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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Page: 7076

Defence

(Question Nos 695 to 696)


Senator Johnston asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 15 June 2011:

(1) Why was the decision made to purchase both a multi-cam design from Crye and a licence to manufacture the garment.

(2) What opportunities did the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) provide for Australian companies to bid for this design work.

(3) Were Australian companies deemed as not being capable of designing this camouflage pattern.

(4) Where will the fabric for the multi-cams be manufactured in Australia; if not in Australia, where will it be manufactured.

(5) Where will the uniforms be manufactured.

(6)

   (a) What will be/was the tender process to manufacture the uniforms;

   (b) what was the process in DMO deciding to purchase the licences to manufacture the four Crye garments;

   (c) was this expertise not available in Australia;

   (d) what was the cost of purchasing these licences;

   (e) what cost savings were realised in deciding to proceed with this particular contract; and

   (f) how can the Government reconcile that Australian manufacturers were ready and able to supply world's best practice in the design of this camouflage pattern and provide a significant sample for $70 000 compared to the $7.8 million that has been spent by the Government.

(7) What technical advice and independent expertise was undertaken by the Government before committing to this $7.8 million expenditure.

(8) How is this procurement on a value for money basis going to pay for itself many times over into the future, as stated by Dr Gumley on 30 May 2011.

(9) How many options were put to Government in relation to this procurement and what were they.


Senator Chris Evans: The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The initial requirement for an enhanced uniform and a new camouflage pattern arose when troops in Afghanistan identified the need for a greater level of concealment and force protection across the range of different terrains in Afghanistan—urban, desert and green—while also providing improved ergonomics and comfort. A user assessment of alternative uniforms was conducted by the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan in 2009. The trial assessed Multicam as the superior uniform on operations. Based on the user assessment the Chief of Army made the decision to issue Crye Precision combat uniforms in the Multicam pattern to all soldiers operating "outside the wire" in Afghanistan in October 2010.

The decision to purchase the licenses to the Crye Precision garments and to develop an Australian version of the Multicam pattern was made to enable the Crye garments to be manufactured in Australia with the ability to have uniforms and personal equipment manufactured in an Australian unique version of the Multicam pattern without sourcing all the fabric from current Multicam fabric manufacturers in the United States.

(2) The intellectual property associated with the uniforms and the Multicam pattern are owned by Crye Precision LLC. Therefore Defence dealt directly with them as the owners of the intellectual property.

(3) No. The intellectual property associated with the Multicam pattern is owned by Crye Precision LLC which means that Australian companies were not able to design the Multicam pattern without infringing Crye Precision LLC's intellectual property.

(4) and (5) In accordance with Government policy the fabric and the uniforms will be manufactured in Australia by companies selected through a tender process. The location of those companies will not be known until the tender process is complete.

(6)

   (a) The manufacture of the uniforms will be determined as a result of the release of a request for tender using the rights and technical data that have been procured from Crye Precision LLC.

(b) See answers to questions 1 and 2.

   (c) The Special Operations Task Group did evaluate other uniforms and concluded that the Crye Precision uniforms were superior.

   (d) US$4.7million.

   (e) This urgent operational requirement was identified by troops on operation in Afghanistan who required a uniform that could be used across the range of terrains experienced on a typical patrol. The decision to change from the current range of combat uniforms to the Crye uniforms in the Multicam pattern was not driven by a requirement to realise a cost saving but to satisfy an operational requirement.

   (f) The decision to purchase a license means the uniforms can be made in Australia under the licenses. Multicam is a proprietary camouflage pattern owned by Crye Precision LLC. No Australian company has the intellectual property rights to manufacture this proven pattern and therefore it would not be possible for an Australian company to produce this camouflage pattern without infringing on Crye Precision's intellectual property. If an Australian company was to produce something that was sufficiently different that it would no longer be considered Multicam then it would be by its very nature a developmental product that would require significant trialling and testing before it could be fielded.

(7) The user assessment conducted by the Special Operations Task Group was managed by Defence Science and Technology Organisation personnel deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations with assistance provided by Defence Science and Technology Organisation personnel based in Australia. Land Engineering Agency staff provided technical assistance during the tender evaluation and were present throughout contract negotiations.

In addition to the user evaluation conducted by the Special Operations Task Group, both the US Army and the UK Ministry of Defence has reached the same conclusion; that the Multicam pattern is a superior camouflage pattern for use across a range of environments including Afghanistan. The US Army is now issuing Multicam uniforms to soldiers deploying to Afghanistan whilst the UK Ministry of Defence has a version of the Multicam pattern which is being issued to troops deploying to Afghanistan and which has been selected to replace the current UK camouflage pattern.

(8) The purchase of the intellectual property from Crye Precision LLC will make this technology, which is in wide use with both the US and UK military, available to Australian manufacturers rather than limiting Defence to a US supplier. As Defence has purchased the rights to modify the garments and the camouflage pattern it will also have the ability to ensure the utility of both the garments and the camouflage pattern beyond the current operations in Afghanistan and across the full suite of disruptive pattern clothing and personal equipment.

(9) The Government was briefed on the Special Operations Task Group user assessment. There were six options in the user assessment. These were the in-service Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform, the in-service Disruptive Pattern Desert Uniform, a uniform from another supplier in the Disruptive Pattern Desert Print and three uniforms from three different suppliers all in the Multicam pattern