The War Against Terrorism, the White Paper and Industry
(Source : Australian Defence Organisation ; issued Nov. 6, 2001)
 Text of Address By
Allan Hawke, Australian Secretary Of Defence,
To Australian Business Limited
Canberra, Tuesday, 6 November 2001


Just as world wars 1 and 2 were defining moments of the 20th Century, I believe the round one cataclysmic events of 11 September and their consequences are destined to become a hallmark of the 21st Century.

The enormity of these attacks makes it impossible for the international community to turn a blind eye to regimes that harbour or assist terrorists. Australia must show unambiguous solidarity with other law abiding nations on this matter. Increased attention to our domestic security environment will also be required.

Australia is committed to supporting the US-led action against those responsible for the terrorist attacks. HMAS ANZAC will be replaced by SYDNEY in the Persian Gulf in November. The Government has also committed SAS troops, air to air refuellers, F/A-18s, P3 Orions and other assets in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Today provides an appropriate occasion to address some of the commonly asked questions and media speculation about the war against terrorism.


We need to recognise September 11 for what it was: the first attacks in a campaign to re-order the international system that has allowed individual freedom, religious tolerance, democracy and free trade to flourish.

That international system has been threatened before by charismatic leaders and various coalitions of nation states promoting repressive authoritarianism: fascism, Nazism and international communism.

Previous generations responded quickly and heroically to defeat those threats and preserve our way of life during the 100 years of Australian Federation. The same challenge now confronts us.

Do we have the clarity of thought and the courage to recognise and fight off this threat? Overwhelmingly, Australians say that they do. Their instinctive reactions are right. But some members of the community and media seem to be caught in the grip of paralysis by analysis.

They focus on the difficulties posed by the shadowy nature of the individuals posing the threat losing sight of the clear importance of the threat itself and the way this distinguishes September 11 from previous acts of terrorism, which did not require such a substantial military response.

The magnitude of the threat is no less because it comes from a group of loosely affiliated individuals not, as in the past, from a nation state or coalition of nations.

September 11 and its unfolding aftermath visibly demonstrates the mechanisms that terrorists now have at their disposal to inflict enormous casualties and to cause widespread fear and panic - potentially curtailing individual freedoms and transforming democratic societies that confidently engage with others, to nervous and fearful isolationism.

The objective of those behind these barbarous acts a reordering of the international system is precisely what the architects of the ANZUS Treaty feared. They rightly committed us to a campaign of collective defence if such a threat ever arose again. And that’s why the American and Australian Governments have invoked the ANZUS Treaty in the collective defence of our way of life for the first time in its fifty year history.


Given the terrorists’ objectives, this is no time to make a token contribution.

Australia has a relatively small defence force, so the size of our contribution will naturally be overshadowed by others. But, this war will be won by skill and perseverance, not numbers. This is not a Vietnam-style insurgency, needing large conscripted forces.

And we are fortunate enough to have a highly capable, very skilled military that can make a difference to the campaign.


The objective of destroying the infrastructure that supports the training and equipping of terrorists is achievable. But, it will not be easy. That infrastructure can easily be duplicated elsewhere, in other failed states or with the support of isolated regimes implacably opposed to the principles of free, democratic societies.

This will not be a one-off battle, culminating in tickertape victory parades. Our efforts will need to be sustained. This is a new style of war, to which no previous blueprints and concepts of neat ‘exit strategies’ apply.

Resources will have to be marshalled continually across diverse agencies - intelligence and law enforcement bodies, the international banking system, military and police forces and national emergency response and health systems. The common objective is to cut off the terrorists’ life support systems.

Diplomacy and international aid will also be required to address the serious inequities that the terrorists seek to exploit for their own ends.


Nobody predicted the exact events of September 11.

But they are part of a broader trend that has seen wars between nation states become less common, only to be replaced by new and different threats. Many Australians articulated this last year to Andrew Peacock’s Community Consultation Team, by the importance they attached to Defence preparing for non-military threats to our security and national interests.

The Government agreed with those views.

Last year’s Defence White Paper noted that: …various forms of military operations other than conventional war are becoming more common" (2.6). It noted that we could not predict with certainty when or where Australia might need to use its armed forces (1.18).

And it went on to say: "The Government believes that this is an important and lasting trend, with significant implications for our Defence Force. Over the next 10 years the ADF will continue to undertake a range of operations other than conventional war, both in our own region and beyond. Preparing the ADF for such operations will therefore take a more prominent place in our defence planning than it has in the past" (2.8).

These comments underlie the commitment to the substantial investment in intelligence and information systems, Special Forces, strike and other capabilities which are part of the broad upgrading of our land, maritime and air forces.

It is no coincidence that the capabilities singled out in the White Paper feature so prominently in our military contribution to the war against terrorism. They are exactly the capabilities we need.

The policy framework established in the White paper is sound. It will give us what we need, although some planned enhancements, such as those to intelligence and Special Forces, may have to be brought forward. The higher than expected operational tempo will also have to be addressed.

We do not need a new policy framework.


Implementation of the Defence White Paper is on track, with the first $4.7 billion of the promised $23.5 billion delivered in the May budget. This $4.7 billion will be spent over the next four years.

