Australia’s War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan refers to the intervention in the Afghan Civil War by the United States and its allies, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to dismantle Al-Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden and to remove from power the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist regime led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, which at the time controlled 90% of Afghanistan and hosted Al-Qaeda leadership. Since the invasion in 2001 the presence of coalition forces there has been heavily criticized and the question the rest on everybody’s mind is “Was it all worth it?”

WW2 Hero Earns TWO Victoria Crosses! (Charles Upham)

Charles Upham was a New Zealand born Hero awarded two Victoria Crosses during WW2. Earning just one Victoria Cross is extremely rare, two is almost super human. Known as the VC and Bar, Charles Upham is the only combatant to hold two of these valour awards.

Follow along with his journey through fighting in Crete and North Africa where he would be wounded numerous times. Eventually captured by the German Army, he would continue to give the enemy a headache with a number of escape attempts until WW2 came to an end.

Sweden’s A-26 Submarine Creates New Possibilities For Seabed Warfare

Photo: The A-26 design is ideally suited to seabed warfare. Its hangar, termed the Flexible Payload Lock, can carry underwater drones and be used to retrieve objects on the sea floor.

Sweden’s new A-26 Blekinge Class submarines have been designed with covert missions in mind. Traditionally these would include special forces and intelligence gathering. Now as the naval world pivots towards seabed warfare, the Swedish submarine might find a new niche. One that the design is uniquely suited to.

Sweden’s submarine force, and particularly the future A-26 Blekinge class, may be very relevant. And, fortunately for NATO, inherently well-suited.

From Ivy Bells to Internet Cables

Seabed warfare is nothing new. Since the early days of submarines, some missions have involved aspects of it. In World War Two British X-craft midget subs were used to cut Japanese communications cables. And it would be remiss not to mention Operation Ivy Bells, the U.S. Navy’s Cold War mission to tap Soviet communications. And Britain’s SBS used diesel subs to retrieve Soviet listening devices laid off the UK. During the 1980s it was the Swedes’ turn to play the game, with numerous suspected Soviet submarine incursions in their waters.

The seabed warfare focus back then was military infrastructure, such as anti-submarine sensor networks and communications cables. However, things have changed since the Cold War. The amount of infrastructure laying on the sea floor had increased and now includes fibre optic internet cables. As you read this article there is a chance that the data has reached you by one of these ‘submarine communication cables’ (SCC).

Add to this the gas pipelines, wind farm infrastructure, electricity cables, and so much more. We are much more dependent on seabed infrastructure than before. The vital nature of these cables and pipes to economies is not lost on governments. But few countries are equipped to deal with the threat.

Going forward navies are expected to be able to defend and in times of war attack, seabed infrastructure. Some, like Russia and the United States, have decades of investment and specialist submarines. Other major navies, like the United Kingdom and France, are now reinvesting in this neglected area with specialist vessels.

On the defence front, governments will want the ability to inspect and repair underwater infrastructure and investigate incidents. Offensively, missions may include placing sabotage charges or listening devices and interfering with enemy sensor networks. These needs overlap with mine warfare and mine countermeasures.

Photo: The A-26 submarine’s torpedo room. Note the large diameter door of the hangar in the middle, between 4 regular torpedo tubes.

In many defensive scenarios, surface vessels will be sufficient. Typically they will use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to reach down into the depths. But submarines offer the advantages of greater discretion. And they can operate in bad weather which may inhibit surface vessels. In offensive missions, the submarines’ stealth will come into its own. Having suitable submarines will give governments options that they may not currently have.

So, as in previous times when the missions of navies have evolved rapidly. Countries will look to their regular submarines to play a role. And few designs seem as well-suited as Sweden’s.

What Makes The A-26 Submarine Particularly Suited

This is where the A-26 design may come into its own. It has been designed from the outset to better accommodate special forces missions and underwater drones. These features, principally the large hangar between the torpedo tubes, may also be useful in seabed warfare.

