is the Minister for Defence. In a
he was asked,
"Why do we need a new defence white paper?"
He doesn't answer the question but claims that the 2000 white paper and documents based off of it remain relevant;
Because I think that the 2000 paper is still fundamentally sound, I think it's been updated in 2003 with greater focus been given to WMD and global terrorism and as I said to some internal issues of nation buildings within our own regions. The DCP the Defence Capability Plan was written pursuant to that white paper and refined pursuant to the update. I think it addresses the strategic environment as we find it and I don't think the distraction of going back into another sort of intellectual debate will actually contribute to the better practical outcomes, I think our challenge at the moment is to deliver on the white paper and not to be distracted from that task.
One aspect of not having the process for a new white paper initiated is that it removes debate away from the public and allows the government to act with impunity in that area. I dislike his use of the word distraction. If the people want to debate this, then they should. Distraction for whom? I think it is political-speak for avoiding accountability and public scrutiny of policy.
Australian defence doctrine for the Howard government is based upon;
2000 Defence White Paper
This document recognises globalisation and US strategic primacy as the strongest shapers of the international strategic environment. The paper states that;
These [two] factors will help strengthen global security and promote economic, social and political developments that align with Australia's interests and values.
The White Paper also claims that Australia is a secure country, courtesy of our geo-political isolation, our good relations with our neighbours and being in a relatively benign region that has a low probability of conflict. It also states our strong alliance with the US is another reason for our security. The document also notes that there has been an arms race on in South-East Asia, of which Australia has contributed to with its procurements.
It states that our primary interest remains protecting Australia and it direct approaches - the air-sea gap - but the document makes many tips of the hat to multi-lateral expeditions. The military strategy is the weakest part of the white paper, and where the government has not delivered on its promises in 2000. The paper claims three principles in military strategy;
self-reliance : Being able to defend Australia without relying on the combat forces of other countries.
maritime strategy : Controlling the air and sea approaches to Australia. These are the North-West shelf, the Timor Sea and the Coral Sea.
proactive operations : The ability to strike hostile forces far from the Australian shore.
In the first issue, we still lease space time from the US. Our command and control ability is limited, though the AEW&C aircraft coming will improve that. We still have limited surveillance systems, enough that we aren't quite sure what is coming and going on our northern coastline.
On the second issue, why are we thinking of buying LHDs and AWDs? These are the big-ticket items of an expeditionary force. Not a force for controlling the air-sea gap. An LHD is a big fat stupid slow target that is unable to defend Australia. An AWD is only good for defending big fat stupid slow targets from attack. Get rid of the LHD and we don't need the AWD.
The big issue with the air-sea gap is the drop in strike capability with the impending retirement of the F111. Even with the purchase of cruise missiles, and the collapse of the strike platform into the JSF we are still going to suffer a drastic loss of projection and strike power. We either need to buy more JSFs, replace and purchase more Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) assets, or look to a disruptive technology to replace the F111.
(M|T)UAVs are one candidate, but they are actually more expensive to operate than a normal aircraft. They have three shifts and labour costs are a considerable cost of any weapon system.
The third is a bit ambiguous but suggests that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) be able to maintain capability and tempo far from the Australia. In these instances airlift ability and logistical capability become paramount. Here the ADF has suffered neglect as well. The HMAS Jervis Bay was leased from Incat for the East Timor deployment. Australian airlift ability has suffered decay - the Caribou needs replacement, as do the older C130 aircraft.
The ADF needs the addition of a more capable and larger platform, such as the Boeing C17, to airlift larger loads over longer distances. To support the wider logistical lines that expeditionary forces require, more AAR assets will be needed and the consequent JSF forces to protect those AAR aircraft.
The 2000 White Paper also recognizes other priorities for the ADF include contributing to the security of the immediate neighbourhood, with deployments such as East Timor and the Solomons; but also contributing to our neighbours defence, plus low level operations such as evacuations and relief. The white paper also states that the ADF should be able contribute to international coalition forces for expeditions and issues beyond Australia's immediate neighbourhood.
Other mention in the document are that it was determined that a brigade level force was the largest that needed to be maintained in an expedition and that a battalion needs to be in a state of readiness for deployment elsewhere. The deployments in Iraq, East Timor, the Solomons and other UN commitments have put pressure on this.
In terms of procurement the 2000 white paper points to AAR assets being replaced, which has not happened yet. It also claims the F111 will be maintained until 2020. The F111 is now planned to be retired in 2010. There are also several warnings on Australia's defence status. As the South-East Asian region is increasing in prosperity it is also increasing in complexity and sophistication of its military forces.
