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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B
10/05/1993
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE
Program 3--Army

Senator MacGIBBON --Mr Chairman, on this page Ready Reserve is mentioned; I was wondering if there has been any survey done of the effectiveness of that program at this point.

Senator Robert Ray --Could you just repeat that; I think I missed your first point.

Senator MacGIBBON --Has any survey or analysis been done of the effectiveness of that program now that we are coming up to the 18-month point of it?

Major-Gen. Nunn --As I think we have mentioned before, the program is going to take approximately four years to reach complete fruition, with a gradual replacement in Army terms of regular soldiers by reservists. As we stand at the moment, in terms of the reserve component we have performed better than expectation in respect of the cost of the program. But we will not--

Senator MacGIBBON --What were the expectations then?

Major-Gen. Nunn --Putting it in simple terms, in the estimates which I gave you last session, we allowed for approximately a 30 per cent wastage in year 1. We are running at approximately 17 per cent wastage in year 1.

Senator MacGIBBON --That is a manpower wastage?

Major-Gen. Nunn --That is a manpower wastage, yes. Obviously year 2 for the first year of intakes will be critical. At this stage we have had a very, very low turnover, but I will not be in a position really to assess the year turnover of ready reservists who are on their part-time training until the end of this year when the majority, hopefully, will either be continuing in employment or continuing with education.

Senator MacGIBBON --I was not really so concerned with the wastage rates, but when you talk about the economy being better than expected, has any financial assessment been done? Does the cost of the Ready Reserve program as it has been running now for nearly a year and a half--17 months--meet your projected figures? Is it lower or is it higher?

Major-Gen. Nunn --I would like to preface my answer again by commenting on what the Army Ready Reserve program replaces. We have got a step-wise increase in combat capability at a cost estimated to be substantially below having that same combat capability from an all-regular force. As we stand at the moment, our regular component costs are somewhat higher than expected because the turnover of regulars has been considerably lower than expected.

Senator MacGIBBON --Why does that lead to an increase in costs? Surely your training expenses are less?

Major-Gen. Nunn --The training expenses for the regular component are less in terms of replacement, but it was expected that by now we would have fewer regular soldiers in the brigade and hence a smaller regular payroll. So there is an increase in cost on that count. In respect of the reserve component, the costs are obviously lower because the turnover has been lower. The second comment I would make is that the combat capability has clearly increased. We have a brigade which is now larger than the understrength brigade which existed previously.

Senator MacGIBBON --Yes, but you have not been able to quantify whether the costs through the last year and a half were higher or lower than the expectations that you had before you commissioned the program.

Major-Gen. Nunn --I would emphasise again that the regular component cost is higher; the reserve component cost is lower.

Senator MacGIBBON --I followed all that.

Major-Gen. Nunn --The overall cost within Army budget--and perhaps I could ask Army to comment--is marginally above where we expected to have spent by now, largely because of the increase in cost of the regular component still there.

Senator MacGIBBON --I see.

Senator Robert Ray --I should just add that, at the time the ready reserves were set up, we announced they would be reviewed two years after the point at which the first recruits completed their service. That is going to be met. There will be a review at that stage where we will assess capability--

Senator MacGIBBON --Does that mean six years from inception, or two years from inception?

Senator Robert Ray --From the day the first recruit walks in, it is three years from then, or two years from the day the first recruit has walked out.

Senator MacGIBBON --I see.

Senator Robert Ray --Because what we want to measure is not only the effectiveness of the one year's training but, two years out, we also want to see skills retention, capability, readiness, all that, mixed up and assessed, and that will be done at about that particular time.

Senator MacGIBBON --There was quite a bit of controversy in the paper that annoyed the then Minister about recruiting for 1993. What was the real story there? Were the figures abysmal, or was that a beat-up of the paper's?

Senator Robert Ray --Senator, there was a mistake made by Minister Bilney and me with regard to Ready Reserve recruiting last year; that is, we put enormous effort into the first year, were absolutely flooded with recruits and had to knock back an enormous number of people, so it was our assumption that people would flood in for the second intake. As we got closer to the close-off date of the second intake we found out that we did not have enough people. Minister Bilney went out and belted the cat on that with a degree of controversy at the time, but it certainly had the effect of reaching if not the target audience of potential enrollees then certainly reaching parents, who then encouraged them to go ahead and join.

