Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Defence and Trade
Technology, Equipment and Supplies
... it is more important to have materiel 'in being' then to have unequipped
forces in being ...1
8.1 Since 1987 the Department of Defence has emphasised
the need for the Defence Forces to maintain capability through a technological
edge. This chapter looks at the suitability of the equipment, supplies
and technology underpinning the Army's capability. In previous chapters
we have discussed the desirable force characteristics for the Army.
In this chapter the suitability of the Army's equipment is evaluated
against these characteristics. These include a capability to be scalable,
sustainable, credible, and optimised for operations within Australia's
Area of Critical Security Interest (ACSI). The Army also needs equipment
capabilities that complement and are balanced by equipment capabilities
within other services.
8.2 The subjects addressed in this Chapter include:
- Strengths and Limitations of Current Equipment
- New Equipment Programs
- The Army's Acquisition Strategy
- Stocks and Supplies
- Industry, Technology and Self Reliance
Strengths and Limitations of Current Equipment
8.3 No submission or witness provided a detailed
critique of the equipment situation within the Army. Comments were received
on specific issues or types of equipment. There was throughout 19992000
significant public comment within the press concerning both Army and
Defence equipment. Evidence from both the public news media and submissions
have been used in our consideration of the Army's equipment and technological
base. In addition, our visit to East Timor in late 1999 and discussions
with soldiers at Robertson Barracks in mid-2000, provided useful information
on how soldiers deployed on operations viewed their kit. This section
discusses evidence received on:
- Personal and Crew Served Weapons
- Personal Clothing and Load Carrying Equipment
Personal and Crew Served Weapons
The Steyr Rifle
8.4 The basic personal weapon in the Army is the
5.56mm Steyr rifle. This rifle has been produced under licence in Australia.
As a consequence of East Timor, we were aware of complaints about the
Steyr. At the time of the inquiry the Army was conducting an investigation
into unauthorised discharges in East Timor. By April 2000 a total of
65 accidental discharges had been reported in East Timor.2
A commentator for the Army claimed that there was no evidence that the
discharges had occurred as a consequence of a design fault with the
Steyr.3 Despite this defence, others criticised the
Steyr on the basis that it is expensive, lacks range and is not sufficiently
robust.4 One journalist considered that the purchase
of 32 million dollars worth of United States M4 assault rifles was an
embarrassment for the Army. The purchase suggested that the Australian-made
Steyr was not as adaptable as the Army intended.5 We
received no firm evidence during hearings or in submissions to support
these suggestions or to question the current effectiveness and utility
of the Steyr.6
8.5 A perceived deficiency in the Army's ability
to participate in peacekeeping included the availability of non-lethal
weapons. It was suggested to us that the Army needed non-lethal firearms
and portable, rapidly erected barricades for riot control.7
The need to procure non-lethal weapons was not widely pursued by the
respondents to the inquiry.
Crew Served Weapons
8.6 Besides individual small arms, the Army uses
heavier weapons. A crew of two or more usually operates these weapons
to provide fire support to attack a target or to permit movement of
troops. Some examples of crew served weapons include the 105mm direct
fire gun of the Leopard tank; the 106mm recoiless rifle, and the 81
8.7 The Australian Defence Association noted that,
with some exceptions, the 'Army's fire support equipment is largely
obsolete'.8 Professor Dibb testified to the us that:
Army's submission is entirely correct to argue that their kit is ageing,
becoming obsolescent. if you look at air defence weapons, or some
of the other equipment, they are old.9
On visiting soldiers in Darwin Professor Dibb's comments were reinforced.
Some soldiers pointed out to us that much of their equipment was older
than they were.
Personal Clothing and Load Carrying Equipment
8.8 East Timor also highlighted deficiencies within
the Army's field uniform. The specific complaints centred on its lack
of suitability for hot tropical climates.10 The issue
of the suitability of the Army's clothing and field equipment was brought
to the attention of the Minister for Defence in December 1999 while
visiting East Timor.11 The Army had noted a range
of concerns arising from the East Timor experience. At the time of the
inquiry the Army had already initiated procurement action for:
- A field uniform with a higher cotton fibre content.
- A light weight sleeping bag.
- Chest webbing. (ie, the personal harness worn by soldiers to carry
ammunition and water)
- Modified boots to reduce the risk of blistering12
8.9 In 2000 the 2nd Battalion was trialing chest
webbing prior to the Army developing the item in quantity. The Army
was also looking at new wet weather clothing and a multi-purpose combination
tool to replace the traditional pocket knife issued to soldiers.
8.10 The Army operates four different helicopters.
These include the UH1H 'Huey', the Blackhawk, the Kiowa and the Chinook.
The UH1H is a utility helicopter used in Vietnam for troop lift and
fire support. It is now used primarily to provide fire support. The
Blackhawk is used for troop lift while the Chinook is used for heavier
lifting. The Kiowa is a small helicopter used for reconnaissance.
8.11 The commissioning of the HMAS Manoora and Kanimbla
amphibious vessels has raised concerns about the helicopter fleet. These
vessels are designed to use in-service helicopters to move troops and
equipment to and from the shore. One submission implied that the Army's
fleet of helicopters needed to be marinised to do this task. It was
thought necessary that they be capable of withstanding a corrosive sea
environment and have folding rotors to allow storage on ships.13
8.12 Concern was also expressed about the acquisition
of new helicopters. Professor Dibb thought that the new armed reconnaissance
helicopter for the Army might be targeted at an unrealistic threat.
