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Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Suitability of the Australian army for peacetime, peacekeeping and war
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Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Suitability of the Australian army for peacetime, peacekeeping and war
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Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
- Committee front matter
- Committee witnesses
Mr LAURIE FERGUSON
Lt Gen. Hickling
Lt Gen Hickling
- Committee witnesses
- Committee witnesses
- Committee witnesses
Content WindowJoint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade - 26/11/99 - Suitability of the Australian army for peacetime, peacekeeping and war
CHAIR —Welcome. I must advise you that the proceedings here today are legal proceedings of the parliament and warrant the same respect which proceedings in the respective houses of parliament demand. Although the subcommittee does not require you to give evidence on oath, you should be aware that this does not alter the importance of the occasion and the deliberate misleading of the subcommittee may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. The subcommittee prefers that all evidence is given in public but should you at any stage wish to give evidence in private you may ask to do so and the subcommittee will give consideration to your request. We have received the Department of Defence submission and it has been authorised for publication. Would you like to make any additions or corrections to the submission?
Adm. Barrie —I would, Mr Chairman.
CHAIR —You would like to make some additions or make a statement?
Adm. Barrie —I would like to make a statement.
CHAIR —Please proceed.
Adm. Barrie —As I have said to the committee before, I welcome this inquiry and, indeed, I think it is being held at a very important time in our nation's history. We find ourselves in quite a different set of circumstances today from the ones we were in when this inquiry was first announced. Nonetheless, this inquiry will have a pivotal influence on the Army and on our Defence Force into the new century.
I would like to make this short opening statement drawing on some of the key issues contained in the Defence submission to the inquiry, and I will expand on some issues which I think will provide more context for your further consideration. We have faced many challenges in recent months but the themes I sought to describe in the Defence submission to this committee remain unchanged. Historically, there has been a certain tension in our strategic thinking between the need to deploy expeditionary forces in support of allies abroad, on one hand, and a defence of the homeland, on the other. This tension has been less stark in recent years. Nevertheless, these themes will continue to be played out in the Defence debate about our security needs.
The reality is that increasingly—and it has been graphically demonstrated with East Timor—Australian governments have taken decisions regarding our national security, not solely on grounds of direct threat to Australia, but also on a broader set of considerations, considerations that focus on the protection and advancement of our national interests. In recent years Australian governments have used military forces to respond to a range of events short of war, importantly, against the background of recent events and as we are coming to grips with the requirement to exercise independent decision making, particularly in areas near to Australia. The consequences of this requirement are significant and they
demand a well-developed understanding of security issues within the whole-of-government machinery that supports government. This shift also brings into stark relief the need for a wide range of military response options to be available to governments so we can respond to contingent circumstances appropriately and flexibly.
I would like now to turn to the operation in East Timor and make some observations that I hope the committee will find useful in this inquiry. In saying these things I am mindful that the committee will travel to East Timor, I hope next Thursday. We have put in place a range of building blocks which enabled a very speedy and a very professional response to the situation in East Timor.
This has come from a more sophisticated approach which underpins our doctrine of being structured for war and adapted for peace. This is more than rhetoric. This has had an important cascading effect that cannot be underestimated. Furthermore, I think this emphasis on war fighting skills and on combat capabilities has produced something of a cultural change in our force. In simple terms, our combat forces must be available now rather than at some time in the future to deal with possible contingencies. I think this is having a profound effect on priorities within the department.
The operation in East Timor demonstrates the benefits of many of the changes we have put in place in recent times. At work there I see a strong joint service culture with the focus being placed on ways in which we support our ground forces as effectively as possible.
Since I became CDF we have been focused on looking at our changing strategic circumstances and the consequences for our preparedness. This was tangibly reflected in the government's decision earlier this year to increase the preparedness of a second brigade level capability based on the 1st Brigade in Darwin and in the lease of the Tasmanian built catamaran which has been doing sterling service supporting the East Timor operation. It was reflected once again earlier this week with the government's announcement of an increase in the number of full-time infantry battalions from four to six and an increase in Air Force numbers. As the CDF I have set as a priority task for the Chiefs of Staff Committee the management and process for managing preparedness in relation to our strategic circumstances. I foresee this as a dynamic rather than a static process.
