SEAPOWER 81 — PROCEEDINGS. Australian Naval Institute. 1981. 128 pages St2 00
The needs of Australia in maritime defence and the relationship ol Industry is a theme which presents two stark and often opposing realities:
a Ihe oft held beliel that we can achieve better defence by
bigger spending, and b. the need to develop this country s resources instead ot spending on delence
In Seapower 81, a series of experienced protagonists, some with interests in one or the other camp; others with a tool in both, discuss this theme The stimulus for this discussion being the seminar organized by Ihe Australian Naval Institute and held in Canberra in April ol this year Following a persuasive opening address by the Governor General the learned series ol players, presented, from a somewhat subjective foundation, descriptive, widely varied and often argumentative papers associated with the theme These have been edited and are included in the journal under review. In that the articles cover a broad spectrum of areas ol interest — to both those with a specialist interest in mantime defence, and those with a marginal interest in specialized maritime defence considerations but a more generalized interest in national strategy — Ihe publication has wide appeal The dominant ideas or sub-themes are obvious in the presentations and the discussion which followed each.
The first and cedainly the most common thread, related a need for an articulated strategic direction for Australia The point was raised by Sir Arthur Tange and subsequently mentioned by Griffith, Hawke, Zeidler and Kasper With the exception ot Hawke and Kasper the message was consistent Develop a maritime strategy and explain its reasoning to both delence and industry to allow appropriate time tor analysis of that policy and its effects in both a Federal and State context On respondent suggested production of a shopping list' based on a long-term corporate defence plan Kasper s appeal was for that strategy to take account of the new economic circumstances into which Australia had been delivered — possible through fate which endowed this nation with abundant natural resources His argument that a strong economic base with rapid and assured growth will ensure lhat there is no shortage ol lunds lor expenditure on delence, especially as Ihe government has mentioned growth at 7% until 3% of GDP is reached The bigger the cake the larger portion that can be spared Hawkes appeal for guidance from government, was straight forward and easily understood, to establish a basis lor better planning within the economy The tangible result would be a more stable employ ment base and in the long run avoidance of some unnecessary industrial disputation (we could hopelully avoid Ihe iron lung syndrome) It Mr Killens knowledge of horse racing and its history is reliable, then it seems thai the journal articles and these authors would seek to develop a longevity in Australia s strategic posture as happened in the weight tor age scale devised by Admiral Rouse It. like that scale, might remain unchanged tor 150 years The world situation is such that all reasonable men will accept that any government under present global conditions must continue to walk on quicksand1 when it comes to strategic guidance Despite the unwelcome but positive reality that neither Defence (and especially the Navy with long lead times and capital equipment procurement) nor the industrial sector cannot quickly absorb radical changes in strategic direction
The second, and one wonders it this was not the intention of the seminar, is an affirmation that economic survival ol the free world depends absolutely on the continued freedom of sea borne trade Sir Arthur Tange highlights the need in establishing Ihe legitimacy ot a maritime capability for an island continent in our environment He is supported by Swayne s explanation of the likely effect on international trade, and specifically our economy, should the Russian Navy, be it the fighting or merchant fleets, achieve domination Hill-Norton, in analyzing the new American Administration s attitude ol expecting political quo for the economic quid Irom third world sovereign states adds further weight to the somewhat clicheo argument lor greater spending on naval hardware It is interesting that a common sub-theme that becomes apparent to the inexpect observer is that the attitude of offence winch we need to develop, to either control or deny the seaborne lines of com municalion in our region could manifest itself in the purchase of, and develpmen! of. a formidable submarine capacity This would be using the Soviet navy's greatest maritime weakness, in Ihe area of anti-submarine warfare, when the west still has significant superiority This sub-theme is supported by Hawke The concept is apparently not completely accepted as other presenters, eg. Griffiths spend time projecting a responsibility for sea denial operations at ranges of from 2000 to 5000 nautical
Journal ol the Australian Naval Institute — Page 53
miles Irom Australia One is left wondering whether Australia can or should afford a diplomatic projection ot national power in a traditional gun-boat diplomacy role, as is apparently accepted by the navy of the United Kingdom Notwithstanding this it is apparent that not all the gentlemen present leel thai maritime warfare is necessarily an air defence problem — especially if we reduce our area of influence to our national waters and our most important soutanes, lor which the submarine seems ideally suited
The third major idea is the debatable question of self reliance and exactly what this means Despite the relatively clear statement made by the minster in the governments response to a report ot the pint committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence in November 1978. the seminar pursues arguments tor both greater and more racrcal concepts and planning the percept that there is a point beyond which the cost of defence to a peacetime economy is not acceptable Especially in that defence is a non-wealth producing investment which obsolesces at a breathtaking rate The main elements ot the self-reliance argument appear as a need for a domestique merchant navy, that industry should have a broader base than just building warships and the need tor diversification ot our energy base away Irom oil Many ol ihese are already subpct to government direction, despite the apparent wishes ot the large British (multinational9) influence Basic requirements such as a repair and replacement capability lor equipment lost in battle does not mean, according lo Sir AThur Tange the Australian production should be looked to Despite a relatively bad situation in this respect Hawke assuies us that the skills and resources exist and because of tne lack ol an enunciated
maritime Strategy, the concept ot how to put that resource to work is lacking it is on this note thai we return to our original discussion point and O Neills summing up more than adequately highlights the more interesting aspect ot the journal amcles.
The journal is well planned, logically organized, documen ted and easy to read The content is plausible I strongly recommend that any person with an interest in the needs ot Defence (and particularly the Navy) in its relationship with the economy will benefit by reading the journal For those with more specific interests, some excellent articles cover specialized topics associated with the main theme A publication which formalizes again the need for a national strategy — I was convinced
MAJOR R.C BEATTIE. BEcon. AMBSC. AACS
Editor's note —
The reviewer is a Mapr RAAOC whose last posting was as a lecturer in management economics in the Faculty ol Military Studies. University ot New South Wales, RMC Duntroon He has recenlly taken up a posting in command ol the Support Company for Ihe Army s Operational Deployment Force based in Townsville
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