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National Observer Home > No. 48 - Autumn 2001 > Articles

The Bureaucracy's Control Over the Australian Defence Force

 Lt. Col. Neil James

Before Federation, Australia relied almost totally on British Empire mechanisms for strategic guidance and force-structuring. A measure of Australian strategic decision-making and force-structuring occurred over the next decade. The creation of a national army in 1901 and a quasi-independent navy in 1911 generated comprehensive debate as to their purpose and control between the "imperial defence" and "home defence" camps.1

World War I, especially Australia's wish to articulate a position at Versailles in 1919, introduced the Australian Government to a further measure of strategic decision-making. However, in the final analysis, Australia's continuing and ultimate strategic dependence on British sea power remained unchanged until 1941.

In the 1920s and 1930s Australian governments mismanaged politico-military relations. Governments were generally ignorant of strategy, insufficiently critical of British strategic decision-making, and obsessed with cost-cutting; they were also cultural prisoners of the "militia myth" — that all Australians are natural soldiers and no regular forces or full-time professional commanders were necessary. Unfortunately this combination of factors resulted in the "Singapore strategy", with virtually no attention paid to the need for strategic flexibility and versatility or to alternative strategies. At the national level, there was an unhealthy reliance on civilian advisers,2 rather than the Government's principal military advisers, the Chiefs of Staff and the Army, Naval and Air Boards.3 This bureaucratisation resulted in large part from the influence, bureaucratic intrigues and personality of Sir Frederick Shedden, Permanent Head of the Defence Department 1937-56, and Secretary of the War Cabinet for all of World War II.4

The resultant disaster of the "Singapore strategy" left 18,067 dead,wounded and captured Australians.5 This disaster would probably have been avoided, or minimised, had our governments listened to expert military advice from 1920 onwards, such as the Chauvel Report, which pointed out the numerous flaws in concentrating on one vulnerable defence strategy.6

The Root of the Current Problems

The basis of the current defence management malaise took firm root during World War II. For most of the war, especially the critical parts, the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence,7 was John Curtin, a man with no military experience, no real grasp of strategy8 and no previous ministerial experience.9 He was not alone; most wartime cabinets and all of Australia's five wartime Prime Ministers lacked military or strategic experience.10 Curtin and his compatriots therefore relied unduly on a foreign Supreme Commander (General Douglas Macarthur),11 and a senior bureaucrat with no real military expertise (Shedden).12 An unfortunate combination of more general factors also prevailed:

• The war-weariness that followed World War I made governments reluctant to contemplate any defence matters. The political classes were therefore professionally and psychologically unprepared for a future war.

• During the inter-war period, generals were popular scapegoats for the high casualties of trench warfare. Governments keenly supported this convenient belief. The alternative would have been to admit their own share of guilt.13

• Until 1941, almost no Australian governments had needed to grapple seriously with problems of higher defence strategy.

• Australia lacked any form of the joint-Service, strategic-level military structure to focus defence efforts. By default, bureaucratic intrigue and ego this role devolved to Shedden.

• The country was seriously caught out by the Japanese thrust in 1941-42, when virtually all our strategic eggs were in the one basket.

• Australia tended to trust its major allies too much, did not demand enough consultation, and often failed to articulate its national interests, even to itself. (Many would claim that not much has changed today.)

• The Australian Government had sidelined those professional military critics, such as Sir John Lavarack, who had foreseen the disasters of 1941-42 (often in some detail).

• The Chiefs of the Royal Australian Navy (R.A.N.) and Royal Australian Air Force (R.A.A.F.) were British for critical periods of the war.

• The Chief of the General Staff (C.G.S.), Brudenell White, had been recalled from retirement in March 1940 but was then killed in a plane crash in August. In March 1942, the Government unfortunately (even if only in retrospect)14 adopted a unique "Commander in Chief" model for command of (only) the Army.15 This model of command reduced formal ministerial interaction with a broad range of senior Service officers and blurred the distinction between the strategic and operational levels of war. These problems were compounded by the appointment of the personally compromised Sir Thomas Blamey to this office,16 and this became a serious problem from mid-1944 onwards.17

• Finally, when a Prime Minister's War Conference, superior to the War Cabinet, was organised in April 1942, Shedden and Macarthur were full members; but, amazingly, Blamey and the R.A.N. and R.A.A.F. Chiefs of Staff were excluded.18

Growth of the Current Problems

In terms of the current intention for the Defence Organisation to be "organised for war and adapted for peace", it is worth noting the expert views of Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke on the Australian situation. Alanbrooke was Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and had been Chairman of the British Chiefs of Staff Committee and principal British spokesman on the Combined Chiefs of Staff (with the U.S.A.). More to the point, he had been Churchill's principal military adviser.

Alanbrooke strongly believed that some serious constitutional, professional and practical aberrations had developed in Australia during the 1930s, and especially during World War II. In April 1946, for example, Alanbrooke noted that the Australian C.O.S.C. were completely, and most improperly, subservient to Shedden.19 In October 1946 Admiral Sir Louis Hamilton, RN, on loan as the Australian Chief of Naval Staff 1945-48, wrote to a British colleague:20

"I have made a start with Shedden and hope that I shall be able to work him round into an ally My method of approach is quite simple _ simply to feed out of his hand."

By September 1955 Shedden was strongly criticised in Parliament for becoming "the virtual strategic chief of the Australian armed services" and for improperly using the Minister for Defence to impose Shedden's decisions on the Service Chiefs, even though Shedden was not the "best adviser on matters of high strategic policy."21

The 1957 Morshead Committee of Inquiry into defence reorganisation did not lead to substantial change,22 largely because membership of the Committee was heavily rigged in favour of civilian bureaucratic managerialism. Still, when the Menzies Government implemented the report in March 1958, the managerialists did not get everything their own way. In particular, the Government rejected amalgamating the Service departments and the Department of Defence: partly through fear of weakening the relevant Ministers' influence, but mainly because the world of 1958 was far more complex than the last time there had been a single department in 1939.

Probably in some acknowledgement of Shedden's excesses, the Government created the position of Chairman of the C.O.S.C. as an independent senior officer at the joint strategic level (but with virtually no staff and with no command authority over the A.D.F.).23 Australia finally but tentatively began to catch up to the rest of the world in this regard. However, as a compromise to bureaucratic interests (and again uniquely by international standards), the advice of the C.O.S.C. was still to be channelled through the Secretary of the Department of Defence or through the interdepartmental Defence Committee.

Higher defence management therefore remained an uneasy compromise between bureaucratic and political control throughout the 1960s. The election of a Labor government in late 1972 exacerbated (through no real fault of the Labor Party) the prevailing difficulties.

From 1972 the new Whitlam Government was (like the Curtin-Forde-Chifley administration of 1941-49) poorly equipped with ministers or backbenchers possessing defence expertise.24 Most Labor politicians did not admit, or appear to realise, that the military was only implementing government policy in prosecuting the war in Vietnam. Growing political opposition to Australian participation, and Labor politicians' almost complete lack of governmental or Service experience, produced a situation that still rankles with most Service personnel involved.25 This mutual distrust was magnified by two other important factors:

• the general Labor belief at that time that effective and "humanist" foreign policy would reduce or eliminate the need for future military action in the national interest; and

• the Whitlam Government's impatience after the Labor Party's long sojourn in opposition, coupled with some concern that it might not be in office long, and therefore with a general taste for swift action rather than considered thought.

Therefore the stage was set for the reorganisation of defence, along the lines that many civilian bureaucrats had especially sought since the Menzies Government rejected several findings of the Morshead Report. The ensuing reorganisation was based solely on a report by the then Defence Department Secretary, Sir Arthur Tange.26 Largely because of the Tange report's singular provenance, comparatively narrow perspective and obvious subjectivity, the changes did not, and were not designed to, reform the basic problems that had bedevilled the Australian politico-military interface and higher defence management arrangements since the 1930s. In fact, they severely worsened them.

Despite many contemporary warnings, the 1974 changes nourished the already thriving roots of the current defence management malaise.27 Two important and immediate difficulties afflicted them. First, it was agreed (relatively unwillingly on the Services' part) that no review of the changes would be conducted for seven years. Second, Tange continued to occupy the position of Secretary for five years after the reorganisation, and no real criticism or objective review was permitted.28

The 1974 changes also introduced or exacerbated two large and long-term problems. They emphasised budgetary considerations as the prime force structure determinant;29 and, like preceding governments' changes, they opposed further joint-Service development. Seven major official reviews of higher defence organisation, not to mention other studies touching on such matters, have all failed to tackle the fundamental crisis.

