The notion that our Army somehow does not need modern equipment is being dishonestly and immorally regurgitated by those who ignore recent and other operational lessons. It particularly avoids objective analysis of the ADF's hard-won recent experiences in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, but it also ignores commensurate objective analysis of Australia's future strategic risks and responsibilities over a largely unpredictable future. It is also worth noting that the principal proponents of the light-scales army notion are retired Department of Defence officials whose flawed theorising and policymaking throughout the 1980s and 1990s resulted in the ADF eventually having to deploy to East Timor so unprepared in 1999.
Letter to The Australian Financial Review
Thursday, 06 March 2014
(published Monday, 10 March 2014)
The AFR defence supplement brought yet another fact and context-free ahistoric rant from Geoff Barker.
In reference to the article in the defence supplement by Geoffrey Barker ("Army leaders crusade for $10bn-plus vehicle upgrade", AFR March 6).
Our Army’s two armoured fighting vehicles that carry and protect troops were introduced in the mid 1960s (M113) and early 1990s (ASLAV).
The project to replace the M113 was cancelled in 1987.
– and via the very long-retired Defence bureaucrats Geoff credulously lauds.
Even with an eventual compromise upgrade to only half of them, none could be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 10 years because they are no longer capable of modern battle, especially against a real opposing army.
Yet Geoff oddly demands to know just what specific enemy the Army would have to fight in the future before he can entertain replacing such obsolete vehicles.
His straw-man is also disproved by applying it, just as wrongly, to naval and air capability requirements.
Moreover, in Iraq and Afghanistan we lost many of our ASLAVs, and (newer) Bushmaster armoured trucks, even when fighting a low-intensity war against guerrillas.
Australia faces an unpredictable long-term future strategically.
Not re-equipping our diggers with medium-scale modern weapons, so they could fight another army if needed, is stupid, callous and immoral.
We do not need the straw-man heavy armoured force that Geoff incorrectly ascribes to ADF planners, but neither can we go back to the failed light-scales “field gendarmerie” model — of Geoff’s “advisers” — that made East Timor such a close-run thing and risked lives unnecessarily.
Geoff is merely regurgitating the type of armchair prejudices that claimed, throughout the 1930s, that the Japanese were somehow incapable of operating modern equipment.
And which resulted in so many of our under-equipped diggers being killed because they had no armoured vehicles at all when the Japanese ably employed hundreds of them in conquering Malaya.
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