        Anthony Albanese’s meeting with Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Bali, the first between Australian and Chinese leaders in six years, will burn itself into the history books.

                                        It is nonetheless being wildly misinterpreted by many of its friends and many of Albanese’s ­admirers.

                                        It’s just as significant as they claim and reflects great credit on Albanese. But it’s not significant in the way they say.
                                        Albanese’s meeting is more important than that between Gough Whitlam as opposition leader and Chinese premier Chou Enlai in 1971, or the Australian Great Helmsman’s even more famous meeting with Mao Zedong in 1973.

                                        Geoff Raby, a former Australian ambassador to Beijing, leads the misinterpretation of the Albanese meeting. Raby is reliably pro-Beijing in most, not all, contexts. In his misinterpretation, the main problem in China relations was the unreasonableness of the Morrison government and all Australian governments over the past decade. The softer tone of the new Albanese government was thus all that was needed for benevolent Beijing to forgive us our sins.

                                        Jennifer Westacott of the Business Council of Australia, normally an immensely sensible and thoughtful business leader, was ­seriously ill-advised to describe the meeting as “ a tremendous reset” of the relationship.

                                        This was a week of momentous change and activity in geo-strategic issues, but let’s stay focused on the Albanese/Xi meeting. It’s wrong to see it in isolation, or even to imagine that Australian statecraft was primarily responsible for bringing it about.

                                        Beijing has put a series of countries in the doghouse over the years, mainly for refusing to be dictated to by China. Such countries include Japan, South Korea, Germany, Britain, Lithuania oddly enough, Singapore, the Philippines and most recently Canada, as well as various others.

                                        It does this to try to force them to change policies it doesn’t like. Inevitably, at some point Beijing decides it’s dished out enough punishment, or it’s having arguments with too many nations at once, or it wants something new from the doghouse resident, or it just gets bored. In any event, eventually it rehabilitates the offending nation.

                                        It’s roughly analogous to the forced re-education routinely inflicted on prisoners in what Beijing euphemistically calls “residential detention”. Eventually, even recalcitrant prisoners are let go.

                                        So why did Beijing make up with Canberra now? Its economy is doing relatively poorly and it’s facing pressure from US efforts to partly decouple from China, especially in hi-tech. The most striking example was Joe Biden’s executive order banning the export of semiconductor chips to China.

                                        Further, it’s clear the wolf-warrior style of hyper aggressive diplomacy Beijing’s diplomats practised for several years was deeply counter-productive. It drove other countries to band together to hedge against Chinese aggression. Thus the Quad – the US, Japan, India and Australia – was revived first under Donald Trump, then more comprehensively under Biden. All Quad members plus South Korea and others are increasing their defence budgets. Wolf-warrior didn’t work.

                                        Beijing wants to join the Trans Pacific Partnership. Individual TPP members can veto this. Albanese told me recently Canberra won’t even consider the question while Beijing has trade bans on Australia. Similarly, these bans have hurt China’s interests, forcing it to buy less calorific coal than Australia produces.

                                        There are surely internal Chinese political dynamics about which we have no idea. It’s a very opaque system, even to Western intel agencies.

                                        So why, if the impetus came from Beijing, do I rate the meeting a historic triumph for Albanese and his government?

                                        First, the summit is just one episode in what is emerging as a sophisticated and integrated diplomatic and geo-strategic program from Canberra. This has been a dizzying six months of foreign affairs activism. Amid the blizzard of activity, three events are key: the Quad summit in Tokyo; the summit Albanese held with Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida in Perth, and the Joint Security Declaration the two leaders signed; and now the meeting with Xi in Bali on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

                                        On their first day in office, Albanese and his Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, flew to Tokyo for the Quad summit. This was a crucial statement of priority and resolve. In his meetings with Biden, and in his encounter with new British PM Rishi Sunak this week in Bali, Albanese underlined Labor’s commitment to the AUKUS agreement, under which Canberra will acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

                                        More broadly, AUKUS is a military technology agreement. Albanese described AUKUS to Sunak as “central to Australia’s security”.

                                        Then came the Joint Security Declaration with Kishida. This used the same language about the two nations consulting on adverse security developments and working out what to do in response as the ANZUS Treaty. This is pretty much standard language for US security treaties in Asia. It’s much the same language as is used in the US-Philippines security treaty.

                                        When the Japanese cabinet met before the Perth summit to approve the Joint Security Declaration, they made a historic determination – that Australia was Japan’s second most important security partner after the US. Japan’s ambassador in Canberra, the influential Shingo Yamagami, has described Australia in these terms. He also said Australia and Japan were in an alliance in everything but name. This is not freelancing from Yamagami, who comes from the heart of Japanese foreign policy. This is Tokyo’s strategic view.

