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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B
18/09/1990
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE
Program 3-ARMY

SENATOR SCHACHT -On page 111 there is that table again, outlining the structure of the Force. Has the combat forces ratio been pretty consistent at around 26 per cent or a quarter of the total armed forces of the Army over, say, the period of the last 10 years? Has that been a pretty consistent figure ?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -It has been pretty consistent but we think we are improving those figures now because we have shifted about 1,000 men from the logistic arena to the combat arena in the last three-year period, so we are getting a slight improvement in that area.

SENATOR SCHACHT -On page 113 you have combat forces for the coming year estimated at about 15,500 out of 39,000, which is a ratio of 2 : 5, I suppose. Is that a comparable ratio with similar sized armies of similar sized Western nations?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Mr Chairman, I would be speculating, but I think we would equate approximately with the British and the Americans in that respect.

SENATOR SCHACHT -But the same ratio?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -The same ratio.

SENATOR SCHACHT -I have one other question, which I similarly asked the Navy. You have logistics at 26 per cent, and then acquisition logistics overall in the Defence budget is a further 25 per cent. Is there any way in which you can separate acquisitions and logistics in the general budget. Is there a way in which you can allocate the simple part of the logistics to the Army side?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -I think we can. Acquisitions in a major capital sense can be specified as a separate thing; in a minor capital sense it can be specified as a separate requirement, and is. In terms of fundamental logistic support, again that can be specified in separate figures. I think you will find that in the program.

SENATOR NEWMAN -On page 115 it says that a part of the outlook for the Army program for 1990-91 is to establish the Australian individual emergency reserve. Could I have more details about this? Although this is a fairly thick volume it does not give much information about these objectives. What are the costs involved, what is their role, and what standard will be required of those reservists?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -The Army individual emergency reserve at this stage is an Army project that has been put recently to Defence. The object is to try to encourage those Regular soldiers of suitable quality who leave the Regular Army on discharge to accept service of about two days per year over, say, a four- or five-year period. We would pay them a bounty for that plus another allowance. We hope that we will attract a considerable number of people leaving the Regular Army to join that particular Service. We would use those people in times of emergency-they would be contracted to be called out in times of emergency-for rounding out, or fleshing out, operational units.

We are hoping that the two-day commitment will not be too onerous so that with the bounty we will attract a considerable number of ex-regulars to it. We would anticipate that with the standards of training of those well-trained individuals who leave the Army we could sustain them without additional training beyond the two days for about a four-year commitment after they leave the Army. That is the purpose of the AIER. Then we will have a flexible arrangement-Regular Army, AIER, and Army Reserve and we will hope to move or allow soldiers to move between the three in a very flexible arrangement and, therefore, make much better usage of our manpower resources.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What sorts of bounties are planned for this?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -The proposed bounty would be $1,000 tax free to commit yourself to it and then $500 a weekend thereafter.

SENATOR NEWMAN -A weekend, did you say?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -A two-day period. So, if you are getting 1,000 guys or girls to join up per year, that would be about $1.5m initially with $500,000 thereafter.

SENATOR NEWMAN -When they come in would they have to prove that they are still fit?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -They would have to prove that they were fit and we would probably give them a little bit of weapon training and so on. Those details have not been sorted out yet but, basically, it would be fitness, weapon handling and seeing that their kit is in order. We would, hopefully, encourage them to sign on with the units that they have left.

SENATOR NEWMAN -They would sign on with the units they originally left. How does that work?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -If a soldier who took his discharge from the 3rd Battalion wanted to come back into that battalion, in the individual emergency reserve, then we would allow him to do so. So he would still retain his identity with that battalion.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Do you mean that in those two days he would come back, or when he was called up for emergency service?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Both.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So he would maintain a continuing role?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Yes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -For example, the Defence Force would know where he was once a year.

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Yes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -When is that proposed to be introduced?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -It is now with the Department and I understand it is being progressed as a Cabinet submission.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I thought that, since it was in here, it was fixed. Have the Jans, the Wrigley and the Auditor-General's reports had an influence in the planning of that?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Not necessarily. I think they will address another concept , the ready reserve force concept, which is a Defence-Headquarters ADF initiated concept.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Does that mean that the Army is opting for IER?

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -No, it does not at all.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Does it mean that both can go ahead?

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Both can go ahead but the relationship between the two, when the latter is determined, will affect this project.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I am sorry, Minister; you said it between clenched teeth and it was a bit hard to hear.