As it was, as I understand it, we made the target with some comfort, finally. You might remember that we added an additional 300 to the program as part of a sort of One Nation thing and in anticipation that, because we have got low recruiting at the moment for the regulars because of the attrition rate, probably some or all of those 300 in the 1,300 intake will probably become regulars in the future to make up the sorts of deficiencies that will occur when the attrition rate goes up.

Senator MacGIBBON --General Nunn, you said that the availability had increased and that you have got more bodies in the 6th Brigade because you have got all your companies filled and the rest of it, but what guarantee of access have you got to these people once they have finished their one-year continuous training, in so far as they go into industry or education? If you want to send them to Somalia or New Guinea or somewhere like that for an emergency, what confidence do you have that you can turn out 100 per cent of fit personnel who are on the books for 6th Brigade tonight?

Major-Gen. Nunn --All our reserves, be they general reserves or ready reserves, are subject to call out. They can be called out and, once called out, are required to serve. Such a call out does not extend to Somalia or any of the other situations which you have described, which are not currently included. Therefore, if we wanted somebody to serve in Cambodia, which is the case in the very near future, it would be a on a voluntary basis. If we were to call out the Reserve, just like the general Reserve, the Ready Reserve would be expected to appear. I have every confidence that the vast majority would.

Senator MacGIBBON --If it is on a voluntary basis, you will not be able to put the units in--whether they are battalions or companies as they are constituted at the moment--because there will be very good reasons why people cannot leave what they are doing at the present time even if they want to go. So I would challenge your assertion that the availability has increased by this measure because we have now got an army that has got four understrength battalions as the only deployable force.

Major-Gen. Nunn --I would like to just separate those two, Senator, if I could. You are talking of peacekeeping operations which--

Senator MacGIBBON --Well, any emergency which the Government wants to respond to.

Major-Gen. Nunn --In an emergency, given that there is call out, there is no longer volunteerism. Once call out is enacted, the Reserve is expected to and will appear. It is only in the voluntary situations--for example in peacekeeping--which are not within the terms of the call out legislation, that volunteerism is necessary. You are correct in the respect that it would be very difficult to rely completely on, say, an infantry company, to turn out to go to Somalia under a volunteer circumstance, because of the natural requirements for work and family and so forth. Once called out, however, the seven brigades of the Army Reserve are available alongside the two brigades of the regular force and one brigade of the Ready Reserve.

Senator MacGIBBON --Quite. The Minister might contradict me and tell me I am wrong again, but I cannot conceive the Government instituting call out requirements unless Australia were directly attacked. Would you, Minister?

Senator Robert Ray --Unlikely.

Senator MacGIBBON --So we really get back to this business that our availability has shrunk, not increased?

Senator Robert Ray --You can look at it in two different ways. In that sense, yes. In the sense that we will have as seven capable, fully manned and fully ready battalions, that is better than six battalions, two of which were under strength and underequipped. That is the sort of measurement that we have to do in that two-year period after the first ready reserves come out. That will be the crunch time, when we have to put the most rigorous tests on these ready reserve battalions to know that they can meet the requirement. Minister Bilney and I have said that if they do not meet that requirement we will have to think of going back to six regular battalions. But it is at that point when I think it is fair to make the decision, not quite yet.

Senator TEAGUE --My question refers to table A at page 105. This is the first time I have seen the average salary cost for each of the categories set out in this clear way. It is clear that someone in the Ready Reserve receives approximately the same average salary as a regular. Indeed, in part-time, a ready reservist is considerably more expensive. Is that a surprise to the Department or to General Nunn or to the Army?

Major-Gen. Carter --At the bottom of table A is a note which I believe expands the subject. Basically, when the ready reservist is at full-time duty in his year he is paid full-time salary. From there on in, it is a part year effect because he is only available for five weeks. Those are the figures that reflect that fact. The balance will change as there are more of them in the five weeks a year situation.

