"Defender": Winter 2006

The complete issue may be downloaded here. Individual pdf versions of key commentary, articles and reviews may be downloaded below. The Major Furphy column may be downloaded separately from the Major Furphy page.

Editorial

Ignorance of the war is no excuse: Recent media reporting and commentary on defence issues, ranging from the death of Private Jake Kovco to the ADF's current operations in East Timor, has been most disappointing and often disgraceful. The profession of arms will not overcome its distrust of the profession of journalism while media coverage of defence issues is so often so uninformed and unprofessional.

Commentary:

The debacle over the repatriation of the body of Private Jake Kovco from the Middle East Area of Operations had major and distressing results but is easily prevented in future.

Much media speculation on the death of Private Jake Kovco was so uninformed as to be pointless. It was also unnecessarily distressing to his family and friends. There must be more restraint by the media about intruding into the privacy of a bereaved family's grief.

The Widows, families and friends of Sergeant Andrew Russell and Warrant Officer David Nary were also unnecessary victims of insensitive and at times insulting media coverage of the Kovco death.

Public anger over the repatriation of Australia's war dead has a long history.

Recent media coverage of the non-warlike classification for the conditions of service for personnel deployed to East Timor was greatly exaggerated. There would be very few diggers in East Timor who thought they were in a real war, especially in comparison to their mates in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The defence force is stretched but not yet strained. We have ignored the rule-of-three in capability development and force structuring for far too long and now it has come back to bite us with a vengeance.

The strategic lessons from the last deployment to East Timor remain valid and not all the many deficiencies have been fixed or indeed fully acknowledged.

Criticism of the ADF's commanders on the ground in East Timor from the perspective of Australian armchairs is unwarranted. The situation is complex and highly nuanced. We should let our commanders command.

On current financial trends the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could end up costing more than the F-22 Raptor and be several more years behind schedule. The financial and technical risks associated with the JSF program remain very high. We need a serious debate about buying both aircraft types instead of putting all our strategic eggs in the rickety JSF basket.

The reaction from both sides of politics to the editorial in the Spring 2006 issue of Defender on the AWB scandal shows the independent and actively non-partisan approach of the ADA is acknowledged by all major political parties.

Articles:

Defence Budget 2006/07: Planning on Hope or Pessimism by Dr Mark Thomson

Australia's Vulnerabilities by Michael O'Connor

Japan: Strategic Isolation Redux by Professor Robyn Lim

The International Context of Islamist Terrorism by Peter Varghese

Like a Jewelled Watch by Bill Bridges

High Time for the High-Readiness Reserve by Dr Hugh Smith

Reviews:

To Villers-Bretonneux: With Brigadier-General William Glasgow, DSO, and the 13th Australian Infantry Brigade by Peter Edgar
(reviewed by Neil James)

Saving Australia: Curtin's Secret Peace With Japan by Bob Wurth
(reviewed by Dr Michael McKernan)

The Quiet Man: The Autobiography of Air Chief Marshal Sir Neville McNamara
by Air Chief Marshal Sir Neville McNamara
(reviewed by Air Commodore Brendan Roberts (Retd))

A Different Sort of War: Australians in Korea 1950-53 by Dr Richard Trembath
(reviewed by Professor Peter Edwards)

The Cambridge History of Warfare edited by Professor Geoffrey Parker
(reviewed by Professor Peter Dennis)

The Oxford History of Modern War edited by Professor Charles Townsend
(reviewed by Professor Peter Dennis)

America's Coming War with China: A Collision Course Over Taiwan by Ted Galen Carpenter
(reviewed by Dr Tom Frame)