                                        The Quad, AUKUS, and the Japanese Joint Security Declaration are good in themselves and well considered. Beijing despises them, absolutely despises them. They contradict in spirit and substance, in letter and intent, every element of contemporary Chinese strategic policy. Beijing has denounced all three. That is what makes Albanese’s achievement so historic and singular.

                                        Now, recall that just a couple of years ago the Chinese embassy was demanding Australia satisfy 14 of Beijing’s “grievances”.

                                        In the early days of the Albanese government, China’s ambassador, Xiao Qian, demanded Canberra take “concrete action” to improve the relationship.

                                        The Morrison government got much more right than wrong in its dealings with Beijing, and in foreign policy generally. It stood up to Chinese aggression. It made three mistakes, however. In its later months it routinely talked about possible war with China. That’s irresponsible.

                                        Secondly, while it ­negotiated the important AUKUS agreement for long-term benefit, it did nothing to increase military capability over the next five to 10 years, so it lacked credibility. It also led a public call for a full investigation into the origins of Covid. This was justified in theory but achieved nothing.

                                        The Albanese government has dropped the war talk and generally dialled back the rhetoric. It has ­settled on a good formula, used by Albanese, Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles: it seeks to stabilise the relationship, it will co-operate with Beijing when it can, disagree when it must and not resile from Australia’s interests or values.

                                        At the same time, it has reiterated repeatedly that it is sticking by the US alliance, the Japan security relationship, the Quad and AUKUS, and for good measure intends to significantly boost Australia’s defence capabilities over the next five years, to make us, as Marles says, a strategic porcupine, very dangerous to get mixed up with.

                                        Thus, the Albanese government has given away absolutely nothing to Beijing. Indeed, it has continued on policy paths which Beijing hates. It has added new policies which Beijing also hates – such as the Security Declaration with Japan and the promise of increased military capability. Yet it’s seen relations with China restored to functional normality. That’s the real significance of the Xi/Albanese summit. That’s why it’s historic. It’s an example supremely of Australia holding its strategic nerve across both sides of politics and several electoral cycles.

                                        This is a judgment shared by strategic hardheads in Washington, Tokyo, New Delhi, Seoul, London and other capitals concerned with China.

                                        Just imagine if Albanese had rejected the Quad, which Labor opposed under Kevin Rudd; or rejected AUKUS, which Labor elder statesman Paul Keating denigrates and demonises with a passion only equalled in Beijing.

                                        In that case, Beijing would have seen nothing but weakness, our friends would be dismayed, and it’s unlikely Albanese would have had the universal access he got to world leaders in Cambodia and Bali. Only the baying pro-Beijing brigades would have lauded him. And Australia would be immeasurably weaker.

                                        For a guide to Canberra’s strategic standing, take Mike Green, CEO of the US Studies Centre at Sydney University. Green is the pre-eminent American authority on Asian strategic policy. He was the Asia director in George W. Bush’s National Security Council, and is the author of definitive books on Asian geo-strategic policy.

                                        I have known him for many years. He is hard-headed and weighs his words carefully. Here is his crucial judgment: “I cannot think of an Australian government that has had a stronger series of successes at the outset. This comes in part from strategic continuity. The new government did not fundamentally change the strategic pillars of Australian policy. This was very reassuring to Australia’s partners.”

                                        The Albanese government did change some things – not only the tone towards Beijing but also its activism towards the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Wong has already visited 21 countries, mostly in the Pacific and Asia.

                                        It also changed climate policy. I think its policy there is excessive, but it’s certainly popular in the South Pacific, with the Biden administration and in Europe.

                                        The government must also bring its base along. This is always a challenge for Labor. The new government stands in the tradition of Bob Hawke, Kim Beazley and Gareth Evans, who managed the US alliance and regional diplomacy very effectively, infinitely better than Gough Whitlam did.

                                        Wong’s recent Whitlam Oration was a masterpiece in leading Labor true believers to sensible policy. Rather daringly, she placed her government’s hard-headed attitude towards Beijing today within the framework of Whitlam’s embrace of China in the early 1970s.

                                        Her key sentences were: “The China of today is not the same as the China of the 1970s or even the 2000s … It is an insult to all Gough did … if we act as though we live in a world that has long since passed.”

                                        She outlined the key feature of the present environment: “The structural differences between Australia and China – different values and different interests. As China has sought to assert itself in the world, those differences have become harder to manage.”