The recent decision to double Defence’s Counter Terrorist capability will be factored in to our plan. The incoming Government will also want to review its approach to defence and security. This may lead to greater Defence expenditure and/or rephasing of some capabilities and their associated costings, as the war on terrorism unfolds.


The White Paper reiterated the vital role that industry plays in Defence capability. The Government recently reviewed Defence’s strategic industry policy framework as you would all know from the Coalition’s Defence Policy Statement.

July 2001 marked the first anniversary of the Defence Materiel Organisation’s formation, following the merger of the Defence Acquisition Organisation, Support Command Australia and the National Support Division.

The DMO reform strategy aims to:

--integrate the acquisition and support elements and locate them appropriately with their customers;

--reform processes based on commercial approaches and best practice;

--adopt a more strategic approach to relationships with industry;

--improve relationships with stakeholders and customers; and

--create a climate where people are valued and do their best.

The DMO has been working overtime to establish a truly whole-of-life defence acquisition and support organisation. Runs on the board include creating some 40 System Program Offices, moving people to customer locations’ and taking over support for East Timor operations.

There is, of course, still some way to go to achieve complete seamlessness between these functions. The reform process is more about changing the way we do our business a cultural change if you will - than a simple change in structure. A truly "whole-of-life" organisation will only emerge once we have a new state of mind in our people and in industry.

To my mind, reform is very much a two-way street. Some companies have welcomed the Government’s early decision on the AIR 87 project a capability which co-incidentally was brought forward in our acquisition planning, specifically because of its suitability for non-defence of Australia, but still military demanding, tasks.

There has, however, been some critical press reporting, perhaps proving that it’s always the case of damned if you do - and damned if you don’t. I take this opportunity to put the record straight.

Industry was strongly supportive of the acquisition reform initiatives designed to streamline decision making and our commitment to put aside tenders as soon as they were judged to be no longer competitive. The benefits seem obvious industry avoids the cost of maintaining bid teams unnecessarily, Defence reduces its acquisition costs and the Services get their new equipment sooner.

I note in passing that the Under Secretary, Mick Roche said that the test of this reform would be the first occasion on which a bid was dismissed within weeks of tenders closing. And so it was with AIR 87. Yet some commentators still seem to be arguing for continuing the competition for the sake of competition, regardless of what it costs. Others are endeavouring to find fault with the process and/or challenging our bona fides

In the AIR 87 case, we declined one tender after four weeks, a second after three months, and, at the same time, notified a third that they would be held in reserve, but should stop spending. All of these decisions were based on clear margins of capability, cost and Australian Industry Involvement - consistent with our acquisition reform agenda.

Politics played no part in the decision. The process accorded completely with the RFT. To suggest otherwise is pure cant.

While many implementation issues for our new approach still need to be detailed, it is very clear that Defence cannot "go it alone". Industry’s advice and assistance is essential to get it right. I regard this as a priority one issue for the next Defence Minister.

Each month the Defence Committee spends some time going through DMO’s top 20 Major Capital Projects (based on Approved Project Cost), other projects of concern and significant issues with the Under Secretary.

I know that we are at the leading edge on many of these projects but I continue to be surprised at the number of projects experiencing performance shortfalls, schedule slippage and the time involved. I accept some of that is caused by us but there also seem to be more than a few where industry may not be pulling its weight.

One of Defence’s problems involves management of perceptions in the defence community, the media, the Parliament and the general public. The tried and true method of blaming Defence’s project management won’t wash for much longer. A genuine Defence/industry partnership approach will require you to be more active on this front.

There’s no doubt that we have all learned a lot from the Collins Submarine project. Here we set out to build a technically advanced complex submarine to a new design, on a green field site with a newly formed company and an overseas design authority. The project threw up a range of technical problems that caused delay and cost overruns. In reality it would have been amazing if there had not been technical problems in such a technically challenging project. Nearly every other country that starts a brand new submarine project encounters difficulties. All the problems are, however, solvable and today most of them have been solved.

We now have by far the best conventional submarine in the world, a fact acknowledged by the US Navy. A long term plus for Australia is the new industries that are now growing and exporting - their presence here having been instigated by the Collins project.

I put it to you that there are strong parallels between Collins and the Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft. Again we will lead the world no other defence force will have such an advanced system. Again it will be technically complex, have an overseas design authority and will involve Australian defence industry.

If during its development this project does not encounter technical problems then I would say that it is not pushing the technical envelope hard enough to give the ADF sufficient technological edge for a platform that will be in service for at least thirty years. Having a decisive technology edge is just as key an element of our defence strategy as our intelligence capabilities and arrangements.

The Collins’ experience will help us manage the technical risk in the AEW&C development better but, to hope for no technical problems is either to be naïve or to wish old well-established technology onto the ADF, a policy which if adopted comprehensively by Defence would lead to our undoing.

We both need to do much more to communicate these facts of life.

Another significant challenge now facing both Defence and you in industry is just how we can deliver against the Government’s requirements detailed in the White Paper. Government has provided a comprehensive costed and funded plan. The framework and funding are there in the White Paper. Together, Defence, Government more generally and industry must now work out the most cost-effective and practical ways of achieving it.

These are uncertain and demanding times. They require the closest co-operation between Defence and industry.


prev next

Official reports See all