He noted that the helicopter project, known as AIR87, began life as
a reconnaissance and troop lift helicopter. He claimed that it now seemed
to be seeking additional capabilities beyond requirements.14
That the specifications for AIR87 had shifted to include 'higher end'
capabilities was reported within a defence industry magazine.15
8.13 The point was made to us that the helicopter
was an important piece of equipment for the Army. The helicopter was
seen as being particularly useful in the Australian and regional environment.
The ruggedness of the terrain, the paucity of roads and climate were
cited as reasons for using helicopters.16 We shared
the Australian Defence Association belief that:
the Army has under invested in helicopters, helicopter transport and
helicopter fire support, and that is something they really need to deal
8.14 The vehicle types operated by the Army range
from standard commercial trucks and cars to General Service (GS) four-wheel
drive field vehicles and tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles. No significant
evidence was presented on the commercial or GS fleets. Most evidence
centred on the mobility, protection levels, weapons, age and associated
costs of the armoured vehicle fleet. We were advised that armoured vehicle
design is always a compromise between the competing factors of mobility,
protection and firepower.18
8.15 Different nations have tended to emphasise different
design philosophies with armoured vehicles. The Leopard I main battle
tank, when it was introduced, had relatively low protection but good
mobility and adequate fire power. The good mobility was achieved by
reducing the weight of armour protection. The concept in this case was
that armour could be sacrificed as good mobility provided a degree of
protection by itself. Other tanks are designed using a different philosophy.
Figure 8.1 The Leopard Main
Battle Tank (Courtesy Department of Defence) (PDF Format)
8.16 Some tank designs have tended to emphasise protection
and so were heavier and less mobile. There are no absolutes in vehicle
design. These issues were borne in mind as the limitations in the Army's
armoured vehicles were pointed out. As explained by the Chief of Army:
... the Army is in the business of relativities. It is not so much the
absolute capability that you field as the relative capability to everyone
else You model, you test and you evaluate.19
8.17 The mobility of vehicles centred around a debate
on the merits of whether vehicles should be wheeled or tracked. Tracked
vehicles appeared to apply less ground pressure than the equivalent
wheeled vehicle.20 This gives them an advantage in
difficult terrain or soft soils. On the other hand we were aware that
wheeled vehicles use less fuel and logistics support; are less fatiguing
on the vehicle occupants and are able to deploy quickly along roads.21
Figure 8.2 The Bushranger Infantry
Mobility Vehicle (Courtesty Department of Defence) (PDF Format)
8.18 The Bushmaster wheeled armoured vehicle appears
to be optimised for the Defence of Australia (DoA) tasks assigned to
the Army since 1987. One press article noted that:
The Bushmaster is a vehicle that fits well the Army's stated main
role in defence of the Australian mainland the purpose-designed ability
to traverse highways, second-class roads and bush tracks, and its limited
cross-country capability auger well for operations across Australia's
north during the dry season.22
8.19 The concern is how effective will such a vehicle
be if the majority of the Army's tasks are not conducted in northern
Australia or in the dry season? The Australian Defence association was
concerned that the new wheeled vehicles, ASLAV and Bushmaster, will
not be effective in some of the terrain the Army will be forced to operate
in.23 This concern did not appear to be shared by
the Army. The Army's Director General of Land Development noted that:
The northern Australian environment is very similar to most of the other
areas in our region in which we might operate. So if we can operate
in that environment, generally speaking we can operate offshore as
long as we can support operations offshore.24
Troops in the field, including personnel who had served in East Timor,
expressed a view contrary to this.25
8.20 The levels of crew protection in Australian
armoured vehicles were raised in both submissions and public hearing.
The Army Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), the M113, was considered
to provide inadequate protection for modern combat.26
It was pointed out to us that the M113 currently provided protection
against now outdated small arms ammunition. The Australian Light Armoured
Vehicle (ASLAV) and the Bushmaster appeared to be vulnerable to 50 calibre
machine guns bullets and by armoured piercing bullets from standard
infantry rifles.27 Even the Leopard tank was said
to be vulnerable to heavy machine gun fire using armour piercing bullets.28
Figure 8.3 The M113 Armoured
Personnel Carrier (Courtesy Department of Defence) (PDF Format)
8.21 On the issue of vehicle protection we were disappointed
by unnecessary obfuscation by the Department of Defence. When asked
whether the M113 and other armoured vehicles needed to be resistant
to 14.5mm calibre weapons we were told, amongst other things:
The M113 protection upgrade is a sensitive area, and has a Secret classification.
The Defence Sub-Committee can be provided the actual requirement through
classified reporting if required.29
The Department of Defence's response to our questions then went on
to discuss how the Army's armoured vehicles fulfilled different roles.
Our questions were not effectively answered. We felt that more concise
and factual statements on armour protection levels were being provided
to us through magazines. These included Janes Defence Weekly
and the Australian Defence Magazine.