                                        Wong’s address was not a balanced assessment of Whitlam’s foreign policy. She left out, among other things, Whitlam’s attempt to secure election funding for the ALP from Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Ba’ath Socialist Party; Whitlam’s hatred of Vietnamese refugees and his several statements to that effect, including when he told his foreign minister Don Willesee: “I’m not having those f..ing Vietnamese Balts coming into the country with their religious and political prejudices against us”; the fact that not only the US but Britain and Canada also cut back intelligence sharing with Australia after Lionel Murphy’s bizarre ASIO raid; Whitlam’s recognition of Soviet sovereignty of the Baltic states; his government’s prohibition on ASIO eavesdropping on East European embassies with all their spies; Lee Kuan Yew’s withering assessment in his memoirs of Whitlam as an arrogant sham, and much else in similar vein.

                                        But her purpose was not a balanced assessment. It was, in an age-old ALP governing manoeuvre, to turn a Labor legend, no matter how ropey, to the service of good contemporary policy.

                                        Whitlam’s embrace of China is wildly overstated in its significance and has been almost universally damaging in Australian policy. Whitlam sold out Taiwan much more comprehensively than he needed to, and subsequently refused to take many elements of Chinese policy seriously, such as Beijing’s sponsoring of deadly communist insurgencies against our friends throughout Southeast Asia.

                                        Most importantly, by idealising and romanticising our relationship with a ruthless communist dictatorship, the Whitlam legend set up a hitherto destructive dynamic within Labor that considered any Canberra disagreement with Beijing to be a sign of failed Australian policy.

                                        As political framing, Wong’s address, repudiating that dynamic, was brilliant.

                                        Albanese’s government has been strategically steadfast and displayed real urgency when needed. It must now avoid a new danger, which is to be seduced into misinterpreting Xi’s honey words as if they mean a new chapter in relations with China.

                                        All the strategic conflicts with Beijing continue. Just last week, Xi told his military to prepare for war. What he says at home is more important than what he says to us. It’s good to stabilise day-to-day relations. But the underlying realities, the contradictions and conflicts, remain intractable and dangerous.

                                        GREG SHERIDAN
                                        FOREIGN EDITOR​
                                        It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                        It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                        It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                                        Comment


                                        • Australia would be ill-prepared for any ‘high-end’ conflict

                                          PETER JENNINGS


                                          A man falls is seen on the ground after a blast following a drone attack in Kyiv. Picture: AFP
                                          A man falls is seen on the ground after a blast following a drone attack in Kyiv. Picture: AFP
                                          • NOVEMBER 18, 2022
                                          The seasoned advice in Defence headquarters is to be wary of early reports of enemy contact because, in the confusion of war, the first details will almost always be wrong.

                                          Now it seems more likely that the missile which crashed near the Polish village of Przewodow on Ukraine’s northern border on Tuesday was not Russian but a Ukrainian anti-aircraft weapon.

                                          The initial Polish report of the incident described a “Russian-made missile”. That remains true because the weapon is likely to be a Soviet-era S-300 surface-to-air missile. Ukraine inherited many hundreds of these weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

                                          The S-300 weighs about two tonnes with a range of between 47 and 200km. A proximity fuse ­detonates the warhead when it is close to an aircraft or a drone. An investigation will show if the warhead detonated on impacting on the ground.

                                          My guess is that it did not. Large pieces of the missile remain intact and photographs do not show the damage that would be created by a 150kg fragmentation warhead. Most likely the missile crashed after failing to hit an ­airborne target.

                                          We know for certain that Russia launched a large-scale missile attack against Ukrainian cities on Tuesday night. The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War reports that Russia launched about 100 cruise missiles and at least 10 Iranian ­Shahed-136 drones that night, primarily against critical infrastructure targets.

                                          The Ukrainian military general staff claim to have shot down all the drones and 73 cruise missiles that evening. This amounts to a bad night for the Russian military, which is rapidly using up remaining supplies of sophisticated munitions.

                                          Any loss of human life in ­conflict is a tragedy, but the deaths of two Polish citizens from the crash of the S-300 must be put down to a terrible accident.

                                          As of late Thursday, the Ukrainian position was that the weapon was fired by Russia. Under the largest Russian missile barrage since the start of the war it is understandable that there is confusion about the weapon’s origin. US President Joe Biden quickly played down claims of Russian responsibility. He is uniquely able to know, as American satellites will have tracked the heat plume of the S-300’s rocket motor.