Sweden is already ahead of the curve with the development of the Saab SubROV. This form of ROV can be launched and operated from a torpedo tube of any submarine. In more traditional terms it can perform intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). It feeds high-resolution data back to the submarine in real time via a cable without the risk of signal detection. It can also be used to recover other underwater vehicles.

But it also gives the submarine the ability to perform some seabed warfare missions. It can locate and inspect pipes or cables. It could be used to inspect infrastructure down to 500 meters (1,640 feet), which is deep enough to reach anywhere in the Baltic.

But the new A-26 class will take things to another level. The hangar, known as a Flexible Payload Lock, allows it to carry larger underwater vehicles. These could include the Saab Double Eagle and Sabertooth systems. These can be operated both remotely (as an ROV) or autonomously without the tether. Large objects could be carried and placed on the seabed with the aid of the ROV/AUV. Or recovered objects to be carried away. These underwater vehicles would increase the reach of the submarine. Some versions of the Sabertooth can dive to 3,000 meters (9,850 feet).

There is no doubt that seabed warfare has, briefly, moved out of the shadows. Navies and policy makers are more open about the threats to undersea infrastructure, and the need to defend it. But whether this will lead to changes to submarine procurement remains to be seen. But if it does, the A-26 design may find itself well positioned. And for Sweden, which already has them under construction, they will open up new possibilities.

 

Armoured vehicles will allow a better-protected ADF to conduct a wider range of operations

By MAJGEN Shane Caughey (Rtd)

The strategic environment confronting Australia has led to significant debate by defence commentators on the force structure required to ensure that the Australian Defence Force can fight and win in a future conflict. Given the current ADF’s capability shortfalls, acquiring the appropriate balance of capabilities for the future is not a simple task. Growing budget pressures mean difficult choices are required.

Much of the analysis to date has focused on enhancements to air, maritime, space and cyber capabilities, demonstrating a limited appreciation for and understanding of the requirement for capable land forces. Some commentators have questioned the investment in the army’s combined-arms fighting system through the delivery of much-needed protected, mobile, lethal and connected infantry fighting vehicles. Criticisms of the land combat fighting system centre on two main arguments: first, that land forces won’t be relevant in any future conflict Australia is likely to be involved in and second, that the deployment of armoured vehicles in and through our region isn’t feasible and they wouldn’t be survivable in the expected theatres of conflict.

Predicting the nature of future conflict is fraught. However, when assessing the relevance of land forces, including the army’s combined-arms fighting system, through the lens of Australia’s security environment, there are credible scenarios across the conflict spectrum for which these capabilities are clearly needed.

Countries in our region face a deteriorating security environment due to ongoing social and economic challenges that will only be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change and ongoing global uncertainty. Others are dealing with violent insurgencies with the potential to exceed the capacity of their national security forces.

It’s plausible that Australia could be requested to provide forces to assist either in regaining and maintaining security and stability or in dealing with a highly capable and deadly insurgency. While these may be viewed as discretionary commitments for our government, the reality is that if we don’t respond, other nations will, undermining the regional partnerships that are so essential to our security. It is highly probable that such threats will be sponsored and supported by state actors, or well-resourced and well-networked non-state entities, resulting in the proliferation of sophisticated weapon systems well beyond the lethality of small arms. Unlike in the past, it won’t be feasible for Australia to rely on a military response based on lightly protected forces. Any response must include well-protected, highly lethal and mobile land forces.

Looking more broadly, Australia could be requested by the United Nations to contribute to peace enforcement or peacekeeping as part of the international community’s efforts to resolve conflict around the world. The potential lethality of such environments and the capacity for the belligerents to re-engage in hostilities would require a military contribution that included the army’s combined-arms fighting system.

