Heads must roll to clear Defence of US loyalists
Written by: Nick G. on 9 February 2024
Senior figures within the Australian Department of Defence are agents of influence for US imperialism and must be removed if we are ever to have the capacity for independent decision-making in matters of foreign policy.
They have tied defence procurement exclusively to the needs of US arms manufacturers, and their concept of “interoperability” is that the moment the US creates an excuse for war with China, Australia will automatically take part.
These senior figures are protected by like-minded US loyalists in both the Labor and Liberal parties.
This group was complicit in reviving a 2013 proposal by the US that Australia lease and operate ten or twelve Virginia-class nuclear submarines. PM Morrison subsequently scrapped the submarine contract with the French, and, via the AUKUS arrangements, announced that we would purchase, not lease, several second-hand US nuclear-powered subs and have others manufactured on the same model at an estimated cost of $368 billion. That was in addition to the $835 million settlement with Naval Group for the dumped $90 billion French submarine program.
Tanks for nothing…
The same group of US empire loyalists were responsible for a controversial decision to replace the army’s 59 Abrams M1A1 tanks, which were bought in 2007 but have not seen combat.
Abrams tanks are made by the former US car manufacturer Chrysler Corporation, now operating as General Dynamics Ground Systems. The existing tanks will be replaced by 75 M1A2 main battle tanks, which feature some minor upgrades on the previous model, as well as some other armoured vehicles, at a cost of $3.5 billion. The decision was controversial because Australian tanks have not been used for over half a century, in the Vietnam War; their huge weight (70 tonnes) makes them difficult to transport either within or outside the country; and the small differences between the M1A2 and the earlier M1A1 do not justify the increase in numbers nor the huge cost.
But the decision did show the willingness of the US loyalist clique to feather the bed of US arms manufacturers, earning brownie points with their US masters.
Australian Defence Review cuts out Australian manufacturers
Australian manufacturers are angered that the Smith-Houston Australian Defence Review, commissioned by the Albanese government, firmly prioritised purchases of US military equipment over that which could be suppled locally. They cited the example of a decision to spend over $307 million to buy towed array sonar systems that could be made locally from Australian industries already supplying the equipment to the US, UK and French Navies. Instead, Defence opted to purchase US-made sonar systems.
According to the online Australia Pacific Defence Reporter magazine’s editor Kym Bergmann, “the pro-U.S. faction only want things with the stars and stripes plastered on them – and AUKUS will make that mentality even worse”.
This matches continuing uncertainty about the Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) program. Originally, a contract for 20 OPVs was let to the German company Luerssen Australia and building the vessels has begun in South Australia and Western Australia. Then the loyalists started a campaign against the German build, and had the number reduced to 12. One option under consideration by the government is to halt production, transfer any completed vessels to the Australian Border Force, or possibly Papua New Guinea, and instead relet the contract to the US for a fleet of missile-armed corvettes.
Which leads us to the current controversy over the disposal of Australia’s NH90 Taipan helicopter fleet. The Taipans were manufactured by a European consortium of French, Italian and German arms manufacturers headed by France’s Airbus. They are operated by a number of countries, but were involved in several accidents here in Australia which led to the whole fleet being labelled “unsafe”. The US loyalists in Defence were behind this campaign to call for the replacement of the Taipans, and were successful, with the announcement that the Taipans would be jettisoned in favour of US-manufactured Black Hawk, Apache and Chinook helicopters.
Rather than offering the Taipans for sale to other countries, including those currently operating them, or gifting them to the Ukrainians to assist their fight against the Russians, Defence hastily arranged for the Taipans to be broken up – destroyed – and buried.
According to Bergmann, this was done because “senior officers in the Army would be highly embarrassed if another nation was able to safely and effectively operate Taipans when they have so mismanaged the program.”
This means that $3.7 billion, the estimated cost of the Taipans according to the National Audit Office in 2021, is being deliberately poured into a hole in the ground by the US loyalists – both those in Defence and those in the Albanese government.
The 40 Black Hawk helicopters, manufactured by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky, will set Australia back an estimated $2.8 billion plus blowouts.
Additionally, the following payments will be made:
• $340 million to Lockheed Martin Australia for support and maintenance of the UH 60M Black Hawk fleet.
• $306 million to Boeing Defence Australia for a seven-year Initial Support Contract for the Apache helicopter for maintenance, engineering, training and logistics services.
• A $184 million contract awarded to Boeing Defence Australia to extend the Chinook Integrated Support Services Contract to August 2028.
Why Defence and the government would trust Boeing with a maintenance contract when its civilian 737 MAX passenger airliner has been grounded worldwide following crashes and the loss of hundreds of lives, caused by poor design and maintenance, is anyone’s guess.
Australia’s armed force are being reshaped to have no role outside that of supporting the declining US empire.
To understand a nation’s foreign policy you need to look at its economy, and Australia’s is dominated by imperialist finance capital of which the substantial portion is US capital.
To have an independent and peaceful foreign policy means the revolutionary overthrow of the political structures that serve US economic domination of Australia.
Such a fundamental change must be led by the working class acting according to its own independent class agenda.
Out with the US loyalists!
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