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Australian Army Discussions and Updates

Discussion in 'Army & Security Forces' started by mickk, Nov 25, 2006.

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  1. mickk

    mickk New Member

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    James Button, London
    November 24, 2006

    [​IMG]

    HE REMEMBERS every detail: a massive explosion in the helicopter, a smell of cordite, bullets ricocheting off the walls, his door gunner trying to get a shot at their attackers, and his co-pilot noticing blood pooling in his lap and realising he had been shot through the chest.

    "He was amazing," Scott Watkins says of his co-pilot that day in Iraq, Keith Reesby, whose heart escaped a bullet by two centimetres. "He dressed his own wound … didn't complain. I have nothing but praise for the way he behaved."

    When Major Watkins speaks of the incident, it sounds as if Captain Reesby was the only brave one. But the British Army did not agree, and yesterday the Queen was due to award the Australian soldier the Distinguished Flying Cross, Britain's third-highest military award for bravery.

    Major Watkins, whose two-year secondment with the British One Regiment Army Air Corps included a 4½-month stint in Iraq, is the first Australian to win the award since 1973.

    Major (then captain) Watkins remained "cool, calm and collected" as he flew the Lynx helicopter to safety while under fire just 15 metres above the ground, according to the award citation.

    Two days later, another helicopter he was flying also came under attack 50 kilometres south of Baghdad. Again, he didn't panic but followed his attackers as they sped away in a car, which led to their arrest and the discovery of a cache of grenades, shells and bomb-making equipment in the boot.

    The 35-year-old Brisbane-born soldier, who has a mild manner and a ready grin, says about the first incident: "It is always a question a soldier asks himself: 'How are you going to behave in that situation?' To be able to know that you are OK is a good thing." It was November 2004 and the British Army had sent troops from southern Iraq to the Baghdad area to assist the Americans, who were mounting their second assault on nearby Fallujah. After working in the "more benign" area of Basra, the Sunni triangle was a hostile zone, Major Watkins says.

    Insurgents firing AK-47 rifles from a ditch hit his helicopter as he flew supplies from Baghdad Airport to a military base 50 kilometres to the south. His gunner was preparing to fire back when the Australian realised his co-pilot had been hit. Getting Captain Reesby home alive was now paramount. That afternoon, as Captain Watkins inspected the damage on his helicopter, a piece of shrapnel from a rocket fired at the base hit the aircraft again, narrowly missing him.

    Still, he says, "I really enjoyed myself in Iraq. I flew 115 sorties and only on three occasions do I know I got shot at."

    The father of two young children is in London with his wife Karen, father Warwick and mother Dawn. After he learnt he had won the award, he got a text from Captain Reesby, who has fully recovered. Last night the two soldiers were getting together for a meal and a memory.

    DFCs are not easy to win, I would imagine there is a bit more to the story than this.
     
  2. icelord

    icelord Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    :australia :australia :australia :australia :australia
    As if pilots didn't already have a Big Ego...
     
  3. eckherl

    eckherl Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    A well earned medal if I may say, may God bless men like Major Watkins and Captain Reesby.
     
  4. Simon9

    Simon9 Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Hmm... technically, foreign awards are supposed to be worn LAST in the order of wearing. The DFC can be worn first but that's for Imperial awards and this is not an Imperial award, so seems to me it should be worn last?? Just before his UN medal anyway.
     
  5. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    I confess, I'm a little confused by this. Which country's armed forces is he serving with? Major Watkins is an Australian, but is he serving in the ADF and attached to a British unit, or is he in the British army? I admit, I don't know enough about current ADF & British uniforms to recognize which one, though I can make out a Roo patch above his right breast pocket.

    -Cheers
     
  6. Simon9

    Simon9 Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    That's not a roo patch, that's his AIRN compliancy badge (basically means he's deployable). It's an F88 Austeyr rifle with a wreath around it, see:

    http://www.heritagemedals.com.au/images/medium/airn_lge_med.jpg

    That's an Australian uniform, he's in the ADF and was on exchange with the British Army.

    Up until 1975 Australians were awarded Imperial medals such as the DFC, but now this should classify as a foreign medal, the same as a Bronze Star would (and quite a few Aussies have been awarded that recently).

    Personally I like the Imperial awards better, the new awards were designed in that period of fashion massacre known as the 70s. They look pretty stupid IMHO. :p:
     
  7. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Thanks for pointing out about the patch, not able to zoom in enough (without degrading pic) to see what it really was.

