AADI Defence Pty Ltd (www.aadidefence.com) was formally launched at an end of year and launch function held in one of the function rooms at 1 Queens Road, Melbourne, where it has its office.
Below are the addresses made to the assembled Associates and guests by two of our principals, Dr Bill Schofield and MGEN (Retd.) Jim Molan.
Ladies and gentlemen – thank you very much for coming at what was quite short notice for a launch a couple of weeks out from Christmas.
Today we are launching a company that is unique in Australia – AADI Defence Pty Ltd – which has its office on the fourth floor of this building. It is a unique company in the Australian context in that it consists of a happy band of 30 or so senior people with extensive experience and achievement in the defence sector.
This company can deliver expertise on every aspect of defence and defence industry by forming teams from its members to address specific requirements of a client:
- From our ex-military people we get knowledge of concepts of operations and how the services input into acquisition projects.
- From DSTO scientists we get the capability to evaluate defence technology and the role of DSTO in any defence purchase.
- From Defence Industry experience we can evaluate paths to market of new technology or services.
- From defence bureaucracy experience we can understand the how, when and why defence and major defence contractors buy goods and services.
The company commenced trading in July this year but as most of you know it was not a cold start up – for five years I have been involved with running a company called AADI Limited – which was a not-for-profit company doing a lot of pro bono work for small companies. It was partially financed by the Victorian government, with a quarterly grant, but the grant ceased in June this year and the not-for-profit company was no longer viable. So we decided to form AADI Defence.
I am pleased to say that in the few months since we got up and running we have had many enquiries and work covering a very wide range of goods and services that companies wish to market into the defence sector.
So we come to this launch in good spirits and very enthusiastic.
I now want to introduce one of the principals of our company, Major-General Jim Molan who as most of you would know ran the war in Iraq for some 15 memorable months and is our lead on Army concept of operations.
Jim is going to give us a short talk this evening on the Australian Army and counterinsurgency warfare.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Bill thank you very much for the introduction and a Happy Christmas to you all on this, the Christmas launch of AADI Defence Pty Ltd.
Very briefly, I would like to talk about one aspect of modern warfare that may have relevance not only to the military community and strategic think-tanks, but also to us, the business community.
That aspect is that: “A modern counter insurgency campaign requires a military to be competent across the full range of military capabilities.”
I say this because modern counter insurgency is not like the Malayan Emergency or Northern Ireland but much more like Vietnam, but with a real potential to occur in any one of a range of countries. What differentiates it is that our victory in Iraq or in Afghanistan, may cause its outbreak in one or a number of other countries, such as Yemen or Somalia, or make it worse in Pakistan, or spark it up in Indonesia.
And as well, the ADF must not come out of its current concentration on counter insurgency only with a land capability middlingly competent at counter insurgency. The ADF must be able to fight as our White Papers have demanded for years that we fight, as a joint force consisting of a land force with real combat capability, a Navy based around subs and AWDs and amphibs, and an Air Force based around a JSF that works and wins, in an environment where the primacy of the US is being challenged.
I will base what I say on an interview that I gave to a magazine that was handed out at the Land Warfare Conference recently so some of you might have seen some of the ideas there. It kind of works into the themes that I heard expressed by our “captains of industry” at that conference in relation to Defence Industry as a whole and the way government runs Defence and its support for Defence Industry. The thing that I mentioned only in passing in the interview was that we are often attacked by our enemies in a way described as “asymmetrical”, but we also have asymmetry, and our asymmetry is in fact technology.
On 24 August this year, 20 of our soldiers and 20 Afghan soldiers ran into a large group (some say up to 100) Taliban and had a 3 hour fight in which a Brisbane soldier was killed. This is the second time to my knowledge we have run into a group of 100 Taliban in Uruzgan Province.
One participant in the battle wrote to a relative using social media about how the fight had not gone all that well and listed all the problems that they had. His relative, who was a Vietnam veteran, could not understand that if they had all that fire support, why could they not use it and win?
The father then sent the email to many of his veteran mates, and probably no one who received it was surprised that it finally leaked.
The question in my mind was not that the soldiers did not have enough firepower; it was always that the soldiers could not use that firepower to effect because of Rules of Engagement, because of attitude and because of a lack of familiarity with using it all together, evacuating the wounded and winning the fight at the same time.
Would it have been better I ask you, to have won that fight, to have killed or captured 100 Taliban in Uruzgan Province, and perhaps made some more enemies among that portion of the population, or to have let most of them stay victorious on that battlefield, and after a 3 hour fight, for us to withdraw and one month later, not to have gone back there again?
What do you think might have had the maximum effect on the Province? A victory as I describe, where everyone in the province would have known that if you challenge the central government troops you will lose and lose decisively, so don’t do it. Or the application of the Rules of Engagement which preserves a few lives today at the cost of possibly many tomorrow?
This is a difficult situation and we are restricted by our society’s attitude, our own morality, and our gullibility. All of these make us vulnerable to our enemies, not just psychologically, but also physically.