Finally, many of the Tange-inspired initiatives also aped the civilian management techniques pioneered by U.S. Defence Secretary Robert McNamara in the early 1960s. Ironically, the subsequent U.S. defeat in the Vietnam War, to which these practices greatly contributed, occurred at the same time as the Tange reorganisation.

The Legacy of the Flawed Paradigms

Both public and internal debates on defence issues in Australia are often pointless or unresolved. Furthermore, academic and pseudo-academic contributions are mostly confined to, or heavily influenced by, a relatively small group of professed civilian academic experts who are ex-defence bureaucrats or depend on the Department of Defence for consultancies, research access or future employment.

The poverty of defence debate is a direct product of, and is perpetuated by, the flawed paradigms Australia uses to manage higher defence matters. This problem does not occur to the same degree in any comparable country. No other comparable defence department (for example, British, Canadian, N.Z. and U.S.) is configured as ours is. No other country has ever adopted the flawed structural and cultural paradigms of higher defence management we use.

As well as the general problems arising from all the above historical circumstances, the flawed structural and cultural paradigms that have resulted ignore or discount two simple checks and balances used in comparable countries.

• Empower the professional experts in the Services. The bottom line is simply that their own lives and their comrades' lives could be threatened if they do not get things right.

• Make the Service end-user of combat equipment an empowered customer. That is, one who controls or has an effective say in controlling the purse strings within a defined budget clearly derived from relevant strategic experience.

Recent Developments

The merger of H.Q.A.D.F. and many of the central functions of the Department of Defence, to create A.D.H.Q., formed part of the latest attempt to overcome the serious underlying problems (without really admitting their existence) and to reduce the ensuing obstacles.

All these problems are interwoven with the underlying, but usually unacknowledged, tensions between the Department's civilian and military staff. Simple denial that the problems exist sometimes occurs. At other times there is the informal suppression, exile or retirement of critics (both military and civilian). A variant of this tendency is to describe any critic as a malcontent, "not a team player", or naïve.

Reforming the Flawed Institutional Structure

Reform of the department's flawed structures must combine historical analysis, experience, common sense and lateral thinking. One important step is to reduce the number of higher management fora — and to rationalise them on command and control, functional effectiveness and accountability grounds.30

Some lateral thinking is called for, especially as the Defence Executive — a relatively new phenomenon — appears to often try to function as a quasi-C.O.S.C.. Why not, therefore, entrust the C.O.S.C. with making or testing all the department's key specialist decisions on Australia's defence capabilities, either collectively or through a subcommittee structure that might also effectively harness relevant civilian expertise?31 The C.O.S.C. could also have the final responsibility for providing collective advice on such matters to the C.D.F. and Minister (and Secretary in some circumstances).

Under the overall command and direction of the C.D.F., C.O.S.C. members already have individual and collective moral and statutory responsibilities, both to their subordinates and to the country as a whole, to prepare their subordinates for potential combat as effectively as possible.

Led by the C.D.F., the C.O.S.C. should also be the senior professional body that assesses strategic decision-making and force-structuring, and advises the minister accordingly. Another highly workable option would be to give all or most of these roles to the Defence Council.

Maximising Civil Political Control

The other key problem to be solved is how ministers should actually be involved. One key disadvantage of the 1974 changes is that they have effectively removed the Minister from sufficient day-to-day contact with the issues and with his principal military advisers. The 1999 dispute between the Minister for Defence and the previous Secretary of the Department appeared to revolve primarily around their respective perspectives concerning fundamental issues of transparency, accountability and ministerial exclusion.

Whatever the reality, the conviction of most well-informed service personnel and public servants is that no Minister for Defence since 1974 has been as effective as he should have been. At least some of these Ministers performed adequately in other portfolios. But then, the department is not organised to maximise ministerial "grip".32 In fact it could well be argued that the department is organised (and culturally acclimatised) to minimise such "grip".

Reforming the Flawed Institutional Culture

Reforming the structure alone will not reform the department. The institutional culture is inimical to reform and requires commensurate action.

