Our circumstances have changed. The Australian Army is enhancing its power projection in the region. We are modernising how we train, doing more with our regional and global partners. Together, we are increasing our potency and sophistication. We generate land power to be ready to fight tonight. Alongside our partners, we are embracing new opportunities and adapting with what we have. The Australian Army is connected, protected, lethal, and enabled. Innovation comes from our people, who are our strength and our competitive advantage. We remain an Army in the community; an Army for the Nation.
Shipmates, family, and friends, 2023 makes it 50 years since Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The war of our generation.
NAAQLD will commemorate the 50-year anniversary on Thursday 25th June at 11:00 at the Jack Memorial Southbank, Brisbane.
This was a war of our generation. A war that divided our nation and changed the government. It left many scarred, both mentally and physically.
All Ships ‘and branch associations are invited to participate by displaying their Anzac Day banner or similar. While we commemorate the ships, we especially remember all those who served. There are many stories and experiences to be remembered and shared. We ignore the lessons of history at our peril.
The Department of Veterans Affairs study “The Veterans Cohort” (1997) stated that RAN Veterans who served on ships at sea in Vietnam waters were dying at a rate which was 45% higher than the national average. The issues are ongoing. Today Naval Veterans suffer from herbicide exposure and PTSD. There has been a lengthy refusal by the Australian Governments to allow benefits and entitlement to the crews involved in RAN logistic support and escort duties.
On completion of the commemoration, all are most welcome and encouraged to enjoy fellowship at the adjacent Ship Inn.
Concept art of the forthcoming Hunter-class frigate. (ANAO)
By Max Blenkin
Australia’s national audit office has delivered a highly critical report on the decision to choose the Type 26 as Australia’s new warship, declaring the Australian Defence Organisation did not conduct an effective process in choosing the design.
Defence officials did not assess the overall value for money of the three competing designs, according to a lengthy report published by auditors last week. Nor did the officials maintain adequate records of the ultimate decision to choose the BAE Systems’ Type 26 Global Combat Ship over two competing designs — in essence, making it impossible for the public to understand the decision-making that went into the selection.
“The hallmark of Defence’s management of this procurement and related advisory processes is that they lacked a value for money focus, and in that sense, the procurement did not comply with the core rule of the CPRs (Commonwealth procurement rules),” the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) said in the report. “The origins of this approach — which was reflected in the 2017 Tender Evaluation Plan — are not transparent, due to the shortcomings in Defence record keeping observed in this audit.”
ANAO is the Australian equivalent of the US Government Accountability Office, and its lengthy reports are generally fact-laden, authoritative and dry — meaning the language included in this report, while full of bureaucratic speak, is actually fairly damning.
The tender evaluation for these nine new warships termed the Hunter-class, might be forgiven for its shortcomings if the project was running on time and on budget. It’s not, with a delay of 18 months because of immaturities of the design and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s also costing more.
In January, the Defense Surface Ships Advisory Committee said Type 26 design maturity was over-stated and therefore the extent of cost and schedule risk was under-estimated.
Under project SEA 5000, the Royal Australian Navy is acquiring nine anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates to replace eight Anzac-class frigates. These will be constructed wholly in Australia at a new line in Osborne, South Australia.
The BAE Systems design was chosen following a three-way evaluation against the Italian Fincantieri FREMM and a modified version of the Spanish Navantia F100.
Both were mature designs, with the FREMMs in service with France and Italy and on order for the US Navy, and the F100 a derivative of three Hobart-class DDGs built in Australia.
BAE Systems pitched the Type 26 ASW as an ultra-modern digital design that the UK Royal Navy was acquiring first, mitigating design risk for Australia.
In 2018, the Australian government announced the winner was BAE.
The Australian military advised the government that the primary reason for that choice was superior ASW capabilities. There was just a 4 percent cost variation across the three bids, according to ANAO, but considering the estimated $45 billion AUD ($30 billion USD) price tag, that 4 percent accounts for hundreds of millions.
Significantly, the Australian government saw the construction of the new warships as central to its plan to create a national shipbuilding industry.
So far BAE is only contracted to stand up initial design and production, though that head contract, signed in 2018, has increased by $693 million AUD to $2.56 billion AUD thanks to 93 contract change proposals approved by Defence — 36 of which impacted the price. Production of vessel number one starts next year and then production is expected to proceed in three batches of three ships on a two-year drumbeat with additional contracts.
In its reply to the ANAO’s preliminary findings, Defence disagreed that procurement lacked a value-for-money focus.
“The value for money assessment is inherent throughout Defence’s management of the naval shipbuilding enterprise and, through this lens, the progress of the project between first and second pass. Defence recognises that value for money is not solely determined by the price,” it said.
But ANAO said Defence had conflated an industry policy objective of establishing a continuous naval shipbuilding program in Australia with actually achieving of value for money in procurement.
What will be the consequence of these findings? Maybe some additional education for officials, but otherwise not much.
Perhaps the worst outcome will be an embarrassing public grilling at an upcoming hearing of the Senate estimates committee, where Senators have carte blanche to interrogate officials at length on project shortcomings.
“Defences’s general approach to applying the CPRs (Commonwealth Procurement Rules) and the core principle of value for money in the Hunter class procurement, and the lack of understanding of CPR requirements reflected in its responses to the ANAO, suggests that further training and oversight may be required of Defence officials involved in high-level planning and advising on major capital acquisition projects, at all levels,” ANAO said.
With the 2031 in-service date for the first Hunter looking less likely to be achieved, Navantia has stepped in with a pair of unsolicited proposals, one to build three more Hobart-class DDGs and the other to build six corvettes. The Australian military has engaged the RAND Corporation to assess the proposal for three additional DDGs.
The UK’s decision to arm Ukraine with the long-range Storm Shadow missile could serve as a game changer, with a top British officer telling Breaking Defense the weapon will be especially valuable in taking out sites vital for Russia’s logistics.
However, questions remain, including whether Ukraine is operating under restrictions with the weapon, how many weapons are being shipped to Kyiv’s aid, and what platforms might actually be used to deliver the weapons to Russian forces.
On May 11, UK MoD confirmed several days’ worth of rumours that London would be providing the air-launched, MBDA-made Storm Shadow to Ukraine. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced to parliament that the long-range missiles “are now going into, or are in, the country itself.”
Storm Shadow’s 155-mile range more than triples the reach of the longest-range weapon provided thus far from the US as part of the HIMARS rocket artillery system. It plugs a clear gap in Ukraine’s capability for the kind of strike weapon that would enable Ukrainian forces to hit Russian command posts deep inside Crimea.
“These missiles will help them to hit the command-and-control nodes, the logistics, where you have a sort of coalescence of Russian soldiers,” Rear Admiral Tim Woods told Breaking Defense in a Monday interview. “And what that means is, you are much better able to starve the front line of direction, logistics, weapons and people. And so yeah, it’s critical that we have something with this range. Because you know, that enables them to sort of fight that deep battle better.”
Woods serves as the Defence Attache at the British embassy in Washington, making him a key interlocutor for the “special relationship” between the UK and US. But he also carries significant first-hand knowledge of the Ukraine conflict, having served as the military attaché to Kyiv directly before this posting — a term that overlapped with Russia’s invasion.
“I’ve stood on Kramatorsk station, which the Russians have now hit … I’ve been to Bakhmut, and it does break my heart to see the fact that in Bakhmut, there were 70,000 people when I went there, there are now 7,000 people that have been living for nine months, without clean water, without electricity, hiding in cellars and basements,” he said. “So every time we’ve provided a piece of equipment, it’s been so that Ukraine can defend itself better. And so the idea of these long-range missiles is that they can fight the deep battle better.”
In December 2022 Wallace admonished the Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, that continuing to attack non-military targets could convince the UK to donate more advanced weapons to Ukraine. Two months later, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak echoed this warning, stating “Together we must help Ukraine to shield its cities from Russian bombs and Iranian drones. That’s why the United Kingdom will be the first country to give Ukraine longer-range weapons.”
In Wallace’s May 11 address to the House of Commons, he characterized the decision as “calibrated and proportionate to Russia’s escalations. None of this would have been necessary had Russia not invaded [Ukraine],” he added. (Former MoD officials also tell Breaking Defense that Wallace has been seeking to assume a higher profile in support of Ukraine as part of his aspirations to become the next NATO Secretary General.)
Woods, echoed those comments, noting that the Russians shouldn’t be taken by surprise: “Our embassy in Moscow notified them of the intention to provide Ukraine with this capability. And we made it very clear to the Russians, and why we did that, you know — they could end this war anytime they want.”
23-year-old Phyllis (Pippa) Latour jumps from a US Air Force bomber and parachutes into occupied Normandy to gather intelligence on Nazi positions in preparation for D-Day.
She uses an entrenching tool strapped to her leg to bury her ‘chute and clothes and begins a four-month mission of impeccable spy craft posing as a poor teenage French girl.
Latour had been trained by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) She learned about encryption and surveillance, how to send messages in Morse code, and how to repair the wireless sets. She had to pass gruelling physical tests set in the rough terrain of the Scottish Highlands. She earned the techniques of close combat, and described how they were taught by a cat burglar who had been released from jail “how to get in a high window, and down drainpipes, how to climb over roofs without being caught.”
Latour was determined to exact revenge against the Nazis, who had killed her godfather. It would be a dangerous mission.
Years later Latour told an interviewer, “The men who had been sent just before me were caught and executed. I was told I was chosen for that area [of France] because I would In September 1945, Latour was appointed an additional Member of the Order of the British Empire arouse less suspicion.”
She used bicycles to tour the region, often under the guise of selling soap, and passed information to the British on Nazi positions using coded messages. Acting the part of a silly country girl, she would chatter with German soldiers.
She moved constantly to avoid detection. Often, she would spend nights sleeping in forests and foraging for food.
Latour developed an ingenious plan to conceal her activities. She carried her secret codes on a piece of silk, pricking each one with a pin when it had been used. She concealed the silk in a hair tie. When she was briefly detained by the Germans and subjected to search, she brazenly removed the tie and let her hair fall, to show that she had nothing to hide.
During the summer of 1944, she sent 135 coded messages, helping Allied bombers to identify German targets.
After the war, Latour married and settled in New Zealand, raising four children. Her children knew nothing about their mother’s service until her oldest son discovered the information on the Internet in 2000.
She was presented with the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the French government in 2014, as part of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy.
Still living in New Zealand, Latour is 102
Exercise Viper Strike was held this month to enhance the ability of different units to work with each other in a combat environment.
Members of 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), took part in the exercise at Enoggera Close Training Area.
The combat team was based on Alpha Company 6RAR, supported by elements of 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment (2CER), 1st Military Police Battalion, 2nd Health Battalion, and 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Artillery.
The exercise was based on a mechanised infantry security operation with soldiers setting and reacting to ambushes, conducting security patrols, and dealing with sensitive population issues, including a mass grave scenario.
Second-in-Command of Alpha Company 6RAR, Captain Jose Carino, said the exercise enhanced soldiers’ abilities to work with different units.
“Exercise Viper Strike 23 served as an excellent activity for the infantry platoons and enablers so we could operate in a combat team environment,” Captain Carino said.
“It emphasised the importance of understanding the capabilities across the force and collaborating with other units to achieve training outcomes.
“These factors all help to set conditions for our soldiers to fight and succeed on operations.”
The exercise featured an enemy platoon, which conducted ambushes and night probes, further testing the combat team’s ability to operate under a persistent threat.
Officer Commanding Alpha Company 6RAR Major Nathan Dubbeld said training to defeat an enemy in difficult conditions was a great learning opportunity for the soldiers, and was a further demonstration of 6RAR’s preparation for Exercise Talisman Sabre.
“To ensure the combat team is prepared for Talisman Sabre 23, and more importantly, is prepared for operational deployments, there is a need to train as a combined arms team,” Major Dubbeld said.
“Simulating a realistic deployment and operation, the exercise focused on training to respond to a conventional threat during a transition from competition to conflict.
“This enabled the combat team to exercise a broader range of critical warfighting and specialist capabilities, ensuring that our soldiers improved their lethality and survivability.”
Exercises such as Viper Strike test the soldiers’ preparedness through several realistic scenarios, which ensure the 7th Brigade is ready to deploy at short notice.
The Australian Army Gap Year program offers young Australians the opportunity to experience military life and gain valuable skills and experiences. One of the initial training locations for Army Gap Year recruits is the Army Recruit Training Centre (ARTC) at Kapooka.
Kapooka, located near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, is the primary facility for training Army recruits. It provides the foundational training required for all soldiers in the Australian Army. During the Gap Year program, recruits will undergo the same basic training as regular Army recruits, albeit in a condensed format.
The recruit training at Kapooka is physically and mentally demanding, aimed at developing essential military skills, discipline, and teamwork. The training is designed to transform civilians into fit, motivated, and disciplined soldiers. It covers a wide range of subjects, including military drill, weapons handling, navigation, fieldcraft, first aid, physical fitness, and more.
The duration of recruit training at Kapooka can vary, but typically it lasts around 80 days. Throughout the program, recruits will be challenged physically and mentally, pushing them to their limits to develop resilience and determination.
During the training, recruits will live in shared accommodation and follow a strict routine. They will wear uniforms, participate in physical training, learn military tactics, and receive instruction from experienced Army instructors. Recruits will also have the opportunity to bond with their fellow trainees, building strong relationships and teamwork skills.
Upon completion of recruit training at Kapooka, Gap Year recruits will be posted to various Army units across Australia, where they will continue their training and gain further hands-on experience in their chosen field. These postings may involve roles such as infantry, artillery, logistics, engineering, and more, depending on the individual’s preferences and the needs of the Army.
Participating in the Australian Army Gap Year program and undergoing recruit training at Kapooka can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. It offers a unique opportunity to gain valuable skills, explore potential career paths in the military, and develop personal attributes that can benefit individuals in various aspects of life.
The involvement of Australia in the Vietnam War began in the early 1960s and lasted until the early 1970s. Here is a brief history of Australia’s participation in the conflict:
1. Background: The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era conflict between North Vietnam (backed by communist forces) and South Vietnam (supported by anti-communist forces and the United States). The conflict escalated in the 1960s, and the United States sought international support for its efforts in South Vietnam.
2. 1962: Australia’s involvement officially began in 1962 when the Australian government sent military advisors to South Vietnam. These advisors were part of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) and were tasked with training and assisting South Vietnamese forces.
3. 1965: As the conflict intensified, Australia decided to increase its commitment. In 1965, the government announced the deployment of combat troops to Vietnam. The first Australian combat troops, comprising the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), arrived in South Vietnam in May 1966.
4. Operations: Australian forces were primarily involved in ground combat operations against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. They operated in different regions of South Vietnam, including Phuoc Tuy Province, Bien Hoa Province, and the Central Highlands.
5. Battles and Contributions: Australian troops participated in several significant battles during their involvement in the Vietnam War. Some notable engagements include the Battle of Long Tan in 1966, where a small Australian force held off a much larger Viet Cong attack, and the Battle of Coral-Balmoral in 1968, which was a series of actions against North Vietnamese forces.
6. Withdrawal: As the war became increasingly unpopular, both internationally and domestically, Australia began reducing its troop presence. The withdrawal process began in 1970, and the last Australian combat troops left Vietnam in 1972.
7. Casualties: Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War resulted in significant casualties. Over 60,000 Australian military personnel served in Vietnam, and 521 lost their lives. Many others were injured or suffered long-term health issues due to the war.
8. Legacy: The Vietnam War had a profound impact on Australia. It sparked intense debates about foreign policy and Australia’s alliance with the United States.
The war also had social and cultural ramifications, contributing to a period of political and social unrest in the country. Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War remains a significant chapter in its military history and has shaped subsequent foreign policy decisions and approaches to international conflicts.
Today we remember the bravery of all those involved in Operation Chastise, better known as the “Dambusters” Raid, 80 years ago in the Second World War.
The raid was one of the war’s most celebrated and successful aerial operations, with an attack on dams in Germany’s industrial heartland, the Ruhr Valley.
The dams were considered an important target for the Allies and would be attacked using newly invented ‘bouncing bombs’ – depth charges that could bounce along the water’s surface before sinking and then exploding.
617 Squadron was formed to carry out the raid and included airmen from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
Australians played an important role in the operation, and acknowledge the bravery of all the Allied airmen who carried out the Dambusters Raid.
“Out of a group of 133 airmen, 13 Australians took part in this operation,” Minister Keogh said. “One of them was Harold ‘Mick’ Martin, who was considered one of the finest bomber pilots of the Second World War.”
Mick Martin and fellow Australian Jack Leggo were later knighted for their part in the raid. British Squadron leader Guy Gibson received the Victoria Cross for leading the operation and 33 other allied airmen were decorated.
The courage and skill these men showed while flying heavy bombers at an altitude of just 18 metres while maintaining speeds of 370 km per hour is truly remarkable.
Today, we acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of the aircrews of 617 Squadron and all those who served in the Second World War.”
The Australian War Memorial’s display about the Dambusters Raid features the original topographical model of the Möhne Dam which was used by the pilots and aircrew to familiarise themselves with the target ahead of the operation.
By Robert Dougherty
Photo: HMAS Anzac conducts a Light Line Transfer with Royal Malaysian Navy KD Lekir during Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2023. Photo: LSIS Jarryd Capper. *this image has been digitally altered.
More than 250 Australian Defence Force personnel have taken part in the bi-annual military Exercise Bersama Shield in Malaysia.
Across two weeks, ADF staff cooperated with Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) militaries from Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom from 27 April 27 to 12 May.
The combined joint operations are designed to enhance interoperability and strengthen professional relationships.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton AO, CSC, said Exercise Bersama Shield was an important opportunity to exercise with FPDA partners.
“For more than 50 years, Australia has exercised with our FPDA partners to support regional security and develop our professional mastery together,” LTGEN Bilton said.
“Exercises such as Bersama Shield continue to develop and provide the ADF and FPDA partners the opportunity to exercise together in a contemporary and complex environment.”
Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon and KA350 King Air tactical mobility aircraft, and the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Anzac, were also deployed to the exercise.
The Five Power Defence Arrangements were established in 1971 as a security arrangement between Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Malaysia, and Singapore.
“The Bersama series of exercises underlines Australia’s steadfast commitment to investing in our regional partnerships,” LTGEN Bilton said.
“Exercises such as these promote an open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific region and make a meaningful contribution to collective security.”
The next exercise for the FPDA nations is Exercise Bersama Lima, scheduled for October in Malaysia.