Defence

Cheers

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Honouring a hero  – Lt. Norman Martin Peterson was born this day in 1914. Larrakin, ladies man, comedian who enjoyed his long necks. Here is a poem he wrote during his time on Crete during his service in the Field Ambulance. He’d  probably be court-martialed in today’s Aussie Defence Force for his prose.

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The US Army talks about the role diversity plays in the military

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As Australian Navy personnel switch from rustproofing vessels to varnishing fingernails in pink, the US is upping its game on making sure fitness requirements are raised.

War doesn’t distinguish between gender and age. You can be 20 years old on the battlefield, or you can be 50, and you’re going to have to accomplish the same mission. This test helps you execute your warrior tasks and battle drills, no matter who you are,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Mitchell, command sergeant major of the Center for Initial Military Training, during a test exhibition at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

The minimum Army standard is a 140-pound deadlift, a 4.6-meter power throw, 10 release push-ups, 3:35 minutes on the sprint-drag carry, one leg tuck and a two-mile run in no more than 21:07 minutes.

For the combat MOSs or units, it’ll be a 180-pound deadlift, a 8.5-meter power throw, 30 push-ups, 2:09 sprint-drag-carry, five leg tucks and 18 minutes for the run

Army Times reported that senior leaders have been trying out the ACFT for months. Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey and Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, the head of CIMT, told reporters in July that they had both taken it ― and that they both needed to work on lower body strength for the deadlift.

The Army is also considering raising the standard higher again before implementation in 2019.

Contrast that with Australia where we are dropping standards for the sake of equality and diversity. Let that sink in.

 

Diversity in the ADF – lower targets missed by even wider margin

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What sort of defence force can Australia rely on if our military brass blathers on about the importance of “diversity”? The irony is that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) reduced the actual female recruitment target and missed it by an even wider margin. Instead of respecting the pure vocational choices of men and women somehow the military seems to think ever higher levels of discrimination will overcome it. Military morale is not high.

Navy News reports that,

100 Days of Change, running from July 1-October 8, aims to strengthen the momentum for individuals to improve our operational effectiveness by committing to gender equality and equity at all levels.

There is only one thing a military needs to do – be capability effective. It should focus on candidates who fit that requirement. Nothing else matters. Yet RADM Mark Hammond said,  “We must do this as one Navy, regardless of age, rank, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability or gender,” Indeed he should but such outcomes do not come through blatant discriminatory practices.

Shouldn’t a military focus on capabilities of the individual – whether he/she meets the “same” minimum fitness requirements (women have easier standards to pass), can hit enemy targets or whatever objective is set out. If 100 women are better than 100 men for the specific role then the military should hire 100 women and vice versa. Imagine if 100 men proved to be more capable than 100 women for a particular skill? In order to to hit targets, 25 men would be shunned to make way for inferior skills. If 100 women were better in this hypothetical situation, imagine the outrage if only 25 were selected for the 100 positions to keep the diversity target? It wouldn’t and shouldn’t happen.

Is discrimination, where recruiters face demotion if they don’t hit gender based targets, the way we want to run a military? Let’s take a look.

In the 2015-16 Women in the ADF report we see the Navy wishes to have 25% women by 2023  it stands at 21.3% today, up from 19% in 2016.

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If we were to look at actual vs target, it seems that the path is diverging. Isn’t that indication that women are less interested in the military as a career choice? Yet the Navy is forced to discriminate against males in order to hit targets.

So has the Army  it wants 15% by 2023 and is tracking marginally ahead with the ultimate aim of 25%. Could it be that 15% is the “natural” rate of women wanting to join the armed forces?

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The Air Force is also aiming for 25% by 2023 but is tracking below target.

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We should reflect on a study conducted around the world covering over 100,000 subjects which revealed that the countries with the biggest push/policy provision for equality and diversity cause the opposite to occur when choices are exercised. Scandinavia is the perfect example. Men and women don’t sort themselves into the same categories if we leave them alone to do it of their own accord through policies that tend to maximize equality. In Scandinavia it is  20 to one female nurses to male and approximately the same male engineers to female engineers,

Yet look at the lengths the Royal Australian Air Force goes to in order to hit diversity through blatant discriminatory practices.

