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Army April 26, 2012
We must avoid
Cpl Max Bree
A POST-Vietnam style decline in
the military should be avoided when
Australia draws down its presence
in Afghanistan, CA Lt-Gen David
Morrison told a Defence policy think-
tank on April 11.
In his address to the Australian
Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra,
Lt-Gen Morrison said drawing down the
ADF to save money after a major con-
flict would result in big spending to later
restore the military's strength.
"It is vital that we do not succumb to
the sort of thinking that justified a serious
reduction in the strength and capability
of the Army that we experienced in the
wake of withdrawal from Vietnam," he
"History has clearly demonstrated
that 'peace dividends' invariably become
'peace liabilities' when the military must
restore its capabilities."
This was demonstrated by the long-
term decline of the Army's fighting
power from the end of the Vietnam War
until the "strategic shock" of the East
Timor operation in 1999, according to
the CA, who was at the time part of the
Interfet command team.
"Operations in East Timor in 1999-
2000 exposed serious deficiencies in our
land forces," he said.
"Over time the Army evolved into a
force of single capabilities. We became
too light, too dependent on wheeled vehi-
cles and our organisations hollowed out."
Lt-Gen Morrison said that through
most of his career, junior and mid-rank-
ing officers were trained to defeat small
raids and incursions across northern
Australia, with many in the Army critical
of the scenarios and force structures they
But the CA believed the Army may
have contributed to this unpopular
"We were, perhaps, too insular in the
wake of our withdrawal from Vietnam
and possibly somewhat slow to adapt to
the changing military and strategic para-
digm of the times," he said.
"[The Army] after Vietnam was
not immune to the age-old problem of
armies: that of being more comfortable
looking back with pride, rather than look-
ing forward with focus."
With Australia's population at 22 mil-
lion and an Army of 47,000 regular and
reserve soldiers, the CA said he would let
the government decide if the Army's size
"My view is that it is [appropriate].
That while I may like it to be bigger, that
is unlikely at this time," he said.
"My point is that to do what is
required of it, now and into the future, it
should not be smaller nor less capable."
The CA also affirmed his commitment
to a strong combat culture but one that
was more inclusive.
"We must concede that this [old] cul-
ture has tended to exclude women and
some ethnic groups who are under-repre-
sented in our ranks," he said.
"This will prove unsustainable with
demographic change over the next few
Lt-Gen Morrison said he was pas-
sionately committed to expanding the
opportunities for women in the Army
and meeting the direction from govern-
ment to remove the service's few remain-
ing restrictions on the employment of
"We can do this without detriment to
our exacting standards," he said.
"Harnessing the full potential of our
workforce is a capability issue rather than
a diversity issue for me and I want to
remove any artificial impediments to the
best use of all our people."
The CA summed up his speech by
reaffirming the importance of getting the
most out of the depth of combat experi-
ence among the Army's current soldiers.
"We're in good shape now, but that
won't ensure we are a more capable
Army in the future. We can take nothing
for granted," he said.
Being prepared: In a presentation
to the Australian Strategic Policy
Institute, CA Lt-Gen David Morrison
talked about maintaining military
capability after Afghanistan and the
value of diversity in the ranks.
Prime Minister announces Afghanistan draw down plans
Cpl Max Bree
MID-2013 should be the "crucial
point" when international forc-
es could move away from major
combat operations and into a
supporting role in Afghanistan,
according to Prime Minister Julia
The Prime Minister made the
comments during an address to the
Australian Strategic Policy Institute
in Canberra on April 17.
"When this [transition] is com-
plete, Australia's commitment in
Afghanistan will look very different
to [what] we have today," the Prime
Minister said. "We will have com-
pleted our training and mentoring
mission with the [Afghan National
Army's] 4th Brigade.
"We will no longer be conducting
routine frontline operations with the
Afghan National Security Forces.
"The Australian-led Provincial
Reconstruction Team will have com-
pleted its work and the majority of
our troops will have returned home."
The Prime Minister's announce-
ment comes as Afghan National
Security Forces in Uruzgan province
continue to plan and conduct com-
plex operations with support from
But Ms Gillard pointed out the
International Security Assistance
Force had made clear the transition
would not mean the end of all com-
bat, combat support or training.
"To maintain full responsibil-
ity for security in Afghanistan after
2014, the Afghan National Security
Forces will need the right support
-- including funding and training --
from the international community."
Ms Gillard said she would argue
strongly for continued international
support and insisted Australia was
prepared to pay a fair share.
"We are prepared to consider a
limited Special Forces contribution --
in the right circumstances and under
the right mandate.
"There may be a continuing role
to train the ANSF to conduct -- and
to work alongside them in carrying
out -- counter-terrorism operations in
"Australia will also be prepared
to provide niche training to the
Afghan National Security Forces
Ms Gillard will attend the NATO
summit in Chicago in May, where
transition progress will be reviewed
and plans mapped out on the way
In a joint statement on April 19,
Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr
and Defence Minister Stephen
Smith said all ISAF member coun-
tries "must continue to be present in
support of the ANSF and be com-
bat ready to do so until transition is
finally complete at the end of 2014".
"A capable ANSF is critical to
the success of our international mis-
sion and a stable Afghanistan," the
"The ANSF must be of a size and
structure required to consolidate and
build on the security gains we have
made [and] must be maintained at a
size sufficient for the critical tasks
ahead, at least until 2015."
Plans under way: Prime
Minister Julia Gillard is pictured
here meeting troops during a
visit to Afghanistan last year.
Moving ahead: WO2 Paul Teong meets farmers during an Afghan-led patrol in an area known as the
Deh Rawud triangle in Uruzgan province.
Photo by Cpl Raymond Vance
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