8.22 The most graphic example provided of the limitations
within Australia's armoured vehicle fleet involved a United States Army
computerised wargame. It was claimed that during Exercise Cascade Peak
96, an American, British, Canadian and Australian (ABCA) Army wargame
involving 1 Brigade, that:
The Brigade was shown to be hopelessly ill-equipped, taking some 900
casualties before getting into battle.
8.23 The scenario used in the wargame represented
a 'high end' conflict for which the Army is not being prepared. However,
in a defence force which is founded on the concept of maintaining a
capability edge through technology, it does require explaining. The
lives of 10 personnel in an armoured vehicle should be as important
as the life of a single pilot in a high technology jet. Having said
this, heavy armour, while useful in intense conflict on the Eurasian
landmass, may have less utility within Australia and the region.
Figure 8.4 The Australian Light
Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) (Courtesy Department of Defence) (PDF Format)
8.24 The transition from the Cold War had affected
the force structure and equipment decisions of many nations. We thought
it notable that the United States was investigating an armoured vehicle
C130 transportable capable of sustained hard surface speeds of 60
miles per hour, travel up to 400 miles without refuelling, and swim
at 10 miles per hour without prior preparation.30
The investigations undertaken by the US appeared to be driven by a
need to be able to deploy forces in large numbers and quickly. It was
apparent to us that the debates on equipment often focused on only one
aspect that impacts on capability. A high level of protection for vehicle
crew is important however it should not be obtained at the cost of
the vehicles becoming undeployable within Australia's ACSI.
8.25 Action was being taken to address deficiencies
in vehicle protection. The upgrade of a limited number of the Army's
M113 fleet was in progress at the time of the inquiry. This upgrade
unfortunately ran into controversy. This controversy appeared to be
linked to the cost associated with giving the M113 a level of protection
against 14.5mm armour piercing rounds. Apparently the original costing
for the upgrade were not based on such a high degree of protection.
The heightened specification increased the weight of the vehicle with
a resultant need to upgrade other aspects of the vehicles power plant
Weapon Fire Power
8.26 The third factor in assessing the performance
of a vehicle is the weapon system it carries. This is not simply a matter
of the calibre of the gun. The gun control, sighting and stabilisation
systems affect the performance of a weapon. The Army's Leopard tank
was said to be lacking in modern fire control and sight stabilisation.
It was also claimed that its 105mm gun had been superseded by a 120mm
gun and would soon be superseded by a 140mm gun.32
8.27 The adequacy of the firepower provided by the
M113 was questioned following the withdrawal from service of the variant
carrying a 76mm low velocity gun. It was suggested that the M113 could
be improved by the fitting of an ASLAV type turret. In general the armoured
vehicle fleet appeared to be somewhat dated in the weapon, sighting
and control systems available to it.
New Equipment Programs
8.28 Army equipment is procured under two funding
programs. For equipment in excess of 20 million dollars, funding is
drawn from major capital procurement. Equipment in the process of being
procured is recorded within a publication known as the 'White Book'.
Equipment intended for procurement is catalogued separately in a publication
known as the 'Pink Book'.33 For equipment worth less
then 20 million dollars funding is through a minor capital procurement
system and is recorded in a 'Yellow Book'.
8.29 This section looks at present and planned Army
major equipment projects. It also discusses some of the issues surrounding
Army's key vehicle and helicopter projects.
Equipments Being Procured
8.30 In financial year 1999-2000, the Army was in
the process of introducing range of new equipment. These included:
- Project Ninox equipment to facilitate night fighting and observation
- A Tactical Engagement Simulation System to train soldiers in infantry
- A medium recovery vehicle (ie, a military tow truck).
- Ongoing introduction of the Project Wagtail combat net radio.
- A Global Positioning System Navstar to enhance navigation.
- Complete the introduction into service of counter terrorist capabilities
under Project Bluefin.
- DSTO support for the operational analysis procedures associated
with the tender evaluation of the armed reconnaissance helicopter.34
8.31 The key projects planned within the period 2000
- 2004 time frame include:
- Reconnaissance and Aerial Fire Support Helicopters Project Air
- Project Bushranger new infantry mobility vehicles
- A life-of-type extension to the fleet of GS vehicle Project Overlander.
- A very low level air defence weapon system
- A life-of-type extension to the Rapier air defence system
- Enhanced electronic warfare for the Army
8.32 In the same period, a range of joint projects
will also deliver capabilities to all three services. This includes
communication projects such as High Frequency Radio Modernisation (HF
Modernisation) and a military satellite communications project, MILSATCOM.
In addition, the intention to improve both airlift and amphibious lift
capabilities will also benefit the Army.
8.33 Some current and planned Army projects had generated
controversy during the period of the inquiry. These projects included
the Reconnaissance Helicopter, the upgrade of the M113 Armoured Personnel
Carrier (APC) and the purchase of the Bushranger infantry mobility vehicle.
