by ROGER CROOK – THERE are ever increasing concerns around the world that the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas could escalate across the Middle East – and beyond.
With China rattling the sabre over Taiwan; Russia seemingly pushing and maybe winning in Ukraine and with the Mullahs of Iran prepared to fund anyone who can help them get America out of the region; there is even talk of another world war.
I read this morning that there are rumblings in Europe of conscription and a bellicose Russia preparing to push into Europe.
Australia is in the same position as Britain found itself in 1939. We are ill prepared for any kind of conflict whether on land, sea or in the air; we cannot defend ourselves.
America on whom we have always presumed would come to our aid in times of need is stretched to the extreme both fiscally and militarily.
They are supporting Ukraine and Israel with arms and ammunition and now it has two battle fleets deployed in the Red Sea trying to keep vital world trade moving.
Like Britain we are an island nation, except we are a damn sight bigger. Fundamental to the defence of an island, from the days of Francis Drake and the Spanish Armada in 1588, is an operational and fighting naval force.
Being an island we have to import more than 90 per cent of our vital fuel oil supplies by sea, via the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca, The Gulf of Oman, the Straits of Hormuz and the Arab Sea. Not the most placid regions in the world at present.
Unbelievably, considering our resources, we are now importing more than 12 per cent of the food we eat. It comes to us via the Red Sea, the Pacific Ocean and across the Tasman Sea. Our very lives depend on those sea routes remaining open.
To ensure that happens we have eight Anzac Class frigates, old and poorly armed by today’s standards; they can’t even defend themselves against drones like the rebels in Yemen are using against ships in the Red Sea; so, to save embarrassing ourselves we didn’t send a frigate up there; we sent a dozen sailors instead.
One of these precious frigates is in mothballs because there are not enough sailors to crew it. Doubts have been expressed on whether we could find the crews for half of our Anzac frigate fleet should they be required.
BAE Systems has been awarded the contract to build the new world-leading Hunter Class Frigates in Adelaide. The first will not be available until sometime in the 2030s; when the rest of them will be delivered is not stated.
Don’t mention submarines. Our Collins class subs, based on the west coast, are in and out of the water and commission. There should be four available at any one time to patrol our coastline, for a time last year there was just one. And as we all know the nuclear submarine fleet is decades away.
The Royal Australian Air Force has 86 combat aircraft, about the same number that are carried on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS Dwight D Eisenhower. America has eleven aircraft carriers; Britain has two, as does China.
After WWII the Royal Australian Navy had two aircraft carriers to defend our shores and trade. They were decommissioned in the 1980s and not replaced.
The RAAF is based on the east coast. We have a flight training school in WA and to defend our vital exports a battalion of the SAS.
It was reported this week that we won’t get any drones for at least eight years and we don’t have any defence systems to combat an enemy drone attack.
Drones these days can fly huge distances and carry both bombs, rockets and do surveillance work.
Our RAAF bases cannot defend themselves against a drone attack; a simple drone carrying a couple of hand grenades dropped in the right place could ground our airforce.
Our Army’s armoured vehicles are defenceless against modest drones. Defence systems to combat drone attacks are available but we just haven’t bothered to buy one. The Israeli army has a very good one apparently, but they would, wouldn’t they?
The Ukraine army is using an Australian cardboard drone, the Corvo. It takes an hour to assemble with glue and rubber bands; it has a range of 120km with a payload of three kilograms.
The Ukraine army uses the Corvo for surveillance and dropping hand grenades on the Russians. I hope our ADF has plenty.
Don’t mention missiles to help our navy defend these shores.
Ground based ground-to-air, ground-to-sea – even long range ballistic like that bloke in North Korea keeps firing over Japan – we don’t have any. None.
What did Britain and America do in 1939 when faced with Germany marching through Europe on its way to conquer Britain and with Japan threatening war in the East?
The last thing they did was rely on 1914-18 war technology. In twenty years the world had moved on from trench warfare.
The British and Americans looked for ways to mass-produce the very best of war science and technology available to them.
There were no computers in 1939; the best technology was created and stored drawings and blueprints.
Every piece of an aeroplane, tank or a ship was contained on tens of thousands of individual blueprints. They scrambled to teach factory workers how to read blueprints. Time was short; the invasion was coming.
In July 1940 on the eve of the Battle of Britain, Britain had about 500 serviceable fighter aircraft while Germany had 1500.
For the rest of that year the British manufactured more than 500 Spitfires and Hurricanes a month; it had 4000 available by the time the battle started at the end of that year.
Between 1939 and 1945 Britain produced 132,998 military aircraft. In 1944, its factories were assembling the 254,000 parts of a Halifax bomber and churning out a finished aircraft at the rate of one an hour, 24 hours a day.
Today Australia is making cardboard drones.
In America they did the same thing; in 1942 Henry Ford was given a contract to make the B24 Liberator heavy bomber. He promised he would make one an hour and the world, including the Germans, laughed at him.
In the summer of 1944 at Willow Run just over 17,000 people in a factory purpose built for the job, Henry Ford’s people produced a Liberator every hour as promised.
American shipyards built a Fletcher Class submarine from keel laying to launch in 212 days and commissioning was completed in 364 days. Between 1942 and 1945 America built 172 Fletcher Class destroyers. That is 57 a year; more than one a week.
Yet, we have to wait a decade for one Hunter Class Frigate to be built in Australia.
A British designed 10,000-ton Liberty Class cargo boat was produced in American shipyards at the rate of three ships every two days. They carried a cargo of 10,000 tons; 2710 were produced between 1941 and 1945.
That is what my father’s generation did when faced with the challenge of Hitler and Hirohito. We have to ask what is our current generation of leaders doing now that we find Australia is defenceless and the threats are mounting day by day?
Listening to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Richard Marles is truly frightening.
He said the ADF would soon have 12 Black Hawk helicopters to replace the Taipans (which he sent to land fill); plus a couple of training helicopters as well to keep the pilots occupied while they wait for the delivery of the Black Hawks.
After that, all he could talk about was what this government had inherited from the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments – the oldest fleet since World War II. All he could do was blame his predecessors.
Marles is in a similar position Churchill found himself in 1940. What did Churchill do, blame Chamberlain?
No, he was over that by then. He had to motivate the leaders of industry and his allies in America to make what was needed to defeat the enemy.
The ALP with Anthony Albanese and Marles leading, have spent most of their time in office doing what their predecessors have done, and that is, with the exception of Tony Abbott, they have spent their time ensuring that they cling on to power, by whatever means available to them which includes lying.
The nation-splitting Voice came before sorting out our security and national defences.
With the threat of a by-election and a reduction in the slim majority they hold, we have been mollified into “trinkets for the natives” politics.
Those among us who can, if they wish, ensure Labor remain in government have been rewarded with a $16 a week tax cut – the price of a kilo of stewing beef.
In Australia today that is the price the government will pay to stay in power, a kilo of stewing beef; the defence of the nation can wait… PC