DSTO, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, is the home of Defence brainiacs who evaluate and develop a wide variety of classified and unclassified kit that is used by today’s Australian Defence Force. The staff is made up of 2,300 scientists, some engineers, IT specialists and some very capable technicians.

This 2006-2007 Annual Review shows the critical impact DSTO has in making sure the troops get gear that is effective. DSTO roots are part of a long history of Australia using the difficult scientific research disciplines to support the defence of the nation.

It was announced last Friday that an “independent DSTO advisory board” will be created which has the goal of supporting “the Chief Defence Scientist on strategic issues relating to the effective development and application of science and technology to Defence”. One would hope that all kinds of defence technology experts would be selected for this very important task. However, when you take a look at the appointees to this board, their qualifications and experience raise more questions than they answer.

Table of competencies of appointees to DSTO Advisory Board

Appointee

Defence science and technology qualifications and experience

Defence industry qualifications and experience

Defence experience

Dr. Allan Hawke

PhD in non defence discipline

Nil

Secretary of Defence when:

Group Think institutionalised in Defence

Formation of DMO under Mick Roche led to largest ever loss of military expertise & and independent thinkers.

Super Sea Sprite Project locked in losing $1 billion

JSF fighter jet selection recommended to Govt, over $1 billion, seven years of effort and many opportunities wasted

Wrong electronic warfare system for Hornet fighter jet, over $400 million lost

Wedgetail Project went off the rails

Collins Subs took another nose dive from which they are yet to surface

Prof. Penny Sackett

PhD in non-defence theoretical physics

Nil

Nil

Prof. Paul Greenfield

PhD in non-defence chemical engineering

Nil

Nil

Mr. Neil Edwards

Nil

Nil

Nil

Lt. Gen. David Hurley

Nil

Nil

Chief of Capability Development when:

Defence Capability Development Manual dumbed down

Project Management Model based on chaos theory introduced

Hard project milestones turned mushy and meaningless

Form over substance became the norm

Opportunities to fix what is broken ignored and lost

May 2007, Minister told that “affordable” JSF fighter jet is $135 million each

Decision to retire F-111 fighter jet based on a fib that it was at structural risk past 2010

Super, Slow Hornet Fighter jet locked in for purchase

Mr. Mike Pezzullo

Nil

Nil

Career Defence bureaucrat

Best known for arguing in a parliamentary committee hearing that the regional arms race is not important.

Defence positions included being the head of Defence propaganda (public affairs)

Defence Scientist Professor Robert Clark will be the ex-officio member of the Board. We should all wish him a lot of luck. He will need it.

The critical plans Defence Minister Mr. Fitzgibbon has for cleaning up his portfolio and the critical plans Mr. Rudd has for a strong foreign policy could be seriously harmed if this DSTO advisory board helps Australia’s defence science down the wrong path. Defence has enough on its back to fix already.

Defence does not need a group of people with little experience or, worse, who have demonstrated that they don’t know what they don’t know, to have influence on things that matter but they don’t understand.

This advisory board has all the makings of further dumbing down the DSTO. Self-promoting Defence bureaucrats and their nepotism are not serving their ministers well.

Peter Fray

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