We have been focused on our combat capabilities and our people as we have to build up a high technology force for the future. Our enduring geostrategic situation, I believe, drives us to this conclusion. The vast distances in Australia and in our region, and our small population by regional standards and by world standards mean that we need to be able to rapidly deploy joint forces and decisively apply superior combat power where and when it is required by the government. In my opinion we have to be able to do this better than any other country I know. This will require a focus on technology, on mobility and most particularly on the quality of the people to make the essential difference.
In my opinion elements of this approach have been borne out by the success of the operation so far in East Timor. This success is due to the professional performance of Australian young men and women in East Timor. They are well-trained and they are well-led. But we should not forget our ongoing commitment in other places such as Bougainville, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Sinai and Bosnia where our performance is equally as
good. It has always been my contention that you only get this level of performance in broader types of operations because of our focus on, and our investment in, developing our professional war fighting skills.
And so what of the future? As I said in the submission and have reiterated, we are no longer concentrating solely on acquiring high technology weapons for the future because our security can no longer be seen as a one-dimensional threat/defence equation. Security must become a whole-of-government concern. We must seek ways to coordinate all Australia's policies to obtain international standing, prosperity and the ability to shape our strategic environment in ways that we want.
Internationally the Australian Defence Force is not just a capable stick that can be used selectively in the future. It also adds a very important military diplomatic dimension to our country's international relationships, whether that is on a people-to-people basis or whether it is the professional standing that our force is held in, and in this regard our Army plays a very important part. Our military networking and ongoing regional engagement means that we can effectively work together with our neighbours and friends for long-term regional stability, and our ability to manage a coalition is amply demonstrated in East Timor once again. It is a fact that the relationships built up over time from our military diplomatic activities underpin many of our successes in military operations, particularly over recent months as we have witnessed in East Timor.
To finish, let me reiterate some key points from the Defence submission. Modern warfare is a joint and combined service in nature, it does not depend on a single service. Our services in Australia depend very much on each other in today's military operations. Australia's army contributes a range of unique capabilities and characteristics to the Australian Defence Force team.
Australia's current strategic environment, and our evolving approach to protecting our national interests, continue to demonstrate the need for land forces and the need to provide a wide range of possible military response options to government. If a land force is to achieve this level of adaptability then it must have the organisational agility to not only be able to react faster than an adversary, but also to be able to adapt quickly to a far broader range of tasks.
The government and the Australian community expect the army to respond effortlessly to any range of tasks, from supporting the community in times of need such as after natural disasters, through to peacekeeping operations and peace enforcement, and finally, to conflict. This requires not only an extraordinarily professional organisation, but one that can move quickly over great distances, and one that is equipped with weapons and sensor systems enabling it to observe and then accurately apply decisive combat power, better and faster than an opponent.
To illustrate my point about the adaptability I just want to show the committee a couple of pictures. I just offer you the first picture, a media clip taken in Rwanda. It is a clip that has been well distributed in the public domain. That was a chapter six operation of the United Nations. This different clip, taken from the East Timor operation, is a chapter seven
operation. You can see for yourselves the variety of challenges we present for our young people in managing these operations.
Our army is going to demand a lot of its people. We will rely on the individual skills of the young men and the young women in the army. We will use technology to best effect. Our army faces many challenges. It has made great strides in recent years. It remains one of the best light armies in the world today. That is attested to by the number of countries that have entered the coalition in East Timor. I believe our community can and should be very proud of the army and what it has been able to achieve. A challenge for the future is to broaden its capabilities to ensure that the mix of capabilities keeps pace with the expectations and the demands we will have for it in the future. Thank you.
CHAIR —Thank you very much, Admiral. Can I start by thanking you for arranging for members of the foreign affairs committee to visit East Timor next Thursday. We know that the armed forces are under a lot of pressure there, but being able to facilitate that as well is a measure of the professionalism at which you operate. Thank you for organising that.
I would like to refer to the announcement this week of the two extra battalions. We have heard from General Hickling already about some of the detail of that, but I would like to ask you about the level of resources that you are going to get to support that increase in readiness. Are you satisfied that you will have sufficient resources, or is it going to be a question of depleting resources from some of the lower state of readiness units, either in the regulars or in the reserves?
