Senator David Feeny (Parliamentary Secretary For Defence) speech to Defence Reserves Association Annual Conference 20 Aug 2011
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It gives me very great pleasure to be here today. This is my second DRA conference as Parliamentary Secretary for Defence.
I would like to thank Rear Admiral Bennett for her presentation and contribution today which provides us with a greater understanding of how one of our closest allies and friends – Canada – approaches the issue of optimising Reserve capability.
When I first addressed this conference I was a newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary with a keen interest in and respect for the men and women of the Australian Defence Force and the business of Defence. I made it very clear I was here — because I very much wanted to be here — to listen and learn from current and former members of the ADF and civilian personnel engaged in defending our country and its national interests. My focus in the last year has been to get out and about to see first hand the challenges faced by Reserves — in particular Army Reserves — and also appreciate their success.
I am proud to say that it has been my absolute privilege to visit Headquarters Second Division and each of the Brigade Headquarters during the past year to meet Commanders, RSMs, officers and soldiers. I have been fortunate enough to attend farewell and welcome home parades for Reserve contingents and meet soldiers, officers and their families. I have witnessed first hand Reserves on operation ANODE in the Solomon Islands, training at Canungra for Reserves deploying to East Timor on OP ASTUTE, and training at Irwin Barracks for CHOGM.
I have been impressed not only by the capability delivered by Reserve units but by the obvious camaraderie and mateship that exists in each of the Brigades, and the extension of this feeling of inclusiveness and belonging to the families and friends of Reservists, former Reservists, Employers and those organisations, like the DRA that support Reserves.
If I could single out one word which captures the qualities I have seen displayed in the Reserve community during the past year – I would single out TEAMWORK.
In late 2010, Minister Smith and I decided that the “Rebalancing Army Review Implementation Plan,” including the Army Reserve Approved Future Force would not be progressed.
In the months since then Army and the Reserve community have approached the renewed and complex task of developing a modernisation plan which would optimise the Reserves’ contribution to capability within a Total Force construct with determination and collaboration. This sense of collaboration was embodied in the Reserve Modernisation Workshops and the open consultation process which has shaped and influenced PLAN BEERSHEBA. I would like to pay tribute to MAJGEN John Caligari, MAJGEN Craig Williams, MAGJEN Paul Brereton, Brigadier Iain Spence and his excellent officers – Bruce and Andy, all the Brigade Commanders – Peter, Stephen, Philip, Robert, Craig, RSMs, and other officers and personnel within Defence and external to Defence who have come together with professionalism as a team to make this work. It is this spirit of teamwork which will be essential to the successful implementation of Plan BEERSHEBA.
At its core Plan BEERSHEBA seeks to optimise the Reserve’s contribution to capability within Army’s Total Force by incorporating the Reserve into Army’s force generation cycle.
This is to be achieved by first, clearly defining the tasks that the Army Reserve will undertake to deliver specified capability in order to support and sustain ADF preparedness and operations.
The Army Reserve is required to deliver four core tasks.
The first task and the main effort is to deliver specified warfighting capabilities with a strong emphasis on Stabilisation Operations. This is the type of operation which has a strong humanitarian element and has regrettably become the type of operation most common in our global and regional community. This type of operation is an essential capability the Government requires of the ADF and it is the type of operation that Reserves have proven to be highly adept at.
No less important is the second task required of the Army Reserve – providing domestic Humanitarian Aid and Domestic Response as part of a Whole of Government approach. We all know how invaluable this role has been, especially to those Australians affected by recent natural disasters.
The Reserve is also tasked with providing and maintaining individual capabilities and contributing to Army surge capabilities.
Clearly the Reserve has been entrusted with significant and important roles and tasks as part of a total force.