In the worst-case scenario—a major conflict in our region—it’s unlikely that hostilities would be geographically constrained. An adversary will almost certainly look to deploy forces throughout our region in order to hold the US and its allies at a distance. It will be essential that these adversary forces be removed, and Australia will need to respond. Air, maritime, cyber and space capabilities will be required, but the employment of ground forces to close with and forcibly remove an adversary will be critical.

Those who argue that the deployment of the army’s combined-arms fighting system in and through Australia’s region wouldn’t be feasible or survivable due to our adversary’s long-range strike capabilities highlight the need for the ADF to invest in more flexible and agile littoral platforms to better enable dispersed, less-targetable projection of land combat power.

What some commentators fail to appreciate, however, is that when equipped with these littoral platforms, the forces capable of joint land combat will be able to manoeuvre to a place of operational advantage when effects across all domains are synchronised in time and space to establish a more permissive environment. While not enduring, this environment can be established for a specific period of time, within a defined geographic location to enable the manoeuvre of the army’s combined-arms fighting system to close with and defeat an adversary. This is the art of joint operations planning.

The relevance of the army’s combined-arms fighting system across the spectrum of conflict is clear, whether it be in support of our regional neighbours, through our contribution as a responsible member of the community of nations or in response to a major conflict in our region. While challenging, the deployment of land forces in our region is possible through the synchronisation and coordination of military effects across all domains.

With this understanding, it’s worth noting that the core element of the army’s current combat fighting system, the M113 armoured personnel carrier, is based on a vehicle introduced into service in the mid-1960s. While the M113 has undergone through-life upgrades, its protection, mobility and firepower are essentially that of the initial platform. As Chief of LTGEN Army Simon Stuart has said, ‘We can and we must do better.’

As a nation, we have a moral obligation to ensure that the men and women who will defend us are afforded modern, capable and survivable land combat capabilities.

 

New Veterans’ Catalogue App Goes Live

The much-anticipated veterans’ catalogue of services web application, now branded as the ‘Veterans’ Catalogue’, went live on Tuesday November 1, 2022. The app has been developed with a vision of empowering veterans and their families to more easily find and access services and support when needed.

As part of a 12-month pilot partnership between the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) and veteran-owned technology provider Servulink, the Veterans’ Catalogue web app was officially launch at the RSL New South Wales Congress.

The Veterans’ Catalogue provides users with free access to over 1500 registered veteran service providers, across a range of holistic wellbeing, personal, professional, community network and family needs. It will be available for use on any device and can also operate offline once downloaded. It offers a range of search features to easily target specific services including an interactive map, to refine searches by geographic location. This new online tool will help reduce the complexity faced by our veterans and their families when seeking appropriate services and support.

Importantly, the platform has the flexibility to list and direct its users to other valuable online resources that are being developed by ex-service and veteran support organisations. For organisations yet to register, the process is simple and free via Servulink’s website (servulink.com.au/registration) and enquiries can be directed to [email protected] The project aspires to have all reputable veteran service providers in Australia listed in the catalogue, so users have a single and comprehensive destination to seek and search for support, anywhere, anytime.

The app launches as part of phase one in its development roadmap. Over the pilot period, it is hoped that user feedback, which can be submitted within the app, will help guide the future suite of planned enhancements and features.

RSL President Greg Melick noted the reoccurring theme in the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide hearings which emphasised the challenges faced by serving and former serving ADF veterans navigating a complex support system.

“RSL Australia has chosen to support this solution which proactively aims to reduce some of these challenges,” Greg Melick said.

“We recognise the need to deliver on new solutions for veterans and their families, and the Veterans’ Catalogue represents an accessible online app offering a centralised hub with user-friendly search features.

“By simplifying the process of finding the right services to best meet an individual or family’s needs from anywhere in Australia, we can reduce some of the stresses our community are facing,” Greg Melick said.

Veteran and Servulink Co-Founder, Matt Brennan, said the Veterans’ Catalogue would empower veterans and their families to successfully discover and navigate the network of support and services available, accessing those they need, when and where they need them.

