IN THE NEWS
DEFENCE LINKS OF INTEREST
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Thursday 9 August 2018
On Thursday 9 August, members and guests were treated to an engaging and challenging panel discussion on approaches to countering terrorism and radicalisation. USI Councillor Jacinta Carroll, Dr Emily Corner from ANU and Mr Bren Burkevics from the ACT Government's Security & Emergency Management Branch canvassed both theory and practice in a session that raised as many questions as it answered.
Emily began by explaining that her research has found no causal link between mental health and radicalisation, and that we just don't know why people radicalise. She lamented the paucity of data to enable research and suggested that researchers are not yet pushing the field far enough.
Bren began by stressing that, although there is very good cooperation between governments at all levels, it is difficult to identify potential offenders, particularly in a world where there are so many potential sources of radicalisation. He agreed that more data would be helpful and argued for a long-term research plan with clearly established priorities, and stronger links between academia and practitioners.
A fascinating exchange then unfolded, in which Jacinta and the audience probed the presenters in detail. The conclusion was that USI probably needs to return to this very difficult subject area in the not too distant future.
(Carroll & Horner bios: ANU; Photo: USI)
Thursday 12 July 2018
The Invictus Games is an international adaptive multi-sport competition for serving and former serving military personnel who have been wounded, injured or become ill during their military service. The 2018 Invictus Games will be held in Sydney from 20 - 27 October. The Games will attract competitors from 18 nations who will compete in 11 adaptive sports events.
On Thursday 12 July, USI member and Australian Invictus Games team organiser Brigadier Phil Winter AM, CSC, provided terrific insights into the background, development and possible future directions of the Games. While stressing the contribution that the Games can make to recovery, he was realistic about the potential for some athletes to feel let down after the event, and described some of the measures the ADF and RSL are taking to prepare the Australian team for this eventuality.
Phil was accompanied by 2018 Australian Invictus athletes Ben Farinazzo and Tiffany White, who spoke frankly about their own stories. Tiff reflected on her journey of rediscovering life, love and family, and the importance of letting go of the past and focussing on the future. Ben spoke passionately about his realisation that he is more than an army officer or CEO, and that despite his wounds he is still strong and unconquered. Both thanked their coaches and all involved in the Invictus Games, and emphasised the healing power of sport more generally.
Thursday 28 June 2018
On Thursday 28 June, members and guests were privileged to listen to the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs AO, CSC, RAN, who reflected on his experiences while working at the most senior levels within Defence.
In a significant address, Admiral Griggs described the quite challenging situation he found on assuming his appointment as Chief of Navy in 2011, before arguing that the ADF is now a more potent fighting force and that the ADF and Defence more broadly are now more agile and diverse. He sketched the many new capabilities that now make the ADF more potent, noting that the recent deployment of the very capable and self-contained air task group to Iraq exemplified his point. He emphasised the many positive outcomes from the Strategic Reform Program (while acknowledging its limitations) and the First Principles Review, particularly the many benefits of the new capability life cycle. He underlined the importance of diversity as a capability issue, stressing that no team can win if its members do not respect each other. He concluded by observing that articulating the contemporary meaning of what it is to be a warrior is a significant challenge for today's senior leaders, and by reflecting that leaders must be resilient if they are to be effective. You can read the full text of the address here.
Admiral Griggs has been a strong and consistent supporter of USI of the ACT and RUSIDSS-A more broadly, and we wish him every future success as he leaves the Navy and the ADF.
(Photo: USI; Bio: Defence)
Thursday 31 May 2018
On Thursday 31 May, we continued our exploration of the Department of Home Affairs with the Department's First Assistant Secretary National Security and Law Enforcement, Mr Hamish Hansford.
In presenting the rationale for the Department, Hamish described its historical roots dating back to Federation before turning to the imperatives that drove the Government to establish the Department in its current form. He contended that the challenges arising from the dark side of globalisation, such as transnational flows of terrorism, drug trafficking, cyber crime and modern slavery, demanded that the Government bring together disparate departments of state to force greater transparency and collaboration. In rebutting claims made by Professor John Blaxland in an earlier presentation, Hamish argued that the new Department is in fact only marginally larger than the former Department of Immigration and Border Protection; that it was the result of deep thinking over a long period of time; that its size and scope cannot be considered to rival the larger and better resourced Department of Defence; that there is still considerable room for contestability of ideas; that immigration has not been lost as a point of focus; and that there is an extent to which concentration of power in one minister was the whole point of the new arrangement. In a candid question and answer session, Hamish described some of the challenges that have had to be faced in bringing the Department together and concluded that, on balance, progress has been good. He envisaged that in five years' time, the Department would be much more mature and making a significant contribution to keeping Australia a prosperous, secure and united society.
