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Reader ripostes: Polite to the Americans

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COMMENTS

30 May 2011 13:38

Below, a comment from Sam Baartz on Jim Molan's post from last week. But first, Nigel Brock:

Jim Molan and Ross Babbage have once again articulated the material risks that respective Australian Governments are taking by underfunding defence platforms and capability.

However, it continues to strike me that Australia's strategic commentators and analysts, including retired senior Defence leaders such as Gen Molan, are not as passionate regarding the amount and quality of training being provided to the men and women of the ADF.  Battles are won in the hearts of men and the history of the Australian Army in places such as Kokoda, Kapyong and Long Tan demonstrate in the clearest terms what Australia's soldiers can achieve despite being poorly equipped and significantly out-manned. 

Gen Molan briefly touches on the issue of readiness in his article, but I for one consider that a lot more focus by the strategic community and media should be put on the amount and quality of training being provided to the ADF and how it is being impacted by the budgetary changes. Indeed, as more pressure is put on the budget to fund the platform upgrades required and their stratospheric cost blowouts then the higher the risk to the training budget.

While extremely important, it is somewhat academic debating whether Australia needs and can fund 100 F-35s and 12 new submarines if it cannot man and effectively operate its existing platforms and equipment. Ensuring the ADF has the funding to invest in the highest standard of hard, realistic, continuous combat training and effectively utilise its existing capabilities is the moral duty of those that send them into harms way.

Sam Baartz writes:

I am a keen follower of The Interpreter and an interested observer of the JSF program, of which I am increasingly skeptical. I read over the weekend an article in Foreign Policy which raised some questions with regard to range capability of the JSF and the Asia Pacific which I thought was relevant.

With regard to Jim Molan's post and Andrew Davies response: Andrew Davis suggests in his post that there is too much weight placed on ‘platform on platform’ performance and that the JSF might well provide the capability required when one considers the campaign rather than the platform.

According to Robert Haddick of Foreign Policy, and Chris Mills who was referenced in Jim Molan’s post, the JSF is falling short of its capabilities, particularly regarding range. Robert Haddick and Chris Mills assert that one of the ‘key performance parameters’ (KPP) identified for the JSF program was long range, which is particularly necessary for operation in the Asia Pacific region. Isn’t this is a significant area in which the F-35 will fall short, and one capability that will be required for fighting over the longer distances that the Asia Pacific theatre would require? Haddick suggests that this is compounded by already capable long range Chinese technologies. If the JSF doesn't meet its KPPs on range, will this prevent it from effectively conducting operations in the Asia Pacific? This is the theatre of operations for which Australia is acquiring the JSF, isn’t it?

And as an aside, on the domestic front, the JSF cost continues to rise, with threats of further increases, according to Haddick. What will the latest budget cuts in defence mean for an increasingly costly fighter in which confidence is waning?

 

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