Senator TEAGUE --Nevertheless, the average salary cost for a part-timer, while not double, is two-thirds on top of the cost of a regular. I am looking at $56,000 as compared with $35,000.

Major-Gen. Carter --There are allowances in there as well. The on-costs are salary plus allowances to get to and from, and also there is a reflection of the numbers involved.

Senator TEAGUE --That is why, even with all the allowances, in the terms in which Senator MacGibbon is asking about the financial advantages of the cost per capability I am surprised that it can be sustained that, when those more expensive ready reservists are there for less time overall than if they were full-time regulars, there is indeed an increase in capability for the dollar.

Major-Gen. Carter --The costs reflected in table A include a full year effect. Reservists in their full year of service are in a situation precisely comparable with that of regulars. The part-timers are those who have been through that process, and that will become an ever increasing number. What Senator MacGibbon's question was to do with was the availability of those people at any instant, in terms of readiness. Those that are in their year's training obligation are as ready as their training permits. We have yet to evaluate and will continue to evaluate over the next years what we can get out of skill retention and the numbers that are returning each year to fulfil their part-time obligation. The correlation you are asking for, we are not yet able to make.

Senator TEAGUE --Is that the Minister's point?

Major-Gen. Carter --Yes.

Senator HILL --Minister, I appreciate that message I got on the Black Hawks. Has your press release got out? May I ask you some questions about that?

Senator Robert Ray --Unless AAP is slack and has let us down, it should be on the wire now.

Senator HILL --My question is in relation to the UNTAC force or those who are supporting it. Will these helicopters that are being provided come within UNTAC? How will they be directed? I understand that they are in effect to protect the electoral process.

Senator Robert Ray --`Protect' and `assist', I think, are the two operative words. My understanding is that they will be part of UNTAC for a specified period of time. This is responding to a request by the UN that has had US involvement simply to process it quickly. Australia, Japan, ASEAN and the United States have all been approached to provide a quantum of equipment--things like barbed wire and sandbagging--and helicopters to assist in this election period, when there will be extra pressures. For instance, the provision of helicopters will allow some electoral staff to return to a city centre during the night of the election process and return the next morning. Overall, it is intended to enhance the mobility of UNTAC and during the election process. I might ask Air Vice-Marshal Fisher whether he would like to add to that.

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --They will be part of UNTAC, the United Nations transition force. They will be employed on administrative duties, medivacs or whatever the commander wishes them to be employed on. Certainly they will be an important resource during the election period. That was the prime reason for asking that they be provided.

Senator HILL --Do they have any fixed armaments?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --They will have fixed armaments; that is correct.

Senator HILL --What?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --They will have machine-guns mounted on either side of the aircraft.

Senator HILL --When was Australia requested to make this contribution?

Senator Robert Ray --I think it was on Saturday. I cannot say what time on Saturday. I think it would have been late.

Senator HILL --I presume that the other countries you mentioned have been asked at this late stage to contribute.

Senator Robert Ray --I do not know whether if it is official but I know that at least one of our neighbours has already responded with helicopters. Is that official?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --We do not know.

Senator Robert Ray --I will not say which one, because they may want to announce it in their own time. Several others are considering it right now.

Senator MacGIBBON --How many aircraft are going?

Senator Robert Ray --From Australia, six Black Hawks.

Senator MacGIBBON --How are they getting up there?

Senator Robert Ray --The United Nations will provide the transport. We think there will be C5s, probably two. We will be sending 100 people--that is, air crew and maintenance crew--and 30 security people to protect the helicopters on the ground.

Senator HILL --It is probably a good idea. I will not say that there is an air of panic but it certainly seems to be an unusual and worrying aspect of the process--certainly unheard of in my experience of peacekeeping forces--that, a fortnight away from the election, countries are being called on to provide helicopter forces for medical evacuation and so forth. Does this demonstrate in your mind the general deterioration of the security environment?