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -That was the idea! The concept of ready reserve is one of those things I referred to earlier. That would not be as far advanced as this particular project, but if it were to get that sort of advancement we would then have to look back at this project to see how it fitted in.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So this might not go ahead if the other one does.

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -There are different time lines on both and there may be different utilities to having both.

SENATOR NEWMAN -On page 123 there is table D, headed `Capability'. I refer you to note 2 at the bottom of that table which indicates that manning shortfalls impair the ability of a unit to develop its full combat power, combat support or logistic support capability. Would it be right to say that the percentage shortfall from the war establishment to the actual or the authorised strength- I recognise that all three Services have a slightly different description for these-reflects the same percentage in loss of capability? Is the shortfall between war establishment and the actual the same percentage in the loss of capability between what you would have for a war establishment and what you would have--

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -I do not think so. For example, if you are looking at the war establishment of the ready deployment force of 5,100 that really represents the establishment of a war brigade of three battalions plus its bits and pieces. In fact, the operational deployment force has only two battalions, but they are at full strength and therefore they get a manning of 4,033-if you follow on the page. In fact, we are recruited to 3,700 but the percentage efficiency is based on what we are manned to-3,700 against the 5, 100 full war establishment. So you are not getting a true indication in the way that you are intimating. Is that clear?

SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes. I think it is something that I need to study but I am glad to have the table. Is this going to be a standard issue, this sort of table and these documents? They do help to analyse what is going on but unless they are comparative and done on the same basis year after year we end up with that same old problem of comparing apples and oranges.

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -We promise to try and we will also note your comment that this is one of particular interest.

SENATOR NEWMAN -There are several, in fact, but this one is in front of us now and it reminds me that we have never had a lot of these things before. If they are going to be of any use they have to be there on a year-by-year basis. I would like to ask some questions about the Army Reserve again, drawing attention to the Auditor-General's report which came out a week or so ago. In that report the concept of centralised training for the reserves was raised. I understand that the Army is not very supportive of the concept of centralised training. Is that correct?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -The concept is all right; it is the money that is the problem. We have to train 7,000-odd reservists each year. If you did that centrally, say at Kapooka, you would be up for tremendous infrastructure costs , big T and S bills and so on. That is primarily the reason why we go for training in regional areas in the training groups: the infrastructure is already there and the people are there. That, fundamentally, is the reason.

SENATOR NEWMAN -If you do not have something more centralised than at present, have you not got a problem of being uncertain that the same satisfactorily high standards of basic training are being achieved throughout the country? In other words, will you not have a variation-some good, some not so good and some pretty rotten?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -This is a function and responsibility of Training Command, to ensure that those standards are as uniform as we can get them. The instruction is given according to very strict training requirements and is monitored and policed. We think we do a reasonable job in ensuring reasonable standardisation throughout the training groups.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Is it Training Command's responsibility to assess and analyse whether the required level of training of each of those recruits is achieved?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -It is, because the training groups belong to Training Command. The instructions come down in terms of what the standards are to be for any number of courses. The instructors are trained to teach to those levels and then the tests are carried out to meet those prescribed standards. I do not say that it is a perfect system but I think it is reasonable.

SENATOR NEWMAN -How effective are current Army Reserve retention measures?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -The public feeling is that our retention is not good but I would like to point out that, over the whole history of the Reserve, the loss rates have always moved between about 25 and 30 per cent. I think the current figure is about 27 per cent. It is very hard to say whether, with additional incentives or additional equipment, you would actually improve that percentage markedly. You have got a lot of normal problems that exist within the Reserve . Youngsters come in; they change jobs; they get married; they go off to do other things. You are always going to get a percentage that will be going. Our loss rates compare very well with overseas experience, in the 25 to 30 per cent bracket. But I am speculating a little bit, in that obviously if you got some improvement in incentives you might improve the loss rate.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Why do we persist with separate recruiting for the reserves and the regulars? Why is it not all done together, as one?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -I am pleased to say that the director of Army Reserve recruiting has now linked to the central recruiting organisation. As to our actually going out and recruiting for soldiers, the reservists have to be recruited in their areas-out in their towns and villages, and so on. That is where you get them. You do not get them perhaps in the cities. The Regular soldier, however, you generally pick up as he walks past the recruiting office in the city. That is the primary reason why we have two separate systems. That is the advice I get from the recruiting people but I think we will probably follow it through a little more.

