#weapons

Do arms suppliers have a moral compass?

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40 murdered children in Yemen.  The Saudi logic behind the attack was that the Houthi rebels were training these kids as soldiers. A far-fetched claim. Yet where has the condemnation of Saudi’s role on the UN Human Rights Council been? Countless civilian deaths in Yemen at the hands of the Saudi military are nothing new. Where was the outrage then? The decades long proxy war has only accelerated since the assassination of former Yemeni dictator President Ali Abdullah Saleh in December 2017.

CNN looked to put the blame of this latest tragedy at the feet of US defence companies. Surely the Europeans are just as blameworthy for selling the Tornado or Eurofighter aircraft that likely dropped the American ordinance on these kids? Mattis has openly criticized the Saudi attack in this instance.

Arms deals are a dirty business. Let’s not pretend otherwise. Unfortunately these dangerous toys rarely come with a “please use responsibly” section inside the box of instructions. Some might argue that in certain cases users are not of the appropriate age bracket to play with them. Bribery scandals (aka incentives) are often more notable than the weapons deals themselves. Yet have there been incidences of arms suppliers turning down multi-billion dollar contracts?

If we go back in history, the Americans refused to release the source codes to the Saudis in a potential multi-billion dollar US jet fighter sale that would have allowed certain weapons (the US weren’t prepared to supply) to be fired. Even if the Saudis bought the US jets and sourced the banned weapons on the black market they wouldn’t be able to be fired.  Instead the Saudi’s bought the Panavia Tornado because the Europeans were happy to sell a similarly capable platform that the US refused to sell. UK defence contractor BAE Systems won a long term maintenance contract known as Al-Yamamah as a result of this Tornado deal. Why not bash the Brits for taking advantage of the US putting regional security ahead of arms sales in Saudi Arabia?

Perhaps we could question the moral fibre of the US refusing to sell the F-22 Raptor attack fighter to the Japanese. The Japanese top brass pleaded for the plane but US Congress refused to approve it claiming the billions required to redo all of the computer systems and source codes to ensure it had a lower capability than the USAF plane. The reality was more likely to prevent a leakage of its capability (something that had occurred when the Japanese ordered Aegis destroyers). The result was Japan didn’t get them even given its peaceful history post WW2.

Should we bash the Russians for supplying military hardware has been behind the deaths of over 100,000 Syrians? Or Ford for making the car that ran down people in Westminster?Or should we question the operators of these tools?

If we really want to get petty the Paveway Mk-82 bombs responsible for killing these kids were sold to the Saudi’s in a deal made in 2013 under the Obama administration. Was it Obama’s fault in allowing the sale? CM doesn’t believe he is but interesting that CNN left the period of sale out. Easier to attack the $110bn arms sales going forwards.

40 dead children is a tragedy. Arms deals are far from if ever holy. The instruments of death are sadly not always deploy in manners which are either moral or ethical. The Iranian backed Houthi almost sunk a French made Saudi frigate in the Red Sea at the beginning of last year. Several Emirati patrol boats have been severely damaged by the Houthi in the same area, the most recent incident occurring  last month. There are countless skirmishes along the Yemeni/Saudi border.

Unfortunately the Saudis and several other gulf states are key allies of the US in the proxy war against Iran/Russia. Do not expect a wholesale change in US arms deals with Saudi Arabia for the foreseeable future.

In closing perhaps people might question China’s new interest in the Middle East? Many may have missed it has deployed 5,000 troops (including special forces) in Syria since 2017. Geopolitics seldom look to protect the rights of anyone other than the home side. Don’t pretend it does otherwise.

Diversity in the ADF – lower targets missed by even wider margin

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What sort of defence force can Australia rely on if our military brass blathers on about the importance of “diversity”? The irony is that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) reduced the actual female recruitment target and missed it by an even wider margin. Instead of respecting the pure vocational choices of men and women somehow the military seems to think ever higher levels of discrimination will overcome it. Military morale is not high.

Navy News reports that,

100 Days of Change, running from July 1-October 8, aims to strengthen the momentum for individuals to improve our operational effectiveness by committing to gender equality and equity at all levels.

There is only one thing a military needs to do – be capability effective. It should focus on candidates who fit that requirement. Nothing else matters. Yet RADM Mark Hammond said,  “We must do this as one Navy, regardless of age, rank, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability or gender,” Indeed he should but such outcomes do not come through blatant discriminatory practices.

