ISSUE 190 : Mar/Apr - 2013 - Australian Defence Force Journal

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ISSUE 190 : Mar/Apr - 2013 - Australian Defence Force Journal

The Army as an Instrument of National Power 1Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO, Chief of ArmyAs the Chief of Army, I deeply understand the respect and affection that Australians of all walksof life, and across all age groups, feel for their Army. That respect has been earned by thedeeds of successive generations of Australian men and women who have put service beforeself at their nation’s call in war and peace. However, I wish at times that the general publicwould understand better the complexity of the organisation and how important consistentfunding and support for it is.The Army is one of our most treasured and revered institutions but I want to talk about it asan instrument of national power and as a substantial piece of public infrastructure. It is a largeand complex organisation with a very distinct culture and ethos but, despite its mastery ofviolence, it is a surprisingly fragile organism in some ways. Its capability must be painstakinglybuilt up and nurtured, and this takes significant time and public funding. Yet its capability canbe relinquished disturbingly rapidly if it is not carefully developed and sustained.I have seen the capability and numerical strength of the Army fluctuate widely during the courseof my three-decade plus career. But right now, the Army is in great shape. We have steadilyrebuilt our capital base through prudent investment by this Government and the previousgovernment since the East Timor crisis of 1999. We are far better equipped than we have beenat anytime during my career and we are in the midst, budget constraints notwithstanding, ofthe most significant re-equipment program since the end of the Vietnam War.Our soldiers have been exposed to sustained operations across the spectrum, from warfightingin lethal environments through to peacemaking and support, as well as pure humanitarianrelief. Our ranks are seasoned by combat, and led by junior officers and NCOs with significantoperational experience. This is an intangible asset that few armies in the world possess in suchabundance. And, of course, I hope that that potential for the guarding of Australia’s future isnot squandered.In short, I think we are about the right size and that our modernisation plan is sound, beingderived from a sober assessment of both the changing character of war and the tectonic shiftsin the global system associated with the rise of China and India, assertive Islamic militancydirected against the West, rapid population growth manifested as intensified urbanisation, achanging world climate and what seems to be a semi-permanent global economic crisis.I’ll spend a little time explaining how Army plans and implements its modernisation shortlybut my most pressing concern as the current Chief is that our viable and appropriate planswill falter unless we make the correct strategic choices over the next three to five years. AsI said, Army is a surprisingly fragile being unless its capability is developed in a deliberateand sustained manner. And the current straitened fiscal climate poses a risk to the Army’sapproved plan for development out to 2030, as encapsulated in the last White Paper. Butlet me make two things very clear. In a liberal democracy such as ours, the civil authorityis supreme. And secondly, the ADF has always shouldered its share of the burden in findingsavings to support the government-of-the-day in achieving the sound fiscal position on whichour security ultimately rests.11

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