Australian Army 2011 onwards
SA ready for new battalion
January 19, 2011 - 5:39PM
A new army battalion for Adelaide will inject $107 million into the South Australian economy, Premier Mike Rann says.
Mr Rann said the Edinburgh Park defence precinct in Adelaide's north had undergone a $750 million transformation ahead of next week's arrival of the 7th Royal Australian Regiment battle group.
The battalion will start operating from the base with more than 550 soldiers.
The number of soldiers at the base would grow to 700 by the end of this year, the premier said.
"The 7RAR battalion, along with other elements of army's 1 brigade, will continue to grow in line with army planning to reach 1100 personnel by 2014," Mr Rann said on Wednesday.
"We campaigned for this battalion to be relocated to Adelaide, because it consolidates our position as the defence state.
"(It) is expected to inject an additional $107 million into the state economy this year with up to 1900 people including partners and children, integrating into the northern suburbs."
Mr Rann said about $1.5 billion was being pumped into defence infrastructure in SA by government and industry.
Defence Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon said relocating the battalion from Darwin to Adelaide, where it was previously combined with 5RAR, made sense.
"The government took the view and Defence took the view it was in our best interests to reform 7RAR," Mr Snowdon told reporters in Adelaide.
Land was acquired by the federal government from the SA government to extend the defence base in Edinburgh and the construction of facilities at the base, including accommodation had gone well, Mr Snowdon said.
About 400 single accommodation beds were close to completion and married quarters had been boosted in Adelaide by Defence Housing Australia.
The Darwin-based 5RAR would continue to share training facilities with the new battalion across both states.
"It's a way in which we allocate our forces across the country for our best strategic outcome," Mr Snowdon said.
© 2011 AAP
New helicopters running 18 months late
Max Blenkin, AAP Defence Correspondent
February 1, 2011 - 5:44PM
New army and navy helicopters are running up to 18 months late and could end up on the government's shame file of dud projects.
Defence will now conduct a review of the $4 billion program to buy 46 European MRH-90 helicopters.
External specialists will assist the review, which will recommend how to get the project back on track.
In 2005, the coalition government announced the first of a series of contracts to rationalise the defence helicopter fleet, replacing ageing Iroquois, Black Hawks and Sea Kings with MFH-90, a modern utility aircraft.
MRH-90 is now entering service across European defence forces.
Defence is set to acquire 46, with the first four made in Europe and the rest to be assembled in Brisbane by the firm Australian Aerospace.
So far, 13 have been accepted by defence and are currently being used for testing and initial crew training.
Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare said there had been a series of problems including an engine failure last year, transmission oil cooler fan failures, plus poor availability of spare parts.
"That has led to a delay in bringing those helicopters into service, something in the order of 12 months for navy and 18 months for army.
"That is why I am concerned enough about this project to want defence to do a full diagnostic analysis of it, identify what can be done to remediate the project and bring it back onto schedule."
The government started listing "projects of concern" in 2008, after a succession of well publicised problems in major projects that ran late or failed to go as promised.
The list was intended to focus the attention of defence and industry on fixing the problems. There are now 11 listed problem projects, topped by Collins Class submarines.
Mr Clare said he would this month meet the chief executives of all the companies responsible for the problem projects.
He said the aim was to ensure they and top-level defence and government officials concentrated on turning these projects around.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said new defence capability would invariably produce technical problems, and there was always risk associated with large defence projects.
"We have to acknowledge that in the past and continuing that we have seen serious difficulties with procurement and capability, and we cannot allow that to continue," he said.
"What we have to do is ensure that risk is minimised from day one."
Australian Aerospace chief executive Dr Jens Goennemann was confident the review would ensure delivery of the world's leading helicopter to Australia.
He said the introduction of MRH-90 would keep the Australian Defence Force at the forefront of helicopter technology for the next 30-40 years.
Dr Goennemann said as a result of the collaboration, Defence would lift the two-hour cool down period and five-hourly inspections required following the engine failure last year.
He said other concerns raised by the commonwealth were also being successfully worked through.