Professor Dibb intimated that the approach to the Armed Reconnaissance
helicopter looked like overkill or gold plating.35
The other public criticisms have surrounded the upgrade of the M113
and the purchase of the Bushranger vehicle. These are discussed further
Equipment Types and Cost
8.34 It was suggested to us that the Army maintained
too many 'one-off' units.36 For a small Army this
also seems to be reflected in too many 'one-off' armoured fleets. The
Army explained this situation by stating that the:
M113 was acquired in the sixties, Leopard in the seventies, ASLAV in
the nineties and Bushranger is about to go into production. Acquisition
was not guided by a comprehensive combat vehicle development plan. Nevertheless,
piecemeal procurement has produced a combination of vehicles able to
meet the broad range of land force capability requirements.37
8.35 The recent procurement of the Bushranger vehicle
was partially justified on cost grounds. It was claimed to be one-third
the cost of the ASLAV, although less capable. The Army also pointed
out that savings, by reducing the numbers of vehicle types, would have
to be substantial to offset initial investments and capability disadvantages.38
8.36 To a suggestion that the M113 fleet should not
be upgraded but replaced with Light Armoured Vehicles the Army replied
The cost of the M113 upgrade will be less than $350m [to upgrade as
many as 350 vehicles to two different standards] the ASLAV Phase 3
project is planned to acquire 150 vehicles at a project cost of $550m;
..The LAV III, a larger and more protected LAV derivative, would cost
in the order of $800m for 150 vehicles. The M113 is a cost effective
solution to the close combat requirement to 20152020.39
8.37 Against the stark reality of these up-front
purchase costs there was no discussion of life cycle costs and total
fleet sustainability costs. By the Army's own calculations there may
have been a cost-benefit case for replacing rather than maintaining
the Leopard tank. An Audit Report noted evidence from the Army that:
an analysis showed that the cost of replacing current Leopard tanks
would be similar on a life-cycle cost basis to retaining the current
tanks. However, the ANAO was advised that LCC estimates were not the
basis for the decision to retain the current tanks.40
8.38 In general we were concerned about the philosophical
underpinning of Army capability acquisition strategy. Evidence was not
provided that the Army had a set of acquisition principles that it was
uniformly applying. There did not appear to be a discernible approach
dealing with the issues of expansion and sustainability for more intense
or protracted operations.
8.39 Finally, we assumed that the Army now conducts
equipment life cycle costing before acquisition of any new equipment.
We were disappointed that the Army did not answer our questions on vehicle
procurement with life cycle cost data. Instead the Army used initial
purchase price as a way of justifying the Bushranger purchase. Because
the Army did not provide life cycle cost data on maintaining a homogenous
vehicle fleet we were not convinced that the Bushranger purchase was
necessarily well thought through. We expect that during any future inquiry
we would be able to revisit the issue of life cycle costing within the
Army's Equipment Acquisition Strategy
8.40 The Chief of the Army, General Hickling, explained
the Army's approach to acquiring new equipments in the following terms:
... Army is reluctant to rate procurement priorities by equipment project.
Rather Army seeks to identify capabilities, such as 'gaining the knowledge
edge', which are then associated with a range of projects. In this case
the 'knowledge edge' capability is supported by projects such a airborne
surveillance, DEFNET, narrow-band secure voice equipment etc.41
8.41 This seems like a more logical approach then
simply replacing equipments for the sake of replacing them. We were
impressed by the Army's aspiration to use an 'experimental framework'
to address structural and equipment shortfalls.42
However, we felt unease about the Army's approach to acquiring equipment
on the following counts:
- We did not receive concrete evidence on how the Army's experimental
framework43 was actually guiding the expenditure
of funds and the acquisition of capability. Given the recent development
of this framework we accepted that it may need more time to mature
before concrete results are seen.
- The Army equipment projects were not planned to equip the total
force. It appeared that equipment projects were being approved to
only fully equip some units. Most units were either partially equipped
with new equipment or, in some cases, not equipped at all.
8.42 The Department of Defence estimated that to
bring the Army's nine brigades up to their required level of operational
provisioning would require the expenditure of 4.5 billion dollars.44
This capability gap can be partly explained by the fact that the Army's
Mobilisation Plan (AMP). The Department points out that:
If a large contingency occurs commensurate with a requirement to expand
the Army's higher readiness organisations, then cross-levelling of equipment,
Army stocks, and training pools from lower readiness organisations will
occur. Remediation of any shortfalls would then be follow on action.
Remediation is an acquisition program of Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS)
equipment, designed to backfill/replace equipment used to mobilise for
8.43 The difficulties associated with equipment remediation
during East Timor and the sheer size of the shortfall make this approach
questionable. When discussing the likely impact on 7 Brigade, if it
had to provide two additional battalions to East Timor, the point was
we would have had to look to see whether equipment holdings thoughout
Defence would have been sufficient for us to be able to raise the units
that were necessary.46
There was clearly uncertainty on the availability of equipment for
a total army deployment of no more than four battalions. This uncertainty
should be a cause for national concern. We could not help but form the
impression that equipment procurement was not being done with any serious
consideration for the needs of prolonged sustainability, supportability
and force expansion.
8.44 A final area of concern about the equipment
acquisition strategy for the Army centred on performance standards.
The Departments Public Discussion Paper noted that:
Airforces beyond Southeast Asia are outclassing our capability. Within
a few years we will not be able to operate against such units in front-line
air-combat roles at an acceptable level of risk to our pilots and aircraft.47
the F-111 is capable of operating thoughout our nearer region and
could be deployed on coalition operations in demanding threat environments.48
The Collins class has been designed to be one of the best conventional
submarines in the world.49
In the same paper it was noted that the Army armoured platforms provided
an ability to 'augment light forces' and that the Army's 1st Brigade
provided a seed capability for higher intensity conflict.
