Procurement: March 29, 2002

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: An Australian Army report leaked by the 19 March issue of the Daily Telegraph showed a dangerous shortage of all munitions types, from infantry assault rifle cartridges to mortars and artillery rounds. 

The Army Ammunition Study Report marked "Restricted" was highly critical of readiness levels: "In the event that troops are engaged in conflict without having had sufficient live explosive ordnance training then the risks include increased fratricide (killing a comrade), or worse, our troops could be defeated". 

Up to $100 million was needed to restock the armories, but the Australian Defence Department had a $1 billion budget shortfall because of the war against terrorism and the boat people blockade. 

One unnamed 1st Brigade officer from Darwin said that the brigade operated some armored vehicles without sights for machine guns and their medium artillery units fired just one-third of their annually required training rounds. Mortar shells were so scarce that units could not properly train to fight a war. 

Actually, this should not come as a shock. The Australian Defence Association's 2000 White Paper "DEFENDING AUSTRALIA" (http://www.ada.asn.au/policy/policy1.htm) stated that "future conflict, especially against First Wave nations or sub-national groups, is likely to demand more of the individual soldier with personal weapons essentially little different from those of half a century ago. This will place a premium upon the individual's capacity to carry sufficient ammunition to achieve his objectives so that economy in consumption will be important. For the individual, careful target selection and economy in ammunition use will call for more traditional soldier's skills in shooting". Ironically, the current Liberal government in Canberra frowns on civilian marksmanship programs. - Adam Geibel


 


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