Senator Robert Ray --It would demonstrate several things. I will remind you that, probably a year ago now, we were called on, also at very short notice, to provide movement control officers to Cambodia. In part, it sometimes reflects less than adequate staff at the United Nations, which I think is going to be a continuing problem. If the United Nations is going to get involved in so many of these projects, it must have the staff at planning headquarters capable of implementing them. It has been starved of resources and numbers in that regard, and that is a problem. There is no doubt that the situation in Cambodia is getting to a very critical point. We have been through all that. The extra resources that are required and that have been requested reflect that. We are in a position, I suppose, where we could say, `No. We will not be part of it'. But we do believe that, when these situations arise, regional countries must be able to respond rapidly for future UN operations such as Cambodia to be successful. I think what you are seeing is the start of a process that will, in future, require countries to respond far more quickly to specific needs.

Senator HILL --I hear what you say but, with respect, there seems to be almost a touch of desperation in this decision. I am surprised to hear your comment in relation to the military side of the planning of UNTAC.

Senator Robert Ray --Those comments were directed at military planning in New York, not at the devolved military planning from a variety of countries where operations are under way.

Senator HILL --I was under the impression that the military planning, even in New York, in relation to UNTAC was a lot better, and Australia itself has been making a contribution to that in New York.

Senator Robert Ray --Of course we have. We have been making a contribution because of what we perceive as weaknesses there.

Senator HILL --Are you saying that General Sanderson, for example, has seen the need for these helicopters for some time and has been seeking these helicopters?

Senator Robert Ray --I might ask Air Vice-Marshal Fisher to comment on that. I do not know when General Sanderson and the people in Phnom Penh identified this need. I have noticed, though, from the very start of UNTAC, some very confusing suggestions coming out of New York in which various requests were changed almost week to week or day to day. It is, to my mind, a substantial weakness that you get a cable one day saying, `Our request is for this', and within a day it is changed. It makes our making decisions here somewhat difficult. I do not know whether Air Vice-Marshal Fisher has any information on when this was first mooted.

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --I believe it was first raised in Phnom Penh on 29 April. Due to the processes through the UN and Washington, we were not advised until the 8th of this month.

Senator HILL --But even the end of April, I think, demonstrates the rate of deterioration of the security environment. I notice today reports that the Malaysian infantry is having weapons sent in--mortars and so forth--to help its operations. I do not object, after the enormous commitment, to the international community taking these steps in an effort to save the process but there does not seem to be the sort of orderly pattern that one expects in relation to successful peacekeeping in electoral operations. I guess the question is whether the Australian Defence Force, in effect, is being put in an awkward position when it is being called upon at the last moment like this to provide not only evacuation capacity but, it seems, also a fairly lethal weapon capacity to help save this process.

Senator Robert Ray --The pressure has certainly come on ASEAN, Japan, Australia and the US. They have been identified as those that can most rapidly respond to the request. If your question is whether there has been a lack of prescience in Phnom Penh in assessing all of this, that may be so. That is hard to judge. They certainly should not be punished for that lack of prescience by our refusal to assist. I do not know. You cannot put yourselves in the minds of people in Phnom Penh. Air Vice-Marshal Fisher has indicated that 29 April was when the matter was raised. You might be right; it may have been better to raise it before then.

Senator HILL --Who actually made the request for the further equipment? Did that come from the Secretary-General of the UN?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --We had two approaches, one from the UN and one from Washington. There was a dual approach.

Senator HILL --Has there been any Security Council deliberation on the deteriorating situation that has led to this decision to call for more forces at this very late stage of the process?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --To my knowledge, no.

Senator HILL --Do you know at what level the request came from New York?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --Both in Washington and New York, it was at an extremely high level within the administration that the deliberations took place.

Senator HILL --Specifically, was the request from the Secretary-General?

Lt-Gen. Baker --The final request has come from the United Nations itself through the secretariat in New York. Let me just say that one of the problems that UNTAC is having with helicopters at the moment is the low availability of the helicopters that were provided, and that is one of the factors which has given rise to the request for additional helicopters now, because they can only call upon less than half of the original helicopter support they had. On the other stores and equipment, some of those requests were placed with the United Nations in January of this year and still have not been fulfilled. Obviously now with the approach of the election it is right that we do what we can--not only us but the other nations--to make up that backlog in supply. So that is some more background as to how it came about at short notice. The request to us has come from the UN in New York.

