Robert Bond Director Citizens for Defence
CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE
Defence white paper so last century
Those analysts close to the government or subsidised by the government offered trivial incremental criticism encased in a broad acceptance of the paper.
Other independent observers came out and gave the government a thrashing it deserves for its lack of funding for the defence forces and the lack of any strategic plan.
The DWP 2013 is a fake political document designed to mislead the Australian public into believing the defence force is just treading water and will continue to proceed in the years ahead when the finances are brought forward.
But it is really treading water in the 20 km wide mouth of the Amazon River where the water seems calm but the mighty flow of the river is actually sweeping them into the ocean and oblivion.
The surge of funds flowing into weapons procurement in the Indo-Pacific region makes treading water on defence a sure fire recipe for ending up perishing in a tsunami of Asian nationalism and military eruptions.
The DWP 2013 is a last century relic suitable to a time when Australia could have a defence force edge over other nations in Asia.
This century heralds a new dawn where Indonesia boasts that it intends to have a bigger defence force than anyone else in the southern Asia. China maintains 1.25 million soldiers and has a massive arms building programme of conventional weapons as well as short and medium range conventional ballistic missiles, land attack and anti-ship cruise missiles, counter space weapons and military cyberspace systems
The time for Australia to build our defences is now, not when the rest of Asia has had decades to consolidate and hone their forces into war machines which can intimidate an unarmed Australia and deny the US sea and air space in the South Pacific.
Politicians should realise that 2% of GDP for defence spending is not acceptable in these circumstances. It insults our ally the US who has invested close to 5% of GDP for defence for the last 70 years. We have to man up. We have to match the US per capita and then some.
There needs to be a strategic plan where in a reasonable amount of time Australia will be able to project hard hitting power up to 2000 kilometres from its coastline inside of 4 days.
The RAAF bare bases Scherger at Weipa on Cape York Peninsula, Curtin at Derby WA, and Learmonth at Exmouth in WA should be built up progressively by installing top end radar installations, underground fuel and weapons supplies, hardened bunkers for command centres and portable defence missile batteries.
Surveillance drones should oversee the northern waters as well as aircraft and patrol boats. It is incredible how junk boats can travel at 4 knots and end up in Geraldton, Darwin and who knows how many other estuaries and coves around our northern coastline without being discovered.
Serious exercises should be held twice a year in the middle of summer and the middle of winter where a panel of interested citizens, retired army officers and media could observe the success or otherwise of these manoeuvres and inform the nation.
The defence forces have more public relations officers than tank commanders. These officers spin out the good side and hide the bad side of the defence forces performance.
These exercises could have the navy in an unknown position 1500 kilometres or more out to sea and on discovery by the normal surveillance methods an immediate mobilisation of fuel tankers, AWAC and electronic aircraft and stealth attack planes would proceed to the nearest northern airbase where within hours they would mount a coordinated attack out to sea with the use of the fuel tankers and AWACs etc. Missiles could be fired at drone targets.
This is the only way to be sure the force is coordinated and effective and in the end honed to perfection.
Several decades ago the armed forces had such an exercise and it was sickening to follow. The northern coast was under simulated attack and had to be defended. The air force did not have the range to find the attacking ships.
The army loaded up the Leopard tanks onto low loaders and headed up through South Australia to Alice Springs. It was a tortuous slow trip which culminated in the convoy being blocked in the Northern Territory by several bridges that had a load bearing weight less than the convoy.
It took many days to get army earthmoving equipment to make detours. Finally they got to the target area and the tanks were put into service. After two days the tanks halted because the air conditioners couldn’t cope with the extreme heat and the motors air filters could not cope with the red dust.
It was Dads army at its worst. The exercise was a complete failure and instead of learning from the exercise the defence force has never carried out another comprehensive exercise to this day to my knowledge.
A coordinated mobile force like the above is what the DWP should be about even if bases in the south have to be closed or reduced in size and valuable land in built up areas sold off. Having a Naval Base in Sydney harbour is obscene and should be sold off.
Australia is capable of defending itself if the politicians had the will and the media informed the nation of the pathetic state our defence forces are in.