Australia no longer has a regional monopoly on beyond visual range systems, and other forces are also deploying AEW&C assets. The challenge for Australia will be to incorporate those international assets into ensuring a multi-national desire for stability in the South and North Pacific.
Central to conservative (Liberal) military doctrine is the Au-US alliance, which all too often under conservative government ends up with Australia having an uncritical policy toward America. In 2000 the ANZUS Treaty was defined as giving;
But for the past 50 years ANZUS has given the [Au-US alliance] relationship shape, depth and weight. The Treaty remains today the foundation of a relationship that is one of our great national assets.
Howard enacted the treaty after the September 11th attacks - partly to keep this out of date Cold War document relevant. This document is the fiction that the "Great and Powerful Friends" doctrine is founded on. it is not a basis for a foreign policy, nor a military policy.
2003 Defence Update
The 2003 paper is an effort to update the 2000 White Paper to take into account the changes in the strategic environment since the 2001/2002 terrorist attacks. the foreward claims;
What is already clear is that while the Defence White Paper focused on the development of capabilities for the Defence of Australia and its National Interests, two matters - terrorism and the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction [WMD], including to terrorists - have emerged to new prominence and create renewed strategic uncertainty. In addition, some adverse trends in our immediate neighbourhood have continued.
The changed strategic and security environment requires responses from a number of government agencies.
There are two issues there. Terrorism and WMDs. Firstly, the United States chose to pursue terrorism as a military issue. They invaded Afghanistan, then set-up a deceitful campaign to justify the invasion of Iraq. The capture of suspected terrorists has led to the United States detaining suspects as "enemy-combatants", outside of civil law and under military legal systems and process. There is no doubt the US is seeking a military solution to terrorism.
Is this justified? In my opinion no. Terrorism remains a civil issue. For Australia it is actually a foreign policy issue. Indonesia has been taking the punches of terrorism aimed at Australia. Indonesia has been handling it admirably - catching the terrorists and bringing them to justice in civil courts of law. By comparison the American military has not been able to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice yet.
The failure for Australian politicians has been the reliance on the "Great and Powerful Friends" doctrine of foreign policy. It has left us with a weakened Prime Minister who can do nothing other than offer uncritical support for the United States and its military pursuit of terrorism.
The other premise of this report is the Weapons of Mass Destruction. This has become a vogue term since President Bush used at is the fulcrum spin in his deceitful campaign to justify the invasion of Iraq. It is a fear based term - designed to linguistically evoke horror in the population. We have had threats from technological weapons at the individual level (non nation-state) - nuclear, biological etc right through the cold war. I do not believe this is a new issue. This is political fashion and a consequence of "fear and feel-good" politics.
2003 Strategic Environment
The 2003 document makes the point that the posture the United States has taken against terrorism has inflamed anti-Americanism, not just in Muslim states. The strength of the United States and the defeat of Communism has made the defence relationships between major-states more secure. But the areas of the North Pacific and the Middle East - which are important economic regions for Australia - are more volatile than in 2000.
The 2003 document also aligns Australian military expeditionary doctrine with American strategy. For instance the Afghanistan invasion is described as;
The important role of military force in the War on Terror has been demonstrated in Afghanistan. The removal of the Taliban regime - Al Qaida's host - has eliminated one of the world's most oppressive governments and given the people of Afghanistan the chance of a better future. Information gained has added to our understanding of terrorist networks and disrupted planned attacks. Importantly, Al Qaida has lost its unhindered access to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. But actions in disrupting Al Qaida's operations in Afghanistan are just the first step. Much remains to be done and some further resort to military force is likely to be needed.
This does not explain the invasion in terms of a nation-state refusing to turn over a suspected terrorist responsible for the September 11th attacks. Australian doctrine describes it as removing a regime and bringing a future to a nation. With this Australia is saying that it supports a military solution - not civil justice for perpetrators of crimes.
Yet in contradiction, we have the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which is the basis of civil pursuit of terrorism regionally. Australia played a prominent role in this, and it has been successful in keeping terrorism down regionally. The MOU is also more closely aligned with Australian values. The only conclusion that can be reached is that we would be pursing this same policy in the Middle East, except for our uncritical support of America.
Further examples that Australia sees terrorism as requiring a military solution is the expansion of the Special Forces, the establishment of a Special Operations Command and creating a Tactical Assault Group. In the case of a terrorist attack on Australia, it will be the military stepping in, not the State Police Forces. I think this is a gross misuse of federal power. The civil authorities at the state level should be the ones establishing the knowledge, skills and readiness for this. This is another example of the over-reach of federal power.