Adm. Barrie —That question goes to the heart of the challenge in managing Defence's business. At the moment I judge the level of resources as being adequate to the task, although I would have said we need to understand that when you commit a force of the size we have got in East Timor, we also commit ourselves to preparing and building the rotation force. It is not satisfactory from a military perspective to provide a one-shot force and then not be capable of continuing the military operation if you need to do so.
In terms of the announcements this week, my early expectation is that that will cover the need. However, I ought to say—and I think it picks up on something in the submissions—that our sense of priorities in Defence has changed in the last 12 months.
Over the past 25 years or so, the general way we prioritised the use of the defence budget was to maximise the investment dollar, that is, to acquire capabilities for the future, and to keep to a minimum the resources we spent on current operations. That was a consequence of saying that our strategic circumstances were relatively peaceful and we did not see conflict on the spectrum for quite a long time. However, the last two years have challenged that hypothesis and today our priority is clearly on meeting the demands of military operations.
So, in addition to the extra funding the government is going to provide, there is pressure on the investment profile in the organisation. There is also pressure on me to obtain more efficiencies under the reform programs inside the department. But by and large I think the costs of the extra two battalions are well covered.
CHAIR —Can you expand on that last point, `pressure on the investment profile'? What do you mean by that?
Adm. Barrie —There are broadly three categories in which we spend defence funding: there is investment, the future, and about 30 per cent of the defence budget was spent on that over the last 25 years; there is current operations, and about 30 per cent of the budget was spent on that over the last 25 years; and there is people, and about 40 per cent of the budget was spent there over the same period.
When the priority shifts to the here and now, to current operations, that demand can be met by taking it out of the investment profile. You might spend 35 per cent on current operations or 40 per cent but you would take the extra out of your investment allocations. But it is true to say you cannot, as in any large company, continue to use your investment for current operations because in the fullness of time you will not be building the capability you need for the future. However, as a stop-gap measure, that is what you have to do.
Senator FERGUSON —Admiral, I guess because of recent events we have tended to focus on East Timor and issues that relate to that, but this inquiry started much earlier than that and your submission, I note, was sent in on 2 July.
I want to ask about a matter which does not relate specifically to the army but rather to the defence force in general. In late July we visited the northern defence establishments and amongst the people who we spoke to the issue of surveillance came up and the work that is being done by NORCOM and other people in relation to the surveillance of our coastline. I know it is a long introduction, but I need to do it this way.
It was suggested to us at a personal level that there was a greater threat to Australia's security from international crime and unauthorised entries than from hostile invading forces. You speak about this briefly in the section headed the `Armed Force and the Law'. There you speak about the restrictions that are placed on the armed forces in apprehending Australian nationals, which is left to the police and customs and other people. Surveillance sometimes means that people are identified but the armed forces are restricted in what they can do. It means that criminals can actually get in and get out and the armed forces can do nothing about it.
Do you have a view, as the Chief of the Defence Force, on looking at changing legislation to enable the defence forces to at least detain Australian nationals? You say here:
But their power to use force against any Australian national is severely proscribed. . .
Should we change the legislation so that suspected criminals could be detained in order that customs or police could get there? That ability is currently outside your jurisdiction. Could you comment on that?
Adm. Barrie —This is actually a fundamentally important question, certainly to my philosophy about the ADF, this question of the rule of law. The professional edge our people
derive from being able to train in war fighting skills—that is, killing other human beings—depends a lot on the idea that we would never have to employ those capabilities against Australian citizens.
I would personally say that, if we were to change that in any significant way, it would threaten that sense of professionalism. We do support the civil agencies in many of the activities that you have just described by surveillance capabilities, shadowing capabilities sometimes and all sorts of things. The actual taking of an action against an Australian citizen really does belong to the police or to the other agencies. I strongly believe that is an important principle we should continue to adhere to. It is interesting that in many other countries in our region the armed forces do have an internal security role against their own citizens. I think it just undermines the professional basis on which their armed forces exist.
Senator FERGUSON —That would also include even detention or apprehension in any form whatsoever.
Adm. Barrie —Yes.