The department's mix of structural flaws and perverted culture underlies the fact that no Service Chief has become C.D.F. since General Peter Gration in early 1987. This situation is buttressed by the widely credited (if not totally actual) power of the civilian bureaucracy to block allegedly threatening A.D.F. officers through whispering campaigns to Ministers.

In the case of appointments to C.D.F., the actual excuse often floated in departmental discussions is that Service Chiefs are too closely associated with their particular single Service to function objectively in a joint environment, where they would have to make decisions based on comparing their parent Service's needs with the others. The same argument is advanced against more junior Service officers in the case of other positions. While charges of in ability to be sufficiently objective may have been partially true a generation ago,33 it is difficult to credit this as a serious or insurmountable problem in the joint-focussed modern AD.F.. Furthermore, such objectivity would be especially reinforced, and inter-Service professional synergy maximised, if the C.O.S.C. (perhaps by subcommittee) were the body eventually responsible and accountable for strategic decision-making and A.D.F. capability development.

There have also been occasions where competent senior officers have been quite clearly blocked from succeeding to the appointment of Chief of Service because of civilian suppositions that they may be too effective at articulating their Service's professional needs, or in resisting civilian bureaucratic power. It is also widely believed in the A.D.F. that some Chiefs of the Defence Force have been appointed, on the recommendation of senior civilian bureaucrats, because the civilians believe (however erroneously in individual cases) that such officers will offer no determined resistance to civilian bureaucratic power. Even if totally unfounded, and strong opinions are held either way,34 the fact that such convictions are so strongly and widely held demonstrates the perverted institutional culture of the Department, and the general background of bureaucratic abuse of power that so readily nurtures such beliefs.

The essential absurdity of this situation is demonstrated by the simple fact that an inability by civilian staff to work with military officers is not generally regarded as a handicap in important parts of the civilian bureaucracy. With grim irony it often appears that, in at least some parts of the civilian bureaucracy, such an inability is regarded as a virtue and grounds for rapid promotion. This skewed civilian notion is, however, much less frequent and tolerated than it was in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.35

There are obviously many civilian positions in the Department where an incumbent with prior military experience would be an advantage for the department and the A.D.F.. Because of public service selection guidelines such military qualifications or experience cannot normally be a factor in selection criteria or recruitment processes. This is understandable to some extent, but puzzling to many retired Service personnel, when civilians with no apparent experience for a position are selected ahead of them. Again, whatever the reality, the widespread assumption exists that retired military personnel are often and arbitrarily discriminated against when applying for civilian positions in Defence.

The common civilian arguments that Service officers are unsuitable for many positions for reasons of posting longevity36 — or because many lack qualifications, intellectual depth, or tact — are specious. After all, the same criteria appear never to be applied to senior civilian officials. Even if such arguments, or the other commonly-quoted advantage of public servants — their supposedly greater networking experience — were true, any long-term solution obviously lies in broadening the management positions open to Service officers, not limiting them.

We should realise that, while the Defence Efficiency Review (D.E.R.) substantially cut the number of senior Service officers, the number of senior civilian officials appears to have increased significantly. Middle-level Service officers may at first glance cost more than civilian officials in overall salary costs. Yet it can easily be argued that, for many defence functions, Service personnel are almost always cheaper and more effective, when their broader background, greater employment flexibility and more holistic career professional skills are considered.

Finally, about 41 per cent of the annual defence budget is spent on personnel costs,37 and almost a quarter of this personnel sum goes towards maintaining the Department's 16,560 civilian staff.38

It therefore appears obvious that at least part of the solution to reforming the Department's flawed institutional culture is to rationalise and streamline its civilian component. We should note that significant D.E.R.-inspired cuts in senior-officer ranks were ruthlessly enforced on the A.D.F., but apparently completely ignored with respect to the department's senior civilian staff.

A Whole-of-Government Approach to National Security

Until Australia implements a whole-of-government approach to national security, we are unlikely to lift ourselves out of this morass. Rather than subordinate the (military professional) specialists to the (mainly civilian) generalists in true "Yes, Minister" fashion, the military needs to be given more of a voice.