“In support of this growth path Air Force has implemented, or is in the process of implementing, a number of recruitment and retention initiatives such as:

  • specific female recruiting target
  • Women in the Air Force marketing campaign
  • continuation of embedded specialist women recruitment team in Defence Force Recruiting
  • the trial of a reduction of Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS)
  • introduction of the Graduate Pilot Scheme (GPS) for women
  • changes to direct entry female pilot return of service obligations
  • continuation of experiential camps for girls (technical and aircrew focussed programmes)
  • release of an Air Force produced recruitment guide, ‘PropElle’, to support female pilot candidates through the recruitment process.

No such programs are available for men.

Despite all these programmes, surely any squadron leader with any common sense wants the most effective fighting force. Once the canopy closes, they depend on each other.

What an insult to women to think they need all these artificial prop ups to get ahead. Every ambitious women CM has ever met has never relied on free kicks but sheer determination, grit and above all ability.

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It is clear in the table above that all three military branches missed female recruitment targets in 2015/16. The irony is even after lowering the numerical targets of female hires in each military branch over 2014/15, recruiters missed by an even bigger margin. Evidence that on balance women are less likely to join the military when driven by personal choice!

The ADF paper also notes that women quit at higher rates than men, especially at the trainee stage. Men are also much more likely to remain in the military than women after 18mths of parental or maternity leave.

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In terms of gender pay gap there are marginal differences. In the senior ranks – Commodore (Navy), Brigadier (Army) and Air Marshall (Air Force) – women are paid more than men on average. Although the ADF “determines work value and subsequent remuneration proposals based primarily on capability delivery. Where there is a direct or similar civilian (non-military) occupation, market relativities may contribute to remuneration determinations. One example of this is in Defence’s technical trades, where there are measurable market influences and relativity for trades such as vehicle mechanics.

In terms of effectiveness of these diversity programmes,  the data is also telling  a little more than half of women think it makes  difference. 45% of men also agree. Hardly overwhelming evidence.

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When addressing morale, only 40% of men and women feel positive. Confidence in senior leadership was around 63%. Not exactly the figures that make a war fighter. 22% of women are actively planning to leave the military and 25% of men. If the military keeps it up perhaps male  resignations will help boost the percentages of female recruits that don’t seem keen to join.

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The military is the last place that social experimentation should be conducted. Let’s be clear that China, Australia’s most realistic threat in the Asia-Pacific, doesn’t practice diversity in the PLA. It projects capability.

Should our frigates be sunk, our fighters shot down or our artillery troops shelled to smithereens, at least we can say they didn’t die in vain but won the war of diversity. Await the rainbow camouflage to broaden our “wokeness”

Putin’s puppet?

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Not surprising from Rasmussen overnight:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 65% of Likely Democratic Voters believe critics of Trump’s recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin truly believe he is a treasonous Russian puppet. Just as many Republicans (67%) disagree and think those critics are only making the charges for political purposes, a view shared by a plurality (47%) of voters not affiliated with either major party.”

Trump’s  unconventional (yet unsurprising) outburst of diplomacy against Iran (if it can be called that) on Twitter in capital letters does dispel this somewhat. To fire a social media salvo at Rosoboronexport’s second largest arms customer (one Russia has sold weapons to Iran  for 98 years) would somewhat dispel that myth of kowtowing to Putin’s every move. 85% of Iran’s military hardware is Russian. Syria is Russia’s #1 export client with the prize being the naval base in the Mediterranean port of Tartus.

In any event both Iran and Syria serve Russia’s ability to interfere with US policy in the Middle East. Israel now claims Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers have stepped up from being mere advisors in the Golan Heights to actively fighting. Israel has commenced day raids in Syria such has the threat escalated.