“The Australian veteran service and support environment is large, diverse and complex, comprising some 2800 ex-service organisations, and approximately 4000 registered charities nation-wide,” Matt Brennan said.

“There is also a growing number of government and corporate entities focused on supporting and employing veterans.

“Identifying the relevant local support and services for particular needs can be challenging, often resulting in service delivery failure, confusion, frustration, and negative mental health impacts, ironically among the very people, that these services are intended to assist.

“Servulink is a unique Australian social enterprise, using technology to transform the national veteran support landscape by connecting Australian veterans and their families to the services, support, and communities they need. In partnership with the RSL the ‘Veterans’ Catalogue of Services’ pilot is a significant step towards achieving this vision.

“It offers a digital solution specifically designed to help overcome the complexity many veterans face when seeking support, making it easier for them to identify and access vital services wherever they may be,” Matt Brennan said.


CLICK LINK

Veterans’ Catalogue App — RSL Australia

Redback turret to be manufactured in Australia

Hanwha Defence Australia (HDA) and Elbit Systems of Israel have agreed to support the Redback turret, built in Australia, for the global market.

Based on the proven and tested MT30 turret, the Redback turret was developed and modernised as part of HDA’s offering as part of Australia’s Land 400 Phase 3 project for up to 450 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs).

The evolved variant of the turret will be built in Australia and integrated with the Redback vehicle at HDA’s Hanwha Armoured vehicle Centre of Excellence (H-ACE). Construction of the H-ACE is underway at the Avalon Airport precinct in Geelong.

The Redback turret underwent a significant test and evaluation process as part of the Australian Commonwealth’s Risk Mitigation Activity, was successfully trialled by the Republic of Korea Army earlier this year and is currently being trialled by the Polish Defence force.

“This agreement will see the Redback turret assembled and integrated at the H-ACE for the Australian Land 400 Phase 3 project, if we are successful, and then for export for global Redback customers,” Richard Cho, Managing Director of HDA explained. “We will be working with a range of Australian suppliers to bring this important capability to market.”

“Elbit is fully committed to establishing sovereign engineering, production and support capabilities of its proven and tested MT30 turret in the Redback configuration,” Yehuda (Udi) Vered, CEO of Elbit Systems Land said. “The MT30 Redback turret is the latest generation in our family of manned and unmanned turrets leveraging the high performance, advanced, lethality, protection and situational awareness capabilities tested and fielded worldwide.”

According to HDA, the Redback turret was designed from the very outset to integrate advanced technologies such as Iron Fist Active Protection Systems, Iron Vision Head Mounted Display Situational Awareness System and the Spike LR2 Anti-Tank Guided Missiles. The turret is designed to easily integrate these advanced systems to achieve optimum performance for the vehicle rather than bolt on aftermarket solutions.

The turret forms the basis of the lethality solution for the Redback IFV, integrating a range of systems under armour with an under-armour reloading capability while providing more space inside the vehicle with its low profile non-hull penetrating design.

HDA’s Redback IFV is one of two tenders currently under consideration as part of the Australian Department of Defence’s Land 400 Phase 3 project.

Australian Defence Magazine

RELEASE OF DEFENCE AND VETERAN SUICIDE MONITORING REPORT

A report released today into the rate of suicide among current and former serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel reaffirms that suicide prevention must be a matter of national priority.

The report, Serving and ex‑serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985 suicide monitoring: 1997 to 2020, prepared by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, is the fifth annual suicide monitoring report commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh says the death of any current or former serving ADF member is a tragedy felt deeply by all in the Defence and veteran communities.

“Sadly, this latest report found that 1,600 ADF members and veterans with service after 1985 died by suicide between 1997 and 2020,” he said.

“This reveals an additional 327 deaths by suicide since last year’s report, largely due to an expanded study period, which now includes an additional five years of data and does not reflect an increased rate of suicide overall.”