Mr HOLLIS —Mine is a fairly broad question relating to what you said about efficiencies in the department. I asked General Hickling the same question when he was before the committee earlier this morning. When we were in Adelaide, it was put to us fairly strongly that one of the great inefficiencies within the department itself is this diarchy with the duplication of services. It was put to us that what we should have instead of a uniformed head of the defence forces and a secretary is just one head. The defence forces should run the defence of Australia. You may have the civilian secretary of the department who should be put in the minister's office.
You mentioned efficiency in the department in your opening remarks. Is this a totally unrealistic expectation that we have a defence force just run by Defence, or do you see merit in maintaining the current system of both civilian and uniform people within there?
Adm. Barrie —That is a very good question because I think the issue of diarchy has troubled a lot of people in the defence organisation since 1972. There are many other defence forces in our region which do not operate a diarchy. Even in New Zealand they do not operate a diarchy. I have thought long and hard about this issue.
Senator SCHACHT —For or against it?
Adm. Barrie —There are a couple of important early remarks. One is that managing the defence business of this country is a very complex undertaking. It requires a huge array of managerial and leadership skills. Over the last five or six years, I have been amazed at the number of co-optees we will bring in from civilian life to help us do a review. Most of them arrive on day one thinking they will complete it by the next weekend. But when they start to probe the length and breadth of the defence business, they begin to see that we actually dabble in most enterprises in this country. It is a very complex managerial undertaking.
Where I think the diarchy has a strength is where the two leaders have very complementary arrays of skills and talents. The way I have advertised this moving around
the country is to describe the diarchy as offering all the benefits of a good marriage. In a good marriage the husband and the wife will bring complementary but very different skills to the marriage. They will work synergistically. There will be a very powerful union of two people. I think that is the benefit of a diarchy, if you can achieve it. On the other hand, as we know with marriages, if the two people do not get on and divorce is threatened, it can be very damaging if that remains unresolved. Whilst there are lots of benefits to diarchy and managing this complex business, if the two leaders at the top are not working together in a complementary and synergistic fashion, then something should be done about it.
In terms of organisation itself, we are very strongly committed to having no duplication of effort between the civilian and military staff. There are many jobs in the Australian Defence Headquarters which only a military officer can have. For example, the head of the Strategic Command Division cannot be a civilian. On the other hand, there are some jobs which only civilians have. The First Assistant Secretary, Resources and Financial Planning, will always be a civilian job.
Setting aside those jobs, we see a large bulk of jobs which either a civilian or a military officer might hold. I would have to say, in my opinion, it should be the best person available for those jobs at the time. My focus in Australian Defence Headquarters is to have the right people in the right jobs. We have taken a lot of steps over recent years to reinforce that process by panel selecting between military and civilian people for the jobs as those vacancies come up. My answer is a little qualified but, on balance, I am very comfortable diarchy works well. When I describe the marriage metaphor to most people, they understand that. It just clears up that sort of doubt in their mind.
In addition, it is interesting that, in my travels around the region, where I do see duplicated organisations and separated organisations—that is, a defence force separated from a ministry of defence—none of those work as effectively as ours.
Mr HOLLIS —I take on board what you said. I noted particularly that you said there was no duplication. Nevertheless it does seem to me rather an expensive way. Foreign Affairs can run a department with a departmental secretary; Transport can do it. It seems to me a little bit of luxury that Defence has got this. Maybe it is a better system for it, but you are calling on two strains whereas in most other government departments you have only got one strain within that department.
Adm. Barrie —I think that is an obvious analogy to draw. In my dealings with governments it is perfectly clear that my responsibility is to offer professional military advice to the government. I do not offer advice on resources, financial planning or that sort of thing. They are the secretary's department. Between the two of us, of course, we have to share a lot of the thinking and the ideas. In my own opinion it does fall quite neatly into two separated sets of responsibilities.
Senator SCHACHT —In the day-to-day functioning, every submission that goes forward from the secretary of the department is copied to yourself and vice versa?
Adm. Barrie —That is correct. Let me add to that that it is not so much for telling me what the submission is about; it is really just to have the records straight.
Senator SCHACHT —In general, the difference is between what the Defence secretary would put forward in a submission on a procurement decision and what you would put forward in a submission on the operational side of the commitment as to what the structure would be in East Timor. Is that the separation?
Adm. Barrie —Yes, that is quite a good model for the distinction between the two sides.
Senator SCHACHT —Does the head of the army have access as a member of the executive to all of those, whether they are yours or the secretary's submissions going through?
