Three retired senior RAAF officers have published a review of the culture of learned failure in the administration of defence in Australia, and more critically in the US and UK.

The paper warns that “the result has been to erode the professional development and management of Australia’s Military Services, to place Australia’s Defence Industry, particularly the Aerospace Industry, in jeopardy, and to impact adversely the National security.”

The authors say those results, “will now make Australia largely irrelevant, both on the regional and international stages, for the next three or more decades.”

They predict that Australia will be:

  • unable to muster or project any significant and demonstrable deterrent military power;
  • unable to contribute as a leading nation to regional security arrangements;
  • unable to pull its full weight in concert with international forces or in support of bi-lateral security treaties and arrangements;
  • made wholly dependent upon foreign companies for the availability and sustainability of its major military capabilities; and
  • lack any real measure of self-reliance.

Of course, the headline failures in Australia so far include the very late and apparently under-performing Boeing Wedgetail early warning and command platform based on the 737 air frame, the Seasprite helicopter fiasco (recently terminated at a cost of more than $1 billion by Canberra) and the late, increasingly irrelevant and massively costly JSF or Joint Strike Fighter project.

The authors regard the JSF program as one that will if its persists much longer, result in the unilateral disarmament of the US because of the loss of air power superiority.

While the paper sets out to deal with defence issues, it inflicts collateral damage on the failings of modern business management where the bureaucratic process imitates the subversion of defence expertise with management fads.

The similarities between the JSF and the Boeing 787 and Wedgetail programs leap off the pages. In each case the companies involved are no longer capable of converting hype into reality. Neither can actually get a deliverable aircraft into the sky.

There appears to be an inverse relationship between the amount of spin generated by each project and its implementation, the main symptom of which is the claim to be “a game changer.”