Defence Brief: Bulletin of the Australia Defence Association

From 1995-2014 "Defence Brief" was the monthly, later quarterly, national email bulletin of the Australia Defence Association. Back issues providing historical detail on recurring matters can be downloaded below. Regular ADA commentary is now much more frequent using social media, principally twitter (@austdef), including links to documents and articles of strategic security interest.




There must be no more wanton politicising of the ADF in party-political announcements even outside election campaigning; Election campaign stunt about supposedly moving the Navy's Fleet Base East out of Port Jackson further exposes idiocy of the suggestion generally; Liberal-National defence policy; Labor defence policy; Greens defence policy; Lack of defence policy among most minor parties; Some problems with declared policy for Operation Sovereign Borders; Irony Corner: NSW Premier rightly backtracks on stealing Garden Island from its beneficial owner - the national taxpayer


Force posture review - most public commentary has missed what it actually noted; Need for better balance of cross-disciplinary expertise in teams charged with reviewing defence matters; How do we better develop broad national security experience in modern prime-ministerial contenders; The myth of the Defence portfolio ending the careers of its ministers and the reality actually underlying the frequent departure of Ministers instead; Stephen Smith - Background to his self-induced and other problems in the portfolio; Stephen Smith - How Australia has been slow-marching to a constitutional and institutional crisis due to Smith's attitudes and evasion of his responsibilities ; Stephen Smith - A study in failure? - Why and how Smith has had such trouble in the portfolio. Irony Corner: Choosing between indecisive control freaks.


2011 Defence budget; 2009 White Paper planning now defunct; Defence is treated as a "magic pudding" by the government; Black Report into Defence accountability; Botched process of appointing new CDF and Service Chiefs; Minister Smith provokes minor constitutional crisis over ADFA incident; ADFA - Blowback from the inquiries; Lessons for Australia from Libya again. Irony Corner: Defence Secretary roughs it like a digger for charity.


Neither major party is debating defence in the election campaign; "Don't mention the war"; Labor - Resting on its laurels; Coalition - "Where's the meat" might be the cry; Why look at the defence policies of the minor parties; The Greens - Ideology wins out over detail and reality; Could or should deposed PM, Kevin Rudd, be appointed Minister for Defence.


2010 Defence budget; Lessons from John Faulkner's unusual effectiveness as Minister for Defence; Civil control of the military breakdowns in the USA; Once were warriors - Have the Kiwis gone soft on us again; What becomes of the broken-hearted - Countering strategic isolationism in New Zealand; Asylum seeker debate in Australia leaves our regional neighbours off the hook yet again.


Real ADF experience in parliamentary secretaries from both sides of politics; Strategic lessons from inconclusive Copenhagen summit on climate change; True friends of modern Japan know that our commemoration of the Centaur's sinking must include mention of the Japanese atrocity and war crime involved, not airbrush the truth from history; Limitations of Armidale patrol boats yet another example of entrenched under-investment and flawed capability development processes; The intellectual risk of collocating the new National Security College with the ANU; Resurrecting FDA would be an even worse mistake in the modern era; Law Council opposes new Military Court bill and recommends keeping courts martial.


Demonstrating will in the war in Afghanistan is needed to win it; Lowering the voting age to 16 would break the social-equity nexus with the combat qualification age; ADF increasingly on frontline of asylum debate; Asylum-seeker policy is a strategic policy matter not just a domestic policy one; Key principle of the 1951 Refugee Convention is being ignore in public debate; A real Asia-Pacific solution is needed to solve Australia's dilemma with asylum-seeker flows.


An analysis of the investment rorting of previous Defence White Papers and the strengths and weaknesses of the 2009 version. Irony Corner: The Opposition targets Minister Fitzgibbon for alleged inadequate oversight of the portfolio on the same day that Prime-minister Rudd steals both his parliamentary secretaries to buttress weaknesses in other portfolios.


2009 Defence White Paper offers opportunity for fresh thinking and break with previous habit of producing doctrinal rather than strategic white papers; Does Kevin Rudd understand the need for change; Real lesson of the need for the Mortimer Review ignored; Concern over experience levels among staff of the Minister for Defence; Neglect of war veterans is a defence capability problem as well as an equity and moral one. Irony Corner: The Commander of the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force sacked for denying Japanes aggression in World War II - but sacked by the atrocity-denying Japanes PM Taro Aso.


Only 15 of the 96 participants in the 2020 Summit workshop on Australia's future security and prosperity had even the remotest experience of defence and strategic policy issues; Green Paper for 2009 Defence White Paper not as well written as it should be; Gender imbalances in the ADF best solved by time and merit, not "fast-tracking" and the political itch to fiddle; Public discussion on the employment of females in combat roles is again mired in false assumptions and even ignorance; Lessons from the Zaetta case about sensationalist media reporting of any story with ADF involvement. Irony Corner: Paul Dibb and Richard Brabin-Smith claim defence policy under the latter years of the Howard Government had become a "shambles".