SENATOR NEWMAN -When you talk to recruiting people they are very strong on the fact that they can recruit as many people as are required-this is for the Reserves-and that somebody else is responsible for the lack of Reserve manpower. Is there not some ability to get both the retention people and the recruiting people together so there is no passing of the buck on this?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -I think we have got a number of pretty good schemes that we are just starting. One, for example, is the `try before buying' scheme, where we will let youngsters come out and do a couple of days' camp with a unit, obligation free, to see whether they like it. Then, if they like it, they get wheeled into the recruiting office and signed on. I think this will overcome a lot of the problem of losing this high percentage in the first year or so of training. That scheme has now been implemented and there are a number of other things that we are doing.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What about cadets? Are you using the opportunity to augment the cadet force to act as a feed-in, if you like, into the Reserves, and perhaps also into the Regular Army? Have you looked at that?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Army sees cadets as being potentially a very strong recruiting inducement for the Regular, the Reserve, RMC and ADFA. We would like to do a lot more, obviously, as we said at the last Estimates Committee, to get cadets going, and we are working on a submission now to do that. I think most people recognise that having cadets would be a very good thing but Army has got to find $5m or $6m a year to fund and upgrade the cadet corps to meet a fully supported standard and that is pretty difficult under the current budget restraints that we have at present.

SENATOR NEWMAN -But, if it saves on wastage of people who know they have tried before they have bought, presumably it ends up being cost-effective, does it not? Is that not possible to demonstrate?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -It is in some ways. It is possible to demonstrate it with RMC and ADFA; it is possible to demonstrate it in one or two of the States. Up until now we have not had the figures, but we are correcting that. I think it would be a sound risk to take in a financial system because we have got to get into the youth, we have got to get into the immigrant population, and the best place to get into that is in the schools. But that is an Army view.

SENATOR NEWMAN -There is not really very good representation of ethnic communities in our Defence Force, is there?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Very small.

SENATOR NEWMAN -You get some Dutch and some Polish surnames and that is about all.

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Yes.

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -The reason for that really goes back to the essential reason for immigrating, the reluctance of the first generation to have their kids in the Defence Force, which will wash out in the third generation.

SENATOR NEWMAN -We hope so, but you need to be proactive probably, Minister.

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I think you need to be proactive but you have also got to understand that a lot of people come from an environment in another country where to join either the armed forces or the police is not the role they see for themselves at that stage.

SENATOR NEWMAN -But you would recognise surely that it is not satisfactory to have a defence force which is divorced from, or not representative of, the community it is meant to protect.

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Absolutely.

SENATOR NEWMAN -With Cenrespay just what is the current situation, because the problems and delays with pay in the Reserve are a cause of enormous resentment?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Cenrespay, we believe, is going well. It is not fully implemented yet. It had a few little hiccups when it was initiated. I think we have got about 50 computers out in the field now and we have got another couple of hundred to go, which we will achieve by the end of this financial year. I can only reiterate that it is a marked improvement in terms of paying people more quickly and keeping a handle on our financial accounts, although there have been some minor hiccups.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Are you keeping information on the maximum time it is taking to pay people and the minimum time it is taking to pay people? Other government departments manage to do that, but I have never heard that sort of information in relation to the Reserve?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Yes, we are.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Have you considered giving a local commander a chequebook and paying them on the night? You are devolving financial authority; you are giving them credit cards.

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I am informed that we have gone from paying quarterly to monthly.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Gone from paying quarterly to monthly?

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I do not know about handing out chequebooks. I do not want to make something favourite at the Dapto Dogs!

SENATOR NEWMAN -Part of the problem is the bureaucratic process and the slow administration times and things. Once upon a time, you handed over cash to people, but if you had a cheque book--

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Those days are gone for everyone.

SENATOR NEWMAN -But it is no good if you are waiting for up to two years to get paid, is it?

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -No.

SENATOR NEWMAN -How effective has been the implementation of the defence management information system? Should I have had that under defence?

SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I think so.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I will skip it for now. Let me ask the two questions that I was to ask of each Service: the one about education allowance and the one about streaming.

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Mr Chairman, we have 40 parents getting the allowance and 58 children who are actually receiving the benefit. It is improving each year, bit by bit.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What about streaming of officers?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -By streaming, do you mean what we are doing about officers ' structures and p,ogramming?

SENATOR NEWMAN -No. I mean streaming them into specialty areas.

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Yes. We are undertaking from senior captain to guide youngsters into areas of the staff or command or operations that they wish to go into. That is a recent initiative and it will be reflected, I think, in the format of the new confidential report that comes out this year. So we are very mindful of that and we are doing something about it.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What is the situation with personnel as a specialty? Is that going ahead?

MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -I would be talking off the top of the head, but I am sure personnel will be one of the streams-logistics personnel, operations, material acquisition and so on.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Thank you.