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Posted by2 months ago

‘Near persistent’ natural disasters placing intense pressure on Australian defence force

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level 1
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level 1

I’ve been saying for literally decades that the adf needs an emergency response branch/whatever who’s sole job is to travel and respond to disasters.

level 2

Actually, they do - but it is a lot more flexible than you think, and the disaster brief is a fair bit wider.

For the bushfires we had, we had a bunch of RAE Corps roll into town (Royal Australian Engineers) to put stuff back together. The Australian Corps of transport provided logistics. A few psychologists from the Pyschology Corps. Catering Corps. Obviously, the Aviation Corps got deployed when it mattered. So it's quite flexible in what gets deployed and they are very good at getting what they have deployed.

I imagine what you are thinking about is something akin to the US Army Corps of Engineers - who generally do big nation building projects in the US, and then down tools and go fix disasters when they happen. They seem to get massive "free passes" to just build shit quick. It would be cool to have someone like that to get stuff done.

level 2
· 2 mo. ago
All redditors are dumb

damn ngl you seem really old

level 2

Its really ramped up in the last few years

Reservists were supposed to help fill that role, they used to be given a yearly bonus to be RRF (Ready response force) qualified and be available to DFAC/DAC taskings.

But they cut the bonus and expected more from them. They dropped them into bushfire affected areas with no resources and had to try and assist victims of the fires who also had nothing.

level 1

This article is light on detail and the comment section here riddled with lots of big opinions.

The ADF has played a significant role in natural disaster relief since Cyclone Tracy in '74 and the establishment of the National Disaster Organisation (NDO) in the same year. The NDO was renamed Emergency Management Australia (EMA) in '93 and was an agency within the Australian Defence Force Support Command and the Department of Defence until 2001 when it was made a division of the Attorney Generals Department (AGD).

The EMA was again transferred, this time from AGD to the Department of Home Affairs in 2018, and then merged, just two weeks ago, with the National Recovery and Resiliency Agency, to form the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

I have two comments to make.

The first is aimed at those talking about the federal government establishing a national emergency service similar to the state based SES. This is a day dream, the Commonwealth lacks the constitutional authority to legislate such a body into existence, and this has been the position of the AGD since as far back as the Second World War. It is a waste of time to talk about it.

The second is aimed at those talking about how natural disaster relief is the not the job of the ADF. The ADFs job, whether you like it or not, was, is, and forever will be to do what the government tells it to. The ADF has played a role in natural disaster relief for nearly half a century, and when, circumstancing permitting, there is need, it will continue to do so. The government will never permit people to suffer or die when it has means of providing assistance.

The solution to the ADFs current problems is to establish an agency similar to the old NDO and to keep it as part of the ADF/DoD so that the ADF can maintain in house the cultural level experience it has apparently lost in the last two decades or so.

Its worth remembering that the ADF was responsible for the evacuation of 35,000 people, of which 25,000 where air lifted, from Darwin following Cyclone Tracy. The ADFs operations in the last few years pale in comparison.

level 1
· 2 mo. ago
I just want milk that tastes like real milk

Watch this be the next "defund the police" where a good idea from the left gets strawmanned into the ground because our slogans suck.

Currently the defense force is being used for jobs outside of "defense". This is because they have a lot of infrastructure such as helicopters and trained workers, which is not used at full capacity outside of war times / is more needed domestically in times of peace.

The obvious solution seems to be implementing new departments such as a (properly funded) natural disaster agency, or increasing funding to existing departmanets in that area, and adding a clause along the lines of "in times of war the army can take from these departments".

That way the defense force can focus on their actual job, and in times of war we continue to have helicopters / pilots / etc which can be quickly brought in as needed.