    Incidentally, I checked itsanhonour.gov.au and it appears that the DFC, though not in the Australian system of honours, it still listed in the schedule. It ranks below a CSC but above an MG in the Australian system. From what I understand of the Australian system, the Australian government can only issue Australian honours, but for service to the UK, certain Imperial honours can be issued by HM and worn. Like the GC which would be issued by the Queen or the CV which would be issued by Australia, both awards basically covering the same thing, or various awards of the Royal Victorian Order.

    -Cheers
     
  8. Simon9

    Simon9 Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Yes all the Imperial awards are still listed in the Australian honours system because a LOT of Aussies still have them. Our recently-retired Chief of Defence Force had the Military Cross and I believe our current CDF has the Air Force Cross. But these were all awarded under the Imperial system to Australian soldiers serving in the ADF.

    But the DFC in this case was issued to an ADF member serving with another military so I think it should be in the same category as the Aussies receiving the Bronze Star. Not that I'm begrudging the guy anything - it just seems anomalous that an old British award is afforded higher priority than an American award or a new British award. Anyway, no big deal, I'm just nitpicking! :)

    Interesting to see it announced today that an Australian Commando has just been awarded the first ever Star of Gallantry. Good stuff.
     
  9. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Any word on whether a VC for Australia has been awarded yet? I seem to remember something being mentioned about someone in either SASR or 4 RAR possibly being put in for one. Not that there would be any release on who it would've been given to or why. Still it would be nice to know if one has finally been awarded.

    I'll have to read up on the award of the SG since I missed whatever release it was in.

    -Cheers
     
  10. Simon9

    Simon9 Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    It hasn't. I suspect this is the incident they were talking about as a potential VC. In WWI it was commonplace to award a VC for acts like this, but as I said in another forum, maybe they couldn't really justify it since no Australians were killed or even anything more than lightly wounded.

    Incidentally I'm watching footage of the presentation on TV now... all faces hidden and so on. The Sergeant SG winner is MASSIVE. Wouldn't surprise me if the Taliban ran away just looking at him!
     
  11. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Any chance of a clip of that making it's way to here? Being 12k miles away, I doubt I get the channel it's showing on...
     
  12. Simon9

    Simon9 Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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  13. WebMaster

    WebMaster Administrator Staff Member

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    Threads merged. Please post all discussions and updates related to Australian army here instead of opening many threads on same topic.

    Thank you!
     
  14. FutureTank

    FutureTank Banned Member

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    Land400 considerations

    I posted this elsewhere before realising the correct place is probably here, so here it is again

    Some thoughts on the subject:

    1. Defence projects are first and foremost political decisions. Sure the Forces get their say, but in the case of Land400 the decision will be highly political because the Federal government was/is (as far as I'm aware) on having the design built in Australia (substantially, meaning about 80% of work).

    2. Australian Army has a 'history' with design of armoured vehicles, starting with the very first proposed tank which was the model for the actual Royal Navy design. In fact this has been a consistent trend in Australia - no shortage of clever and creative people who produce World-leading ideas, only to be left hanging while the Australian Government opts for something from elsewhere for rarely understood reasons. M113 is a case in point. Does anyone doubt that Australia could not produce an APC in the 60s which is at least equal to if not better then the M113?

    3. Australian Army serves in a unique strategic environment. It is complicated by geography, lack of strong alliance ties with other states in the region, rising cost of fuel (which allows deployment), and its size relative to that of its opponents in possible areas of deployment.
    These unique factors suggest that ADF's needs are better served by IFV designs used for other forces in similar situation. As it happens there are only two such forces in the World (global reach, covering all possible contingencies, limited budget, small operational force, limited resources). These are the USMC and the Russian Airborne forces. The reason these are mentioned together is because they are the only troops that use IFV designs specific to their deployment doctrine.

    4. The Australian Army is in the process of embracing amphibious warfare as part of its deployment doctrine. This may be surprising since the Australian Army has always gone to war with the help of the Navy, but there you go, never too late to admit the obvious. However this does not include actual beach assaults in the way the USMC still views true amphibious operations. Of course technically speaking 'amphibious' assault would require the assaulting force to approach landing zone using vehicles in fully submersed mode (the turret down equivalent of the ground surface operations).

    5. Why are wheeled IFVs so popular? Actually this is a recent trend in the West European and US designs because the Soviet Union had, and Russia continues to produce wheeled APCs and IFVs. In fact Soviet Naval Infantry used wheeled APCs since the 60s. The answer is fairly simple, fuel. Since the dissolution of the USSR, and the mess in Kuwait, not to mention Venezuela, fuel prices have grown consistently. The fuel prices are not helped by the economic growth in China and India. This constant cost to operating AFVs is likely to escalate constantly in future. Wheeled AFVs get better fuel economy, which Soviet Army found out decades ago because their own economy rebuilding after WW2 was unable to support a fully mechanised Army. While fuel price was kept low artificially in the USSR, its scarcity could not be artificially increased for wartime planning, so Soviet generals had to stick to wheeled APCs and adjust their doctrine accordingly.

    6. IFVs are designed to be operated by their crews while bringing their dismounted personnel to do battle. After all the discussion on the engines, armour and weapons are finished, what still needs to be added to the IFV design are the human operators and passengers. Australian Army has a scarcity of these. This is only in part due to their volunteer and therefore professional recruitment. Australia as a whole has a shortfall in labour supply and therefore conscription is out of the question because one can not conscript the very labour who’s taxes pay for deployments. This is the problem faced by Israel. The problem also forces the Army to design its doctrine and use systems that seek to increase survival of personnel to higher levels then expected in most other armed forces. However these survival enhancements need not be greater amounts of armour that evolve designs from IFVs into light tanks. Keeping designs simple and integrating design and doctrine also allows engineers to keep production and maintenance costs down without sacrificing survivability. This also means that design development phases are short, and there is a lesser chance of sub-system sophistication slowing down development of the whole design.

    7. Lastly, if Australia is going to spend 1.5bn on designing and producing its own IFV, it is likely that this needs to be closely coordinated with the operators of the IFV’s primary means of deliver, the RAAN. The current project of procuring two large helicopter carriers in Europe therefore needs to be linked to that of LAND400, and the corresponding development of Amphibious Warfare Doctrine as a joint activity. This is likely to save much money for both services, and lead to a decision that God forbid the ships be designed and built in Australia to suit our unique needs.

    Cheers
    Greg
     
  15. RubOneOut

    RubOneOut New Member

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    Defence forces get more muscle in $1 billion strategy

    THE AGE
    Brendan Nicholson
    December 15, 2006

    A $1 BILLION strategy to tackle the defence recruiting crisis has been approved by federal cabinet.
    Prime Minister John Howard today will announce plans to boost the army, navy and air force by 6000 men and women.
    A major component will be spending $306 million over 10 years on a military "gap year" scheme that will allow up to 1000 17 to 24-year-olds each year to spend a year in the services within two years of finishing year 12. They would be able to taste the military lifestyle and training, and would not have to stay if they don't like it.

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/defence-forces-get-more-muscle-in-1-billion-strategy/2006/12/14/1165685825260.html

    What are your thoughts? Personally, I applaud the government for shortening the general entry application time and I'd also like to see how far they relax the medical criteria, particularly when it comes to eyesight and orthotics.
     
  16. Recruiting for ADF would be massively boosted if they ditched Manpower as the recruiting agency for ADF and started up the Defence operated recruiting centres again.

    Manpower are the most useless bunch of ferkers I have ever met. There is nothing but a long list of complaints from everyone I know who has or has attempted to join since they took over. Even those that HAVE joined have often waited over 12 months to get a slot on a course at 1 RTB.

    THAT is the cause of ADF's recruiting woes.

    Now if only they could seriously address the retention woes, ADF would be laughing. Recruiting has never been the problem that retention is...
     
  17. FutureTank

    FutureTank Banned Member

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    Yes, couldn't agree more.

    The problem is however far more complex then Manpower or Defence Recruiting think.

    The point of recruiting is not to recruit, but to retain.

    Not only is the point not to recruit, but the objective is not to conduct massed recruiting drives, but to recruit the right candidates that can be retained. For how long?

    In commercial world, which is the model used by Manpower, or anyone else in the HR industry, the recruiting has steadily changed from lifelong to contract, i.e. from 20-40 years to annual or need to employ basis.

    The Defence can't follow these models because the recruits are required to serve for periods of equipment utility which usually has no compatible equivalents in the commercial sectors.

    What is the problem?