Adm. Barrie —Not 100 per cent. I make submissions to the minister that I do not copy to service chiefs, for example, about them.
Senator SCHACHT —They do not have the luxury of doing it in reverse?
Adm. Barrie —They can have the luxury. It does not worry me.
Senator SCHACHT —But they do not have the same access to the minister by right that you do?
Adm. Barrie —No.
Senator SCHACHT —The service chiefs?
Adm. Barrie —No.
Senator SCHACHT —You have an absolute right?
Adm. Barrie —In the current structure their directives are issued by me and the secretary, not by the minister.
Senator SCHACHT —If the Army on a procurement issue felt it was getting hard done by by the executive, does the chief of the Army have the right to go of his own volition to the minister to say, `I've been done over by a collective group of bastards.'
Adm. Barrie —The convention is that the chief can seek to see the minister at any time, keeping me and the secretary informed.
Senator SCHACHT —Even though they may be saying something that is contrary to your—
Adm. Barrie —Yes. And in my opinion it is very important their voice is heard.
Mr PRICE —You have made a potent argument about having a highly capable, technologically advanced Defence Force, yet isn't it the case that we have not actually been invaded and really are unlikely to be invaded? Do you foresee you are always going to be able to sustain the argument for that, and isn't the more likely scenario of Defence being
needed really always going to be in coalition forces in our region providing either chapter 6 or chapter 7 services?
Adm. Barrie —I think it is right to say that nine times out of 10 in the future we will be operating in a coalition of some sort. The issue for me will be, `Is Australia leading this coalition or is another country leading the coalition?' I think it is perfectly appropriate that Australia is leading the coalition in East Timor, for example. It is a part of the world which is close to Australia; Australians have a lot of interest in the outcomes there. That makes a lot of sense to me.
On the other hand of course, if we were to go off to, let us say, the Korean Peninsula, there would be no question of us leading a coalition there: we would be operating as a coalition partner to the United States or whatever. So, in my view, the way of the future, nine times out of 10, will be coalitions, I hope in most cases under some sort of UN arrangement. But you cannot discount that the UN arrangement may not occur, Kosovo being a classic case of that.
On the other hand, if we are now talking about homeland defence, I think we would anticipate a coalition, but maybe you cannot rely on it and I do not think our community would expect us to rely on it, so they are the challenges that I see. We must continue to understand what it would take for Australia and Australia alone to deal with homeland defence; we must continue to think about how we might lead a coalition in regions close to Australia to influence and shape outcomes there, and we must continue to think about how we would cooperate in a coalition led by others.
Mr SNOWDON —How does that go in equipping the Defence Force in the current environment, in the foreseeable environment, in terms of their ability to support the maritime strategy? Do we have the right combination of ships, do we have the right combination of aircraft to support deployment of the Army? If not, why not, and if not, when?
Adm. Barrie —The answer to that question is that it depends on the contingency, clearly. My own view is we certainly could have done with the LPAs that are in Newcastle in the East Timor situation, but others have been able to fill those gaps. What I would say the prescription looks like is that you need a balanced force—you need to be able to operate in a maritime environment—capable of undertaking a range of tasks. I would always be concerned, as a military leader, if the force were not balanced. My principal reason for that would be that any adversary to Australia would simply spot the weakness in the force structure and head for the weak point. So, to me, a balanced force is very important.
I think our balance is about right now given that there is more that we could do in particular niche areas like amphibious warfare and some of those things. What the balance might look like in 10 years time is, of course, a serious question for the next white paper and the sorts of judgments that need to be brought forward. I think that we certainly would need to test and challenge the existing force structure against the future requirement. We would need to make some judgments about any holes that we perceived in the capability. Of course, that then becomes a priority for the investment program.
Mr SNOWDON —So how do you see that in the context of that, bearing in mind the white paper is being formulated and all the rest of it? Clearly, the doctrine which flows out of the 1997 document is effectively being replaced by existing strategic circumstances. How does that impact upon the current procurement arrangements which had been put in place under the 1997 doctrine in terms of your current requirements? We have got a list of—
Adm. Barrie —You have seen a range of decisions made about force structure and various announcements made about things we needed to do based on the previous white paper and ASP97. I think it is too early to say whether there will be a substantial change in the thread of those requirements. After all, what we are doing in East Timor, or what we were doing around the archipelago, are special purpose tasks. What a white paper needs to countenance, and what will be very important, is to understand the nature of maritime defence, to go back to homeland defence or defeating attacks on Australia in the first instance and how we think that will look in 10 to 15 years time.