The Reserve Modernisation Workshops determined that these Reserve capabilities should be developed and generated through two primary mechanisms:
o First, through integrated effects generated from habitual partnerships that are to be developed between Regular and Reserve brigades. In essence, it is proposed that each of the Army’s three Regular Multi-Role Manoeuvre Brigades should develop a habitual relationship with, and be supported by, two of the Reserve’s Multi-Role Brigades. These two ARes brigades will be required to generate a battle group for a 12 month period each 36 months aligned to the multi-role manoeuvre brigade ‘Ready Phase’ of the Force Generation Cycle.
o Second, through increased structural integration of Reserve units and sub-units with the Army’s three Regular specialist brigades – the 6th Brigade (which is responsible for Combat Support and ISTAR), the 16th Aviation Brigade, and the 17th Combat Services Support Brigade.
While the outcome has not been finalised, under Plan BEERSHEBA the Army Reserve will re-structure in order to generate these integrated capability outputs. For example, and again subject to finalisation, the 2nd Division may be required to generate for a particular task a collective of sub-units that approximate an enhanced battalion-sized battle group.
In addition, the 2nd Division will continue to provide Reserve Response Force companies and retain responsibility for the vast majority of the High Readiness Reserve. The success of the ‘call for’ provisions in attracting Army Reserve volunteers, demonstrated through the multiple tours to the Solomon Islands and East Timor, means that we need to consider further and refine the High Readiness Reserve concept. For the time being, the focus remains on the provision of six Combat Teams from within the 2nd Division, supplemented by specialist positions from the wider Reserve. Army is also investigating options for rewarding Reservists who meet readiness requirements as part of the 2nd Division’s Plan BEERSHEBA outcomes.
While I have mentioned Army’s Plan BEERSHEBA, Navy and Air Force have also progressed the integration of their Reserves into the Total force.
The Navy Reserve has been through a period of consolidation following a Whole of Capability Workforce Review. Prior to the Review, the Navy Reserve enjoyed a number of years when it received supplementary funding from unspent Permanent Navy salaries. This bolstered the Reserve’s participation in Navy’s day-to-day activities considerably.
More recently, following Navy’s success in recruiting Permanent members and in conjunction with a dramatic reduction in the number of officers and sailors separating from the Service, Navy has now reached its manpower ceiling. This has significantly reduced Navy’s ability to supplement its Reserve. As a result, the Navy Reserve now operates within a less-flexible budget. The advantage to Navy has been that its Reserve work-force has been prioritised, to ensure that those positions that receive funding are those which deliver the greatest level of capability to the ADF.
The reduction in Reserve positions available has, to a degree, been offset by the significant number of Navy Reservists who are employed in Non Navy Groups and are self-funded by these groups.
Notably, Navy Reservists continue to work alongside their full-time counterparts as part of a totally integrated workforce. Almost 95% of Navy Reservists now have a Permanent Navy background, which ensures that the Navy Reserve can make a significant contribution
to Navy’s capability output while reducing the perceived skills gap between Permanent and Reserve personnel.
The crewing of the Armidale Class Patrol Boats is a typical example of the effectiveness of the Navy Reserve. Over the last financial year, of the 6576 Personnel Deficiency Days in the Armidale crews (that is, when Permanent personnel were unavailable), 2230 were covered by Reservists – that’s 34%. Reservists covered every discipline onboard these critical vessels, from Commanding Officer to Bosun’s Mate.
There have been considerable developments in other Reserve employment areas, including:
o Intelligence, where Reservists have now been incorporated into this new Navy specialisation;
o A remodelled and refocussed Maritime Trade Operations branch, which is a Reserve-only branch that allows Reservists both to deploy to the Middle East Area of Operations and to provide a watch-keeping capability in Border Protection Command.
Of particular significance is the imminent introduction into service of the new amphibious vessels. Navy is assessing where its Reservists can best be utilised within this formidable capability. Initial considerations suggest potential roles ashore in the sustainment of the ships, with the prospect of sea service for some Reservists a possibility. Indeed, the amphibious arm of the Navy is an area where I see significant opportunities for future Navy Reserve service, noting that there is much work to be done in this area.