Senator HILL --You mention Japan: has Japan responded positively to this request?

Senator Robert Ray --I do not know yet. They are very much in the same position as us, no doubt--approached very late on Saturday--so I do not know the nature of their response, nor the response of the ASEAN countries, other than not one of them has been very positive so far. But it is up to them to make their own answers; it is not for us.

Senator HILL --We were requested to provide the helicopters. What were other states requested to provide?

Senator Robert Ray --Helicopters and stores. It was $2.7 million worth of stores, which I understand are things like sandbags, barbwire and those sorts of things. Some other countries have been asked to supply helicopters, and General Baker--

Lt-Gen. Baker --Helmets, night-vision aids and things of that nature. There is a fairly extensive list of stores, many of which can be supplied easily from US sources.

Senator MacGIBBON --Minister, in the light of your exposition of the doctrine of flexibility and rapid response, if you are being asked for barbed wire and sandbags it is not just a business of taking a few vote counters around the area; you must have concerns about the security of the forces deployed there. If we are called upon--and we certainly have an interest, with over 500 personnel there, in ensuring their security in some way--what resources have you got to commit in the land role there to help maintain security on the ground?

Senator Robert Ray --We are constantly updated by the defence intelligence agency as to the threat level in Cambodia, and the threat level is more, I think, at the moment directed not specifically at UNTAC forces but those more isolated ones rather than where Australians are at the current time. The assessment is that it is very unlikely, but you cannot rule out an attack on any Australian forces. It has not been the pattern so far of the way the Khmer Rouge has operated.

Senator MacGIBBON --But given the fact that many of those detachments are in aggregations of two or three soldiers where with the best will in the world they cannot look after themselves, it surely is a matter of some concern as to their security in that environment, particularly when we had a Foreign Minister who was so stupid as to invite a full frontal attack on them as the way of getting rid of them if they were an irritant to the Khmer Rouge, a couple of weeks ago.

Senator Robert Ray --As I said, I am constantly updated on threat assessment. No-one would be overjoyed at that assessment but it has not got to the point where we would consider taking any further action than we have at the moment to protect our forces.

Senator MacGIBBON --In the event that there is a deterioration, would you be prepared to commit a whole brigade to security measures up there?

Senator Robert Ray --That is a very hypothetical question at the moment. What we are basically looking at at the moment is to get through the election process and see what evolves after that in terms of a stable government in Cambodia that will be able to look after itself. I do not have the prescience to be able to second-guess that at the moment. The continuing role of the UN in Cambodia will be considered by the Security Council post election and post formation of the government. I cannot anticipate what that will be at this stage.

Senator MacGIBBON --There would have to be a reasonable appreciation that the Khmer Rouge will resort to an increased level of violence between now and the holding of that election. It would have to be a contingency that you considered.

Senator Robert Ray --All contingencies are considered, I can tell you that. You would not expect us not to be looking at contingencies, because that is in the nature of the job. We do that.

Senator HILL --Barbed wire, Black Hawk helicopters, sand bags--it all sounds like a rising level of--

Senator Robert Ray --If that was the sole scope of our contingency planning, you would have every right to complain, but it is not. But I am not, nor is anyone else, about to release any contingency plans we have if there is a change of circumstances. I do not think you would expect us to do so.

Senator HILL --Has the threat assessment changed?

Lt-Gen. Baker --I think that we have always expected this period before the election to be a touchy period. The threat, I think, is slightly worse now than it was several weeks ago, simply because of the level of activity in the country. But I do not think you should overestimate the threat. The Khmer Rouge does not have the military capability to undertake full-scale offensives throughout the country. It has the ability to harass UNTAC in several of the provinces. So it is not as though the whole country is going to dissolve overnight, but there will be several provinces where I would expect the level of activity to be fairly high between now and the election. You have seen that pattern over the last few weeks.

