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Struggling for Self Reliance

Struggling for Self Reliance: Four case studies of Australian Regional Force Projection in the late 1980s and the 1990s OPEN ACCESS

BOB BREEN
Volume: 171
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24h7g7
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  • Book Info
    Struggling for Self Reliance
    Book Description:

    Military force projection is the self-reliant capacity to strike from mainland ports, bases and airfields to protect Australia's sovereignty as well as more distant national interests. Force projection is not just a flex of military muscle in times of emergency or the act of dispatching forces. It is a cycle of force preparation, command, deployment, protection, employment, sustainment, rotation, redeployment and reconstitution. If the Australian Defence Force consistently gets this cycle wrong, then there is something wrong with Australia's defence. This monograph is a force projection audit of four Australian regional force projections in the late 1980s and the 1990s—valid measures of competence. It concludes that Australia is running out of luck and time. The Rudd Government has commissioned a new Defence White paper. This monograph is Exhibit A for change.

    eISBN: 978-1-921536-09-0
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. As a land girt by sea, Australia has a number of military choices. It can use geographical advantage and fight enemy forces from continental beaches, and in national airspace and both on and under territorial waters. Alternatively, it can project military force to engage enemies further from the Australian homeland: closer to or in it enemies’ homelands—preferably in the company of powerful allies. There is also a choice about responding to regional and international events that require military intervention: stay at home, leaving allies (and the United Nations) to face military and humanitarian emergencies alone, or participate in those...

  2. Australia was dependent on allies for the first 100 years of its military history. From 1885 until the end of participation in the Vietnam War in 1972, they underwrote Australian involvement in regional and international military emergencies and campaigns. The Australian armed forces found it difficult to project force when allies were not in a position to help. This difficulty increased risk at tactical tipping points in 1942 on the Kokoda Track during the New Guinea Campaign and in 1966 at the battle of Long Tan in Vietnam soon after Australia deployed an independent task force. On both occasions, Australian...

  3. Australia’s defence posture was changing during the years before the conduct of Operation Morris Dance in May 1987. The Defence Minister, Kim Beazley, began a renewed effort to clarify Australia’s military strategy in February 1985. He appointed Paul Dibb, an academic at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at The Australian National University and former Deputy Director of the Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO) and Head of the National Assessments staff, as a ‘Ministerial Consultant’. He issued terms of reference for him to examine and report on the content, priorities and rationale for defence forward planning and to advise on what...

  4. Circumstances in Fiji began to change quickly over the weekend of 16–17 May. On Saturday an estimated crowd of 3000 Indians conducted a protest in the capital, Suva, and there were reports of protests elsewhere. Indian leaders called for an indefinite general strike until the Bavadra Government was restored to power. A strike would paralyse the economy, disrupt the supply of food, fuel and power and increase racial tension considerably.¹ A journalist smuggled out a letter from the beleaguered Dr Timoci Bavadra calling for Australian and New Zealand intervention to restore democracy in Fiji and reinstate his government.² New...

  5. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) strategic level of command was eager to learn from Operation Morris Dance. It was a rare opportunity for the ADF to practise offshore joint force projection. Air Vice Marshal Peter Scully had acted quickly. On 3 June 1987 he wrote to the Service chiefs and environmental commanders stating that ‘we need to analyse the potential strengths and weaknesses that became obvious throughout the operation’. He requested them to submit reports ‘to provide differing perspectives of ADF actions in relation to Operation “MORRISDANCE”. … The reports are to highlight observed strengths and weaknesses and contain recommendations...

  6. After Operation Morris Dance, Australia’s next force projection into the near region occurred in October 1994. Sir Julius Chan, the newly-elected Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG), was taking the initiative on the Bougainville Crisis, a war with secessionists in Bougainville that had begun in the late 1980s.¹ He had started negotiations with Australia in May 1994 when, as Foreign Minister, he had consulted his Australian counterpart, Senator Gareth Evans.² Chan’s plan depended on Australia providing diplomatic, logistic and other specialist military support for the deployment of a South Pacific peacekeeping force to Bougainville to provide a secure environment...

  7. On Saturday 1 October 1994, after renewed pressure from inside the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and from Australia for him to postpone the start date of the conference, PNG’s Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan, appealed directly to Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating to insist that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) deploy the South Pacific Peace Keeping Force (SPPKF) prior to the start date of 10 October. Chan pointed out that the deployment time could be reduced if troops were moved by air rather than by sea. He called for a substantial advance party to be deployed to Arawa...

  8. In the late 1980s General Peter Gration and then Brigadier John Baker had both shared a vision of a new command appointment and a new joint headquarters that would command Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations.¹ This commander and his headquarters would take over after the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) and his staff had translated government guidance into planning directives. The first moves began in March 1988 when Defence Minister Kim Beazley approved the establishment of Northern Command (NORCOM) with its headquarters in Darwin. The new command was subordinate to the Land Commander in Sydney. Senior maritime and air...

  9. On 17 March 1997, Brigadier General Jerry Singarok, Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF), revealed publicly that the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Sir Julius Chan, and several members of his Cabinet had arranged for contractors from Sandline International to establish and train a task force that would deploy to Bougainville to kill or capture members of the secessionist leadership group and retake the Panguna copper mine near Arawa. Singarok mounted and conducted Operation Rousim Quik to deport members of the Sandline training cadre and to deter incoming aircraft carrying military hardware for the operation.¹...

  10. Unlike Operations Morris Dance and Lagoon, Operation Bel Isi would turn out to be a longer-term operation. Its duration would exceed the four and a half month tour of the 1000-strong joint force deployed to Somalia in 1993, which had first exposed the Australian Defence Force (ADF)’ s weaknesses in logistics and command and control.¹ The challenges faced in the first 12 months of Operation Bel Isi illustrated persistent problems with force command and sustainment that had been glimpsed during Operations Morris Dance and Lagoon. Headquarters Australian Theatre (HQ AST) had not understood the requirements for specific force preparation and...

  11. In August 1942 in New Guinea during the Second World War and in 1966 in Vietnam an accumulation of risks resulted in a small number of Australian troops facing several thousand well-equipped, well-trained and more experienced enemy troops. Fortunately, climate, terrain and the resilience of junior leaders and small teams, as well as effective artillery support in 1966, offset the numerical and tactical superiority of their opponents. Australian troops prevailed against the odds. If either of these two tactical tipping points had gone the other way, there would have been severe strategic embarrassment for Australia. There could have been public...

  12. In November 1999, senior Australian Defence Force (ADF) officers and Defence officials reflected on pre-deployment preparation, deployment and initial INTERFET operations.¹ The major issues were command and control and the performance of the ADF logistic system. From the perspective of command and control, the consensus was that ad hoc and secretive planning processes and a late change to command and control arrangements were unhelpful. There was a call for a review of the role of Headquarters Australian Theatre (HQ AST) and criticism of the uneven flow of information from the Strategic Command Group (SCG). There were also criticisms of intelligence...

  13. From the perspective of military force projection, Australia’s luck and time is running out. When Donald Horne wrote The Lucky Country, he had in mind that, while other nations were becoming cleverer, Australia was still relying for its prosperity on the luck of its geographic, climatic, agricultural and geological circumstances. He called for Australia to become more innovative and proactive in shaping its future and making decisions in its national interests.³ Militarily, Australia has also been lucky rather than clever. At two historic tactical tipping points in 1942 and 1966, the nation depended on good fortune prevailing over incompetence. Since...