Journal of the australian naval


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Exercise KANGAROO 83 remains the only reasonably valid, large scale testing of JSOP procedures undertaken by the ADF. The exercise was only counted a success in that it pointed out obvious deficiencies in ADF organisation for handling even limited conllict and brought home the inherent difficulty of co­ordinating modem military operations involving diverse forces.

This Exercise was designed fo test the ability of the ADF to react quickly to low level conflict and to operate in an environment demanding of both men and equipment KANGAROO 83 involved a variety of operations m a distant area of Western Australia wilh low infrastructure support. The aim was ... to exercise the ADF in joint land, sea and air operations m a low level conflict and to exercise Australian. New Zealand and United States forces in combined operations'."

A maior shortcoming of the exercise involved the use of what authorative sources described as an unsuitable, ad hoc monster' Joint Headquarters from which to direct operations involving about 6.000 personnel.' Headquarters staff totalled about 500 personnel. This can be taken as indicative of the difficulty associated with co-ordinating three unpracticed Services, together on a modern far flung' battlefield In fact, considerably less than one infantry brigade was fielded during the exercise together with limited naval and air units. This haphazard assembly of forces lacked fighting power, cohesion and competent direction despite managing to go through some of the motions of valid JSOPs Lack of organic helicopter support and aircover for land and and sea elements was also indicative, not of a particular shortage of assets, but of an inability to co-ordinate them during operations. Also, the deficiency in Joint capability was manifested by avoidable

Page 46 — November 86 Journal ol the Australian Naval Institute

shortages of some resources and unnecessary duplication of other material.'0

Given the difficulty in organising and conducting this Exercise it is difficult to give credence to the seemingly glib Department of Defence statement that any move away from the present force and command structure would be '... precipitative and unwarranted'." Department of Defence senior officials have also claimed that '... the present system satisfies existing requirements and provides adequate flexibility and adaptability to meet any forseeable contingency'." These cheering comments are wholly unjustified on the basis of recent experience in terms of the conduct of the Exercise KANGAROO 83.

It therefore comes as no surprise that the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, in its report on The Australian Defence Force: its structure and capabilities: remained 'unconvinced' by Department of Defence representatives and concluded: ... The Committee is not satisfied that the Australian

Defence Force can quickly deploy sufficient men and material to meet low level threats, nor can it sustain them long enough in operations' "

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