Senator HILL --Yes; except that that was not what was intended to happen, of course. As you said, it has been expected for some time: quite the contrary was supposed to occur but, since the national reconciliation has broken down, the situation has steadily deteriorated. It also raises the issue of forces other than the Khmer Rouge. I note that the SOC forces, for example, are seeking to regain their weapons. But it was always the view, as I understand it, that most of the better weapons were not put into the cantonment process, in any event. The question therefore is: are you taking into account not only action by the Khmer Rouge but what may well be conflict between opposing forces, with UNTAC people and civilian volunteers in effect being in the middle?

Lt-Gen. Baker --I think there has always been a risk that the United Nations forces could get involved in factional fighting between the two, and that has always been recognised. On the other hand, I think that, if anybody has long-term aims on the country, it is in the interests for those factions to see UNTAC leave as quickly as possible. Therefore, I do not think it follows that UNTAC will be deliberately targeted by either side.

Senator HILL --I understand that logic but, in recent times, it has looked as if UNTAC is starting to be targeted. Part of the claim is that it has been identified as protecting the SOC and protecting Vietnamese interests and so forth.

Lt-Gen. Baker --There is always a problem in this sort of situation with propaganda and fact. It is hard to separate the two. You need to look at each incident on its merits--and certainly they are being analysed--and it is not yet conclusive in my mind that UNTAC has been deliberately targeted without reason. It is very difficult to say from this distance exactly what motivates it. Not all cases in which UN people have been involved have necessarily been recognised as KR initiated. Some are not yet clear.

Senator HILL --What role is the UNTAC military force assuming in relation to protection of the civilian side of the operation? I raise particularly the electoral volunteers that Australia is sending within the next few days.

Lt-Gen. Baker --The UNTAC forces, and this has been agreed upon by the United Nations, will be used in part to protect the electoral process--and that includes the civilian volunteers--in the sense that they are there under restricted rules of engagement. In other words, it is a self-defence approach, not an active approach. That is the mandate that UNTAC has.

Senator HILL --I understand that some of the forces that recently went to Cambodia were told that they could expect to be there for 12 months. Is that so?

Lt-Gen. Baker --I have no knowledge of any message to that effect.

Senator Robert Ray --Perhaps Air Vice-Marshal Fisher can assist.

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --We know that those troops which were deployed recently were not deployed for 12 months. It is planned that on about 5 October an advance party of 90 persons will return to Australia. On 15 October, a further 130 persons will return, and the rest shortly thereafter. That is the plan at present.

Senator HILL --Will the rules of engagement have to change in relation to the provision of the helicopters?

Lt-Gen. Baker --The change of rules in engagement requires a change in the mandate of the United Nations, which could only come about through debate in the Security Council in New York. The present rules of engagement are that the forces there are not authorised to use force, except in direct self-defence. That is the rule of engagement as it stands. So it is not allowable for forces to seek out factions and take positive action until they are themselves under dire threat.

Senator HILL --Or in the defence of civilians?

Lt-Gen. Baker --The same rules apply.

Senator HILL --But they can be called in to defend--

Lt-Gen. Baker --If civilians were under threat, the right of self-defence would apply to the United Nations people.

Senator HILL --To United Nations people?

Lt-Gen. Baker --Yes, and the electoral people are part of the United Nations force--UNTAC.

Senator HILL --Will all of the electoral civilians that Australia is sending come within the umbrella of UNTAC?

Lt-Gen. Baker --Yes.

Senator HILL --And be given that level of security?

Lt-Gen. Baker --Yes.

Senator TEAGUE --Reference was made to other nations reneging on commitments for helicopters as early as January this year. Which countries made commitments for helicopters and--

Senator Robert Ray --I do not recall it being said, as direct evidence, that other nations reneged. The request went in for this equipment, as I understand it, in January. For some reason or other, it was not met. I think that is slightly different from saying that some nations reneged.

Senator TEAGUE --Okay.

Senator Robert Ray --This is stores, not helicopters, that we are talking about now.

Senator TEAGUE --So there was no nation that failed to deploy helicopters after being requested to do so?