© 2011 AAP
Army to change live-fire training after death
Rafael Epstein and Nick McKenzie
February 14, 2011
Lance Corporal Mason Edwards with girlfriend Cassie.
THE Defence Force has overhauled the most dangerous parts of its training program for its elite soldiers, following joint investigations with the national safety watchdog, Comcare, into the death of a commando during a live-fire training exercise.
Comcare is close to completing its inquiry into the accidental shooting death, and will make a decision soon on whether the army should be charged with breaching workplace safety laws.
Lance Corporal Mason Edwards, 30, was killed by small-arms fire that passed through a wall he was crouching behind at the Cultana training range in South Australia in October 2009.
A closed-door defence inquiry, headed by Andrew Kirkham, QC, identified a series of safety shortcomings which contributed to the death of the commando, a psychology graduate who was preparing for his third tour of Afghanistan.
''When you string the mistakes all together, you go 'Oh holy crikey why didn't someone pick that up','' a Defence Force source said.
After inquiries by the Defence Force, the coroner and police, the army made changes to the running of its live-fire training exercises. The Herald understands the Defence Department has been negotiating with Comcare, and may agree to further overhaul its training.
A Defence statement released to the Herald confirmed that changes had been made to regulations allowing special forces to train at close quarters using live ammunition and the Herald understands that safety staff had been retrained at significant cost.
The army may still be forced to comply with what is known as an enforceable undertaking - a strictly monitored reform process - rather than be prosecuted for its management and preparation of the dangerous exercises.
A Comcare spokesman said no resolution in the case had yet been reached.
A Defence source said: ''There was some concern, but there is a universal desire to move on, and a great effort made to fix what is broken and get the blokes back into Afghanistan.''
Commandos and SAS troops regularly practise using live ammunition in mock battles, before they are deployed to Afghanistan. Several safety officers working on the night of the incident were immediately stood down from duties.
The dead soldier's team were crouching outside a room at the army's training range in the South Australian desert.
Inside the room another team of soldiers opened fire on targets and their bullets went through the thin wall of the room, hitting Mason Edwards in the head and injuring another team member.
Investigations have established that Lance Corporal Edwards and his team were not supposed to be outside the room at that time, and had somehow failed to follow special precautions taken at the shooting range, to ensure different teams do not endanger each other.
''There were a whole lot of things that just should not have happened. There was no explanation for it,'' said a senior source familiar with the investigation.
Some soldiers may face charges under the Defence Force Discipline Act.
Upgraded S-70A Black Hawk Simulator Enters Service for Australian Army
(Source: CAE Inc.; issued February 1, 2011)
SYDNEY, Australia --- CAE Australia today announced that a major upgrade to the Australian Army's S-70A Black Hawk full-flight and mission simulator (FFMS) has been completed on-schedule and recently entered service for the Australian Army.
CAE Australia, prime contractor under the Management and Support of the Australian Defence Force's Aerospace Simulators (MSAAS) contract, upgraded the S-70A Black Hawk FFMS with electronic warfare capabilities.
The S-70A Black Hawk electronic warfare upgrade included the addition of a new missile warning systems, countermeasures dispensing system, and missile warning sensors. CAE also recently completed a visual upgrade of the simulator by adding the CAE Medallion(TM)-6000 image generator.
"These upgrades provide the Australian Army with enhanced training capabilities and help ensure concurrency with the Army's fleet of Black Hawk helicopters," said Peter Redman, Operations Director, CAE Australia Pty Ltd. "We are pleased we have been able to deliver this upgrade on-time and with no simulator downtime during the upgrade program."
CAE Australia was able to perform the upgrade under CAE's Authorised Engineering Organisation (AEO) Letter of Authority. As a certified AEO, CAE is delegated design authority for performing engineering upgrades on in-service simulators for the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force.
CAE is a world leader in providing simulation and modelling technologies and integrated training solutions for the civil aviation industry and defence forces around the globe. With annual revenues exceeding C$1.5 billion, CAE employs more than 7,500 people at more than 100 sites and training locations in more than 20 countries.
A Defense Technology Blog
Is the Army's Network the New Abrams Tank?
