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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Women in the ADF

Historically, the role of women in the military has been a polemic issue, despite the significant contribution and sacrifice women have made in numerous conflicts. In Australia, the process over time of integrating women into what are considered ‘non-traditional’ military roles is explored in a 2015 Parliamentary Library Summer Research Scholarship paper Women in the ADF: six decades of policy change (1950 to 2011). This research paper highlights the changes to defence policy over th... Read more...

Security arrangements in Afghanistan from 2015 and beyond

While the foreign military presence in Afghanistan continues to decline, the number of civilian casualties is on the rise. By the end of 2014, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will take full responsibility for security across the country when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission comes to an end. A much reduced foreign military presence will remain in Afghanistan post-2014 and despite warnings anticipating increased threat levels from 2015–2017, the ... Read more...

The world’s youngest nation falters: keeping the peace in South Sudan

Two and a half years after gaining independence from Sudan, the newly formed nation of South Sudan has erupted into violence that could potentially lead to civil war. Tensions among the ethnic Nuer and Dinka groups have recently escalated and there have been reports of widespread violence and killing across the country. Ongoing political disputes are at the root of the current unrest. Media reports indicate the former Vice President, Riek Machar (an ethnic Nuer who was dismissed in July 2013... Read more...

Lost in translation: resettling locally engaged Afghan staff

Recent media reports indicate that the Taliban have killed an Afghan man who had worked as an interpreter for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Afghanistan. With the bulk of ADF personnel being withdrawn from Uruzgan, this provides a reminder of the dangers to Afghan nationals who have worked for Australian government agencies as locally engaged staff and again raises the question of what the Government is doing to assist.What Australia should and could do for such people has been discussed ... Read more...

Ballistic missile defence and Australia

During the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Washington DC on 20 November, ballistic missile defence (BMD) was again raised as a specific area of potential further cooperation, having also been discussed at the preceding three meetings. The concept of BMD is not new, with initial research and development by the US Army beginning as early as 1945. Since then, Australia has increasingly become well-positioned to actively support the US-led BMD program, in concert with other region... Read more...

Littoral combat ships - lessons learnt from the US

Less than a fortnight after the 2013 federal election, the new Defence Minister David Johnston indicated that the protection of Australia’s exports through maritime security would be a major Defence priority. In order to achieve this, the Minister claimed that ‘our navy needs a suitable mix of high-end war-fighting capabilities’ and accordingly, consideration should be given to acquiring littoral combat ships (LCS). This article summarises the US experience of acquiring LCS and outlines some ke... Read more...

Getting the balance right: U.S. perspectives on Defence reform

Australia and the United States share significant defence interests, especially regarding regional security across the Indo-Pacific. However, both nations also share a similar defence dilemma: the need to maintain appropriate defence capabilities despite facing increased financial constraints. A recent report by the U.S.-based Stimson Center provided almost 30 recommendations to reduce the U.S. Defense Department’s heavy financial burden, without (theoretically) jeopardising required capability.... Read more...

Reviews of allegations of abuse in the Defence Force

In March 2011, an incident occurred at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in which it was alleged that an 18 year old female cadet was filmed without her consent while having sex with a male colleague, with the footage then sent using Skype to six other cadets watching in a nearby room. The ‘Skype incident’ at ADFA was the catalyst which generated a number of inquiries and various cultural reviews dealing with the management of ADFA.  Kirkham ReviewThe first review was conducted by Andr... Read more...

UAVs: a vital part of Australia's future?

The increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in recent years has greatly heightened their public profile but also generated controversy because of their ability to attack military targets remotely and conduct covert surveillance. Nevertheless, a recent seminar, Drone Power: protecting Australia with drones, suggested that these controversial aircraft are set to play a key role in Australia’s civilian and military future. Despite a somewhat rough inception, UAVs are assuming an increasing... Read more...

Streamlining Defence Acquisitions: the UK experiment

The struggle to control the cost and improve the effectiveness of acquiring defence capability has taxed successive Australian governments—but Australia is not alone. A new UK Government white paper outlines a plan to manage the purchasing of defence capability very differently to most other countries by stating its intention to move to a Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) model for running the Defence Equipment and Support Organisation (DE&S).It sets out the major reasons the DE&am... Read more...