Senator Robert Ray --No. The helicopter request, as the evidence shows from this estimates committee, came out of Phnom Penh on 29 April. The reference to January was for stores. That request went in then and for some reason--I do not think we even know the reasons, but please volunteer them if you have them--was not met.

Senator HILL --We have agreed to provide the helicopters, but for how long?

Senator Robert Ray --Six weeks.

Senator HILL --What is the cost of this further support?

Senator Robert Ray --Stores: $2.7 million, which is fully refundable by the UN. The cost of deploying the helicopters can only be an estimate, because we have only looked at it today. We have a ballpark figure of $11 million--$7 million supplemented by the UN back to the Australian budget. But I must stress that that $11 million has not been fully crunched yet. It could come down.

Senator HILL --How many extra men are you sending?

Senator Robert Ray --We are sending 100, 30 of whom will be in the security area. I imagine we will run three shifts of 10 every day on that particular operation. The rest are aircrew and, of course, quite a substantial maintenance crew--you know the extent to which helicopters require ongoing maintenance.

Senator MacGIBBON --What happens if we lose those five helicopters, Minister? Is there an insurance policy on that?

Senator Robert Ray --It is the usual that the Commonwealth insures. I do not know about the UN coverage of that. Do you know?

Lt-Gen. Baker --I am not sure.

Senator Robert Ray --It was actually raised with me earlier today and I intend to get an answer on that.

Senator MacGIBBON --I think it would probably be the least of our problems. I think the life of--

Senator Robert Ray --If we lose the five or six of them, I suspect I shall be the first to go.

Senator MacGIBBON --It is a matter of the preservation of the lives of our people up there--that is the important thing.

Senator Robert Ray --Yes.

Senator MacGIBBON --I had the pleasure to be in France for the 75th anniversary of the battle of Villers Bretonneux a couple of weeks ago. At the formal ceremonies we had the company of about 30 regular officers from Shrivenham, and they were a very fine body of men and women. We also had about 30 people from the Royal Victorian Regiment Reservists, who apparently raised their own money and went there as volunteers. Minister, was there any approach made for funding for support for those reservists?

Senator Robert Ray --I could not answer that.

Major-Gen. Carter --I need to set it in context, Senator. From August 1989 through until August 1995 we are going to be celebrating the 75th anniversary of a lot of First World War events and the 50th anniversary of lot of Second World War events. A plan has been put in place which Veterans' Affairs took the lead on for those things deemed to be of national significance to Australia which will be supported as activities. Those are funded. They are within the program of events and they are scheduled through that period.

Outside that program, there is occasionally a situation where a particular unit or group of units believes that it wishes to be represented at a particular place. The case you have cited is the Royal Victorian Regiment at Villers Bretonneux. That is a particular battle that was of meaning to that regiment. We have another one coming up shortly--the New South Wales Regiment at Mont St Quentin.

In the case of these unfunded, unforecast ceremonies, it is largely up to the associations that support those units to seek approval for them to go and to seek, if they wish to be a formed military unit, our approval to wear uniform. That is about as far as it goes. In this case, CGS gave approval. The fact that they are in uniform attracts for them a certain level of allowances for that period. The remainder is--

Senator MacGIBBON --I did not realise that.

Major-Gen. Carter --Yes it does. It has to. If they are going to wear uniform and be on duty, they are paid an Army Reserve training day per day that they are on duty and they are paid minimal allowances. That is because we wish to prescribe the standard to which they should be dressed and it should be subject to military discipline.

In this particular case, our understanding was that they would wear polyester uniforms. At unit level, a decision was taken that they would indeed wear battledress. That is what they wore. It was a correct uniform, so I have no complaint with that. If there was any difficulty with the cold weather clothing, it was simply one that was not made known until the occasion arose. That is about as full an answer as I can give you.

Senator MacGIBBON --I was going to lead on to the battledress because they all turned up in 1940s British battledress and it was really a matter of some contrast between the regulars and the reservists. I wondered how it came about.

Major-Gen. Carter --Our understanding, and our original intention, was that they would wear polyesters.