    The life of type cycle in ADF is about 30 years across Services. For an operator to become truly proficient in its use in peacetime (i.e. where there is lack of realistic and intensive use of equipment) takes about 3-7 years (something like a university degree). However rapid technological advances mean that substantial changes in equipment or function they perform take place every 2-4 years through several generations. This means that the operator needs to commit to at least 14 years of career in the particular profession within ADF on day one of their recruitment to be truly useful to ADF and to achieve professional standards they can be satisfied with.

    There is more. Having attained a professional proficiency, and a degree of command ability, the ADF naturally expects that such individuals will be retained in command capacity. In fact since this would be an expectation of at least another decade regardless of commissioned or non-commissioned rank, the total period of recruitment for ADF is 25-30 years.

    Clearly this is a need that can not be satisfied using models of recruitment from the commercial world.

    Where does ADF find appropriate model for recruitment and retention? What other industry has a 30 year career commitment requirement?

    There is only one such ‘industry’, the marriage. In marriage individuals expect life-long commitment. Further, marriages transit through very similar stages of ‘professionalism’. It takes about 3-7 years to become ‘domesticated’ (failure results is end of relationship) and if children are involved then change in the ‘job’ comes every 2-3 years (stages of life), and culminates with the child's transition from a teenager into an adult, and also ‘graduates’ the parents. After that, the parents are truly able to offer trustworthy advice based on solid expereince to their ‘junior’ peers.

    Looking at the Australian society, the issue of marriage has been a problematic one. Marriage as an institution has been reducing in importance within the Australian society since 1920s, and has followed a trend very much paralleling trends in commercial employment – increasingly shorter duration relationships. Fully 30% of the population will never marry or have children, and 50% of the rest will divorce at least once following 3-7 years of marriage (contributing to need for immigration). There is no effective solution being offered by government programs outside of registered participating counselling organisations, dominated by church based organisations.

    There is a larger issue though then just inability the individual's ability to commit to ADF service as a career choice. Making such a choice initially requires a certain aptitude of the personality. It also has to co-exist with the life choices ADF personnel (and civilian employees to some degree) make just like all other Australians. ADF service personnel still want to have relationships, and children, participate in community and enjoy interests outside of their profession. The fact that much of the service is spent in areas that make this difficult if not impossible, and that service requires greater degree of mobility then the average Australian, suggests that the model used in recruiting and retention has to be far more robust then any used by the commercial world now.

    However the complexity doesn’t stop there. Let’s assume that an individual goes through all the hurdles above and chooses to stay in ADF, having found a spouse, and begun a family…what then? Neither the spouse, not the children that soon follow, have been through the ADF recruiting process, nor are they part of the retention policy!
    There are numerous programs to make ADF service personnel relationships easier and less painful, but from my impression, and I am ready to be convinced otherwise, most retention issues relate to service personnel life issues outside of ADF control.

    Given the complexity of the problem, the solution needs to be similarly complex. At the outset the solution needs a whole-of-government approach.
    To some degree this has already been forced on the Government by realisation, and inclusion in the policy, the need to approach potential recruits during their last years of high school. However this is clearly inadequate.

    I would propose that the first step is to identify individuals with appropriate personality for jobs available in the ADF well before they have made career choice, which usually already takes place after Year10 by those who choose to undertake final two years (majority these days), and even earlier for those who will make the choice of career in trades. This occurs at ages 14-16!

    Assistance needs to be provided for these individuals to enable them to achieve satisfaction in creating lasting and robust relationships with spouses that will cope with the stress ADF service life places on the families. Not only that, but spouses also need an ability to find professional fulfilment within the area of posting of a serving partner.
    In addition the ADF needs to be able to cope with changes in individual’s personality during their life, and adjust to this change while still retaining the individual’s knowledge and experience.

    In short, the need is for a non-commercial model, applied on whole-of-society scale through whole-of-Government (Federal, state and local) as a very long term Government policy, in fact one imbedded into the structure of Australian society in the way cognitive education (primary, secondary and tertiary) is, as relationship education.

    The benefit of such an approach however goes beyond recruitment and retention, but also in training and group integration within the ADF by allowing better group relationship management since any individual joining the group would have been assessed for suitability for at least 4 years prior to induction.

