I wish it was as easy as the wonderful Orion crew the other day. Make a few comments about something good in a Defence press release and reinforce to the average civilian all the really great things happening in the ADF. BTW, there are a lot of good things happening in the ADF, just that what I am going to illustrate next is to put it mildly; exasperating.
In what one experienced observer of DMO/Defence efforts mentioned to me as, "how not to run a project", we have this new release of an audit (PDF at the jump) on the M113 armoured personnel carrier.
As some of you know, you can do a lot of neat things with M113s and still provide a useful weapons system to the troops. The Army is very lucky in having their very skilled and able personnel and also the Bushmaster which has allowed many a soldier to return home alive.
A modified M113 adds to this powerful ability by given the troops an additional tool in the bag for off-road operations.
The quotes from the audit are just sad. We spend gig-dollars on gold-plated stuff every year and can't even keep M113s going. This is one thing where the Australian spirit (yes, I know I am still the new guy), should be able to come up with solid-home-grown solutions; pat themselves on the back for a job well-done, and move on to the next challenge.
I cringe at the problems of the Navy, hit myself in the head with a hammer over RAAF problems, but there just is no reasonable excuse for getting basic bread and butter things wrong for the Army who have bullets whizzing by their heads, risk IEDs or worse and if they aren't killed, risk severe injury that will be with them all the rest of their days.
The audit states that availability for M113s at the armour school has gone into the ditch. A high percentage of vehicles are not available due to lack of spares, lack of oversight of vendor performance and thus poor project managment. Considering the way senior Defence throws billions in impulsive purchases because the Project of Concern list is hanging around their neck and they feel money must be spent...on something, there is NO credible excuse for APCs to be short of quality spares.
The data indicate that, over the three years to December 2010, the proportion of vehicles at the School of Armour classified as Fully Functional decreased from an average of 62 per cent in 2008 to 38 per cent in 2010, as shown in Figure 5.1. This decline in Fully Functional vehicles was accompanied by an increase in Restricted Use vehicles awaiting repairs that required spare parts.
Defence was unable to provide trend data for the period after December 2010, however, informed ANAO as at March 2012 that the percentage of ‘Fully Functional’ vehicles for the upgraded M113 fleet was 39 per cent, ‘Restricted Use’ was 37 per cent, and Not to be Driven (XX) was 24 per cent. Defence identified that this was above the minimum requirement that 75 per cent of the fleet be classed as at least ‘Restricted Use’.
Take your time. Read the report. And, weigh in. Army officials have put their response at the end of the audit. I would think that if they were better at having their people running inspections, fixes would have already been long in-place on APC spares availability and in-turn because they are flag-ranks, telling the DMO what they can do with their balls-up style of project management.
I could bring up what I think about the DMO, senior Defence leadership and so on. But you know that drill already.
Imagine what the Army could do with $1.4B wasted on the C-27, or up to $1.7B of potential waste for obsolete Super Hornet jamming kit. How much would $214M have helped the M113 issue instead of being wasted on a rent-seeking submarine study?
Things mentioned in the M113 audit are a cancer that we must stop as a core interest in paying attention to the basics. If not, there will be no such thing as national security.
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