The 2022 report found the most common risk factors for permanent, reserve and ex-serving ADF members who died by suicide were experiencing a mood affective disorder, such as depression, and problems in spousal relationships.

For males, suicide ideation was also found to be a risk factor while a personal history of self-harm was found to be more common for women.

“A single suicide by a veteran or serving ADF member is one too many, and we are committed to making every possible effort to prevent any further tragedies of this nature”, Minister Keogh said.

“After fighting for a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide for many years, our Government welcomed the Commissioner’s Interim Report in August 2022, responding to each of the 13 recommendations swiftly.

“The research in this report, coupled with the work of the Royal Commission, is critical to deepening our understanding of the sad reality of suicidal ideation in our veteran community, enabling us to undertake the necessary reform to save lives.”

The Albanese Government is investing in a better future for Defence personnel, veterans and families by responding to important recommendations put forward by the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

We are delivering on our commitments from the Federal Election including a veterans employment strategy and expanding the network of Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs around the country.

Anyone who has completed a single day of service in the ADF can access a comprehensive range of services to support their mental health and wellbeing. This support is needs-based and uncapped.

Immediate financial assistance is also available to veterans submitting mental health claims, and, additionally, veterans can access health treatment for 20 commonly claimed physical conditions while their mental health claim is being considered.

Free and confidential mental health support for veterans and families is available through Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling service, and can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 1800 011 046.

Defence personnel can contact their local health centre, the All Hours Support Line on 1800 628 036 or the Defence Member and Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

To read the full report prepared by the AIHW, visit the AIHW website.

A Little bit of Irish

A smile with apologies to my Irish mates, particularly Sean O’Toole who never gets the jokes. And thanks to Bob Buick for sending these to me … I’ve given Sean his email address

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There was a power failure in a Dublin Department Store last week – and three hundred people were stranded on the escalators for more than two hours.

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“O’Leary, your glass is empty, will you be having another one ?”
“And what would I be doing with two empty glasses ?” O’Leary replied.
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Young Teresa came home with some dreadful news. “I’m pregnant” she cried.
“And how do you know it’s yours ?” shouts her father.
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PADDY: “Hey Shaun, what’s Mick’s surname ?”
SHAUN: “Mick who ?”
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PADDY:  “If you can guess how many Pheasants I’ve got in me bag you can have both of them”.
SHAUN:  Three.
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Mrs Murphy said: “ I don’t tink me husband has been faithful to me”.
“Why’s that ?” said Mrs O’Toole.
“Me last child don’t look anything like him”.
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Mrs O’Toole said: “I can only tell you this bit of scandal once because I promised Mrs O’Leary I would never repeat it”
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Shaun and Molly sat up all night on their honeymoon – waiting for their conjugal relations to arrive.
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Murphy had a rope hanging from a tree in his garden. Shamus asked him what it was for.
“It’s me weather guide,” said Murphy. “If it’s swinging back and forth, it’s windy and if it’s wet, its been raining.
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Murphy was told by the Doctor he had two weeks to live – so he chose the last week in July and the first week in August.
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Colleen dropped a Euro coin, intending it to fall into the blind man’s hat on the pavement, but missed. As quick as a flash, he scooped it up and put it in the hat. “You’re not blind” she said. “No I’m not” said Paddy, “It’s Murphy who’s blind. I’m just filling in for him while he’s gone to the pictures”.

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“We’re looking for a Treasurer for the Xmas fund”, said Paddy.
“Didn’t you take on a new one last month ?” said Murphy.
“That’s the one we’re looking for”, Paddy replied.
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Father O’Flaherty asked Mrs O’Reilly how many children she had. Four was the reply.

“That’s a good Catholic woman you are, and when will you be having the next ?” he asked.

“I’m not Father”, she replied. “I read that every fifth child born in the world is Chinese”.
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The Dublin pensioners club go on a mystery tour every Wednesday and, to make it interesting, they have a sweep to guess where they are going. Shamus, the coach driver, has won five weeks on the trot.