One other future development under consideration is the use of Reserve Divers, which is being considered under Project NEPTUNE.
I acknowledge that there is a degree of concern about the current opportunities available to Navy Reservists. However, as I have just outlined I believe that there will be a number of circumstances in which the Navy Reserve will prove to be an important enabler for Navy capability. In the coming year I very much look forward to working with Navy on these matters and trust that many of you here today will also contribute to this effort.
In the Air Force, as in the Navy, Reservists are integrated into the overall Service structure. This integration provides Air Force with the capabilities required of today’s ‘One Team’ Air Force approach and the ADF’s Total Force concept.
An example of this successful integration was the adaptation of the Air Force Reserve ‘City Squadrons’, to include responsibility for fixed airbase functions. A pending review into Airbase Force Protection will further inform the refinement of the Reserve role. The integrated structure has required the expansion of the Active Air Force Reserve establishment to sustain specific specialist capabilities, and to supplement or complement the Permanent force. Such integration involves its own challenges, including ensuring a concerted effort at all levels and the availability of resources.
Air Force understands that an integrated structure with its geographical distribution, coupled with Reservist availability, presents a challenge for training delivery. To address this challenge, a proposal for an improved integrated training system is near completion.
Air Force also recognises that cultural issues are an important aspect of successful integration of the Reserve, including the acceptance by Permanent members of the level of commitment and ability among their Reserve counterparts. This issue will be addressed through strong and effective leadership and a clear demonstration of Reserve capability.
Notwithstanding these challenges, the Air Force’s integrated structure has been successful. The Air Force continues to refine the roles and functions of its Reserve in order to ensure that its Reservists continue to contribute effectively to the operational capability of the ADF.
The shaping of the Air Force Reserve has been influenced by the same strategic imperatives as Navy and Army. These imperatives, which have resulted from both Government policy and operational demands, have impacted across all three Services, resulting in a change in the role for the Reserves from a traditional mobilisation base to that of an operational reserve available for day-to-day activities.
You may recall that in my speech at last year’s Conference, I referred to the Defence White Paper 2009 and the Government’s commitment to achieving a better integration between full-time and part-time service in the ADF and, as a key element, removing factors that can impede the contribution of Reservists to ADF capability.
I have just outlined some specific measures underway in each service with regard to integration, however these measures are not stand alone actions. The development of a contemporary employment model, that considers how the Reserves as a group and Reservists as individuals are employed, how their work is structured and the conditions of service that support them, is essential if Defence is to continue to enhance its overall capability.
To assist with the shaping of this Total Force, I directed Army to develop a force rotation model that institutionalises the use of the Reserves – PLAN BEERSHEBA.
In parallel to this, I also directed Major General Brereton to review the ADF’s Conditions of Service, in order to develop a model that optimises the Reserve component contribution to the Total Force – PLAN SUAKIN.
Plan SUAKIN is examining the Reserve employment model and associated constructs, including Conditions of Service, to better align capability requirements with employment conditions. Plan SUAKIN is being developed by Major General Brereton and his staff, particularly Jerome Reid, under the auspices of the Strategic Reform Program, Reserve Reform Stream.
Plan SUAKIN is developed in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders – both internal and external to Defence – including the three Services and the DRA. I am strongly supportive of the approach being taken and the options being considered, and commend to you the admirable intellectual rigour being applied. I would like to acknowledge the contribution made by Major General Jim Barry to this work. I know he has been very busy advocating on your behalf and I know the CRESD team and the Service Directors General Reserve have valued his input.
I have been particularly impressed by the clinical accuracy of the evidence-based approach that has been adopted in undertaking this body of work. I have had preliminary briefings on the Civilian Skills Data Base, and the two Decision Support Tools that are under development to aid in complex decision-making. I have already seen some of the analytical outputs of the Personal Cost Model, and I am looking forward to a briefing on the Predictive Behaviour Model decision support tool soon.