(Bio: Home Affairs; Photo: USI)
Thursday 19 April 2018
On Thursday 19 April, our 2017 Leo Mahony Bursary winner, Deborah Jeppesen, briefed members and guests on progress on her doctoral research in a presentation entitled Are we influential? Examining the attributes which make military advisors effective in Train Advise Assist roles.
Deborah explained that in deciding on a doctoral project, she first and foremost wanted to produce a work that would have practical application rather than gather dust. Given that so many of the ADF's recent contributions have involved providing military advisers, understanding the attributes required for success in such roles seemed an ideal choice.
Deborah described her hypothesis that emotional intelligence is the key to success and explained what this means behaviourally, her research method and some of her results. She went on to list some preliminary conclusions and their implications. All this and more is explained in the slides for her presentation.
The Leo Mahony Bursary is a significant element of the USI program. It is awarded annually to a doctoral scholar enrolled in an ACT university and studying in the field of national security and defence. It commemorates the memory and service of founding National Secretary of RUSI-A and long-time USI member and Counsellor, Mr Leo Mahony. Connecting recipients with USI members is an important element of the Bursary. We achieve this in a number of ways: recipients are presented with their award at our Annual Members Dinner; appointed Honorary members for 12 months; and invited to attend our events and functions. They are also asked to give a presentation on their work.
Thursday 5 April 2018
ADF Health Support Arrangements in Peace and War
AVM Tracy Smart AM
On Thursday 5 April 2018, the ADF's Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General, Air Vice Marshal Tracy Smart AM, addressed members and guests on the ADF's health support arrangements in peace and war.
In a wide-ranging presentation, AVM Smart described how the ADF health support system works, her dual role as CJ Health and Surgeon General, the evolution of Joint Health Command, the range of challenges she confronts and her approach to addressing those challenges. You can find the slides for the presentation here. A short video on Joint Health Command can be found here.
AVM Smart took the opportunity to debunk a number of myths that surround ADF health support, including on mental health issues, outsourcing of aspects of health support and privacy of patient information. She also touched on the challenges arising from the use of "free medical and dental" as a Defence advertising button, including managing expectations about the standard of health care that will be provided, and getting members to value a service that is provided to them free (eg in just six months in 2017, a staggering $0.5 million was wasted paying for specialist appointments that members failed to attend).
(Photo: USI; Bio: Defence)
Thursday 15 March 2018
The Battle of Marawi
Professor Clive Williams, MG
On Thursday 15 March, USI of the ACT Life Member, Professor Clive Williams MG, briefed members and guests on the Battle of Malawi, which was fought between the Government of the Philippines and it supporters (including Australia) and militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The battle commenced on 23 May 2017 and ran for five months.
Clive covered a range of issues, including the influence of Islamic State and the Battle for Mosul, the prevailing demographics in and around the city and other local issues that contributed to the uprising, and the performance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
His conclusion was that dealing with the aftermath of the battle will be problematic due to the catastrophic damage caused around the centre of the city, ongoing local tensions, and problems inside the Government of the Philippines.
(Photo: USI. Biography: ANU)
Thursday 8 February 2018
Home Sweet Home: A Critical Historical and Contemporary Perspective on the Emergence of the Department of Home Affairs
Professor John Blaxland
On 8 February, Professor John Blaxland, Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, presented to more than 100 USI of the ACT members and guests on the new Department of Home Affairs. In an entertaining but thought provoking address, Blaxland set out a range of concerns about the new arrangements. He described the evolution of the Australian Intelligence Community since Federation, arguing that changes had resulted incrementally - and sensibly - over time in response to periodic reviews and Royal Commissions. He contrasted this with the decision to form the Department of Home Affairs, the imperative for which remains unsatisfactorily explained. You can find the slides for the presentation here and listen to the audio here.