2003 Update Conclusion
The 2003 Update is a pretty weak document. It justifies the Missile Defence project with North Korea and Iraq's WMDs. The latter was false and North Korea still does not have the capability to achieve Australia with missiles, despite Downer's claim to the contrary. The paper also makes the distinction that it supports a military solution to terrorism at home and abroad, except in South-East Asia, where it will pursue a civil multi-lateral course.
At home the Special Operations Command and Tactical Assault Group point to the federal government deploying the military domestically if there is a terrorist attack on Australian soil. There is no mention of changes in procurement for the ADF, there is also no mention of any changes in Infantry readiness and sustainability with the
deployments (in 2003)
of the ADF on expeditions. A constant warning cry has been that the Army needs more diggers to meet the deployments being asked of them by the Howard government. This was not addressed.
Also not addressed were the Air Warfare Destroyers and whether they have any role in a strategic doctrine that is dominated by sustained expeditions. The logistical issues with sustained multinational deployments are also not mentioned. The Howard government has been in power for over eight years now, and has constantly deployed the ADF in an expeditionary mode, but so far has failed to address Australia's airlift capability and its brown-blue water logistical capability.
Defence Capability Plan
The Defence Capability Plan (DCP) represents an updating of the Defence Capability Plan outlined in the 2000 White Paper and now represents the capital investment from 2004 through to 2014. The DCP lists a large number of projects and phases of upgrades to existing platforms as well as the procurement of new platforms.
The DCP divides the project responsibilities into;
Vehicles and Land (LAND)
Weapons and Munitions
Consistent with the increase of the military budget under the Howard Government, as well as the increased tempo and deployment of the ADF in the last eight years, the projected expenditure on military projects in all of the above five areas has increased through to 2010. The Aerospace industry sector is receiving the largest amount of the budget, with close to 45%. The next largest is the Maritime industry with approx 25% and then the Vehicles and Land area.
Most of the aviation platforms are receiving Electronics Warfare upgrades. These projects are largely integration of American technologies and have little development role for Australian industry. This is common across all projects in all defence sectors. There is no technology sharing of significance when integrating outside technology.
Some of the projects in the DCP include;
AIR5418 - Air-to-Surface long range stand off missile capability for the F18 and P3C Orion. (350M-450M)
AIR6000 - The JSF project. (11.5B-15.5B)
AIR7000 - P3C replacement possibility project with potential for MUAV as maritime patrol. (750M-1B)
JP90 - Updating the combat identification system. (150M-200M)
JP126 - Reassessment of logistical needs from expeditionary deployment pressures. (150M-200M)
JP2044 - Space based surveillance capability. (50M-75M)
JP2069 - High grade cryptographic equipment.
JP5408 - GPS enhancement and risk study.
LAND112 - ASLAV Enhancement. (200M-250M)
LAND907 - Battle tank replacement. This is the RFP that got the Abrams in the door.(450M-600M)
SEA1439 - Collins improvement program. (600M-800M)
SEA4000 - Air Warfare Destroyer
Noticeable for its absence in the DCP is a project for increasing AAR capability.Nor is their any mention of increasing the airlift ability of the fixed-wing complement of the ADF. Our space based ability is still lacking, despite the technology and equipment for that commoditizing. The capitalisation for space based communications is low enough that individuals can afford it, and it is no longer the exclusive domain of nation-states.
There is also no project looking at the possibility or need of Australia to expand its infantry to meet the requirement of sustained rule-of-law deployments the Howard Government has conducted. The rule-of-law deployments are human capital intensive. The 2000 paper required the ADF to be able to support a brigade overseas and have a battalion in readiness for deployment. There is no mention if this is currently being met.
Do We Need a 2005 Defence White Paper?
My answer is yes. We need a debate as a nation on how we want to pursue the eradication of terrorism on the globe. The American military response to terrorism has had more downs than ups. If the US wasn't such a military and economic power they would be internationally isolated now.
The 2003 Update shows Australia has adopted the American approach to terrorism and seeks a military solution at home and abroad. We have adopted the legal tactics of terrorists being outside of civil liberties, we have invaded Iraq on a deceitful premise and we have implemented new structures in the ADF to provide a military response to terrorist attacks in Australia.
In counter to this, we have developed multi-lateral civil response with our neighbours to combat terrorism. This has had more success in tempering terrorism than our military interventions in the Middle East. It is my belief that Australians far more approve of the civil response to terrorism that we have pursued with Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Re-opening the debate on defence will determine if we as a nation believe that a multi-lateral civil response is more effective as well.
This public debate on how we should seek an environment free from terrorism will have direct influence on the procurement for the ADF.