A year ago I was invited to give a lecture on fighter aircraft design to the Military History Society of WA. Alas and alack, I was unvaccinated (for scientific reasons) and, being unclean, could not enter the RAAF estate where the lecture was to be given.
Time passes, the sins of the unvaccinated are forgotten and the lecture was given on Tuesday 17th January in a cool Perth mid-summer evening. The 140 slides took two hours. The president of the Society said it was ‘incredible’ and I think that was in a good way.
The whole presentation is loaded here – many thanks to David Evans.
[Harry’s note: if you have any interest in the defence of Australia, please take time to look through this excellent presentation and send it to your local Member of Parliament]
There has not been adult supervision of our Department of Defence for some time. The last instance of the Minister doing the right thing was Brendan Nelson’s buying some Super Hornets because the F-35 was going to be delayed. His instinct was right but he did choose the wrong plane to replace it.
Turnbull’s appointment of Marise Payne as Minister of Defence was of a fellow leftie who had no inherent interest in things that explode and kill people. She was followed by another leftie, Linda Reynolds, who also had no personal interest in how to most cost-effectively defeat Australia’s enemies. Linda Reynolds had joined the Army Reserve at the age of 18 because it provided an excuse to dress up and leave the house of a Friday night. She stayed in long enough to be promoted to Brigadier but was absolutely clueless, as shown by the fact that she was sucked in by the lurid stories of the Bereton Report.
Any member of federal parliament who did not call out the Bereton Report as a work of fiction designed to smear our special forces has no knowledge or understanding of defence issues, and that is all of them. Bereton has a particular hatred of non-commissioned officers (NCOs) for some reason. Despite being relatively conventional (compared to some who enjoy cross-dressing in public) he has his own hangups.
Peter Dutton had no impact on the Department of Defence. His offsider, Andrew Hastie, is seemingly only interested in smearing the reputation of Ben Roberts-Smith. That is about the limit of Mr Hastie’s abilities. If he ever ends up being Minister of Defence he will simply rubber stamp what the Department wants.
The Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial is emblematic of the problems of Defence. His barrister has said that the trial is a “case which has been brought because the respondents chose to defame Mr Roberts-Smith.” The respondents are three newspapers. But those newspapers were only following the example of the Department of Defence which flipped from venerating him to reviling him about a decade ago. The tattoo across Mr Roberts-Smith’s back, ‘I shall never fail my brothers’, is an ideal to hold to, by the way. It is all about the unit cohesion; Mr Roberts-Smith has got it and the Department of Defence wants to eliminate it.
And recently departed Senator Jim Molan, much loved and widely respected, also had no interest in weapons systems, as evinced by the fact that he was as silent as the grave on the F-35, the French submarines and any and every other thing that purported to deliver high explosive to the enemy. The good but harmless Senator will soon be forgotten.
There is another thing that is indicative of the Department of Defence’s mindset of self-loathing and hostility to the warrior ethos. It is the matter of the Arafura class offshore patrol vessels. The previous class of patrol boats had been worn out waiting to pick up illegal immigrants off the coast of Java at the direction of the Labor Party.
One boat had sunlight coming in through the roof because it had started splitting due to the pounding it had received. So the Arafura class was made bigger – 1,640 tonnes. But it is only armed with a 25 mm main gun which is smaller than the weapon on the infantry fighting vehicles we might get which sport a 30 mm gun. (see slide 128 of the presentation):
The software system controlling that gun couldn’t be called a ‘combat’ system because the Arafura class vessels will only encounter peace-loving enemies, like the Hakawi tribe on F Troop.
Read the presentation and weep. There is hope though. In the first years of WW2 Australia’s effort was run atrociously. Then the senior command took off from Melbourne in a Hudson bomber and crashed on approach to Canberra, killing all on the plane. There is a memorial celebrating this event and rightly so because new people were appointed and Australia’s conduct of the war improved dramatically.
Given the growth of the defence bureaucracy over the decades, an equivalent event would take a couple of 737s worth of defence staff. It would be worth it. Pray for that day. Canberra readers could pray at the shrine itself, (located on Pialligo Plantation, Fairbairn Pine Planation, Majura) and summon up the spirits that defend Australia.
David Archibald is the author of American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare