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ADF General discussion thread

Discussion in 'Geostrategic Issues' started by Todjaeger, Feb 4, 2012.

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  1. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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  2. StingrayOZ

    StingrayOZ Well-Known Member

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    Hugh White is on it again. Disband the Army and the Navy and double the airforce.
    Hugh White’s military revolution | The Strategist

    Can't agree with him in some broad areas.

    We have known since the 1980's that we have underfunded our submarine capability when we didn't order 7 & 8. We also know that the collins replacement was started too late. We also lost our carriers, and our surface combatants were shadows of what we had comparatively.

    Our Army is barely big enough to perform East Timor type stabilisation missions and our amphibious capability has grown enough to barely support that kind of operation, not beyond it. We won't be taking Beijing with an amphibious assault, single handedly. But we could certainly provide a wide range of stabilisation in our immediate areas around the pacific.

    We have never been able to single handedly change world power. Our strength is in our ability to influence the great powers and lead and provide partnership. Our geographic location enables us to provide a swift upper cut to the north, and patrol, control the east/west/south.

    I think he narrows into a high intensity conflict with China, with no support and 1920's type primitive nations surrounding us.
     
  3. OPSSG

    OPSSG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, China is rising but they are also sitting on a demographic time bomb of an ageing middle class population. Traditionally, the middle class that is most difficult to satisfy in a slowing economy. The PLA is cautious in presenting itself as a ‘contributor’ for the regional security architecture and that caution buys Regional and Middle powers, like Japan and Australia, breathing space to build on existing relations and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific. In this respect, it is difficult to agree with Hugh White — because he is selective in reading geo-political trends and proposes to surrender areas of hard won Australian military competence, in broad areas, to develop niche capabilities, for a very limited mission set — sea denial and defence of an air land gap. He is a smart guy in love with his own sea denial ideas. I don’t recommend it, as it is not just a radical change but a very wasteful proposal that does not make use of existing investments. Instead he wants to discard the Australian Army’s hard won ability to help shape your country’s external security, in cooperation with Australian partners.

    If Australia adopts Hugh White‘s plans, Australia’s ability to work with its ASEAN partners, Japan and other US allies, across a spectrum of operations, go down significantly. Let me give one example, the more prepared an army is for conventional war, the less it is prepared for low intensity conflict — in its combined arms force structure for a division. Therefore, there is a need to develop a mix of capabilities for deployment into areas of conflict to deal with both low end and hybrid threats.

    The Russians have demonstrated the 10-10-10 cycle. 10 mins from their identification of Ukrainian force concentration or emissions by Russian UAVs, they will call a fire mission, and after a 10 min fire mission, their artillery battery in action would have displaced in 10 mins to an alternate location — while another battery stands ready to kill any Ukrainian counter battery work within minutes. The ability of an army to fight as a combined arms division, with armoured mobility, should not be easily discarded. To deal with this 10-10-10 cycle, any modern army division (whether American, Korean or Australian), facing a hybrid threat needs lots of armoured mobility, EW, emissions control, limited air defence capability (to protect against enemy helicopters), an artillery brigade (that includes self propelled artillery, HIMARS and counter battery radar and other systems fully integrated). Which is why, the ADF’s proposed purchase intend to cover these divisional capability gaps. Exercise Talisman Sabre is a strong demonstration of Australian capability to exercise command and control an allied HIMARS battery to conduct a strike mission — Talisman Sabre 2019 Live Fire Exercise - Second Line of Defense. In a hybrid or conventional war scenario, speed kills.


    Certainly smaller loitering munition systems are being pushed down to provide direct support at battalion level to speed the sensor shooter cycle, as a support weapon — which is very relevant to Israel. I note that the Hero family of loitering munitions is in service with select elite Israeli divisions. But the bigger change is the shift in doctrinal thinking (with transfer of control to different echelons, from the division strike centre to lower command levels) behind its war time usage for urban warfare, as a source of innovation to deal with Hamas and Hezbollah ATGM teams hidden in urban terrain — which is hinted at in the numerous marketing videos for these systems. The dividing line between an ATGM team and one that operates loitering munitions, over time, may not exist — it can be just another missile they carry. The NLOS missile is a high speed drone that kills tanks or hard targets but just not designed for recovery. Given the range of these systems, the employment of the sensors as part of a C4I system is much more interesting than the munitions itself.

    If you look at the Canadian Army, they no longer fight at a divisional level. Rather, the Canadians, after years of budget cuts, have reduced their army to become a niche task organised force contributor to NATO — which means their future generals no longer command even 1 of their own divisions (as their army, by itself, cannot fight as a combined arms division). Having enough battalions for a division is not the same as having the armoured mobility, the C4I and logistic capabilities of a combined arms division. IMO, the Canadians no longer have a sovereign capability to deploy anything bigger than a battle group (or a battalion plus effort). And they are limited to low intensity conflict, unless they are deployed as part of NATO.

    The current ADF for structure enables Australians the unilateral ability to deploy at short notice a brigade+ effort (and scale up from that entry force):
    where the UN relies on a parallel “green helmet” force alongside “blue helmet” peacekeepers to maintain security and assist in maintaining order in a conflict zone (e.g. the Australian led INTERFET). With allied or partner contribution, Australia can support a division minus effort for deployed forces and sustain said force by sea with NZDF and SAF logistics support. That a real capability to deploy significant combat power for overmatch to any low intensity threat, if the need arises, that increases the likelihood of mission success.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
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  4. ASSAIL

    ASSAIL Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    This is Hugh White “Fortress Australia” Mk II postulating the end of 200 years of “safe” western dominance in the Indo Pacific led by a rampant and belligerent China.
    First, his statement that the RAN’s force structure during the 60s 70s and 80s was an expeditionary force is plain wrong. Yes we converted Sydney to transport troops to VN but the structure was clearly an ASW Hunter Killer force to counter the Soviet submarine threat. It may be argued that the Army and and Airforce (others may differ) were as White suggests but not Navy
    Under the hostile Chinese scenario maybe, just maybe his new force composition (sink navy, shrink army, double airforce)could make sense. Is it likely? Is it in China’s interest? Will the US meekly withdraw? I suspect NO for all answers.
    What then happens to our Pacific neighbours if they are abandoned by us? They fall under China’s influence even faster than in White’s scenario and hasten his Armageddon.
    You don’t simply roll over because it’s too hard, our current sea and land matrix of forces enables the stabilisation, forward defence and influence in our region that we did not have before ET, surely those lessons have merit.
    As for his solution to combat foreign aggressors once they have lodged on our territory (but wait, our multiple subs and air strike should have prevented that) use missiles and air strikes? The grunts would love that and there are many historical examples where that strategy has failed and boots on the ground are the only feasible solution.
    I hope Hugh White is being provocative but I fear he rather assumes some intellectual superiority for his strategic analysis.
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Active Member

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    I'm looking at what else the Joint Force needs to do and thinking that the current fleet of P-8s gives us enough for what we do now (if we use them appropriately) and while the extra's make life easier for the P-8 fleet, the missed opportunities are probably greater. Noting #13 - 15 don't actually give us anything new or improved and are effectively continuing a 2015 Joint Force for the next 15 years.

    So what would I do? (Disclaimer: I know 3x P-8s cannot fund all the below, bu they could provide seed money, or enough to make them feasible)

    Starting just in the maritime domain, there are a few holes I would like to see filled. Being an island, our greatest geographical strength is also our greatest weakness - we rely on the sea, sea lanes and sea transport. To that end, I'd like to boost our persistent surveillance capabilities. P-8's are fine if you know there is a sub or ship there, but are bad at persistent surveillance. So I'd be looking at uncrewed, long-range underwater vehicles, SURTASS ships and a SOSUS network. @SteveR offers a possible part of that solution above. The latter is probably of significant diplomatic use, especially at aiding our near neighbours. Why can't there be a G-I-UK gap in SE Asia between Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and / or the Philippines? An interlaced, persistent surveillance of our northern approaches from roughly Broome around to Gladstone that reinforces JORN would provide a potent means of directing our MQ-4s and P-8s appropriately, or naval task groups. And - speaking realpolitik wise - supports government efforts around border security

    There are opportunities in our mine hunting capability too. It's been ignored by big navy for so long that it's arguable we have a resilient one anymore. I also find it interesting that reports out of some of our allies indicate that modular minehunters don't work, and uncrewed options - while showing promise - don't provide sufficient probability of clearance levels. On top of all this, there are plenty of leftover mines from the 1940s across SE and mid-Asia. Op RENDER SAFE is a significant operations for upholding Australian reputation in these areas, and the MHCs are contributors to that. This ignores all the, often essential and unique, capabilities the hydro offshoot brings regionally. Finally, with only a handful of key ports capable of taking the cargo we need, we need a means of ensuring approaches are kept safe and clear. I'd be looking at replacing our Huon class with another, dedicated and bigger, MHC fleet (not an OPV hull) with uncrewed options that can be run off OPVs to reinforce the MHC work.

    Navy workforce....

    Long range strike may be an option, noting of course that there are existing projects for such options in ASuW and land operations. But funding more rapid acquisition so that our MFU don't rely on AGM-84 could be useful.

    Purchasing actual warstocks of ammunition....

    Our sealift, while dramatically better than Timor in 1999, is still insufficient for what Army needs. At the moment we can lift a couple of battlegroups if all three amphib ships are available, with some....limited...ship-to-shore connectors. There has also been some work done by the Sea Power Centre recently that highlights there is no civilian shipping you can "just hire" for contingencies (like many in white and green think). It's all tapped out. So I'd look at investing in a standing contract that can move the rest of the Brigade in one lift and additional ship-to-shore connectors so that we can land more forces on the beach simultaneously.

    That's a handful of way's I'd be looking at reinvesting money from 3 extra P-8s into the maritime domain that I think give the Joint Force more than just another 3 P-8s. Beyond that, I'd be looking at:
    - AI / machine learning integration
    - improved intelligence / PED linkages (focusing on the transfer and analysis of data, not more sensors)
    - improved strategic logistics resilience (maybe bringing our logistics chains up to a 1990s standard...)
    - pushing our uncrewed platforms that actually contribute in a meaningful way (so not Black Hornet and the like, but brethren of current major platforms to enable the ADF to generate mass better)

    That's a quick cut. TLDR - I'd reinvest in ways that improve the Joint Force of 2029, not the Joint Force of 2015

    MODERATOR EDIT: This post has been copied from the RAAF thread because it is wide ranging and informative, worthy of discussion here. NG.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2019
  6. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Given the broad range of suggestions, I felt it more appropriate to bring some of that discussion to the ADF thread since it more of a purple than specific service discussion.

    With the mention of a establishing a persistent surveillance capability possibly from Broome to Gladstone to augment JORN, I had been under the impression that SECAR was to do something like that. Did SECAR never become operational, or has it been replaced?

    With the need pointed out for increased sealift since the current assets (two LHD's and an LSD) while quite capable are still insufficient, would something like a replacement for the LCH capability go some ways towards Australia having what it needs in terms of sealift, or are you thinking of capacities on a larger scale?
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Active Member

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    Sound like a good idea :)

    SECAR - I don't know. I'd never heard of it before you mentioned it, and noting my current job I find that odd. A quick internet search seems to indicate it was/is surface only, in which case the underwater bit is still missing.

    As for sealift - both. LCH replacements work well against an insignificant threat and there is a role for that through SDO 1 and 2. If they can cruise at the same speed as the LHDs then that is even better - they can be protected. Independent sailing of LCHs is an Army fantasy that needs to die against any reasonable threat....

    But there is also just the "stuff" a Brigade or more needs. The remainder of the CSSB and CSR. Additions from 6, 16 and 17 Bde. Any RAAF or RAN add ons. The ammunition an PMF Regt needs. The spare parts for a mech force. It is a huge bill - especially at D+14 or D+30, let alone beyond that. And we generally assume it away. Said civilian ships don't have to be in the assault wave (although they might), but they need to be just over the horizon to reinforce the initial landings and actually allow the Bde to exploit.
     
  8. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    As I recall it, SECAR was/is like a shorter-ranged version of JORN, using HF radio waves bounced off the ionosphere to provide an OTHR that covered ~200 n miles or out to the edge of the EEZ. That of course would not provide much help in detecting submerged threats, but certainly useful in providing additional SA for surface and aerial traffic. IIRC though, SECAR was not really intended as a resource for the ADF, but more Coastwatch which I believe is now the BPF.

    I do wonder if Australia has (or should have) hydrophone arrays setup in/near major Australian ports within the territorial waters, and if so, could data sets from the hydrophones be merged with radar return data sets for the same area so that contacts can be quickly identified as being surface of subsurface in nature.

    I have an idea for potential augmentation or replacement of elements of the hydrographic survey and MCM capability that could also (if feasible that is...) provide some additional sealift capability. Once I have had more time to really mull it over I will likely mention in in the general maritime thread.
     
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  9. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    Are you thinking of just a localised system, which wouldn't help much with JORN could with SECAR? I would think something like SOSUS would be of better benefit with one hydrophone array based in the top end looking north, another on the east coast focussing on the Pacific, a third in WA focussing on the IO and a fourth on the southern coast. All could feed to a central CIC, which would give a full picture of the sub service environment around Australia. Also, Australia should lean on the NZG to reactivate & modernise or reinstall the SOSUS array that it had in the Hauraki Gulf back in the 1980s, which according to rumour had excellent sound reception that went far north into the Pacific.
     
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  10. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Actually I was thinking more along the lines of integrating (or at least trying to...) some of the hydrophone data with Vigilaire. Vigilaire is, at least to my understanding, a system which takes radar returns data from a variety of arrays of different types and in different locations around Australia and fuses the data together to provide a large overall common picture.

    A potential advantage of doing so (again, if it is actually possible without requiring an unreasonable amount of effort and resources...) would be that a land-based or aerial radar system (JORN, SECAR, a P-8 or E-7, etc.) could detect something like a surface ship, which the hydrophone array also picked up, and the the different types of data could be merged for that ship contact. OTOH the hydrophone array might detect machine noises coming from a location or area where the available radar data feeds do not show anything, which could in turn serve as a pertinent negative and possibly be used as a cue to send in an ASW asset to investigate.

    While the notion of a large SOSUS line linking Australia to mainland Asia is appealing, especially since it would also cover major SLOC and transit choke points, I have concerns about the cost and viability of establishing and maintaining such a capability. Using the G-I-UK SOSUS as an example, NATO members controlled the three land masses which the SOSUS was deployed between, and since long stretches of it crossed the ocean floor in international waters, Soviet subs were known to deploy machinery to cut into and damage ports of the array. With such an Australian array, I would be concerned about the long-term ability to keep such an array operational due to local politics, deliberate damage, etc.
     
  11. ASSAIL

    ASSAIL Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    We did have a SOSUS array in the 1970’s. It covered the area south of Sunda Strait (between Java and Sumatra) and other NE Indian Ocean approaches to Oz.
    I did some trials there in Assail working with the old Diamantina.
    I have no idea how long it was operational, for all I know it might still be?
     
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  12. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    Given the breeding habits of submarines in the Indo Pacific, I think that a SOSUS array up there and one in the Pacific maybe in order. Maybe the Pacific one could be a combined RAN / RNZN project.
     
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