8.45 It was apparent, even from the Discussion Paper,
that the technical performance baseline being used for air and sea platforms
was different from that being applied to the ground platforms. Under
existing defence strategy the Army has logically not received the priority
for equipment funding. It is difficult to see how this resourcing priority
should mean the Army should be designed for a lesser standard of technical
threat. In all cases Australian lives and operational outcomes are
at stake. In blunt commercial terms it becomes a matter of occupational
health and safety. Soldiers should be afforded the safest possible work
environment commensurate with the inevitable risks of combat.
Stocks and Supplies
8.46 Armies maintain reserves of ammunition, repair
parts and other consumable. These are known as operating and reserve
stock. Operating stock is used to satisfy peacetime levels of consumption
usually associated with training. Reserve stock is for the surge in
consumption associated with the activity levels of a force on operations.50
In 1992,51 and again in 1996,52
concerns were raised in reports by both this Committee and the Auditor
General about the ADF's stockholding and sustainability.
8.47 These previous concerns were reinforced by evidence
received during the inquiry. The Army noted that it was under pressure
to meet ammunition training requirements. This stemmed from the increased
preparedness of the 1st Brigade and the needs associated with East Timor.53
We were led to believe that the allocation of ammunition for training
on heavy and crew served weapons was very limited. In one instance
we were informed that there was no training ammunition available for
the Leopard gun for the next year. Instances like this inevitably impact
heavily on training standards, morale, job satisfaction and ultimately
8.48 The Army also noted that aspects of ammunition
production were critically dependent on overseas sources of supply.
This included items such as propellant and fuzes. Other items were sourced
completely from overseas. This included air defence missiles and anti-tank
8.49 We were not advised what the ADF Reserve stockholding
policy was and so were unable to assess what impact this would have
on the Army's readiness or sustainability. Under a strategic concept
of credible deterrence it would seem desirable that this policy was
known and was publicly declared. Not declaring the policy and reporting
on its performance may undermine the credibility of the Army to deter.
Industry, Technology and Self Reliance
Self Reliance and Force Expansion
8.50 The relative simplicity of many of the Army's
basic equipment has allowed it to benefit from either local production
or assembly. The Steyr rifle, artillery pieces, four wheel drive vehicles
and armoured infantry mobility vehicles have all been manufactured or
assembled in Australia. The apparent success of the Australian ballistics
company Metal Storm in developing weapons indicates the potential of
Australian Industry to support the Army.56
8.51 In 2000, the Defence Science and Technology
Organisation (DSTO) developed a new material for wet weather clothing.
This was to be introduced into East Timor. The material was reported
as having been developed in under 18 months in association with a Melbourne
based company. The material was considered as effective as the industry's
leading wet weather cloth, Goretex, but substantially cheaper.57
Unlike the Air Force, where expansion of the force through local aircraft
production maybe cost prohibitive, the Army may be largely supportable
from local industry.
8.52 In previous discussions on the Army's required
capability and force structure, we concluded that:
- The Army needs a force-in-being of at least four brigade sized organisations.
This force would be able to deal with a concurrent and sustained commitment
to one major and one minor force deployment.
- The Army, for reasons of deterrence, needs a demonstrable force
expansion capability. This capability needs to generate at least eight
additional brigade sized formations within two years of activation
for the deterrence to be credible.
8.53 There are two options for guaranteeing force
expansion can be achieved in times of defence emergency:
- Equip the force-in-being and purchase and store sufficient equipment
for the expansion process.
- Equip the force-in-being, but defer acquisition of equipment and
stocks for the force-in-planning until the need arises to activate
8.54 Realistically, pre-purchasing, based on Army's
current estimate to equip its current nine brigades properly, would
cost in excess of five billion dollars. As this force would also have
a low probability of being used the equipment would deteriorate, and
become obsolescent. The alternative is to:
- Have a national support base capable of satisfying critical equipment
and stores demands within the planned expansion time frame.
- Plan overseas supply in such a fashion that multiple sources of
supply can be drawn upon in times of international tension or defence
emergency. For any critical item, Australia should not risk dependency
on one point of supply.
8.55 To adopt the above approach may require a review
of current policy. The Government's strategic guidance issued in 1997
stated that it would usually make decisions about military equipment
purchases on a 'strictly commercial basis'. The Government saw this
as important as a means of ensuring that the national support base remains
efficient.58 This policy also recognises that some
elements of our national industrial capability may have defence significance.
The Government's current policy is to keep these as small as possible.
8.56 The Army needs to have an affordable but credible
capability for force expansion. This suggests that there is a need to
define and resource the relationship of defence with Australian industry.
To some extent the Defence Industry Investment Recognition (DIIREC)
scheme allows this to happen. In early 1999, Army signed an agreement
with the helicopter supplier, Sikorsky. This was reported as the first
such agreement to be signed by Defence. The Sikorsky agreement is intended
to establish a long term relationship which will include the provision
of technical engineering data.59
8.57 While the DIIREC appears a worthwhile scheme
criticism of the DefenceIndustry relationship was evident during the
inquiry. A lobby group consisting of a confederation of Australia's
six major defence industry groups expressed concern about the existing
defence industry policy. It sought a system whereby communications between
Defence and Industry were improved and actions more predictable.60
8.58 Ross Babbage expressed concern that:
ADF attitudes towards defence industry contrasted markedly with past
government policy statements emphasising the role of the sector as the
"fourth arm" in national security planning.61
He went on to point out that if commercial industry was now driving
a lot of technological change then Defence must talk to industry not
simply expect industry to come to Defence.62
Technology and the Revolution in Military Affairs
8.59 The advent of the 'Information Age' has impacted
on the military as much as business and government. The impact of information
and other emergent technologies on the world's militaries is known as
the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). Unlike industry and government,
the military has no guarantee, until engaged in a conflict, if it has
invested in the right technologies.