Posted by Paul McLeary at 2/17/2011 10:45 AM CST
The Army’s big modernization project—once known as Future Combat Systems, then Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team (E-IBCT), and now called the Brigade Combat Team Modernization (BCTM)—is slated to receive just $749 million in the fiscal 2012 budget, which is a pretty steep drop from the $2.2 billion it received in fiscal 2010.
But that budget came before the modernization program had been stripped of all of its hardware. What was once a whole family of manned and unmanned ground and air vehicles, ground sensors, and a communications backbone that ties it all together has over the past two years been cut, canceled, and farmed out to other program offices.
Really, all that’s left at this point is the network—which is what the whole thing was supposed to be about in the first place. And Maj. Gen. Keith Walker, the guy who is in charge of the Army’s brigade modernization efforts, says that that’s a good thing, since “the network of today is equivalent to the big five of modernization in the 80s—the Apache, the tank, et cetera.” Walker, commander of the Army’s Future Force Integration Directorate, says that after the past two years of cuts, “we spent the last year in transition, in the sense of the Army transitioning from a modernization strategy that was about Future Combat Systems to a modernization strategy that is now about brigade modernization.”
To continue testing the network and the Network Integration Kits and how they work with the emerging brigade structure, the 1st Armored Division is putting its entire 2nd Brigade into the field at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico this summer to conduct a rigorous 6-week field test.
Col. Daniel Pinnell, Commander of the 2/1 says that contra the original FCS dream, testing last year proved that “we saw less of a requirement to push live video or still pictures from the squad level though to the brigade or battalion headquarters” than planners initially thought. “We’d [still] like the ability periodically to push vertical,” Pinnell says, even though “it’s more important to us to push horizontal. With the addition of texting or chat equivalents added to that, they got great utility out of that.”
The tests this summer will span a range of scenarios, with the 1/1 Calvary fielding three Troops, one equipped with MRAPs, one with Bradleys, and one with Strykers, in order to see how the Squadron commander manages those assets in light of “the experiences gained over the last six, seven years by us and others,” Pinnell says. The situation facing the 1/1 will be “fundamentally mechanized on mechanized” but also including “paramilitary as well as a limited number of cops in those areas of operation complicating the blue force commanders operations … he’s going to have to move to contact on a dirty battlefield.”
The brigade may also evaluate DARPA’s WNaN [Wireless Network after Next], which has a similar capability to the Rifleman’s Radio, and the Net Warrior system, which is the suite of sensors that grew out of the Army’s Land Warrior experiment which was given the ax in 2007. “There’s a Net Warrior surrogate which we will have in some capacity, and we’re going to continue connecting soldiers to digital applications,” Walker says.
When it comes to fielding smart phones, however, Walker says that “the individual soldier doesn’t need all this stuff, it probably needs to stop at team leader. [During testing] when each soldier had a smart phone and they were doing a raid we got the same kind of feedback. When I’m doing the raid I don’t really have a lot of time to screw around with a smart phone. On the other hand, we got the feedback of when I’m out on a traffic control point and I can use the biometric application on my cell phone.”
So it seems that the question for Army modernization is: how much technology is needed, and who needs it? The flameout of FCS shows that it might not be what the Army originally thought.
US Army photo
Court-martial date set for commandos
March 23, 2011 - 6:44PM .
A date has been set for the court-martial of two Australian soldiers over a night-time operation that left six Afghan civilians dead.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said pre-trial directions for two of three soldiers charged over the matter would be held in Sydney soon, ahead of a court-martial on July 11.
A third soldier will face a general court-martial.
Charges against the three commandos range from manslaughter to a failure to follow orders on February 12, 2009 in Oruzgan province.
The night raid on a residential compound in the country's south left six people dead, including five children.
Director of Military Prosecutions Brigadier Lyn McDade made the unprecedented decision to charge the three soldiers, provoking an outcry in defence circles.
Historically, any such decision was made by authorities who are part of the military command.
But in 2005 the parliament voted to appoint an independent director of military prosecutions to decide.
The Gillard government has rejected opposition calls to intervene in the matter and the Department of Defence has been questioned about the level of legal support given to the soldiers.