The key problem with the current structures, where they exist, is that they do not effectively integrate ministerial control with expert professional advice. What Australia probably needs is a National Security Council to develop a coherent, multi-agency approach to national security, and have the clout to deliver it. The Council itself should be a small secretariat to the National Security Committee of Cabinet. The staff should be Service personnel, diplomats and other specialists, preferably on secondment only from their own departments and agencies, to avoid creating further compartmentalisation or another major bureaucratic stakeholder. A military officer should be the senior Department of Defence representative.


Further tinkering with the Department's bureaucratic structures, processes and attitudes will not work. Root-and-branch reform is required.

Force-structuring and capability development should be driven by robustly assessed strategic need. Assessment of strategic need must be genuine and not captive to any particular political, Service, bureaucratic, industrial, financial or personal influence.

Even in the joint-Service structured and focussed modern A.D.F., the Services are major institutions of the state and should be managed and respected accordingly. No derogation of the C.D.F.'s command prerogative, dilution of an overall joint approach, or reduction of the Secretary's fiduciary responsibilities would occur from any such re-empowerment. On the contrary, significant improvements in holistic synergy are likely. The Service end-users of combat capability should also be empowered customers, as in the U.K. model.

The structure and institutional culture of the Defence Organisation, especially the relationships between civilian and military staff, should be robust enough to handle personality clashes between senior individuals and culture clashes between A.D.F. and public service viewpoints. This has not been the case in the past and is not the case at present.

Many military and academic observers would contend that the Defence Department's higher management problems over the last twenty-five years can be directly traced to inflexible, and too often arrogant, civilian bureaucratic control, especially of the strategy formulation and capability development processes. This control has probably increased the long-standing penchant for "silver bullet" technological solutions. All would probably agree that political pork-barrelling, such as the decision to build submarines in economically depressed South Australia, has also played a prominent role.

However we apportion specific items of blame, we know who the real culprits are overall. They are those who refuse to learn the lessons and origins of such disasters, and to reform the Defence organisation accordingly.


1. This debate continues today between the broadly defined "defend Australia in the region and with the region" and the "defend Australia only on the mainland" schools.

2. To some extent this was a legacy of British colonial practices before responsible government where the governor was both a civilian and military official, and therefore was his own chief military adviser. Australia is not the only ex-British-Empire country with this problem. It has been carried to absurd lengths in India, where there is no joint military staff and the Ministry of Defence is almost entirely run by civilian officials.

3. The Chiefs of Staff Committee (C.O.S.C.) had its beginning in the Defence Committee, founded at Ministerial discretion in May 1926, with its original members being the three Service Chiefs of Staff and the Financial Secretary of the Department of Defence. Its tasks were to advise the Minister on strategic matters and co-ordinate the three single-Service boards and the Munitions Supply Board. The C.O.S.C. itself was formally constituted in September 1939. Paul Hasluck, "Australia in the War of 1939-1945", Series 4, Volume I, "The Government and the People 1939-1941", Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1965, pp. 439-440.

4. This is addressed at length in the biography of Shedden by Professor David Horner, "Defence Supremo: Sir Frederick Shedden and the Making of Australian Defence Policy," Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2000.

5. Lionel Wigmore, "Australia in the War of l939-1945," Series I, Volume IV, "The Japanese Thrust," Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957, p. 382. In regard to the fall of Singapore some observers have, somewhat cynically, noted that military disasters lead to the sacking of generals but the knighting of bureaucrats.

6. Noted critics included General Sir Harry Chauvel (C.G.S. 1923-30), Major-General Sir Julius Bruche (C.G.S. 1931-35), Major-General (later Lieutenant-General Sir) John Lavarack (C.G.S. 1935-39), Colonel (later Lieutenant-General) H. D. Wynter, Major (later Lieutenant-General) H. C. H. Robertson, Air Vice-Marshal (later Air Marshal Sir) Richard Williams and Group Captain (later Air Vice-Marshal) S. J. Goble. Good accounts are provided in D. M. Horner, "High Command: Australia and Allied Strategy 1939-1945", Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1982, pp. 1-15; E. G. Keogh, "South-West Pacific 1941-45," Grayflower, Melbourne, pp. 33-55; and Hasluck, op. cit., pp. 9-108.

7. In the preceding Fadden Ministry from 29 August to 7 October 1941 the Minister for Defence was the previous Prime Minister, R. G. Menzies. In the following Chifley Ministry from 13 July 1945 onwards J. A. Beasley was Minister for Defence.