8.60 In 2000, the Government released a discussion
paper on technology under the theme of the Revolution in Military Affairs
(RMA). One major newspaper was cautious about the paper. It felt that,
without clear strategic guidance it will be difficult for the defence
forces to choose the best mix of technology. It urged that 'The acquisition
of new defence technology cannot be an end in itself. It must serve
well defined national objectives'.63
8.61 In the same paper, an article on the RMA pointed
out that even partial adoption of the concepts of the RMA would not
be sustainable under the present defence funding levels. It also highlighted
the deficiency of RMA approaches when prosecuting jungle or urban operations
against unconventional forces.64
8.62 The temptation to pursue the RMA might be facilitated
by the US easing defence export controls to selected countries, including
Australia. The move was announced by the US Secretary of State in late
May 2000. The US State Department stated that the move would not only
facilitate the sale of weapons but also technology transfer and cooperation
with US firms.65
8.63 There may be a tendency to overstate some advances
being made in high technology. We were aware that US plans for 'digitising'
its Army units were not progressing as rapidly as hoped. The vehicle
for digitisation of US ground forces centred around equipment known
as the Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below (FBC2B2) system.
In February 1999 the US was experiencing difficulty with this system
and was unlikely to expand its use until 'a digitised force demonstrates
FBCB2 is operationally effective and suitable'.66
Of the twelve divisions within the US Army only one is experimenting
with digitisation. Two other divisions were intended to be equipped
by 2004 although this may not be achieved.67
8.64 It is possible that the degree of modernisation
with other militaries is being overstated. Based on the US experience
the RMA is arriving more slowly and less comprehensively than press
articles would suggest.
8.65 We considered the suitability of the Army's
technology, equipment and supplies against a series of preferred force
characteristics. These characteristics are used as the basis for forming
8.66 The Army's performance in lower level conflict
and peacekeeping would suggest that the current equipment contributes
positively to the credibility of the force. Deficiencies identified
in equipment during East Timor were being rectified. Despite criticisms
of the Army's armoured vehicles and their weapon systems, they appeared
to perform credibly on a low-level operation. No substantive evidence
was provided that there was a problem with the Army's rifle, the Steyr.
8.67 Against this assessment, there was evidence
to suggest that a concurrent deployment of four battalions would have
been difficult to equip. We also were aware that recent threats in Somalia,
Rwanda, Cambodia and East Timor have been of a low order. In other words
the Army appears to have good equipment for the deployment of a limited
number of troops (no more than four battalions) against a low-level
threat. This situation means that, of an Army of approximately 20 battalions,
one fifth of it can provide a credible force for low-level operations
at short notice.
8.68 The lack of equipment and stocks was the single
most serious criticism received by us during the inquiry. It underpinned
much of the dissatisfaction and lack of capability within the Reserve.68
One submission sums up this situation as follows:
The basis of provisioning for new equipment, including vehicles, weapons,
radios, and night vision devices is so slight that many units will be
'fitted for but not with' these basics. This is a principle which defence
now admits was wrong when applied to ships. Like ships, Army units need
to be treated as complete capabilities. One consequence of equipment
deficiencies is low morale and consequent difficulty in retaining trained
8.69 The limited troop lift capability within the
Army reiterated the paucity of necessary equipment within the Army.
Based on the conclusions reached by us in considering Force Structures,
the Army, as a minimum, should have a capacity to lift three companies.
This lift capacity should also be supported by a corresponding capacity
for aerial reconnaissance and fire support.
8.70 The manner of the intended acquisition of approximately
25 armed-reconnaissance helicopters requires further investigation.
There did appear evidence that the specification had been altered to
favour a 'higher-end' platform. Analysis may indicate that this shift
in specification was sensible. We were concerned that procurement of
such limited numbers of highly expensive platforms may:
- Impact on the readiness and sustainability of the capability.
- Lead to a situation where, because of their cost and sophistication,
there is a reluctance to use them in risk situations.70
8.71 Finally, the future credibility of the Army
will also rest on it identifying and absorbing appropriate new technology.
The Army should not be excluded from developments within the RMA. We
felt however, that the overall credibility of the Army will only be
maintained if new technology is scalable and sustainable in line with
overall capability objectives.
8.72 We did not receive evidence to indicate that
there were verifiable systems in place to expand the equipment base
of the Army within any specified time frame. A mobilisation plan exists
that considers the backfilling of equipment deficiencies with commercial
equipment. This may be appropriate in many cases. The size of the deficiency
4.5 billion dollars would indicate the shortfall is large and diverse.
Commercial equipment may not be able to rectify all deficiencies, assuming
it is available in the first place.
8.73 The absence of evidence on a verifiable system
for equipping the current force of nine brigades is of serious concern.
