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The ADF Gap Year: progress so far

On 22 March 2017, the Minister for Defence Personnel, Dan Tehan, announced that the 2018 ADF Gap Year program was open for applications, with positions available across the three services of Navy, Army and Air Force. The ADF Gap Year program was revived by the Abbott Government in April 2014, with the first intake commencing at the start of 2015. This article provides an update to the May 2014 Parliamentary Library publication, The Evolution of the Australian Defence Force Gap Year Program, by assessing the outcomes of the program after its first two years of operation.     Read more...

Defence procurement from Indigenous enterprises

In late October 2016 the Australian Government issued a media release highlighting the ‘spectacular success’ of its Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy (CIPP), established just over 12 months prior. The Department of Defence has played a key role in this policy achievement, through its high level of engagement with the program and its status as the government department with the highest level of procurements. Read more...

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 the last 60 years that have allowed women to pursue military careers and discusses how policies towards women in the civilian workforce have influenced change for women in the armed forces. In the post-... 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 existing force of 352,000 ANSF personnel are expected to be reduced to 228,500 by the end of 2017—as agreed at the 2012 Chicago Summit. 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), attempted a coup against President Salva Kiir (an ethnic Dinka) and has allegedly taken control of key parts of the country. 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 for some time. As the withdrawal of Australian and other International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel drew near local interpreters spoke out about Taliban threats and some ADF officers exp... 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 regional allies such as Japan and South Korea. This article summarises what BMD is, and the prospects for Australia’s future contribution to the program.What is ballistic missile defence?According to the US... 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 key benefits and challenges the US has faced.The US LCS programIn November 2001, the US Navy announced it would acquire a fleet of new surface combatants, including LCS. The LCS would meet the Navy’s re... 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. Despite the inherent differences between the Australian and U.S. defence organisations in terms of scale and scope, could the report’s recommendations be conceptually applied to the Australian contex... 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 Andrew Kirkham QC, a former senior air force officer and military law expert, who was requested by the then Vice Chief of the Defence Force to conduct an Inquiry into the management of the Skype incident ... Read more...

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