8. D. M. Horner, "High Command," op. cit., p. 437.

9. See, for example, David Day, "John Curtin: A Life," Harper Collins, Sydney, 1999, pp. 375-376 and 398-399.

10. Menzies had served in a (militia) university regiment in his youth, but _ like Fadden, Curtin, Forde and Chifley _ he had not served in World War I, or in the militia between the wars. See Graham Fricke, "Profiles in Power: The Prime Ministers of Australia," Houghton Mifflin, Melboume, 1990. The Curtin and Chifley Ministries were particularly short of members with military or strategic experience.

11. The Curtin Govemment was often strongly criticised for its reliance on bureaucratic advisers generally. Many also believe that Curtin's reliance on Macarthur infringed Australian sovereignty and prevented or retarded an appropriate level of Australian control over strategic decision-making. See, for example, David Horner, "Inside the War Cabinet: Directing Australia's War Effort 1939-45," Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1996, pp. 109-118; Horner, "High Command: Australia & Allied Strategy 1939-1945," op. cit., p. 223; and David Day, op. cit., pp. 548 and 581.

12. Shedden's only military service was six months with the 1st A.I.F., as a lieutenant in the Pay Corps. Although he attended the Imperial Defence College (with Sir John Lavarack) in 1928, he apparently lacked an appropriate basis of expertise to sustain critical judgement, and fell under the sway of Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond, Sir Maurice Hankey and other advocates of the `Singapore Strategy'. Shedden therefore tended to lack an effective appreciation of strategy and warfare in their wider contexts. See for example, Horner, "High Command," op. cit., pp. 6-8, 17, 20-23, 142, 149, 187-192, 196, 249-251, 257, 265, 267, 322, 432 and 437.

13. Clemenceau's aphorism that "war is too important to be left to the generals" must always be balanced with the cautionary rider that it is also too important to be left to the politicians. An appropriate politico-military interface is always essential.

14. Most politicians, senior military officers and civilian bureaucrats were in favour at the time, but often for different reasons.

15. The model was different in important respects to the British model, where the Commander-In-Chief Home Forces was still subordinate to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (C.I.G.S.).

16. See, for example, David Horner, "Blamey: The Commander-In-Chief," Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 75-103 and 289-509. Curtin's and Shedden's views are especially covered in pp. 448-449, 453-454 and 459.

17. Ibid., p. 459, 487-509 and 516-538.

18. Horner, "Inside the War Cabinet," op. cit., pp.114-116; and Horner, "High Command," op. cit., p. 196.

19. Horner, op. cit., p. 432; David Fraser, "Alanbrooke," Harper Collins, London, 1982, op. cit., pp. 479-480. Alanbrooke also sensed a lack of realism in Australian Cabinet Ministers: Fraser, loc. cit.

20. Listed in James Goldrick, "Carriers for the Commonwealth", in T. R. Frame et al. (ed.), "Reflections on the R.A.N.," Kangaroo Press, Sydney, 1991, p. 231.

21. In a cogent speech by the respected William Charles Wentworth, a prominent but occasionally maverick Government backbencher, "Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates (House of Representatives)," 29 September 1955, pp. 1142-1145.

22. There were six departments in the defence group: Defence, Navy, Army, Air, Supply and Defence Production. The inquiry recommended the amalgamation of the lot but the Government accepted the amalgamation of only the latter two.


23. The first Chairman of the C.O.S.C., Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Wells, was appointed to the position as a three-star officer. The second Chairman, Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Scherger, was promoted to four-star rank on assuming the appointment: but only on the proviso that his pay would not go up. All succeeding Chairmen of the C.O.S.C., Chiefs of the Defence Force Staff (C.D.F.S.) and C.D.F. have been four-star officers. Harry Rayner, "Scherger: A Biography of Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Scherger, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., A.F.C.," Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1984, pp. 125 and 170.

24. Although many might have believed they understood defence matters, few had actually had personal experience in the Services.

25. Formal apologies by the Labor Party and Australian Council of Trade Unions (A.C.T.U.) have subsequently helped to heal the rift.