The answer to a large extent is technology. And of course it is technology that most of us here are concerned with, technology delivered via Australian Defence industry, or at least supported by Australian Defence industry.
Defence’s reaction to that soldier’s leaked email expressing his frustrations appeared clumsy from the outside. Defence stressed that our soldiers had enough firepower and that it was not the job of the soldiers at that time to destroy the enemy and anyhow, we will have an inquiry that will report in many months, not what it takes a real soldier about 30 seconds to decide, but what totally defuses the issue.
So the issue of that day, 24 August, is totally off the table. Just like (yet again) another study/report/investigation into Defence Industry. The Australian public, unlike the father of the soldier who was an experienced fire controller from Vietnam, could not understand the issues, and really were not that interested.
When I first received the email, without referring to it, I had written an opinion piece that said if you want to protect our soldiers and win the war in Uruzgan, two goals that I saw as quite reasonable but which are only partially accepted by the Government, then give them tanks and give them attack helicopters.
My view was that if they had enough firepower, but for good reasons they do not have the experience or the skill to use it all together with evacuating their casualties and winning the battle, then give them tanks particularly because tanks win battles and save lives without the same need to skilfully coordinate with everything around them.
Then the opposition spokesman on Defence decided to take the idea of tanks and attack helicopters directly into Parliament. Now mentioning tanks in Australia is a bit like advocating tax reform and suggesting one way to do it was by increasing GST. Immediately the media focuses on GST.
If you want to give our soldiers the ability to protect themselves and to win, and you mention tanks, the experts in the media and the commentary world immediately decide that of course you cannot use tanks in Afghanistan. Or as our PM said, tanks in Afghanistan and “guffaws” go together, and taking tanks to Afghanistan would be as silly as taking submarines to Afghanistan.
You see I wonder to this day why our PM, who deserves our respect because she is the PM, was not protected from making such an unfortunate statement on tanks by good advice from her military and civilian advisers.
Did they not know that the Danes, who are doing an extraordinary amount of counter insurgency and fighting, have tanks in Afghanistan and swear by their effectiveness?
Did they not know that the Canadians have had tanks in Kandahar for years and also swear by them, having just bought new ones from Germany just for Afghanistan?
Did they not know that whenever the UK wants tanks in Afghanistan they borrow the Canadian or Danish ones?
Did they not know that the documents that were used to justify the purchase of our 50 high quality tanks for $500m only a few years ago said exactly what I am saying now?
Did they not know that the Australian military for the last sixty years has itself resisted the use of tanks until forced to take them, and then found them priceless to not only save lives, but to win battles?
If they did not know these things then they should have known these things and they are to be condemned for not knowing them.
And how could they let our PM out on a limb like that when there was always the chance that other countries, who understand what tanks can do, might put tanks into Afghanistan and so detract more from her stature?
And of course, the US Marines two days ago rolled tanks, almost the exact same ones that we have, into Helmand province. They understand about tanks because they do this so often and are not into self delusion. As I say in the magazine article, counter insurgency requires that you be competent across all aspects of land warfare. Technology is our asymmetry.
The situation in the world at the moment is that no one, except someone as mindless as North Korea, is going to militarily challenge a super power. Current wars are “wars among the people” because our enemies are exploiting our moral approach to war and our open and moral (though sometimes naïve) societies by attacking us asymmetrically from within the people. And how do we respond. We respond through technology, and where does technology come from? From Defence industry.
The reason that we do not get the wanted response from Government on Defence Industry or on tanks is the same. It is because of a lack of knowledge of military matters that prevent government making up its own mind on military or industry matters or assessing the advice it gets, a fear of mistakes that prevents governmrnt or its officials ever taking chances, and a lack of knowledge about conflict that prevents anyone from actually preparing for war. This creates the same risk for soldiers as it creates for defence industry.
Ladies and Gentlemen, counter insurgency is heavily dependent on technology and counter insurgency is the war of the moment. Defence Industry in Australia has a role to play in counter insurgency, not just in protecting our troops but in winning the war.
And if we think that counter insurgency is tough and needs technology then think how hard it is going to be if and when the Government has to think about a war on the Korea peninsula.
Just imagine if North Korea blatantly sank a South Korean warship and shelled South Korean territory, one of our most important trade partners and a pillar of our standard living. Just imagine if our PM was talking tough to our allies about using force in our region. But, what’s that you say - this has now happened!
Our strategic thinkers have been predicting for some time that this kind of war would occur and the Defence Capability Plan is structured to allow us one day, as far away as 2030, to have the equipment to fight it. I hope that the North Koreans hang on.
And how ready do you think the ADF is to provide a meaningful joint contribution to a morally correct intervention by our allies, if they were ever to act on what our PM recommends? Does anything much that we have actually work well enough to take to war? Well, we put one observer on board a US aircraft carrier off the coast of Korea. And of course the big ticket items in the DCP continue their march, not to battle, but to the right.
Ladies and gentlemen, you have the ideas, we in AADI Defence have the facilitation, let’s do the best we can for the country, for the soldiers, sailors and airmen, and let’s do the best we can for Australian Defence Industry.