Shouldn’t a military focus on capabilities of the individual – whether he/she meets the “same” minimum fitness requirements (women have easier standards to pass), can hit enemy targets or whatever objective is set out. If 100 women are better than 100 men for the specific role then the military should hire 100 women and vice versa. Imagine if 100 men proved to be more capable than 100 women for a particular skill? In order to to hit targets, 25 men would be shunned to make way for inferior skills. If 100 women were better in this hypothetical situation, imagine the outrage if only 25 were selected for the 100 positions to keep the diversity target? It wouldn’t and shouldn’t happen.

Is discrimination, where recruiters face demotion if they don’t hit gender based targets, the way we want to run a military? Let’s take a look.

In the 2015-16 Women in the ADF report we see the Navy wishes to have 25% women by 2023  it stands at 21.3% today, up from 19% in 2016.

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If we were to look at actual vs target, it seems that the path is diverging. Isn’t that indication that women are less interested in the military as a career choice? Yet the Navy is forced to discriminate against males in order to hit targets.

So has the Army  it wants 15% by 2023 and is tracking marginally ahead with the ultimate aim of 25%. Could it be that 15% is the “natural” rate of women wanting to join the armed forces?

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The Air Force is also aiming for 25% by 2023 but is tracking below target.

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We should reflect on a study conducted around the world covering over 100,000 subjects which revealed that the countries with the biggest push/policy provision for equality and diversity cause the opposite to occur when choices are exercised. Scandinavia is the perfect example. Men and women don’t sort themselves into the same categories if we leave them alone to do it of their own accord through policies that tend to maximize equality. In Scandinavia it is  20 to one female nurses to male and approximately the same male engineers to female engineers,

Yet look at the lengths the Royal Australian Air Force goes to in order to hit diversity through blatant discriminatory practices.

“In support of this growth path Air Force has implemented, or is in the process of implementing, a number of recruitment and retention initiatives such as:

  • specific female recruiting target
  • Women in the Air Force marketing campaign
  • continuation of embedded specialist women recruitment team in Defence Force Recruiting
  • the trial of a reduction of Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS)
  • introduction of the Graduate Pilot Scheme (GPS) for women
  • changes to direct entry female pilot return of service obligations
  • continuation of experiential camps for girls (technical and aircrew focussed programmes)
  • release of an Air Force produced recruitment guide, ‘PropElle’, to support female pilot candidates through the recruitment process.

No such programs are available for men.

Despite all these programmes, surely any squadron leader with any common sense wants the most effective fighting force. Once the canopy closes, they depend on each other.

What an insult to women to think they need all these artificial prop ups to get ahead. Every ambitious women CM has ever met has never relied on free kicks but sheer determination, grit and above all ability.

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It is clear in the table above that all three military branches missed female recruitment targets in 2015/16. The irony is even after lowering the numerical targets of female hires in each military branch over 2014/15, recruiters missed by an even bigger margin. Evidence that on balance women are less likely to join the military when driven by personal choice!

The ADF paper also notes that women quit at higher rates than men, especially at the trainee stage. Men are also much more likely to remain in the military than women after 18mths of parental or maternity leave.

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In terms of gender pay gap there are marginal differences. In the senior ranks – Commodore (Navy), Brigadier (Army) and Air Marshall (Air Force) – women are paid more than men on average. Although the ADF “determines work value and subsequent remuneration proposals based primarily on capability delivery. Where there is a direct or similar civilian (non-military) occupation, market relativities may contribute to remuneration determinations. One example of this is in Defence’s technical trades, where there are measurable market influences and relativity for trades such as vehicle mechanics.

In terms of effectiveness of these diversity programmes,  the data is also telling  a little more than half of women think it makes  difference. 45% of men also agree. Hardly overwhelming evidence.

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When addressing morale, only 40% of men and women feel positive. Confidence in senior leadership was around 63%. Not exactly the figures that make a war fighter. 22% of women are actively planning to leave the military and 25% of men. If the military keeps it up perhaps male  resignations will help boost the percentages of female recruits that don’t seem keen to join.

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The military is the last place that social experimentation should be conducted. Let’s be clear that China, Australia’s most realistic threat in the Asia-Pacific, doesn’t practice diversity in the PLA. It projects capability.

Should our frigates be sunk, our fighters shot down or our artillery troops shelled to smithereens, at least we can say they didn’t die in vain but won the war of diversity. Await the rainbow camouflage to broaden our “wokeness”