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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 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...

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...

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&S struggles to provide capability on time and within budget and suggests a variety of possible solutions while noting the Secretary of State for Defence’s preference for the GOCO model. Critics of A... Read more...

New naval aviation combat helicopters

The announcement on 16 June 2011 by the Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and the Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare, that Australia would acquire twenty four MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopters at a cost of over $3 billion brings to a close a period of uncertainty in Australian naval aviation.For some time now the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has suffered from a serious gap in combat aviation, and in particular anti-submarine warfare. In his 2010 Navy Capability Review Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) summarised this problem:Naval aviation remains an area where capability is well below state of the art. The failure of the Super Seasprite... Read more...

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