I am encouraged by Major General Brereton’s approach, which seeks to test the evidence available, rather than taking the more familiar road of making decisions based on organisational memory and intuition alone. While organisational memory and intuition most certainly have a place in complex decision-making – after all, it is called ‘the art of war’ – recourse to empirically valid evidence remains a powerful form of persuasion.
Taking a slightly wider perspective, the Reserve Reform agenda seeks to deliver:
o a range of employment options to better match changing civilian-military work-life balance of the current and future Reserve force;
o a simplified and streamlined full-time to part-time employment spectrum, matched to the ADF’s capability requirements;
o greater opportunities to use a range of military and non-military skills to enhance capability; and
o as part of the Total Force, an optimised balance of full-time and part-time ADF personnel who provide integrated capability.
From my perspective, the two key challenges facing the Reserve Reform agenda are:
o identifying and dealing with the internal cultural barriers that potentially stand in the way of delivering integrated capability effects; and
o the development of a single point communication portal that will allow Reservists, their employers, industry and the community to engage and partner with Defence more efficiently.
However, I am thoroughly convinced that future observers who review these Reserve Reform ideas and achievements will consider them to be ‘good ideas, well implemented’ by a team of professionals in a collaborative manner.
As the two major bodies of work – BEERSHEBA and SUAKIN – progress, their confluence is likely to be seminal in shaping the future direction of the Reserves. I am optimistic that, at your 2012 Conference, I will be in a position to report positively on the impact both these Plans are having on Defence capability.
To me, the key to the ability of the individual Reservist to provide capability to the ADF is the provision of a supportive and reliable environment. This requires a supportive network including employers, family, friends and the broader community.
Support – for both the Reservist and the employer – is currently provided by a number of mechanisms, which will be improved, broadened and refined.
At present, Reservists are supported by a broad legislative framework. Central to this framework is the work undertaken by the Office of Reserve Service Protection, within Cadet, Reserve and Employer Support Division.
I have been extremely impressed with the excellent work conducted by this Office and, in particular, their ability to resolve disputes, mediate and negotiate with a range of stakeholders, finding positive solutions often in very difficult circumstances.
Last year I mentioned that Defence had implemented a series of Memorandums of Understanding with State and Territory police and emergency services. You will appreciate that the ADF shares the same skilled workforce, and it is therefore important that both parties have a formal guiding framework in which to operate, without detriment to either organisation. I am advised that apart from the Australian Federal Police, only one State police service is yet to sign a Memorandum – but at the risk of personal embarrassment, I will not mention which south-eastern State is taking its time to sign.
It is important to note that these Memorandums are not operational documents; rather, they are intended to facilitate Reserve service by addressing administrative issues relating to that service. To this end, the existence of these documents and the consequent personal relationships that have been developed between Office of Reserve Service Protection staff and the various police and emergency services have already proven to be of great significance.
With regard to the Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001, we are proceeding with amendments to the Act. The proposed amendments will ensure that all Reservists performing Defence service receive employment and education protection. This supports the Government’s overall policy of ensuring fairness in the workplace.
The amendments will also include provisions which will: protect all Reservists from harassment or detriment in the workplace, protect from victimisation and provide that a Reservist is on leave from employment (rather than suspension of employment). In addition, the amendment will introduce civil penalties, clarify that mediation is not mandatory in all cases and extend protection to Reservists engaged in partnerships and private corporations.
Employer groups consulted during the review process, such as the Australian Industry Group, did not oppose extending protections to all Reserve service. However, in order to address other issues, such as notice of deployments, and to create a balanced and cooperative system, I have directed Defence to develop a suite of initiatives to ensure we have a comprehensive employer support scheme.
