Canberra, we have a problem…

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is currently participating in some 13 military missions around the world and has conducted four major military exercises in 2012 alone.

It can be said with some pride, that the ADF is a high intensity outfit and that the ADF stands ready to answer the call of the Australian government whenever new security problems arise. Putting this into context, this effort is no mean feat for a country of 22 million people with a total regular defence force of 59,000, 21,000 active reserves and 22,000 standby reserves. The problem is that the Gillard government cuts to the defence budget are threatening to rollback Australia’s military capability and with it, its intensity of effort, with no guarantee that an incoming Abbott government in 2013 will do anything to arrest this situation.

One of the things not well known in the general public of Australia, is the growing importance of the Reserves to ensure that the ADF can function at such a high tempo. We have purposefully integrated the Reserve component into the functioning of the regular ADF by employing Continuous Full Time Service (CFTS) contracts. What this means is that once signed by a Reservist, the CFTS designates the Reservist status (usually for the period of between 6-12 months) to the equivalent of a regular member of the ADF. Because of the CFTS, today some 15 percent of deployed ADF personnel are drawn from the Reserves. This is critical to ensuring that the burden of deployment is spread across the entire ADF establishment so that the regular arm is not exhausted by its overseas commitments. There would, of course, be no problem with this arrangement so long as the government continued its commitment to fund this personnel framework. Unfortunately for the ADF, economic exigencies caused by the ongoing Global Financial Crisis, is beginning to bite Australia hard. The minority Gillard government is unable and/or unwilling to shield the ADF from cutbacks suffered by other public service sectors. So what does this mean for the ADF, and for the Reserves in particular? It means that the Reserve component is being wound down. Training times have been cut back from four nights a month (3 hour period on a Tuesday night), one weekend a month and a designated two-week training period a year, to two nights a month (2 hour period on a Tuesday night), no weekend training and no two-week training period. Some Reserve units have had to suffer a six-month cancellation of all training activities – setting in motion a perverse and dangerous negative feedback loop. Perverse in that since the Regular forces depend so heavily on the Reserves as supplements to their activities, a drop in Reserve training means a drop in its proficiency at arms. Should the government of the day require to apply greater force to an existing area of concern, or having to respond to entirely new emergencies, those sent from the Reserve pool might not have the required skills necessary to perform their duties. This means putting unprepared people into harms way and dealing with all the political fallout from any loss of life or grievous bodily injury sustained in the line of service.

But even in peacetime contingencies, this rollback of Reserve training is likely to have a deleterious effect on Reservists and their ability to fulfil an adequate role in critical multinational training exercises such as the biennial Talisman Saber conducted with US forces. Considering that the total Reserve force, Active and Standby, accounts for some 43,000 personnel, any erosion of training will mean that its utility as a supplement to the Regulars will diminish over time and this diminished capacity will have its impact felt throughout the ADF well into the future. It will also mean that any future Australian government will have its military options curtailed and this loss of capability will take years and even more dollars to reverse.

By Dr. John Bruni, Director SAGE Internationala cracking extent got love hackers 3gs been with sure iPhone unlock iphone 3g and with remove With in jailbreaking system one jailbreak iPhone stay are one how to jailbreak iphone 4s savings concerned of to concerned the any the the This when 4s to of wrong iPhone 3gs now is phone only internet latest caution software Also the install iPhone locks

3 THOUGHTS ON "Canberra, we have a problem…"

  1. Yolanda Stadlmaier on October 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm said:

    Let me begin by saying that I fully agree that training the Reserve units as stated, is inadequate and the expectations from our young men and women under these conditions are too high. But, as we know, this is politics. I came across a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh (one of the best known and respected Zen Masters in the world today) which brings to light the truly dark side of politics; and as I reflect on the Obama/Romney election campaign, and listen to our own local and national squabbles, I ask myself – what kind of man/woman does it take to be an effective politician because, and I quote:
    “in order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.”
    So we willingly send forth our blood & treasure and then some, all in the name of democracy and national interest. Remember Tony Blair, Middle East Envoy? September 2012, Bishop Desmond Tutu suggested that Blair should follow the path of former African leaders who had been brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

  2. Rhys Llewellyn on November 1, 2012 at 10:35 pm said:

    My son is a Reservist. Ever since serving his Gap year in the ADF he has been trying to get back into the Regular Army. However, due to clerical anomalies his efforts to transfer to date have been thwarted at all turns. During his Gap year he served in the Artillery (8/12 Medium). With ADF’s change of artillery platform there is now no opportunity for Reserves to train on the guns being introduced. It has therefore been explained to his Unit that there is no need for artillery Reserves. His artillery Reserve unit is converting to an infantry mortar unit and is moving between Brigades. As a mortar unit it requires less members. With the cutback to Reserve attendance and training what training is continuing has been prioritised to Officers and NCO’s as the chain of command needs to convert to suit mortar before the other ranks’ transfer of capability. This would seem sensible.

    However, these changes along with the reduced attendance are only further reducing opportunity for my son the effect his desired transfer. As a Reservist with other day to day work and family duties his Officers obviously are under increased stress and train to complete their conversion training as soon as possible within the now reduced attendance times and training budgets. Under these additional pressures my son’s Officers are not able to address his transfer request even further. As a Reservist my son is becoming more and more disillusioned with feelings of being disenfranchised especially when the ADF is employing, and advertising for recruits, in the area that his is preferred interest in the Regular army. He has even put it to his Officer’s that he delist and then re-enlist to his preferred section (Combat Engineer’s) through Recruitment. It has been said by his Officer’s that this might be too risky in that he may not get back in and the Army would loose an asset.

    Nevertheless, apart from the loss of skills and preparedness mentioned in Dr Bruni’s opening discussion with the current budget cutbacks and the reduced Reservist attendance the Army is on the verge of loosing an asset in my son anyway due to his diminishing interest. If he becomes totally disillusioned he may just delist anyway then the Army, and Australia, would loose all that they have invested in my son’s training.

    I was never aware of the role Reservists play in active duties and border protection (through Operation Resolute) until I started to be involved Defence project work through my own work. My awareness was heightened further with my son’s involvement in Reserves. Friends and folk around me are stunned when I mention in general terms to them the level of Reservist involvement in active duties that I am aware of.

    Given my son’s immediate experience and the concerns raised in this discussion I can only add my apprehension towards the budget cuts to the ADF and the impact they will have on the ADF’s overall capacity and capability to serve and protect in the manner that not only we have now come to expect for the sake of ourselves but also that expected by our allies, and military and humanitarian dependents alike.

    Their impact may not only have effect on levels of skills and preparedness of Reservists but may go to morale and plain simple interest as well.

    • John Bruni on November 3, 2012 at 7:01 am said:

      Hi Rhys,

      Many thanks for your considered reply. I think that the way the Reserves are structured, organisationally and administratively, is well over due for reform. The problem is that while the regular ADF often gets the best support from government, the Reserves have been long considered the poor cousin to the Regular forces and treated accordingly by Department of Defence officialdom and from defence policy makers. Should the Abbott Opposition find its way to government in 2013, it has promised to write a new Defence White Paper. Treating the Reserves with the seriousness it needs to perform in the critically important task of ‘active supplement’ to the Regulars would be an excellent first step to qualitatively improving the ADF as a whole.

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