New ministerial team in Defence portfolio; New White Paper must be a genuine fresh start not another case of flawed and largely unfunded political spin; Raytheon should not need an exemption from Northern Territory anti-discrimination laws in order to meet contractual obligations specifying employment meet national security requirements; Sydney's "Daily Telegraph" runs yet another insensitive, untrue and sensationalist story on breast reconstruction surgery for female ADF personnel. Irony Corner: (1) Our Overwatch Battle Group in Southern Iraq, which has had to borrow ASLAVs from the cavalry because its M113 APCs are too obsolete to deploy, is called Combat Team Waler. (2) The East Timorese CDF called the International Security Force incompetent.


Defence largely not an issue in impending election; Labor hints at substantially reforming the Defence Materiel Organisation; Secretary of Defence unlikely to be shifted by a new government; Choice of new Minister for Defence will be more important than usual - as will the structure of ministerial supervision; Would Julia Gillard be any worse than Mark Vaile as a deputy PM with no demonstrated interest in defence issues; Labor's policy for a department of homeland security not supported among the professionals who would have to staff it; What the lessons of decommissioning the Army's obsolescent Leopard tanks tell us about tolerating capability shortfalls for too long; A DNA database for the ADF is a good idea but only if stringent privacy safeguards are instituted by statute.


Bipartsanship on defence issues is mostly genuine and in agreement that investment must be sustained, not false as in the early 1990s where there was an unspoken conspiracy by both parties to under-invest; Australia is at war, not just our defence force; Public debate in the election campaign and generally must not assist the Taliban in undermining our national will; Some members of NATO in Afghanistan must stop thinking of the ISAF mission as "peacekeeping" and join in the fighting; Who will replace the Dutch as our partner in Oruzgan when they withdraw; Disgraceful media sensationalism about breast reconstruction surgery for female ADF personnel; Insensitive media coverage of ADF deaths. Irony Corner: The USAF's 393rd Bombardment Squadron and its B2 stealth bombers are currently commanded by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets IV.


Iraq commitment must be driven by strategic considerations, not an eye on the upcomng election; Disgraceful scaremongering about ADF logistic support to the Commonwealth emergency intervention in NT indigenous communities; To forestall further confusion about the apolitical role of the ADF and potential controversy, Major General David Chalmers should be replaced as interim Head of the intervention as soon as possible; Defence landholdings are national infrastructure, not a quick fix solution for state government policy failures with regard to housing affordability. Irony Corner: (1) Australian Democrats leader, Lyn Allison, lamented that the ADF is becoming more and more geared towards warfighting and not peacekeeping; (2) NSW Education Department has banned schools from organising treks on the Kokoda Trail because it is "too risky".


Utopian idiocy in much of the debate about banning cluster munitions actually works against broadening of international humanitarian law; More private industry employers need to support the ADF reserves; Confusion abounds on the legal situation of David Hicks following his release from Guantanamo Bay; Diggers feedback to ADA executive director on his latest Middle East tour; Gap between the views of our troops on the ground and opinions in the wider Australian community becoming a problem; Why the Navy cannot arrest Japanese whaling ships as Peter Garret suggests. Irony Corner: (1) Paul Dibb criticises over-centralisation in Department of Defence. (2) Tabloid journalist Ian McPhedran claims ADA offers "arnchair views" on defence issues.


Hardening the Army - lessons from the Canadian experience; Canadian study paper on why the Canadian Army is procuring new tanks; Damaged ASLAVs in Iraq and Afghanistan expose myth of "fitted-for-but-not-with"; Report of the Proust Review juts at an old windmill; Iranian capture of British personnel highlights need for conduct-after-capture training; Treatment of Iraq veterans highlights old problems re-emerging. Irony Corner: Proust review recommendation that the individual and shared diarchic responsibilities be defined and clearly delineated is oddly rejected by Government.


Launch of strategic update "Australia's National Security"; A new Deputy Secretary Strategy in the Department of Defence; Preparing for the next war, not the last by hardening and networking our small army; Impending ministerial reshuffle - more straws in the wind; Cronulla - louts, grog and lack of cops. Irony Corner: Little or no community opposition to post-Cronulla public order measures but continued near-hysteria regarding far less-reaching (and sunset clause limited) measures to counter Islamist and other terrorism.


Mark Latham's bizarre views on military service and the Australians who serve in our defence force; Scaremongering about counter-terrorism laws needlessly fuels anxiety among Muslim Australians; Calls to supposedly solve defence force recruiting shortfalls by recruiting South Pacific islanders are not well thought through; Why national service is not needed either; DIO failures to support the ADF in East Timor still unexplained; Why defence industry companies should not need an exemption from discrimination laws to have employment practices based on security grounds. Irony Corner: ASPI report calls for "red teaming" but DIO still eschews using intelligence estimates.

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