                                          US President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping in Bali. Picture: AFP
                                          US President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping in Bali. Picture: AFP

                                          After a more detailed investigation, we should expect that Kyiv will apologise and seek to make restitution to Poland which has, for reasons of self-interest as well as principle, been one of Ukraine’s strongest backers in the war.

                                          The missile strikes of last Tuesday are one night’s action in a war in which, on recent American estimates, over 100,000 ­Russians have been killed and wounded – overwhelmingly ­military personnel – and as many Ukrainians, overwhelmingly civilian.

                                          We should never forget that the cause of this war comes down to the warped historical view and nationalistic chauvinism of one man, Vladimir Putin.

                                          Putin has caused incalculable suffering while failing to achieve a single Russian war aim. It will be astonishing and tragic if he ­survives as Russia’s President by the end of 2023.

                                          Here, trying to draw some broader conclusions, I offer six reactions to the war’s events of last week.

                                          First, it is remarkable how tightly the war has been confined inside Ukraine, an outcome that, for different reasons, Kyiv and Moscow have tried to achieve. Given the sheer volume of weapons and ammunition expended it is astonishing there have not been many more incidents like that missile crash in Poland.

                                          It is true that Ukraine has carried the fight to several military bases in Russia, relatively close to the border. These have been carried out in a low-key way, with Kyiv’s leadership coy to claim credit. Have no doubt that Ukraine could do a lot more to take the fight into Russia but chooses not to do that to sustain NATO support and to limit ­conflict escalation.

                                          Second, notwithstanding rhetoric about using tactical ­nuclear weapons, Russia is also carefully avoiding the risk of ­expanding the war. Biden’s language, backed by the Europeans, that every inch of NATO will be defended has been effective in ­deterring Putin’s instinct for ­adventurism – thus far.

                                          A third conclusion is that Ukraine still has the momentum on the battlefield. Two very different wars are being fought. Ukraine is fighting and winning battlefield success against Russian military forces. In contrast, Russia’s ground forces seem to have come to a complete halt in the east and south of Ukraine and continue to lose ground. Moscow’s focus is on air and missile attacks against Ukrainian civilians and, more recently, critical ­infrastructure.

                                          With winter approaching, Putin wants to intimidate and to freeze Ukrainians. He will fail on both counts. Russia does not have the volume or accuracy of weapons to achieve either objective.

                                          Russian President Vladimir Putin. Picture: AFP
                                          Russian President Vladimir Putin. Picture: AFP

                                          It will certainly be a grim ­winter for Ukraine, but every Russian atrocity hardens their will to resist. If that assessment is right, then Putin cannot win this war. My read of the situation is that this realisation is growing in Moscow in senior circles around Putin.

                                          Conclusion number four is that Russia is losing heart. A disastrous conscription campaign has brought home the reality that many, perhaps most, Russians of fighting age want no part of the fighting.

                                          Those caught by the press gangs lack training, equipment, leadership, purpose and motivation. They are being killed by Ukrainian precision targeting on an industrial scale that can no longer be hidden in Russia.

                                          The G20 meeting in Bali was a disaster for Moscow. Foreign Minister Sergi Lavrov, usually with a hide tougher than a Lubyanka interrogator, couldn’t stomach the proceedings and left before a surprisingly strong communique condemned the war.

                                          India, a now-reluctant Russian partner signed the communique. China allowed it to be released only with the weakest of defences that “there were other views and different assessments of the situation”.

                                          Moreover, Washington has clearly put to the Kremlin the dire consequences of using nuclear weapons. Putin should never be written off but his pathway to ­victory is disappearing and even his most brutish backers know it.

                                          Point five: Ukraine’s democratic backers are staying the course. Biden’s advisers may fret about a path to peace negotiations, but the President is consistent in backing Kyiv, buoyed by better than expected results in the congressional midterm ­elections.

                                          The Europeans show no real sign of lessening their support for Kyiv. It helps certainly that ­Western Europe has enough gas stored to stay warm this winter. But every day that passes and every new Russian atrocity shows that there is no easy road back to Euro-pandering of Putin.

                                          Finally, point six. The world is running out of weapons and ammunition. On an average day Ukraine is probably using more ammunition such as missiles, rockets, artillery shells and light arms ammunition than the entire Australian inventory of war stocks.

                                          I say “probably” but Defence Minister Richard Marles would be well advised to ask his department to do a rapid stocktake of ammunition in storage. In the context of a rapidly worsening strategic environment the outcome of an honest assessment of Australia’s ammunition stocks would be ugly to say the least.