Senator MacGIBBON --With the greatest of respect, that is a cold climate. I was actually shivering as I stood there laying a wreath. It was drizzling rain. There was an icy wind blowing. We went on to Bullecourt after that. Bullecourt was the second most expensive operation for the AIF in France. The history books record that on the night of 10-11 April on the first attack that was scheduled at Bullecourt, the troops lay in the snow. I would have thought it was a little strange to recommend polyesters, just shirt and trousers, when it might have been snowing.

Major-Gen. Carter --I bring back the fact that had this been a fully directed, supported activity rather more attention would have been paid. At the time the request was simply to wear an authorised uniform and that was approved.

Senator MacGIBBON --Okay. The larger issue surely is that the reservists apparently do not have service dress the way you have, or the regulars have. Is that true?

Major-Gen. Carter --There is a scale of issue to reservists. Largely speaking, at the moment they have access to those orders of dress that apply to the Regular Army. We are seeking, as a cost-saving measure and no other, to limit, both within the Regular Army and the reserves, the issues to the appropriate duty they are performing. Had this case and the one that is likely to come up in the near future raised the issue of the appropriateness of what they are wearing, and if it becomes an item of issue, then it will be focused on. But as it stood, our interest was purely that they wore an authorised uniform in return for which, under discipline, they were paid allowances.

Senator MacGIBBON --The larger issue is that there is quite a difference in the standards of the way reservists are kitted out with respect to regulars.

Major-Gen. Carter --Ultimately, that is the case. We are not seeking to give the full range of all free uniforms to reservists in the initial period of their service. We are attempting to come to the situation where the longer they serve and demonstrate a commitment to the Reserve the more we will start to look at the issues of such matters as service dress and the various accoutrements that go with it. We are seeking initially to standardise on working dress as the uniform dress--that is, uniform in the sense of all the same.

Senator MacGIBBON --There would have been a few people there with the same length of service as you had, General--some of the colonels.

Major-Gen. Carter --Some of the colonels would have had this range of uniform, Senator.

Senator MacGIBBON --On page 107, there is an entry about provision for UN deployments for Sinai, Somalia and Western Sahara. I would like to ask a question about the way the battalion got to Somalia. The main lift in was by Qantas, was it not? What was the cost of that?

Senator Robert Ray --It was the same 747 twice, I believe.

Senator MacGIBBON --What was the cost of that?

Mr Hannan --The cost of the 747 charter was $1.35 million.

Senator MacGIBBON --That was for the two flights in?

Mr Hannan --Correct.

Senator MacGIBBON --Did that go to tender or did you just ring up Qantas?

Mr Hannan --It went to tender.

Senator MacGIBBON --And you had international carriers--

Mr Hannan --I am sorry, Senator; I cannot answer. The tender was undertaken by air command; I do not have the details of that. My understanding is that it was a competitive tender.

Senator MacGIBBON --Why was the same procedure not adopted for the return of the contingent?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --The number of air hours that were required were available in the 707 fleet and the C130 fleet to conduct the redeployment.

Senator MacGIBBON --But they were not available for the trip over?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --Not at that time. It was considered that the 747 option was the most efficient option at that time.

Senator MacGIBBON --How did the troops travel? Did they carry their personal weapons with them or not?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --It is my understanding that they did, Senator.

Senator MacGIBBON --They did? Were they locked up in the hold with bubble wrap and all the rest around them, or did they carry them on board?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --It is my understanding they were in the hold.

Senator MacGIBBON --Yes. Going into an area where they might have been a bit uncertain about what would have met them on their arrival, was that a wise procedure?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --It was my understanding at that time that Mogadishu airport was secured by the US.

Senator MacGIBBON --I ask because I thought there was something on television at about the time they arrived about a raid or something that concerned people. What do you estimate the cost of the 707 service was? Do you think you delivered that service for a lower figure than the Qantas charter?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --It is our view that the cost of providing the 707s and C130s for the redeployment would be slightly cheaper than chartering.

Senator MacGIBBON --Only slightly cheaper?

Air Vice-Marshal Fisher --We would have to get into the figures, but that was the estimation of air command. As the mode operator, they were given the task of looking at the option of whether civil or service aircraft would be the cheapest option. They decided they would go with the service option.