In Julia Gillard’s plan for a new Defence white paper to be completed by 2013 was a dire warning:

“The government is committed to delivering one of the most capable defence forces in our region with the people and equipment we need to do the job, including the joint strike fighters, the new amphibious ships, the new submarines and our air warfare destroyers.”

The 2013 Defence white paper is a failure before it starts. Unworkable. Unaffordable. A loss of national defence capability; continuing. With no end in sight.

The new submarines (with 12 being a made-up number from the last failed white paper in 2009) will be a challenge if Operation: BARKING MAD goes through.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a Joint Strike Failure. Despite what the gone-native-to-Lockheed Martin entrenched defence bureaucracy (EDB) thinks, this aircraft is at severe risk of being late (again — now seven years late. Nine years, according to some comments back in 2002.); even more expensive and a disaster in the making for any air arm that intends to use it.

I still haven’t figured out where they will find the crew for the large air warfare destroyers and large, new amphibious ships. Without a capable air supremacy or sub plan, they will be dead-meat in a war.

Instead of believing the fibs from the EDB, maybe Gillard’s team should do some independent investigations into these matters that does not involve the tainted Australian Strategic Policy Institute and others.

Gillard’s team should also look at how Canada’s Defence establishment misled Parliament over the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Or, look at how the Dutch Defence establishment misled their elected officials over the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Or, take a look at how the US Defence Department misled its elected officials about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Get the picture?

If the current (or next) PM’s team is unable see through the fog, the 2013 Defence white paper won’t be much different than the failed 2009 paper.

I suspect the 2013 Defence white paper will be an exercise in analysis using no credible analysis.

Any new Defence white paper has to look first at fixing the core show-stopping problems with Defence.

The bloated defence budget — going on towards $27 billion per year — does need a haircut.

Not because of the moronic spend-thrift nature of the Labor government since it took power but because of the moronic spend-thrift nature of the entrenched defence bureaucracy (EDB). The EDB except maybe for the Army, has gotten just about everything wrong. For example …

— Giving away air-refueling tankers before an operational replacement exists. That is not only dumb but dangerous behaviour.

— Wishing that Australia can have new and high-risk Collins-class sub replacements at tens-of-billions of dollars, even though the idea is barking-mad.

— Giving away long-range strike of the F-111 on a lie.

— Buying the Super-Hornet on a lie.

— Spending money to upgrade half of the Super Hornets with obsolete jamming gear.

— The endless propaganda about needing the defective and overly expensive F-35.

— Not being able to do basic corrosion control on existing ships.

— Doing impulse buys of military hardware near the end of a budget year because that money can’t be spent on existing faulty and delayed programs on the project-of-concern list.

— Having a gold-plated, and ineffective helicopter force-structure roadmap.

— Wanting to buy Air Warfare Destroyers and large amphibious flat-tops that are expensive, hard to find crew for and can’t be protected because of a faulty air power and submarine roadmap.

– Fat on flag-ranks, senior executives, and civilian personnel. That is a lot of office furniture (executive style and otherwise).

— Being hostile to home industry.

— Black-listing contractors. This costs the nation in loss of valuable strategic and technical consultation.

For the nation’s top leader to commit to x, y and z faulty weapons programs is no way to start such an allegedly important document.

*This article was first published on Eric Palmer’s blog.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey