Correction – Canberra Times article 14 April 2012
14 April 2012
The Canberra Times article of 14 April 2012 ‘US general issues Pacific was warning at seminar’ attributes comments to the Vice Chief of the Defence Force that were not made during his speech or question and answer session.
The full text of Air Marshal Binskin’s speech follows:
Sir Richard Williams Foundation Maritime Environment Seminar
Speech given on 13 April 2012 by
Air Marshal Mark Binskin, Vice Chief of the Defence Force
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here today and to have the opportunity to discuss the theme of ‘Control and Protect’ in the maritime environment.
I would particularly like to acknowledge the efforts of the Sir Richard Williams foundation. You do great work promoting the development of National Security and contemporary Defence policies specific to our unique requirements. In my view, sharing our views frankly in an open and inclusive setting such as this promotes transparency in confronting national strategic concerns like maritime security.
One of the distinguishing features of our great nation is our lengthy coastline and consequently our vast offshore economic zones. Moreover, in terms of both exports and imports, we remain critically dependent upon seaborne trade. Through our region, and through nearby chokepoints run some of the most significant and busiest maritime trade routes in the world.
We should not underestimate the importance of the free passage of this shipping to our overall National security and the health of the global economy.
Yet, today there is a broad range of challenges that threaten the security of our seas. These encompass conventional maritime security issues such as territorial and resource disputes, state sovereignty concerns, natural disasters and military threats.
Other challenges to maritime security requiring careful consideration include illegal fishing, piracy, terrorism; and the smuggling of drugs, people and goods. These and other emerging issues such as climate change have maritime security repercussions that are not yet overly clear.
The one characteristic common to all of these challenges is that they can’t be resolved Defence alone. These problems are beyond the scope of a defence-only dialogue. Maritime security threats require whole-of-government coordination to ensure a holistic approach.
Thus in any discussions on the need to control and protect our maritime environment we cannot ignore the need for cooperation and information sharing between Defence and Border Protection Command, civil maritime agencies, quarantine, police and customs authorities, the ports and shipping authorities.
Cooperation and practical collaboration across all authorities are the keys to building a confidence that we understand what each organisation can bring to the table. And ultimately this collaboration will better enable us to work together in response to a real-life contingency.
Freedom to use the sea is a central requirement for us in peace or conflict in order to protect Australia’s vital interests in the stability and security of the region.
The maintenance of our maritime security and prosperity is achieved through three key activities, sea control sea denial and maritime power projection. Now when I use these terms I am not insinuating that the required effects will be achieved through the use of our Navy alone. For example, I am conscious that in the regional areas we are talking about, you cannot achieve sea control without having also achieved air control and so on.
For any medium sized Defence Force, these effects can only be achieved through total force integration. We cannot afford to think in terms that constrain air and sea power to individual service platforms or capabilities. That is not the way of the future, and I will return to this point in a moment.
Australia needs a maritime security strategy. We need to see our threat response in terms of a spectrum of operations that ranges from constabulary tasks all the way through to warfighting.
All of these tasks will depend on our ability to exert some combination of sea control, sea denial and maritime power projection.
Australia’s most recent Defence White Paper describes in some detail the major tasks which the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Defence as a whole must be able to carry out.
They are, in order of descending priority:
• deterring and defeating attacks on Australia;
• contributing to stability and security in the South Pacific and East Timor;
• contributing to military contingencies in the Asia-Pacific region; and
• contributing to military contingencies in support of global security.
Successive Australian Governments have endorsed a balanced force structure for the ADF. In order to achieve this balance and deliver on our contract to Government it is essential to understand the inter-connected nature of maritime concepts.
For example, many components of RAAF’s force structure have a key role in sea control, particularly the Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Airborne Early Warning and Control platforms, the Multi Role tanker transport, the fighter force and, in the future, the high altitude long endurance UAVs.
Sea control is limited by time and space and is essentially about allowing the effective use of the sea.
Every day of the year, sea control is needed so that Australia’s economically important offshore resources, (notably oil, gas and fish) and the exploration for and exploitation of these resources in our exclusive economic zones and extended continental shelves are assured.
Towards the other end of the spectrum, sea control may also be required to support operations in failed or failing states.
Such problems tend to be the result of natural or man-made disasters or internal political conflict. They may also be the result of illegal activities in maritime zones.
Sea control may be an integral part of the ADF’s stabilisation operations through preventing the movement, by sea, of elements of local populations intent on causing disruption, as well as ensuring protection of those engaging in legitimate activity.
Sea control can be even more important in high intensity situations and times of major conflict. Australia’s economy and its geography mean that sea control, to a sufficient degree, is required to allow international and domestic shipping to operate around Australia’s coasts. This will be essential, irrespective of whether or not Australia becomes involved in expeditionary operations.
Without free movement of vital materials domestically, and the continuation of overseas trade, Australia would be crippled. Attacks on shipping could have an impact as significant as any military strikes on Australian territory. We are an island, but we are not entirely self-sufficient, either financially or in many vital materials.
For example, the majority of our refined oil comes by sea from Singapore. I’m not sure that we have factored what that really means into a strategic assessment at the National level.
Sea denial is another important option to have available strategically. But this approach alone cannot guarantee our Sea Lines of Communication and therefore cannot underwrite our national security.
For a maritime nation such as Australia where there is a need to use the sea and not just to deny its use, sea denial is in fact very much a concept that operates at the higher end of the operational intensity spectrum and one that, in our strategic circumstances, would invariably be used in conjunction with sea control.
In realising the priority task for the ADF, deterring and defeating attacks on Australia, the need to protect the sea and air approaches within our Primary Operating Environment against credible adversaries is crucial. Safeguarding our territory and resource assets requires the Navy to undertake defensive sea denial operations in conjunction with the Air Force.
Offensive sea denial is much more difficult to achieve. However, in deterring attacks on Australia or contributing to military contingencies in the Asia-Pacific region and military contingencies in support of global security, offensive sea denial operations could be mounted against an opponent’s units at sea in their own locality or in their bases and staging areas. These operations would be conducted primarily by strike aircraft, special forces and submarines, but could potentially involve maritime forces equipped with land attack missiles.
The main aim of such operations would be to disable enemy forces before they could deploy to present a threat to Australian interests or to those of Australia’s allies.
Interdiction of enemy shipping would be carried out off enemy ports or known likely choke points and in the approaches to enemy troop landing points. Again, these activities would be conducted by a combination of air, maritime and land forces.
With regard to the third key activity, Maritime power projection is a critical capability for the ADF, particularly in its regional role of contributing to the security and stability of the South Pacific and East Timor. While many picture the core of this as the delivery of force from the sea utilising an amphibious force, the truth is that a successful amphibious operation requires effective operations in all domains – maritime, land, air, space and cyber.
Power projection does not always involve the use of military forces in a ‘hard power’ way. HADR of course is a manifestation of the same foundation techniques and capabilities used for harder edged missions in getting capabilities where they are needed, when they are needed.
All three services play vital roles in maritime power projection, but Army and Navy in particular must operate hand in glove in this domain. We are now seeing a fairly rapid maturing of a relationship that has been developing over the last 30 years.
The catalyst for this is the quantum leap in capability that we will see with the introduction of the LHDs from 2014. The significance of this joint approach is clear and certainly a reality as demonstrated by the recent announcement by Chief of Army that the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment will, in effect, form the nucleus of an amphibious battle group.
The Canberra Class LHDs will be a truly joint capability. Each ship will carry a Combined Arms Combat Team built around a battalion of troops and supporting members. Numerically speaking this could translate to over 1,000 troops per ship and the associated vehicles and equipment including LCMs and Helicopters for landing and support of the troops once deployed.
There is a level of complexity in the LHD that we have not seen at sea since operating the carrier MELBOURNE.
As Vice Chief of Defence Force I have the task of being the Joint Capability Authority and of ensuring that all the aspects that will make the ADF amphibious capability work are in train. I can assure you we are all very focused on ensuring that the transition to the new force is smooth.
Rest assured however that this amphibious capability is not the sole focus for the ADF’s endeavours over the decade. There are several other major maritime capability developments that will require a deal of joint effort and focus.
In the maritime context, the introduction of the Hobart Class DDGs will bring to bear a key sea and air control, and power projection capability. They will also bring significant challenges as we get back into the area air defence game. The integration Air Force’s Wedgetail AEW&C and F-35 capability will be critical if we are to optimise the joint effect that is available to us.
More specifically for Navy, the development of the offshore combatant vessel over the coming years will also challenge some entrenched positions. And of course, the vigorous debate we have seen over the last few months regarding the future submarine has also highlighted the national level challenge that lies ahead.
Underpinning all this is the continued importance of the development and maintenance of maritime domain awareness, our ability to see and understand what is happening around our coasts and out at sea.
Technology is clearly becoming an enabler for improvements in all facets of maritime domain awareness.
In conclusion, for the ADF to be capable of supporting the missions inherent in the White Paper’s objectives we need to continue to embrace the notion of maritime security as a collective maritime endeavour.
Our highly skilled men and women, our aircraft, our land forces, our surface combatants, patrol boats, submarines, and long-range guided munitions will all be key elements and essential components of the total force structure.
Each arm of Defence has a pivotal role in some aspect of Australia’s maritime strategy and each is essential to its execution. Together with other government and external agencies, as a truly joint force we will continue to generate the capability required to support the Australian government’s strategic interests.