    Unfortunately what this approach requires is innovation. Commercial contracts such as that with Manpower, or assessment of unsolicited proposals process make integration of innovative technology from inventors or small business incapable of penetrating ADF bureaucracy and the tendering process, never mind that of Government echelons capable of taking such wide-sweeping reform, i.e. the Prime Minister’s office. This means that ADF will continue to pay exorbitant amounts of money for its personnel on par with that in US where the cost of recruiting and retention has surpassed US$200,000 per recruit.
     
  18. Mick73

    Mick73 Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    I think people forget when the current government put the knife through the Army back in the late 90's. We had a lot of people who were suitable for non combat role's that were kicked out instead of letting them Corp transfer to service corps positions. In the 3Bde most of these people who were deemed not suitable for further service really wanted to stay in and had years of experience. With the change from DFRDB to MSBS it was clear that the Army was going from a career based environment to a short-term 4-year job and then leave environment. The Ready reserve scheme was another blow to the Army and with out fail, it started to show that the Army was not a viable organisation to be in. Now, in today’s high tempo climate that we find ourselves in, the government is now paying for those errors. Change is one thing but what happened in the end was morale falling to an all time low with some unit’s of 3Bde having large numbers of discharges, requests for Corps transfer and just plan mental wig outs by some members.
    I witnessed massive problems in 3Bde and in other units elsewhere.
    · The unfair push in supporting married members and giving them what they needed at the expense of the single members was getting beyond a joke i.e. overseas deployments both training and operational with the terms “He is married he needs the money” commonly used and then the single members who could have been sent and with less problem put out in the cold.
    · No chance of going on a training course.
    · The lack of training ammo.
    · Highly aggressive PT training sessions during the summer months, which caused a lot of injuries and some of these lead to Med D/C’s.
    In General there was a general lack of trust in the chain of command esp. Senior NCOs. The cause to these problems was not confined to the units themselves, IMO it was caused by the “Yes man” affected members of the chain of command.
    In 97, we received 60 of the new 6 week wonders from Singleton, 20 were D/C and the remainder were not suitable for deployment until doing in house training for six weeks and sometimes more.
    This was in the era of (The great leap forward- It’s a Chinese thing). The writing was on the wall back then and just after ET. By the looks of things nothing has really changed since then it has continued to get worse.
    Now millions of dollars are been spent fixing a system that IMO didn’t need changing at all. All that needed to change was the equipment and developing the doctrine to use the new equipment. Not gutting the Army of decades worth of combined experience.
    IMO a lot of people who left the Army in the last 5 year’s were the one’s who weren’t “Yes men” and they should be encouraged to re enlist. Bring back experience and the qualities the Army is lacking.
    End of Rant.
     
  19. FutureTank

    FutureTank Banned Member

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    It seems the ADF is happy to copy US practice. In this case recruiting from school as is evident form a snipet from a story "A dozen Army and Marine recruiters who visited high schools were among the personnel caught in a major FBI cocaine investigation, and some were allowed to keep working while under suspicion, a newspaper reported Sunday.
    None of the recruiters was accused of providing drugs to students."
     
  20. phreeky

    phreeky Member

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    From my time working in recruitment (and with a link to ex-ADF personnel), the impression I get is that they begin to hate being in the ADF as a job, not the personal difficulties (deployments, travelling, etc) that comes along with it.

    They generally don't go into great detail, but I've heard mention of problems with those they're "under", some complaining of equipment problems, and others who for example may have a lot of skill in mechanical trades and know that they can easily get a job FIFO to mine sites making a hell of a lot more money with a lot less risk, and can get out at any time.

    I would've joined the ADF myself upon finishing school, but I'm colour blind and so I was going nowhere. Others (in fact, heaps of others), that are potential recruits wont consider the defence force thanks to the reputation it gets from young army fellow acting like absolute tools out in the street - people don't want to live with that image, probably much the same reason the police force has trouble recruiting the bright ones out of school.

    As for ADF recruiting versus Private sector, I generally agree that it's a totally different game. The closest thing is probably mining - working in difficult conditions, working away from home for periods of time (however in their case generally only 10 days at a time), do well at mixing with various types of people. The difference, as stated by FutureTank, is the service time.

    IMO that's partially void - most people, in any industry, will be in that industry for their whole life. The difference is they'll work under different people (change employers), can stay in the one city/town for quite a while (maybe forever) - could the defence force do the equivelant?

    I'd also be interested to hear how the deal with Manpower works. They'll do recruitment for more than just the ADF, do they get more money if they can convince somebody to get into mining rather than the ADF?