If POTUS is intending  to remove one or two of Putin’s clients (list here) then one suspects the Russian dictator should be pulling Iran’s strings to get them to arm in silence rather than pick a fight with the US.

Perhaps a more apt way to look at this is Trump’s hatred of Obama’s (foreign) policies far outweighs his supposed love of Putin. The evidence for that is not only obvious but entirely factual, backed with empirical evidence.

Japan defence – change before you have to

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The Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) is scheduled to add two more vessels to the 452 (372 armed patrol) vessels she already has vs the Japan Marine Self Defence Force’s (JMSDF) 145 ships. Although in ultimate tonnage terms the JMSDF is bigger than the JCG (i.e. a Kongo class Aegis destroyer is 5 times the size of the largest JCG vessel),  Still Japan still continues to ramp up its coast guard fleet because it is viewed as less confrontational than deploying naval ships near contested islands such as the Senkaku Islands, where Chinese naval activity continues to increase.

This fiscal year the JCG will get access to a 212 billion yen budget (a 10% hike over last year of which 27% will be committed on surveillance around the Senkaku Islands). The JMSDF is part of the overall defence budget of 5.2 trillion yen.

Two new 1,500-ton JCG vessels with helipads will be deployed between FY2019 and 2020 from the coast guard’s Tsuruga Port in Fukui Prefecture, which is home to several nuclear plants. This is code for more JCG vessels required for duties around the contested waters due to increased China PLA Navy activity. From the 2017 Defence White Paper

“Since December 2015, Chinese government vessels carrying weapons that appear to be cannons have begun to repeatedly intrude into Japan’s territorial waters. Additionally, government vessels deployed to seas near the Senkaku Islands are increasingly larger in size, with at least one of the government vessels intruding into Japan’s territorial waters being a 3,000 t or larger-class vessel since August 2014. Since February 2015, three 3,000 t or larger-class government vessels have been confirmed entering Japan’s territorial waters simultaneously multiple times. China is also building the world’s largest 10,000 t-class patrol vessels, and one vessel was incorporated into the fleet in July 2016.”

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As CM has reported in previous tomes, The Japanese Air Self Defence Force has scrambled almost 900 times in 2016 to interecept Chinese PLAAF fighters, bombers and surveillance aircraft. That compares to 30 in 2008. Many of these intercepts have been over the Senkakus.

The Japanese Ministry of Defence has just turned 10 years old. It used to be an agency reporting to the PM’s office but now has its own minister that fights for budget and policy such has the defence map changed from passive to active deterrence. Japan is well within its rights to be concerned at the status of its changing defence priorities.

It isn’t just Japan. China is conducting live fire drills in the Taiwan Straits again as we write. It’s disdain for Vietnam and The Philippines and contested islands (Spratly & Paracels) mean that at some stage a boil will be lanced as America will be tested on its resolve to back up its allies in the Pacific. A dictator-for-life has time on his side. That doesn’t mean the rest of Asia or the US can be complacent. japan has got the message – change before you have to!

Presidential behaviours

While the glass jawed POTUS has many shortcomings, surely the unelected EC President Jean-Claude Juncker does the EU absolutely no favours by being sozzled to the gills at a NATO summit. One has to ask PM Theresa May how she thinks the EU is a credible opponent to negotiate Brexit? No deal seems a no brainer.

NATO – 19 nations may hit 2% promise 18 years after committing to do so

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It is a farce. In 2006, NATO Defence Ministers agreed to commit a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to defence spending. This guideline, according to NATO,  “principally serves as an indicator of a country’s political will to contribute to the Alliance’s common defence efforts.” In 2017, only 5 of the 28 members outside the US have met the 2% threshold – Greece, Estonia, UK, Romania & Poland in that order. Despite Greece’s economic problems elsewhere, it manages to honour the deal. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “the majority [not all] of allies now have plans to do so by 2024.” 3 more are expected to hit the target in 2018. So for all the good will in the world, is POTUS wrong to call the other 19 members slackers that ride off the US taxpayer when so many of them are only likely to hit the target 18 years after ‘committing’ to it?