The best possible legal, administrative, medical and welfare support was being made available to all three soldiers, Mr Smith said.
He said the Australian Defence Force had built a reputation over years of professionalism and compliance with rules of engagement.
"Australian forces take all possible steps to ensure that operations do not endanger the lives of civilians," he told parliament.
"We have prided ourselves on our high standards and we have a well-regarded international reputation for doing so."
Instances involving civilians would always be investigated, he said.
© 2011 AAP
Qld army base raided over drug claims
09:56 AEST Mon Mar 28 2011
Police and defence force investigators have raided a north Queensland army base following allegations of drug abuse by soldiers.
In a statement, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has confirmed it's begun an investigation into the alleged use of illicit substance by soldiers at Townsville's Lavarack Barracks.
The ADF declined to comment further on the raids as the investigation, carried out with Queensland Police, was continuing.
However, it is believed the barracks and a number of soldiers' homes have been raided.
The allegations were raised by a soldier's former partner, the Townsville Bulletin reported.
The woman, who has not been named, told the paper she raised the allegations after discovering her partner had been using steroids in their home.
She said she had moved interstate after becoming the target of abuse from soldiers.
"When I reported this, because, obviously, they found out I've been talking to somebody, I was intimidated into leaving my home," she told the paper.
She claimed it was common practice for some soldiers to buy steroids and other drugs cheaply while deployed overseas, in places like Afghanistan, and then sell them for a higher price at home.
"They're importing these drugs, they're coming directly into the country from Afghanistan and then they're on-selling them with no repercussions. The army doesn't care," she said.
The ADF said all personnel were educated, annually, in the dangers of substance abuse.
It said the investigation was not linked to previous raids at defence bases in Cairns and Sydney.
Defence failing to control explosive stock
April 19, 2011 - 1:14PM .
Defence is failing to maintain proper records of its bullets and bombs, the national audit office says.
The huge amount of explosive ordnance used by the force each year is well controlled until it is sent to individual bases.
"It is at this point that Defence's explosive ordnance becomes most dispersed, mobile and potentially vulnerable to loss or theft," an audit office report released on Tuesday said.
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It's not the first time Defence has faced problems of this nature.
In 2004 then defence minister Robert Hill investigated the case of missing plastic explosives.
In 2007 nine rocket launchers were reportedly stolen from Defence in the lead-up to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Sydney.
The launchers were never found.
In December 2008 an anti-armour weapon was stolen from troops in Afghanistan.
(Yeah, probably by the Yanks as well........sounds like the sort of antics the SpecFor's get up to..........)
Now the audit office is calling for a large revamp of the way Defence keeps records.
This has been tried before.
In 2008, then departmental secretary Nick Warner announced "work on a range of activities including revising EO (explosive ordinance) accounting procedures, improving physical security at weapons and EO storage facilities."
Similar words came from Senator Hill in 2006.
This audit is the seventh such investigation since 1987.
One of the auditor's recommendations calls for Defence to "widen the scope" of already running reviews looking at ordnance records.
Spot checks of unit ordinance holdings will also be introduced under the recommendation which has been accepted by Defence.
© 2011 AAP
Well then it should stay in the depot and never be issued, never sent to theatre and so on. Would that make things acceptable to the auditor? Of course it could therefore never be used but since when was that as important to the purity of the paperwork...
Originally Posted by buglerbilly
Agreed. The next audit to come out will say that personnel should have more ready access to ammunition for personal security reasons. You can never win.
A favourite one of mine is one of my mates nearly got done for losing a 66 in Afghan. He was in the middle of a fight, cracked the 66, popped up to fire and got hemmed back into his hole by enemy fire before he could shoot it. He stuck the 66 on the top of his hole while he switched back to his rifle, and the 66 rolled down into an aquaduct and was lost. A couple of hours later the patrol had managed to fight its way back to base and he was getting drilled for 'losing' the 66. They wanted him to take his patrol back out to find it. Never mind they barely got out with their lives as it was (his SGT got a Medal for Gallantry for the contact) - its all about accountability.