Smaller Scale and Skilled: Part Time Forces Worthwhile Resources for Australia

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Introduction

Strong considerations by military minds have indicated that being alert to the “weak signal” is a crucial skill that lets a commander know what to look out for and how to plan to defend or attack[1]. The importance of noting a weak signal is cited by many researchers as; ‘The need to detect ‘weak-signals’ has been noted in a number of communications research studies, both in assisting to communicate more effectively and in finding issues of concern before they become widespread and a danger to the organisation in question”[2]. Such advice seems literally sensible but can often be ignored until the issue is such that many people become afraid of or uninterested in the product or service. This paper considers the service provided by our part time military personnel who are prepared to wear the uniform of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and be ready capable and willing to serve in any capacity that the ADF see fit. In researching for this paper it become clear that there appears to be less part time force personnel available while the rest of the world’s democratic nations are building theirs up to full capacity. It is just a weak signal at present and no one seems to have noticed this, but it is worth discussing here.

The last 100+ years of Australia and its part time but significant civilian militia and later the Civilian Military Forces and its most recent iteration as the Reserves is now being integrated into the ADF under their new rubric One force two modes of employment.  The Part Time Force Personnel will now be equitable to the full time “Regular” forces and their skills, talents and qualifications brought to bear from their civilian lives and professional careers will be welcomed as the future brings about a new way of working within the military.

Part time military forces around the world are briefly considered and their rationale for the increase and generation of Reservists and their strategic position in modern democracies is considered and presented. The future and importance of continuing threats that are Global in nature and also threats to Australia both external and internal are also considered in light of this.

Describing Defence Reserves the Part Time Permanent Armed Forces: vital around the world

It can be argued that Reservists, Territorial Armies, National Guards, or part time personnel are widely recognised for their contribution if political documents and reports are to be believed. Table 1 below outlines the lexical choices/ words used by political parties and administrations around the world to describe the importance and relevance of part time defence forces. For the purposes of this paper only modern style democratic nations were considered. The study considered more than 100 sites on the web and media platforms were examined to check the word frequencies that described the reservists and part time armed forces personnel.

Table 1 identifies clearly that part time armed forces are considered valuable. Words describing them identify that they are cost efficient, vital for modern defence forces, reliable, deployable and vital to national security.

In fact, a number of significant political reports considers the part time armed forces as necessary and needed more than ever. For example the work of Edmunds et al [3] in which they identify that with the changing strategic nature of Reserves in the UK that they will be needed more than ever to augment the power of the standing forces and will be expected to deploy as the Army cannot expect to be able to deploy for strategic purposes and to conflict zones without the support of the part time forces.  Within their comprehensive study they discuss the merits of training, and recruitment to augment and continue the notion of Reservists being seen as integral to the full-time forces.

 

 

WORD CHOICES/ FREQUENCY

NUMBERS NOTED

NECESSARY/NEEDED (MORE THAN EVER)

32

STRATEGIC

30

VALUABLE (ADDITION TO STANDING FORCES)

12

ASSETS

17

NATIONAL SECURITY (SUPPORT)

19

PREVENTION OF BORDER INCURSIONS

12

ANTI TERRORIST SUPPORTS

9

SKILLED SUPPORT ROLES

8

VITAL FOR MODERN DEFENCE FORCES

17

EFFICIENT (USE OF RESOURCES)

18

CRITICAL TO NATIONAL SECURITY

9

PROFESSIONAL

9

RELIABLE

12

FLEXIBLE

9

DEPLOYABLE (WHEN REQUIRED)

8

CAPABLE

10

MODERN APPROACHES TO DEFENCE

6

INTEGRATED WITH COMMUNITY

8

SPECIALISTS ROLES INCLUDE: MEDICAL AND NURSING, HOMELAND GUARDIANS, INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPORT BASES, DEFENCE INDUSTRIES, CYBERSECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE ALL LISTED REGULARLY

 

TABLE 1 WORD DESCRIPTIONS OF PART TIME ARMED PERSONNEL[4]

Other commentators also suggest that in the coming years and even in present day conflict situations that cyberspace will provide the new arena but the IT expert may not fulfil the traditional stance of the super fit soldier. In fact he may be more unfit but clever and able within the cyberspace arena to provide national and secure service and wear the uniform of the nation.   The descriptions of service are also significant in that clearly part time personnel are a significant asset to the nation.

In the USA for example COL Richard Dunn has described the power and support needed to fulfil the work of the full time armed forces in his essay at Heritage foundation. He stated that: ‘The Reserve and Guard make up roughly 38 percent of total U.S. uniformed manpower, and their organizations provide critical combat power and support. Though traditionally supporting combat operations in a strategic reserve capacity, more recently, they have supported undersized Active component forces in long-term engagements such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan’[5]. Belgium too has indicated the need by describing their Reservists as ‘an investment in national security’ and also a strategic asset in an increasingly complex world environment. Reservists are deployed in intelligence, medical and disaster relief and the protection of citizens abroad[6].