Mr SNOWDON —I guess the question I am asking or would like a response to is that we have got in the Army submission from General Hickling an annexure with procurement projects and proposals and influence on army capability. What I am interested in, I guess, is that this list presumably was formulated in the context of a 1997 doctrine?
Adm. Barrie —Yes.
Mr SNOWDON —Given current circumstances, obviously this thing would change, I assume. If it were to change, how far along the procurement path are we to be able to knock off some of these items and replace them with some higher priorities, given the current circumstances?
Adm. Barrie —That is highly variable. Some of those things can be changed. Things that have not actually been put into contract, and so forth, can be turned off. Those things we have actually got written contracts on we are committed to, or at least paying a fee for the breaking of the contract if we were to walk away from it. Of course, those things which we have actually got in-built, so to speak, as part of contract are even more difficult to walk away from. You are really actually committed to those. Each one of those capabilities in that list would be at a different state of that issue.
Mr SNOWDON —So in part, whatever comes out of the white paper, we may well be stuck with equipment which was procured under the 1997 doctrine?
Adm. Barrie —It is certainly possible that you could end up saying that a judgment we made in 1997 is now no longer valid and we try to seek to change that. I would be surprised if that were the case but you could not discount it.
Mr PRICE —Along the same on questioning, Air Force, of course, took advantage of the opportunity to buy more F111s and Navy some additional ships. Army updated their Chinooks. Are you satisfied with the current numbers of Chinooks? Were Army ever offered helicopters on the same basis that Navy and Air Force declined, and has the United States ever offered Australia Galaxies?
Adm. Barrie —I think the Army is deficient in rotary wing lift assets. The picture I paint of the future Army with a high mobility manoeuvre force, capable of deploying forces across great distances, means there will be an insatiable demand for rotary wing aircraft, both to deploy combat troops and to provide logistic support for them. And pruning down that demand to sensible and affordable limits is going to be a real challenge, and I think that is something we are going to have to grapple with.
Mr PRICE —That is why I asked you rather than Lieutenant General Hickling.
CHAIR —The same with Navy—what requirements—because there are obviously some shortfalls there, too.
Adm. Barrie —I think the Navy is actually in better shape. The Navy has what I would call a balanced force. It is capable of undertaking a wide variety of tasks ranging from anti-submarine warfare, surface strike. It has got an AAW capability. For Navy the issue becomes one of technological sophistication and numbers, but right now I think it is about right.
To my mind it is transitioning our Army, I think, from a concept which did not see a lot of value in high manoeuvre, high mobility forces in the past to being able to exploit those technologies to do that job in the future that is going to be the real challenge.
Mr PRICE —Can I just ask a question on the costs. Would it be possible for us to get the cost of recruiting a private, the cost of the common induction training and then the cost of providing the separate skill? And then the same for your officers, the cost of recruiting the officer—we know that with ADFA it is about $331,000—and the actual cost of providing the war fighting skill?
Adm. Barrie —Yes.
Senator SCHACHT —Just to get back to the strategic position, I heard someone say, maybe in a previous hearing of this committee or in the parliament somewhere, that right now the only country in the world that can effectively invade Australia or attack the homeland is the United States, and as they are supposed to be an ally that is not really a matter that you are going to give much consideration to in any white paper you prepare. But for any other country within South-East Asia to make any concerted attack on the homeland of Australia it would take such a number of years to build a capability that we would have to be dead drunk all the time not to see it coming. Is that correct—as far as a major attack to—
Adm. Barrie —Yes. To launch a major assault on Australia, let us say, like World War II, my judgment is the United States is the only country that possesses all those capabilities. Other countries—China, Japan, Russia—possess some of those capabilities but not all of them.
Senator SCHACHT —And in South-East Asia no country possesses even part of that capability other than making maybe a small, semi-terrorist guerilla hit incursion on our northern shores, I would have presumed.
