March 11, 2004 | Peter

Whose Army Anyway?

Well, I hesitate to enter the highly contested field of military procurement, but there was a sense of inevitability about the choice of the Abrams battle tank for the Oz army. Increasingly the Oz military looks like the regional task force for the US military.
I just can’t see how a tank designed decades ago to slug it out on probably nuclear battlefields in Europe with the monster Soviet equivalents is a suitable tank for Oz. The Abrams just guzzles fuel, is truly weighty and presents all sorts of transport and logistics support problems. As has been mentioned already by various commentators, to operate it would seem to be very difficult without significant US assistance. If the army needs tanks, surely a lot more of a much lighter tank would have been a better buy. The firepower of light tanks these days is still impressive, they are much more mobile, and more readily transported and supplied. Given the size as well as the lack of transport infrastructure of Oz and the region, mobility and support would seem to be crucial matters.
It certainly suggests that the real reason why the Abrams were chosen was so they could operate with US units, probably overseas. This integration of the Oz military into an increasingly aggressive US force structure is a serious business. It indicates a basic shift in Oz foreign policy and as such should be openly debated. Has Oz abandoned multilateral organisations like the UN? Will Oz take directions on hot issues from the US, even in our region (where we are increasingly suspect because of our strong US ties)?
Furthermore, the US is in the early stages of a complete restructuring of their entire military utilising new information and communications technology and other high-tech weapons systems. How, exactly, are we supposed to keep up as it gathers pace?
An Australian Defence Force (ADF) should be just that, not a US auxiliary force.
Actually, this reminds me of the Romans again…

Posted by Peter at 12:32 pm | Comments Off on Whose Army Anyway? |
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