26. Sir Arthur Tange, "Australian Defence: Report on the Reorganisation of the Defence Group of Departments," Department of Defence, Canberra, 1973. It is not the intention of, nor is it necessary for, this paper to examine the Tange changes in detail (see next footnote for the best examinations). The important aspect is simply their consistency with the existing flawed approach to the politico-military interface and higher defence management.

27. The reorganisation began in 1974 but was only formalised (retrospectively) by the Defence Reorganisation Act 1976. The changes, implementing most of the proposals of the Tange Report, went much further than comparable models of civil Ministerial control such as in the U.S.A. and the U.K.. They vested the one Minister for Defence with most of the powers previously held by the individual Service Boards (which had separate Ministerial membership), and with the sole responsibility for the development and implementation of defence policy. A good account is given by Dr. Graeme Cheeseman in "The Military Profession and Defence Policy," in Hugh Smith (ed.), "The Military Profession in Australia," Australian Defence Studies Centre, Canberra, 1988, p. 10. Other good summaries are Brigadier P. J. Greville, "The Central Organisation for War" in "United Service (N.S.W.)," Volume 27, Number 4, April 1974, pp. 214; and W. G. Wright, "Defence Reorganisation Proposals" in "United Service (N.S.W.)," Volume 28, Number 2, October l974, pp. 114-116.

28. Sir Arthur Tange was Secretary from early March 1970 to mid-August 1979. The anger of senior and middle-level A.D.F. officers of this period is still almost palpable today. Many civilian officials from this period now express ever-growing doubts about the principles and methods used. Both civilian and military interviewees have described the later Tange period as the "Tange Dynasty" and noted the general atmosphere of arrogant bureaucratic triumphalism that prevailed. An early criticism (before the Utz Review) was David Beveridge, "Structural Changes Towards a More Effective National Defence Force" in "Australian Defence Force Journal," Number 31, November-December 1981, pp. 18-27.

29. This process actually tended to reverse what Project Based Budgeting (P.B.B.) had tried to introduce in the early 1970s. P.B.B. sought to integrate strategic planning and defence budgeting so that budgetary considerations would follow strategic ones rather than the reverse.


30. This was recommended by the D.E.R., and partially implemented: "Future Directions for the Management of Australia's Defence: Report of the Defence Efficiency Review", Commonwealth of Australia, 10 March 1997, p. 13.

31. Senior civilian officials already attend C.O.S.C. by invitation and would continue to do so. Some measure of advisory financial expertise would be essential to ensure the C.O.S.C. remained cognisant of overall resource constraints. This is one reason why the Defence Council may be a more appropriate body than the C.O.S.C. in this regard.

32. "Grip" is best defined as the Minister understanding the issues himself, knowing what needs to be done, ensuring it is done, and accepting ultimate responsibility for delivering the combat capability specified and required by government.

33. "Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates", 19 March 1958, pp. 436-437.

34. General Gration, for one, does not believe this has actually occurred, and considers that the main problem is simply that there is a small field of choice at that level (General Peter Gration, in discussions with the author on 14 April 2000).

35. In this era, an organisation called Force Development and Analysis (F.D.A.) branch existed to play the devil's advocate role in capability development. This was due to an assumption that there was a need to keep the Services honest in their development proposals, through a capacity for independent and thorough analysis. However, instead of informed criticism being focussed on capability development proposals early on in their development F.D.A. action tended to be focussed on later stages, particularly after the Services had invested considerable effort. The resultant marked acrimony with the Services resulted in F.D.A. being nicknamed the "Forces of Darkness and Anarchy." Civilian staff in F.D.A. were often proud of their "spoiler" image and the nickname. No one involved benefited from such a structure or such confrontation and a more co-operative and efficient capability development process evolved through the 1990s. The fact that such confrontation was encouraged for so long underscores the long history of civilian-military tensions in the Defence Organisation.

36. This issue is relatively easily dealt with by requiring a three-year to four-year incumbency in senior and specialist appointments.

37. Directorate of Portfolio Reporting and Evaluation, "Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 1999-2000: Defence Portfolio", Canberra, November 1999, pp. 31 and 42.

38. Ibid., pp. 13 and 42. This break-up includes salary and superannuation costs for both military and civilian staff, and the housing costs of military staff.

National Observer No. 48 - Autumn 2001