Adm. Barrie —I guess some countries do possess capabilities to be what I would describe as more than a minor irritant. For example, the taking and holding of Australian off-shore islands or a campaign of low instances of violence on the northern coast is certainly possible. But in terms of a major assault on Australia, no.
Senator SCHACHT —When the Indonesians under former Minister Habibie bought a large whack of the old East German navy and then discovered that of course it was not quite designed for South-East Asia as the north Baltic is a bit different, even when that purchase took place, that did not send any great signal through our strategic advisers in Defence that this was a step upwards for the Indonesians to make some whack on us?
Adm. Barrie —I do not think so, Mr Chairman. I think the archipelago of Indonesia is enormously focused on maritime transport and security tasks by using the ships. Most of those ships were not of a capability to concern us in any way. But on the other hand we could understand that they need a lot of numbers just to do the tasks they do.
Senator SCHACHT —When the Indian navy purchased a couple of British aircraft carriers, which gives you some capability to sail off to some distance away and launch a strike again, that was not seen as a major threat other than to attack the homeland in any significant way?
Adm. Barrie —We were all aware when the Indian navy acquired the second aircraft carrier. All sorts of concerns were expressed in this country about that. My own judgment, and I opened—
Senator SCHACHT —What has happened there? Has it rusted away, or is it in dock, or is it actually operating?
Adm. Barrie —I think one of them has disappeared out of the inventory.
CHAIR —I might go back to Army. I just want to get on Army questions.
Senator SCHACHT —I am sorry, I just want to get this quite clear. Because of the East Timor situation, people have said that, therefore—and they use the phrase `the homeland'—the homeland may be under a significant different strategic environment. I just want to get on the record that I think that is a different environment which we are now involved in, but it is not a direct attack on the homeland, is it?
Adm. Barrie —No, I agree.
CHAIR —Okay. Just getting back to some of the nuts and bolts here, with the restructuring of the Army and the one army concept and so on, one of the questions that still remains, of course, is with the Army Reserve and the ability to have and the need for call-out legislation. What progress is being made there, and what have you been doing with the government to try and improve that so that when you have that need you can, in fact, ensure that reservists will be able to be available?
Adm. Barrie —I cannot speak for the government, of course, but from my perspective, having a defence force built on a proper mix of full-time and part-time personnel, if we had effective call-out enabling us to use part-time people in operational circumstances, we would be able to rely on those capabilities rather than having offered on a volunteer basis. I think that is an important issue to the degree to which we can employ part-time members in the ADF, and my preference would be that we had more effective call-out legislation. Of course, the reason we do not have that in our laws right now harks right back to the early parts of this century.
CHAIR —So while you say it is desirable, are you actively pursuing it?
Adm. Barrie —I have provided some advice to government, and we shall wait to see what happens.
CHAIR —We will hear soon, will we? Okay.
Mr PRICE —What is it in Defence that allows you to judge what the proportion of part-time people should be as opposed to full time?
Adm. Barrie —My preference would be to hand across the part-time capability as much as we can. The issue to me seems to be this: in looking at the efficiency of the defence dollar in peacetime, it ought to be cheaper to have more part-time capabilities than full-time capabilities, the reason being, of course, that full-time people chew your resources every day of the year. When you employ the capabilities in operations, neither is cheap—they are both expensive and they both cost about the same—but there are serious limitations in the degree to which we can employ part-time capabilities without being able to call them out effectively.
Areas where I think part-time service is not applicable is where highly specialised skills are required, and those skills are very perishable. For example, as a ship's captain, I know that when a ship has been in harbour for more than two weeks it loses its skill base. One of the first things you do when you return to sea is to work the team up back to the right pitch of operations. I think in the high technology Defence Force there will be real challenges in skills perishability through continuation training. So there is a lot of continuation training that you do need to do quite often that lends itself to full-time service. On the other hand, there are many, many activities we undertake where that does not apply, and I think that lends itself to part-time service. So the only issue on that part of the force is the ability to use it in operations.
Senator FERGUSON —This question may have been asked of General Hickling but I was not here when it was asked. If it is similar, I apologise. In a submission to us—and he will appear before us this afternoon—he talked a great deal about the increasing number of—
CHAIR —Who sent us the submission?