Our preferred force model is not to maintain such a large under equipped
force-in-being. If this preference is accepted there will remain a need
to equip a force-in-planning should the need arise. The credibility
of the Army as a deterrent rests on access to equipment.
8.74 The need to procure equipment in times of
defence emergency is not an incidental aspect of defence planning. It
is central to it. It needs planning and resourcing commensurate with
its importance. It does not appear to be getting this.
8.75 Sustainment of the force appears to be affected
- The number of ready and interoperable units/formations that are
available to be rotated through a prolonged or intense operation.
- The ability to store and acquire stocks to replace those consumed
during training and operations.
8.76 For a small Army we have already indicated that
the current force structure has too many 'one-off' units. We also believe
that too many 'one-off' equipment types or variants also affect the
Army's equipment sustainability. The absence of evidence on life cycle
costings and the admission that armoured vehicle procurement was not
to a coherent plan should be of concern.
8.77 Wherever possible, the Army should be seeking
common platforms and weapons. This will limit the ability for the Army
to provide niche capabilities for one-off activities. It will also mean
that it does not have equipment optimised for every conceivable climate,
terrain or tactical situation. It will, however, mean that the Army
is telegraphing its intent to be a serious fighting force.
8.78 We felt that the limitations of Australian industry
to support the Army's ammunition and equipment requirements should be
re-evaluated. A capability to produce locally key ammunitions and equipment
represents a component of deterrence. Any regional or territorial aggressor
must factor this capability into their assessment of what the Australian
Army may do.
8.79 If this is not done then the issue of the Army's
operating and reserve stockholdings needs to be thoroughly and publicly
reviewed. Not declaring stockholding and equipment policy does not benefit
deterrence. It may in fact be taken as a sign of weakness which will
contribute to risk taking by an aggressor. Of all the three services,
the Army is probably most amenable to being underpinned by the national
Optimisation for Our Area of Critical Security Interest
8.80 There appeared some disagreement as to whether
the Army's equipment was optimised for the conditions in which it must
operate. There appeared a clear need to marinise the Army's helicopters.
The Army indicated that it would like to purchase more helicopters and
that these were intended to be marinised.71 There
was also disagreement on the utility of some vehicles within parts of
Australia's ACSI, in particular, the Bushranger infantry mobility vehicle.
8.81 To some extent the Army will have to live with
the equipment decisions of the past. This situation may have to be accepted
for the short to medium term. In the longer term, it is necessary, if
the Army is to remain credible, that all equipment decisions be made
with a view to optimising the Army for successful performance within
the environment of the Australian ACSI.
Balancing Equipments Between the Services
8.82 We have previously noted that the force structures
of the three services should complement and balance each other. The
approach of using in-service helicopters on the HMAS Manoora and Kanimbla
was very positive. It indicated that sensible and common equipment solutions
can be found to problems affecting two Services. We would like to see
this approach extended to other areas.
8.83 We were concerned, however, that the three services
do not appear to be equipped using a common baseline of threat. Under
our concept of increased complementarity between the Services this would
have to stop. If they must be optimised to be capable of fighting as
a unified force, then they must be working against a common technical
baseline of air, sea and ground threat. To do otherwise is divisive
and would threaten the coherence, balance and depth of all three Services
as a fighting force. It would not lead to the three services being structured
as a totally integrated fighting force.
Quoted in O'Neill, R, and Horner, D, (Eds), Australian Defence Policy
for the 1980s, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 1982, p. 187.
2. Horan, M, 'Australian rifles miss
the mark' The Sunday Times, 30 April 2000, p. 11.
3. Logue, J, 'Press maligns Steyr',
Army, No. 1003, 8 June 2000, p. 3.
4. Mr R Downey, Submission 3, p. 18.
5. Horan, M, 'Australian rifles miss
the mark' The Sunday Times, 30 April 2000, p. 11.
6. The Committee was aware of the
accidental death of a soldier in East Timor from the discharge of a
Steyr rifle. The Committee's inquiry concluded before the results of
the Board of Inquiry into the death were released.
7. Mr Gardiner, Submission 45, p.
8. Australian Defence Association,
Submission 46, p. 689.
9. Professor Dibb, Transcript, p.
10. The Committee was made aware
of this problem during their visit to East Timor on 2December 1999
and from evidence received during a public hearing (see Dr J Cunningham,
Transcript, p. 125).
11. Cairns Post, 'Troop gear
change urged', 22 December 1999, p. 13.
12. Army, Submission No 73, p. 1096.
13. Mr C Gardiner, Submission 45,
p. 668. The Committee was under the impression that the inability to
hold the rotors of the Blackhawk was a factor that contributed to them
not being sent to Somalia with the Australian battalion group.
14. Professor P Dibb, Transcript,
15. Bostock, I, 'Lift-off at last
for Australian Army's Air 87', Janes International Defense Review,
1/1999, p. 84.
16. Messrs B & S Cooper, Submission
19, p. 149.
17. Mr M O'Connor, Transcript, p.
18. For discussion on these three
factors see Colonel J Lenehan, Transcript, p. 264.
19. Lieutenant General F Hickling,
Transcript, p. 323.