I have also asked Major General Brereton to consider what measures we might implement, in addition to Memorandums of Understanding, to ensure that employers are provided with reasonable notice of Reserve service — noting of course that Defence must maintain the flexibility to deploy Reservists commensurate with the tasks they are required to undertake. I refer here to the need for Reservists to deploy in support of disaster relief and domestic security tasks, often at very short notice.
In the area of employer engagement, I have instigated measures to engage the practical expertise of the Defence Reserve Support Council to further promote the benefits of Reserve service to industry, employers, educational institutions and the community. A suite of documents have been developed which set out the expected performance and output of the Council, particularly at the national level.
Working with the National Chair, Mr Jack Smorgon, we have introduced business rules for the operation of the DRSC. I have also issued a formal directive to the Chair, which spells out my intent and the output I expect.
These documents will be supported by both a Memorandum of Understanding and a Service Level Agreement between Defence and the DRSC, to ensure that we work cooperatively together in support of our Reservists, their families and their employers.
This year’s re-invigoration of the Prince of Wales Awards is reflective of the renewed energy being placed on supporting Reservists. These Awards are an important element of the ADF’s recognition and reward of Reservists for their dedication and commitment.
The experience and knowledge gained from a successful Prince of Wales Award activity should provide on-going benefits to the employer and Reservist, while promoting cooperation and support between Defence and civilian employers. This year, 17 Reservists were presented with an Award. Of equal importance, the support provided by the civilian employer of these Reservists was also recognised through the awarding of Certificates of Appreciation.
Another re-invigoration has been the Tasman Scheme, with the Scheme developed into a formal activity between Defence and the DRA. Under the Scheme, Junior Non-Commissioned Officers of the ADF Reserves are attached for two weeks to a New Zealand Defence Force unit. The Scheme is now jointly managed and administered by Cadet, Reserve and Employer Support Division and the DRA. Another wonderful example of the broad cooperation evident in the Reserve community.
I believe this is an excellent example of how Defence and a civilian organisation supportive of Defence can work together to deliver an outcome of direct benefit to our Reservists, and ultimately to capability development. I congratulate both Defence and the DRA on achieving this outcome, which this year will see up to 14 Junior Non-Commissioned Officers deploy to New Zealand.
I consider it vitally important that we consider and involve all the principal elements that impact the lives of our Reservists and that have a direct bearing on their ability to serve, including their family and their employer.
It is therefore important that I create the opportunities to hear and discuss issues, in order to understand and appreciate first-hand how we might make it easier for our Reservists, their families and employer; so that the Reserves continue to contribute to the overall capability of the ADF. Obviously this is part of the reason I am here today. I respect and value the contribution of all involved: the individual Reservist, their family members and employers, and the broader community from which our Reservists are drawn; and those individuals and organisations that support the Reserves – including the DRA.
As I conclude, allow me to reinforce my closing remarks from last year’s Conference. From the Government perspective, the Reserves are part of the ADF – they are integrated into operations and training, administration and logistics. Continuing that integration is imperative. Navy, Army and Air Force are actively working towards achieving the ADF’s Total Force concept, while ensuring that Reserve service is reflective of contemporary employment. We have made considerable progress and we need to ensure that we continue to make progress as one team focused on contributing to capability in a collaborative manner.
Defence is a complex beast. It is also shaped by complex issues. Despite the challenges within this inherent complexity, I am pleased by the proactive approach taken by all three Services – Navy, Army and Air Force – in developing their Reserve capability as part of the ADF’s Total Force concept. And it is clear that the level of integration being implemented by the Services is crucial to the long-term role of the Reserves in support of national security.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation/gratitude/thanks to all of the current and former Reservists and other members of the Reserve community who have welcomed me into the Reserve community and shared their thoughts and ideas with me. It has been a privilege to get to know you all and I believe that this collaborative spirit has resulted in some wonderful outcomes for the Reserve, and will continue to produce positive outcomes for the men and women who serve their country in the Reserve.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,