Statement by Australian Defence Minister Sen. John Faulkner
Protection of our soldiers in Afghanistan is one of the Government’s highest priorities, which is continuously reviewed by Defence. The Government and Defence are working to ensure that our troops have the full range of force protection measures they need to undertake their difficult mission.
In July 2009, shortly after becoming the Minister for Defence and visiting Afghanistan for the first time, I asked the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, to carry out a review of the force protection measures available for our deployed troops.
The review was conducted by the Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS), Lieutenant General Mark Evans. It included direct discussions with our troops in theatre about their force protection needs and an assessment of the effectiveness of previous and on-going force protection initiatives.
CJOPS’s report was reviewed by the Chief of the Defence Force who tasked the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General David Hurley, to design a decision-making framework for Government consideration.
The outcome of this work put forward 48 recommendations for enhancements to our force protection measures, particularly reflecting the escalating improvised explosive device (IED) and rocket attacks in Oruzgan Province. It ensured a coherent, comprehensive and complete approach to force protection.
The force protection improvements recommended from the review cover a variety of active and passive measures, which range from personal protective equipment for our soldiers, to unmanned surveillance systems.
Since the review was completed, Defence has been working hard to progress and implement the outcomes of the Force Protection Review.
Some measures have already been implemented, including improving counter measures against IEDs and improving IED detection equipment.
Progressing the other recommendations is well underway, including enhanced medical support, the upgrading and hardening of living and working accommodation in Tarin Kowt, as well as other capability enhancements.
Other measures required additional budget funding, which was provided in the Budget.
A key initiative in the package is the acquisition of a C-RAM system (Emphasis added) for use in Afghanistan, which provides advance warning of rocket attacks. This is a timely and important protective measure which will increase the security for troops in Tarin Kowt and elsewhere.
The approved force protection Budget measures, costing a total of $1.1 billion, will minimise the vulnerability of personnel, facilities and equipment so that our deployed forces enjoy more freedom of action in support of Afghan National Security Forces.
In addition to the $1.1 billion in the specific Force Protection Budget measure, Defence has also received $485 million for force protection through Operation Slipper supplementation which traditionally funds ongoing aspects of operations including force protection. Further ongoing operating costs for force protection initiatives of $48 million will be sought in the context of future budgets.
[An attached table sets out the initiatives included in the Force Protection package and indicates their funding sources, including budget measures, funding from prior year and current year operational supplementation, and future operating costs for which Defence will seek supplementation through the usual process in future budgets.]
I am satisfied that we are doing all we can to protect our troops. Even so, as the threats to our soldiers evolve, so too must our force protection arrangements.
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are responsible for a substantial number of coalition casualties in Afghanistan. The threat is indiscriminate and not only kills and maims coalition and local security forces, but also targets the local civilian population. Insurgents constantly adapt their use of these measures, so the counter measures required need to constantly change.
Route clearance tasks are undertaken for the conduct of combat operations and the sustainment of logistic supply routes. The ADF has procured a quantity of Self-protection Adaptive Roller Kits (SPARK roller) to mitigate the risk to vehicle mounted troops from IEDs.
Explosive Detection Dogs (EDDs) are used to locate and identify potential IEDs, explosive hides and other areas of interest. Additional Military Working Dogs will begin training next financial year.
The following measures will assist in protecting our troops from this significant IED threat:
-- Initiatives that will improve the ADF’s route clearance capability, at a cost of $7.0 million.
-- Seven initiatives dealing with enhanced counter measure capabilities for the Middle East Area of Operations.
-- Additional military working dogs will be trained for counter IED purposes at a cost of $4.9 million.
-- All Services will receive IED training as part of the ADF’s training continuum, building on the Army Explosive Hazards Awareness Training that began in January 2009.
Enhanced Electronic Counter Measures and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance
The ADF is operating in a progressively more complex environment and requires enhanced Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities for the prosecution of operations. Improved ISR capabilities will enhance and extend our area of influence and our ability to detect adversaries.
New capabilities and enhancements include Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles, Unattended Ground Sensors and Remote Viewing Terminals.
Many of these capabilities will be unmanned, allowing intelligence and data to be gathered without the ADF being placed in dangerous situations. Deployed forces will be able to gather and combine new types of information to better target and apprehend the enemy.
Improved sensors and remote viewing terminals will give our troops greater awareness of the battlespace, enhancing decision-making and reducing the risk to our troops and civilian casualties.
Improved dissemination will ensure that intelligence travels quickly and directly to our operational commanders providing them with clear and concise situational awareness. Enhanced intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities allow information to be gathered beyond line of sight without detection, allowing adversaries to be identified before contact can occur.
The total cost of ISR capabilities included in the Force Protection Review is $740 million, including the following measures:
-- An initiative to increase the rate of effort of ISR capability currently used in theatre. This will be at a cost of $370.9 million.