                                          Marles clearly has some sense of the problem. In a speech on Monday he said: “The war in Ukraine has underlined that we must improve the ADF’s ability to sustain the capability and ­materiel required for high-end warfighting, especially ammunition. We have to draw more ­effectively on both domestic industry and international partners to establish more responsive and secure supply chains.”

                                          Because of Ukraine, many of the key munitions Australia would need for what Defence calls “high-end conflict” are just not available and will not be available for some years. This has nothing to do with alliances or trusted supply chains. Our key partners will equip themselves first, filling warehouses emptied for Kyiv.

                                          For Australia, the overwhelming lesson from the Ukraine conflict is that we are not remotely prepared to be drawn into a high-end conflict in the Indo-Pacific. This is despite the fact that, for years, our national security community have judged that the risk of conflict this decade is dramatically increasing.

                                          To be clear, Australia’s plan is to prepare for conflict by not ­preparing. A decision not to do something is a decision. In a ­conflict we will have little to offer our key partners other than our geography, a lack of forethought and decades of accumulated complacency.
                                          It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                          It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                          It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                                          Comment


                                          • Magnify v2.0
                                            Magnify v2.0 commented
                                            Editing a comment
                                            Finally, point six. The world is running out of weapons and ammunition. On an average day Ukraine is probably using more ammunition such as missiles, rockets, artillery shells and light arms ammunition than the entire Australian inventory of war stocks.
                                            In Australia's case it's a safe presumption we've continued the post-Vietnam tradition of national feebleness.

                                            If the past 40 years is any guide, that will continue, no matter what rousing speeches of concern and capability-planningm plus pdf fluffing is issued from Canberra in March (we've seen those a dozen times already).

                                            We'll look back in 5 years and bemoan the fact that we were all conned again, to waste another 180 billion dollars on delivering nothing much which we'd need in a war - NOW.

                                            Politically, the clowns in Canberra will still be saying, "But look how much money we've 'spent' on defence! Look at all our long-term plan!"

                                            -
                                            Last edited by Magnify v2.0; 18-11-22, 11:27 PM.

                                          • unicorn11
                                            unicorn11 commented
                                            Editing a comment
                                            We are fortunate that we have one thing that almost no other country has.

                                            We are a single nation inhabiting an island continent with no land borders located a great distance from any true military threat.

                                            Yes, I understand that ICBMs render distance irrelevant, but for almost anything less, we're in one of the safest places on the planet.
                                            China may bluster and glower, but they have vastly bigger fish to fry far closer to home.

                                            This is no excuse for complacency, but does provide an immutable backdrop which might go some way to help explain some of our 'leaders' defence decisions

                                          • ADMk2
                                            ADMk2 commented
                                            Editing a comment
                                            “More responsive and secure supply chains.”

                                            Bull farkin shit. What you need to do Richard is order a metric shit ton of ordnance, the magazines to house it and an industry to eventually manufacture the stuff from woah to go on the industrial scale we’ll need.

                                            But no. All we’re getting is absolute waffle. The basic inventories of munitions and ammunition we use are not going to be affected one single iota by the DSR no matter what decisions are made. Our inventories are primarily and will be primarily for the next 30 odd years, with only some additions -

                                            Army -

                                            9mm
                                            5.56mm
                                            7.62mm
                                            12.7mm
                                            25mm
                                            30mm x 113
                                            30mm x 173
                                            40mm x 53
                                            66mm
                                            81mm
                                            84mm
                                            155mm
                                            2.75inch.

                                            RAN
                                            9mm
                                            5.56mm
                                            7.62mm
                                            12.7mm
                                            20mm
                                            25mm
                                            30mm x 173
                                            127mm

                                            Airforce
                                            9mm
                                            5,56mm
                                            7.62mm
                                            12.7mm
                                            40mm x53
                                            66mm
                                            81mm
                                            84mm

                                            Mk 81, 82, 83, 84, BLU-109, 110 and 111.


                                            Those are and will be the majority of our non-guided munitions natures for decades to come. DSR will have ZERO affect on this.

                                            So stop waffling, start preparing and go and buy a shitload Richard!!!

                                            But he won’t…

                                        • We are fortunate that we have one thing that almost no other country has.

                                          We are a single nation inhabiting an island continent with no land borders located a vast distance from any true military threat.

                                          Yes, I understand that ICBMs render most distance irrelevant, but for almost anything less, we're in one of the safest places on the planet.

                                          China may bluster and glower, but they have vastly bigger fish to fry far closer to home.

                                          This is no excuse for complacency, but does provide an immutable backdrop which might go some way to help explain some of our 'leaders' otherwise inexplicable defence decisions
                                          It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                          It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                          It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

                                          Comment