20. See Submission 45 by Mr Gardiner.
21. Ogorkiewicz, R, 'Weighting up
the infantry's armoured vehicle options', Janes International Defense
Review 3/1999, p. 35.
22. Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter,
'Fielding the Bushmaster family', April/May 1999, p. 60.
23. Mr M O'Connor, Transcript, p.
24. Australian Defence Monthly,
'From the Source', March 2000, p. 41.
25. Committee discussions with soldiers
at Robertson Barracks, 8 August 2000. The Committee was also concerned
that the Bushranger vehicle, as of mid-2000, still appeared to be undergoing
trials. If this was true it suggests that the Army equipment acquisition
process needs to be improved to introduce equipment sooner.
26. Colonel D Chalmers, Transcript,
27. Colonel J Lenehan, Submission
27, pp. 305311.
28. ibid. p. 306.
29. Department of Defence, Submission
73, p. 1095.
30. Seffers, G I, 'US Army eyes Hybrid
Aircraft for Heavy Lift' Defense News Vol. 14, No 45, 15November
31. La Franchi, P, 'Cost blowout
cloud over APC upgrade' Financial Review, 24 March 2000, p. 66.
32. Colonel J Lenehan, Submission
No 27, p. 306.
33. Department of Defence, Defence
Forward Procurement Plans for Major Capital Equipment 19992004, The
Pink Book. June 1999.
34. Defence Portfolio Budget Statements
19992000, pp. 8692. Note these equipment projects relate to
Defence outputs 10, 11 and 12. (ie, Special Forces, Land Task Force
Operations and Logistics Support to Land Forces). Projects linked to
other outputs also impact on the Army, although less directly.
35. See Professor P Dibb, Transcript,
36. Colonel D Chalmers, Transcript,
37. Department of Defence, Submission
73, p. 1096.
38. ibid. p 1095.
39. ibid. p 1096.
40. Auditor General 1998, Audit Report
No 43, 19971998, Department of Defence: Life Cycle Costing in the
Department of Defence, AGPS, Canberra, p.19. This observation was
further reinforced in Committee discussions with soldiers at Robertson
Barracks on 8 August 2000.
41. Australian Army, Submission 61,
42. Department of Defence, Submission
73, pp. 1095-1096.
43. This framework appeared to have
originated in 1999.
44. Department of Defence, Submission
73, p. 1015
45. ibid. p. 1094.
46. Brigadier P McIntosh, Transcript,
47. Department of Defence, Defence
Review 2000 Our Future Defence Force. A Public Discussion Paper,
Defence Publishing Service, Canberra, 2000, p. 36.
48. ibid. p. 38.
49. ibid. p. 40.
50. Australia, Parliament, Stockholding
and Sustainability in the Australian Defence Force. Joint Standing
Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, 1992, pp. 1-2.
52. See Australian National Audit
Office, Management of Australia's Defence Prepardeness, Audit
Report No 17 19951996, AGPS, Canberra.
53. Department of Defence, Submission
73, p. 1115.
54. These issues were discussed with
the Committee by soldiers at Robertson Barracks on 8August 2000.
55. ibid. pp. 1115-1116.
56. For an example of one of the
companies developments see Adelaide Advertiser, 'Grenade system
storms ahead', 4 July 2000, p. 24.
57. The Canberra Times 'Soldiers
will now stay dry in new gear', 3 June 2000, p. 9.
58. Department of Defence 'Australia's
Strategic Policy' 1997, Defence Directorate of Publishing and Visual
Communications, Canberra, p. 48.
59. Bostock, I, 'Australia signs
closer co-operation with Sikorsky' Janes Defence Weekly, Vol
31, Issue No 8, 24 February 1999, p. 21.
60. Barker, G, 'Defence industry
takes the Government to task' Financial Review, 18 May 2000,
61. Quoted in La Franchi, P, 'Warning
on industry relationship' Financial Review, 26 May 2000, p.85.
The concept of a 'fourth-arm' was derived from a concept articulated
by the Hon L R S Price, MP, when reviewing Defence Industry in 1992.
62. ibid. p. 85.
63. The Australian 'Revolution
raises policy questions' Editorial, 4 January 2000, p. 10.
64. Garran, R, 'Battle too costly
to wage', The Australian, 4 January 2000.
65. The Canberra Times 'Australia
to benefit as US eases exports', 27 May 2000, p. 8.
66. Bender, B, 'US Army digital force
plan stalls' Janes Defence Weekly, Vol 31, Issue No 7, 17February
1999, p. 4.
67. ibid. p. 4.
68. The Committee also found this
to be a significant source of dissatisfaction amongst Regular soldiers.
For both the Reserve and Regular elements of the Army lack of equipment
appears to affect all aspects of training, job performance and ultimately
job satisfaction and retention. (Information on this issue was obtained
from soldiers during a forum at Robertson Barracks on 8 August 2000).
69. Colonel D Chalmers, Submission
50. See also comments by Dr J Cunningham about vehicle provisioning
in GRes units Dr Cunningham, Transcript, p. 130.
70. Goodyer, M, 'Land warfare in
the 21st Century' Australian Defence Magazine, Vol 8, No 6, June
2000, p. 46. This article noted that 95 per cent of aircraft shot down
in the last twenty years were at low altitude. The weapons used were
hand held missile systems.
71. Department of Defence, Submission
73, p. 1088.
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