-- Nine intelligence related capabilities including new biometrics capabilities and a minimal cost initiative to incorporate forensics into tactical planning at a cost of $370 million.
The Force Protection Review also includes funding for the continued enhancement of electronic counter measures totalling $188.4 million.
Protection from Indirect Fire
Taliban rocket attacks are an ongoing threat for our personnel in Afghanistan. Enhancing protection from such attacks is vital. The ADF has already suffered one casualty from a rocket attack and such attacks continue against the base at Tarin Kowt, most recently on 28 April and 6 May 2010.
To improve the levels of protection against these attacks, the Government has approved the acquisition of a Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar system. This will provide a ‘sense and warn’ capability which will detect and track these projectiles in flight and warn our forces of the incoming threat.
Elements of the system are planned to be in place by the end of 2010, with subsequent progressive delivery of improved levels of protection.
The total cost of this part of the package is over $393.6 million.
Enhanced personal equipment and preparation
One of this Government’s highest priorities in the Force Protection Review is ensuring that our troops in Afghanistan are appropriately prepared and equipped for the challenging tasks they face.
The Government has approved a comprehensive package of measures to enhance the survivability, lethality and preparedness of our troops.
This includes funding for new weapons, body armour, improved communications and logistics arrangements, at a total cost of $55.6 million. These include:
-- The upgrade of night fighting equipment to enable more effective night operations at a cost of $10.2 million.
-- Enhancement of training areas in Australia to assist in better Mission Rehearsal Training before deploying. This will cost $1.3 million.
-- A range of enhancements to current issued body armour and an enhanced weapons system, in response to operational feedback, to improve soldier performance across a range of operational tasks. The procurement of a quantity of interim body armour systems will provide scalable levels of protection and a quantity of specialised body armour systems to meet Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) specific operational requirements at a cost of $35.9 million.
-- Improvements to the logistics process to make the system more flexible and capable of responding to changes in the operational environment.
-- Remote Viewing Terminals are being introduced which will provide the commander on the ground situation awareness and allow him to make faster and better decisions.
-- Investigation of a more timely logistics support and re-supply system.
-- A communications capability that will assist information and data exchange in theatre at a cost of $5.7 million.
-- A force integration team to incorporate equipment and tactics changes in theatre.
-- The Government will also implement measures to ensure that in the future any new equipment identified as necessary for our troops to complete their mission safely is acquired and reaches them without unnecessary delay.
Increased Armour and Firepower for Vehicles
The Force Protection Review will deliver enhancements to the survivability and lethality of the Protected Mobility Vehicles and ASLAVs our troops rely on in combat in Afghanistan, at a cost of $271.5 million.
Looking after the Health of our Troops
The threats to our deployed personnel are serious. As at 26 May 2010, 126 Australian soldiers have been wounded in the course of battle. The Government is committed to ensuring we successfully fulfil our mission and see our servicemen and women return home safely. For our wounded soldiers, our aim is to ensure that the individual’s health needs are managed to the highest standard. The following six measures will provide better health protection for our deployed forces:
-- Hearing protection to facilitate noise reduction. This initiative looks at acquiring additional weapon noise suppressors at a cost of $0.6 million.
-- Implementation of a buddy system for mental health identification at a cost of $1.9 million.
-- Trialling of a decompression program to help assist in soldier’s adjusting from operations to being back home. This will cost $1.8 million.
-- The establishment of a combat medical advanced skills training (CMAST) facility within Australia. This will cost $4.1 million and will be up and running by 2012.
-- Additional Hearing Protection Hearing Tests have been agreed, with additional post deployment screening tests being rolled out as part of the broader medical checks. This cost will be absorbed by Defence.
-- This initiative is also looking at providing additional combat medics for infantry platoons. This cost will be absorbed by Defence.
The force protection package comprises investment of $1.6 billion over 2009-10 to 2012-13.
This is being funded by a total of $1.1bn from the Force Protection Review budget measure including new funding of $223.6 million. Defence has also received an additional $485 million for Force Protection through Operation Slipper supplementation which traditionally funds ongoing aspects of operations including force protection. Further ongoing operating costs for force protection initiatives of $48 million will be sought in the context of future budgets.
Below is a table which sets out the Force Protection package and indicates its funding sources, including budget measures, funding from prior year and current year operational supplementation, and future operating costs for which Defence will seek supplementation through the usual process in future budgets.
Increased Armour and Fire Power for Vehicles
-- Upgrade Protected Mobility Vehicle (PMV) Fleet
-- Additional firepower for PMVs
-- Enhanced Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) vehicle protection
-- Increased protection level for ASLAV
Click here for the full release, with tables, on the Australian DoD website.