But I bet any serious attempts to do this will get brandished as "they want to cut army funding" or "they hate the armed forces" just like "defund the police" has been.

level 2

Currently the [defence] force is being used for jobs outside of ["defence"]. This is because they have a lot of infrastructure such as helicopters and trained workers, which is not used at full capacity outside of war times / is more needed domestically in times of peace

Historically that's been the norm. Large, mobile group of physically fit, well-trained men sitting around doing nothing productive isn't exactly something most countries could afford until the last couple centuries. You either had them actively fighting someone, assisting local emergency services, guarding the boarder or building a road in the middle of nowhere.

level 2
· 2 mo. ago
Sir Les Patterson

War is coming.

level 2

I thought it was spelt "defence" in this country.

Watch this be the next "defund the police"

That was an American movement.

Are you sure you're in the right sub?

level 2

I completely agree.

I’m a member of the SES, and west syd has already seen two major flood events this year, and we’re looking at a third in November. We’ve had more jobs this year than in 2021, in which we had nearly 1000 just at my unit.

We, the response agencies and the infrastructure, just can’t cope with it. We’re pushed to our limits, and we’re regularly pulling in people off the street just to fill sand bags.

The ses and rfs already have issues working together, mainly due to miscommunications when working in the same events, and there’s already talk of merging the two. At that point, we might as well become some ubiquitous disaster response agency. Honestly, I don’t think people realise how many different types of disasters the ses and rfs already respond to, we fill so many gaps.

level 2
· 2 mo. ago

Actually there are some serious recommendations around the outcomes you're suggesting - John Blaxland's AUSNACS scheme is a good example and something that should be looked at.

That said, where I'd almost pick a hole in your argument is a potential presumption that the ADF isn't doing anything unless it's at war.

The clusterfuck that is the Russian Army in Ukraine is instructive for what happens to a military force in wartime when that force was not sufficiently funded, equipped or trained to practice warfare during peacetime.

If you're not making the argument that the ADF should do something else during peacetime as it's primary purpose then by all means, play on.

But for everyone reading, we should be clear on this. At its nub, the ADF is a military organisation and as such its primary role is the application of lethal force in order to achieve a political outcome. As a society we ignore that uncomfortable fact out of squeamishness at our own peril.

That remit does not include making up for government failings in disaster preparation, epidemic management or aged care.

Our taxpayers do not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars training a Forward Observer so they can wipe grandma's arsehole or carry Mr Jones' matched luggage to his hotel room.

level 2

Let’s call it the “Department of Disaster Management”. Invasion by any foreign army would be a disaster that needed managing. And we can help our foreign allies to manage that kind of disaster too.

level 1
Comment removed by moderator · 2 mo. ago
level 2
ModModerator Achievement · 2 mo. ago
Australian Labor Party

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level 1
· 2 mo. ago
Australian Labor Party

DEFENCE DEPARTMENT: The ADF has supported, in near persistent fashion over recent years, the civil community at home and partners abroad in managing a wide range of natural disasters.

We need to consider more cost-effective ways for managing what is rapidly becoming a consistent concurrency pressure for Defence, potentially through enhanced community-based disaster response arrangements, which are outside Defence’s remit.

Another consequence of the former Federal Government blocking Climate Change Action for a decade, not just with emmissions legislation but also adapting other sectors to combat climate change.

So far we're just sending in the ADF, without adapting them to the needs of the job. If a wealthy country like Australia's defence force is struggling, imagine how badly it's going to turn out in the rest of the Pacific. Even now, Pakistan is collapsing from severe flooding - infrastructure damage, waterborne diseases, lack of food/medicine etc.

level 2
· 2 mo. ago · edited 2 mo. ago

I think disaster relief should be part of defence’s job. Like, explicitly integrated as a priority of the institution. And if that requires them to acquire new skills, rewrite policies and re-orient resources then that’s what they should do.

Our discourse around securitisation needs to accept the reality that climate change has become and will continue to be a threat to Australian security on par with anything coming from hostile external forces. Besides, the military have the best logistics, training and the fattest budgets in the country - to just use that for vanity exercises would be a huge waste.


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