Defence Commentary in brief from allied nations.

FRANCE: - ‘The Reserve forces are integral to our geostrategic priorities resulting from our duty to protect French citizens, on the one hand, and assume our international responsibilities, protect the national territory and French nationals abroad, guarantee the continuity of the Nation’s essential functions, preserve our sovereignty, in mainland France and the overseas territories.’ (White paper on Defence and Security 2015)

CANADA - ‘The Reserves are integral to our vision of being as the White Paper suggests -Strong at Home- Secure in North America and- engaged in the world-recognizes the dynamic changes in the social environment and the urgent need to address issues affecting the recruitment, training, retention, health and wellness of Regular and Reserve Force personnel’ ( Warfare today website 2017)[7]

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - ‘The U.S. military deters aggression by maintaining a credible nuclear capability that is safe, secure, and effective; conducting forward engagement and operations; and maintaining Active, National Guard, and Reserve forces prepared to deploy and conduct operations of sufficient scale and duration to accomplish their missions.’ (National Military Defense Strategy paper USA  2015)

UNITED KINGDOM - The Ministry of Defence has sought to recruit personnel to 77 Brigade with specialist skills and backgrounds in IT, commerce, academia and industry. The House of Commons Defence Committee has welcomed these steps but has warned the funding for such forms of warfare must be maintained if the UK and NATO allies are able to counter Russian efforts in the same arena. (House of Lords Briefing Edward Scott for information on House of Commons Debate June 2018)

Other Countries Reserve Forces compared

Many nations appear to have in terms of percentage a larger Reserve forces capacity when considered in terms of percentages of the population. For example in the table that follows as listed within Global Firepower Australia appears to lag behind. According to some military sources the rule of thumb is one Reservist for each 1000 of population.

It is worth considering that in order to be secure at home and abroad, to be engaged in the region that Australia will need to deploy a strong and trained part time defence force.

Reserve Forces in Democratic Nations (Global review)

Table 2 identifies that some democratic nations view the expansion of Reservists as vital to maintain national security and defence and that is a significant cost-effective way to prepare and plan the defence strategy of the nation. You will note that some nations have greater Reservist power than others and this signifies their ability to deploy rapidly and easily should the need arise. For example, the United Kingdom has 1 Reservist for each 800 of population. This has been reported as necessary as more and more the part-time defence forces are required to protect strategic assets and be available for deployment. In 2010 David Cameron the Prime Minister of Britain presented a report to Parliament which detailed how expanding the role of the Reserves would “secure the future of Britain”[8].

Many other reports all reported the same theme that Reservists the Part Time Defence force were valued, needed and strategically vital to the defence of the nation. In recent times LTGEN Hodges of the US Army defence forces in Europe has been reported as suggesting that we must rely even more heavily on the rotations and support of part-time defence Reserves to assist in the day to day operations and engagements[9].

 

DEMOCRACY

POPULATION

RESERVE FORCES AS AT 2016

INDIA

1.32 BILLION

5.5 MILLION

USA

325.7 MILLION

801,000

(.25%) 1 reservist /400

INDONESIA

266,794,980 MILLION

540,000

ISRAEL

8.54 MILLION

445,000

SINGAPORE

5.6 MILLION

432,000

TURKEY

79.5 MILLION

360,000

PHILIPPINES

103 MILLION

325,000

MALAYSIA         

32,042,458 MILLION

310,000

(.03%) 1Reservist/1033

THAILAND

68.86 MILLION

292,000

GREECE

10.75 MILLION

252,000

GERMANY

82.67 MILLION

30.000

PORTUGAL

10,291,196

233,000

FINLAND

5,542,517

232,700 (NOTE CALL UP STANDBY IN 2017 900,000 border patrols)

FRANCE

65,233,271

183,000

UNITED KINGDOM

65.64 MILLION

81,500

(.125%) 1 Reservist /800

SWITZERLAND

8.372 MILLION

150,000

POLAND

37.95 MILLION

75,000

JAPAN

127 MILLION

83,000

NORWAY

5,353,363 MILLION

46,000

CANADA

36.974 MILLION

25,000 (.067%)

1 Reservist /1500

SWEDEN

9.9 MILLION

22, OOO

(2.04%) 1 Reservist /440

ITALY

60.6 MILLION

20,000

NETHERLANDS

17.1 MILLION

11,000

AUSTRALIA

25 MILLION (2018)

19,7000

(.08% 1 Reservist/1250)

Table 2 Reserve Forces in Democratic Nations

What is happening to make us need more part time defence forces?

