Vice Admiral Ray Griggs: prioritising Defence’s capability needs

Amid a heavy operational toll, the Defence Force is thinking broadly about its capabilities and workforce needs in the white paper process and Force Structure Review. The ADF vice chief outlines the agenda.

There is no doubt that the last 12 months has been characterised by a very heavy operational tempo for the Australian Defence Force, including a significant commitments on our borders, in the southern Indian Ocean in the search for MH370, in the Ukraine and Netherlands during the recovery operations following the downing of MH17, in Iraq with combat and advisory and assistance missions against the Daesh, responding to the presence of foreign forces in our maritime zones and of course our enduring missions — in Afghanistan, the counter terrorism and counter piracy mission of our major fleet unit in the Middle East, and peacekeeping or monitoring activities in the Sinai, in the Golan and in Southern Sudan.

It is important to remember that Australia’s mission in Afghanistan has not ended; the government remains committed to supporting Afghanistan’s security, governance and development. We have around 400 people deployed who are providing training to or advising and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces, filling key roles in headquarters positions and providing critical force protection, medical and intelligence support.

Our operations in Iraq are in response to a request for assistance by the Iraqi government. As you are all aware, Australia is contributing to the international coalition to disrupt and degrade the Daesh.

Australian aircraft are conducting combat missions, including regular air strikes, over Iraq to assist coalition air operations. Our tanker and Wedgetail aircraft are providing key supporting roles, not only to our strike aircraft but to the coalition effort more broadly. I think we should be very proud of the Air Task Group package that we were able to put together — I would suggest it is the most complete and self reliant air combat force package we have deployed in decades. It is making a huge contribution to the mission.

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