Senator FERGUSON —Dr Cheeseman. We are hearing from him this afternoon. He talked about the increasing number of conflicts, emergencies or civil wars—which are quite
uncivil wars in most cases—and the role that is being played through the United Nations. I quote from his submission:
. . . the Australian army's insistence on developing doctrine only for traditional wartime operation and war-fighting roles contradicts what is being thought about and done in other places.
As the Chief of Defence Force, I thought you should have a chance to respond to that statement. We are all aware of the increasing number of conflicts that seem to have developed since the end of the Cold War. It is the subject of another inquiry that we are going into, but I would like you to respond specifically to that suggestion that we are developing doctrine only for traditional warfare operations.
Adm. Barrie —It is not true to say that we develop doctrine only for traditional warfare concepts. We do develop doctrine for peacekeeping operations, for example. But we also develop doctrine for war-fighting. It is philosophically our approach that we train and we plan to use the Army in war-fighting skills. As a consequence of that being very professionally managed, you get high-quality, first-class peacekeeping skills. If the Army were to be trained in peacekeeping skills, you would not get war-fighting skills out of that. The war-fighting skills are many dimensions more demanding than peacekeeping operations in general.
We operate a peacekeeping centre at the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre. We do write doctrine to cover those issues. I think our performance in peacekeeping has been superlative, but in my opinion it owes a lot to the professionalism of the training and war-fighting skills and the quality of the people we have in the Defence Force.
It might be worthwhile for the committee to spend some time talking to General Cosgrove about the same issue when you visit East Timor, because there are some forces present in the coalition which come from countries which place a very high priority on peacekeeping skills as opposed to war-fighting skills.
Mr SNOWDON —Could I go back one step in terms of full time, part time and the maritime strategy. Is it your view that the Army's force structure is suitable to support a maritime strategy currently?
Adm. Barrie —I think it is largely supportive of a maritime strategy. There are some additional changes that could be made. For example, in operating the LPA, the ability to use rotary wing off those LPAs is a challenge. We do need to solve that problem to make it properly effective. By and large, the use of the Army to support a maritime strategy says a lot about the way we would use ground forces to hold land and look after protective tasks and things like that. I think the Army is quite well equipped for it.
Mr SNOWDON —To what extent does support for a maritime strategy depend on the ability to quickly deploy land forces and therefore is dependent on having a full-time army?
Adm. Barrie —I would say that that is an important issue. Perhaps I could tell you a little anecdote to describe why I think it is an important issue. In the early 1980s, I was the director of the RAN tactical warfare school. We engaged quite a number of times in war
games in which we were seeking to achieve outcomes in and around the archipelago, our region and other things. We played those games as navy games. We never actually thought about using an army. We never won. About four years ago, I replayed the game, only this time we used the Army in support of the maritime strategy. We needed the Army to be able to deploy quickly, to use surprise, to be able to take and hold ground, and we actually won the game for the first time. So I think my answer is yes, you do need that capability and you do need to be able to deploy it quickly. So it is an important driver for the future.
Mr SNOWDON —If we go back one step to your comments about having a part-time focus, without wanting to tie you down at all, what sort of numbers are we looking at, in your ideal world, regarding a full-time focus?
Adm. Barrie —As an objective, I would like to test a proposition of fifty-fifty. About 50 per cent of your capability ought to be full time and about 50 per cent ought to be part time. It won't be that, for all sorts of reasons, but I think it is a pretty rigorous sort of standard to head for in the first instance and then you make the judgments depending on the technology, the skills equations and other things.
Mr PRICE —I asked questions about equipment being offered; Galaxies would have been, of course, to the Air Force. What about helicopters to the Army?
Adm. Barrie —I would have to answer on notice. I just do not know the answer.
CHAIR —Admiral, thank you very much for coming here today. If you could send the responses to the questions which you have taken on notice to the secretary, that would be much appreciated. You will be sent a copy of the transcript, so if there is any error in grammar or fact, please correct it. On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for attending here today. Thank you for all the support that you have given the committee in its work. If need be, following the release of these various papers, would you be prepared to come before the committee again?
Adm. Barrie —I am always ready to appear before the committee. I think this is an important inquiry. It is a pivotal time in our history and I think the result of this inquiry has much to contribute to developing the army of the future.
Proceedings suspended from 12.47 p.m. to 2.05 p.m.