China is rattling their swords in the South China Sea, the arc of instability and the volatility of political debate in nearby nations can lead to conflict and issues of concern. Recent commentary from USA Naval Admiral Philip Davidson as recently as April 2018 suggested that China would need to be curbed He stated at a Senate Committee hearing recently ‘He says only an armed conflict could now stop Beijing from closing the South China Sea’s international sea lanes’[10]. As well as concerns with China there are also issues of concern with respect to strategic assets being secure and safeguarded. For example, France has deployed their Armées Reservée to protect trains and transport hubs to ensure the safety of crowds during summer vacation since the French White Paper on Strategic Defence was released in 2008[11]. Border protection issues have also arisen to ensure that illegal boat and border incursions do not occur. In other parts of the world such as Finland this has been ongoing as a matter of concern and the Reservists Part time forces have been deployed to protect the borders.

Reserves the Part-time strategic defence: a great resource for the nation

In times of crisis or disaster or catastrophe it is imperative to have access to trained and deployable men and women who are capable and ready to serve. Nowhere has this been more evident than the strategic use of our part-time forces in fighting fires, responding to floods and to sending rescue missions to nearby nations in trouble. For example, Reservist specialist medical and nursing teams have assisted after bombings, and earthquakes, and our capable defence personnel are prepared and ready to serve when the nation calls. Example of the value and cost effectiveness of a highly trained specialist work force with military capability is crucial in a time of uncertainty and the demand for specialist skills is even more pressing. Cyberwarfare, cyber incursion onto our strategic internet services demands the best we can provide and many of these experts are civilians with qualifications and dedication to match. Some nations are already working hard to prepare and plan for this need. Porsche and his associates at Rand Corporation have conducted research in 2017 that suggests unlimited potential in Reserve within the military for cyberwarfare support and protection[12].  Perhaps the time is now for Australia’s part time defence specialists, to be called and ready to respond to the new and complex political situations globally and locally.

 

About the Author Dr Pamela D Schulz OAM is an Executive Committee Member of the Defence Reserves Association and Past Chair of the Defence Reserves Support Council of SA, Past Member of the Veterans Advisory Council SA and currently Senior Adjunct Research Fellow in the University of South Australia School of Creative Industries (Communications and International Studies)

[1]    Lesca H, ‘Veille Stratégique:  Passage de la  notion  de  signal  faible  à  la  notion  de  signe  d'alerte  précoce’ in European Journal of Strategy, 2001.

[2] L.  Flores, H.  Moskowitz and A Maier, ‘From Weak Signal  to  Successful  Product  Development’, in  European  Society for Marketing Research Conference Paper, Amsterdam, 2003, p. 3. 

[3]Timothy Edmunds, Antonia Dawes, Paul Higate, Neil K Jenkings and Rachel Woodward (2016) ‘Reserve Forces and the Transformation of British Military Organisations: Soldiers Citizens and Society’ in Defence Studies Vol 16: No 2 pp 118-136

[4] See for example the following Porsce I and Wisniewski B D  (2017)  ‘Reservists offer untapped resources for our national cybersecurity’ Rand Corporation and available on line at https://www.rand.org/blog/2017/04/reservists-and-the-national-guard-offer-untapped-resources.html

[5] Dunn Col Richard J the 3(2016)    ‘America’s Reserve and National Guard Components: Key Contributors to America’s Military Strength’ in Heritage Foundation Essays Index of American Military Strength  and available on line at

https://s3.amazonaws.com/ims-2016/PDF/2016_Index_of_US_Military_Strength_ESSAYS_DUNN.pdf

[6] See for example the Defensie Report here at https://www.mil.be/sites/mil.be/files/pdf/strategic-vision-belgian-defense-en.pdf

[7] http://www.warfare.today/2017/06/10/canadian-defence-goes-strong-secure-engaged/

[8] Cameron David (2010) Prime Minister of Britain Report to Parliament-‘Strategic Defence and Security Review’ and available on line at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/62482/strategic-defence-security-review.pdf

[9] Tan Michelle (2015)  in  Army times at https://www.armytimes.com/news/2015/10/08/army-looks-to-rotating-and-reserve-forces-for-europe-missions/

[10]< https://www.news.com.au/world/us-admiral-warns-only-war-can-now-stop-beijing-controlling-the-south-china-sea/news-story/0f8f99c3fb4492366cec09d234937ab2>

[11] Sarkozy Nicolas President of France (2008) Foreword to the Defence White Paper France and available on line at

http://www.mocr.army.cz/images/Bilakniha/ZSD/French%20White%20Paper%20on%20Defence%20and%20National%20Security%202008.pdf

[12] Porsche I et al (2017) ‘Cyber power potential of the Army Reserve Component’ Rand Corporation Research Paper


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