Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence
Completed Inquiry: The Suitability of the Australian Army for Peacetime,
Peacekeeping and War
This report into the Army has been written under unique circumstances. During the period of our inquiry Australia was engaged in military commitments not seen for a generation. Most of these commitments were being borne by the Army. These circumstances, and the Army's role in them, have inevitably impacted on our consideration and conclusions. While justifiably proud of our Army, events during the inquiry have left us concerned for its future capability.
Our report is very much about achieving improved capability for the future. To do this we have not felt constrained by traditional concepts for structuring, equipping and staffing the Army. The reader must bear this in mind when reading this report. We believe that the stakes are too high to approach the suitability of the Army in any other fashion. In practical terms our report recommends:
- An effective doubling of the Army's capability to respond to short warning contingencies by the creation of four capable and ready brigades.
- Increasing the Army's ability to respond to more significant threats by a force expansion capability 30 per cent greater than the current force. That is we believe that the Army must be able to expand to 12 brigades within a reasonable warning time.
We believe that our recommendations are achievable and fiscally responsible. They do however require that a focus be firmly kept on achieving capability outcomes. A focus on traditional modes of staffing, structuring and equipping the Army will perpetuate form at the cost of dearly needed substance. This has been a problem that has burdened our Army since Federation.
It is our intention to circulate this report and then seek the views of the community on the recommendations we have made. In this report we present a model for a future Army. If this model is to be successful at increasing the capability and efficiency of the Army it will need to be:
- refined through consultation and discussion, and
- broadly owned and supported by the Community and the Army.
We believe, as a consequence of this approach, we can help create a highly capable and efficient Army.
D P M Hawker, MP
Chair Defence Sub-Committee