NATO commitment in 2017 can be seen as follows.

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Although all credit to the Europeans and Canadians for getting away with it for so long. Previous US presidents have obviously not concerned themselves with getting a fair deal on mutually agreed commitments. Although in what world would American taxpayers be upset to see the rest of the team pick up the slack?

Naturally the media are getting mileage out of the insensitive bully attacking his supposed allies. In fact Stoltenberg said last month on record that, “burden sharing will be a key theme of our summit next month, and I expect all allies to continue their efforts.” He reiterated that to Trump yesterday.

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To be brutally honest, how effective can a NATO force truly be if words aren’t put into action? What good is a promise if it is to be honored 18 years later. Imagine if that is the mindset should NATO be forced to act militarily. Would those meeting their obligations feel within their rights to have a bigger say in how NATO should work?

The problem with such a lack of commitment is that over the 12 years where 23 nations have not come close to meeting their obligations, the sum total of the actual defence capabilities suffers for the duration. The US is 67% of total NATO spend and the UK, France  & Germany make up half of the remainder. Yet building a sustainable capability in defence does not come through half measures or poorly thought out procurement. What is missed on many is that over 70% of defence budgets are allocated to soldier pay, housing, healthcare, training and so forth. Procurement and RDT&E get funded out of the balance. Have a skirmish somewhere and yet more money is chewed out of buying new equipment for the sake of logistics (feeding 10,000 troops and servicing hardware in a foreign land). Then there is the subject of terribly managed procurement programs.

Take the French disaster that is the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle. Despite delays because of problems with a retrofit for radiation shields, the naval brass had to add 14 feet of deck because it realized that the E2-C Hawkeye surveillance planes it purchased couldn’t take off and land in its original build spec. Even now the flight deck is not long enough to conduct simultaneous launch and recovery operations. Even worse the blueprints for the CdG‘s propellers had been lost in a fire, which meant that the ship had to be refitted with hand-me down screws from carriers Foch and Clemenceau which meant her speed was cut from 27 knots to about 24 knots—which was unfortunate since her predecessors steamed at 32 knots. Speed to war zones is kind of important to gain a decisive edge. All of the spend to fix poorly thought out designs cuts from being able to procure other equipment and materiel. Scary to think Australia is buying 12 subs from the French! The problems are already revealing themselves despite not one boat having hit the dry dock.

History tells us many things of how NATO type organisations have failed in the past.The Peloponnesian Wars (431BC – 404BC) highlighted how things can change when allies do not keep up commitments and capabilities aren’t maintained.

Athens required her Delian League member states (consisting of city states mainly along the Ionian Sea) to pay tributes (phoros) to the treasury which was used to build and maintain the naval fleet led by Athens. Yet over time the member states relied too much on the wealth of Athens and over the course of the draining war and the costly campaign to Sicily, failed to honour the ever increasing demands to fund the league with the appropriate level of tributes which drove Athens into massive debt. Defence spending by the Athenians had been cut to around 30-60% of the average over the previous decade. The Delian League’s capabilities dwindled as a result and the Spartans, funded by Persia, took advantage of this and crushed it for good, in the very art of war that Athens was renowned for – the navy.

It is not hard to think of Trump feeling like a modern day Pericles. NATO is the Delian League and its projected enemies chip away all the while members dither over commitments, forcing the US to sustain the limited capability. Like the Athenians, the US has the most powerful navy in the world with a fleet bigger than the next 11 countries combined but even it has pared back the number of ships to less than 10% of what it had in WW2. Enhanced capability is one factor in cutting the surface fleet but even the US DoD realised that the conventionally powered US Kitty Hawk consumed 2% of the entire US military fuel bill annually so it was taken out of service to save money.

One can argue the $750 billion annual defence budget is plentiful but the US realises that power projection is an expensive business. Even Japan understands it can’t stay nestled in the bosom of US stationed forces forever without taking a proactive stance to defend itself. That is the same message to the 19 members NATO failing to pull their weight.