White papers do not defend us in the real world. The reduction in defence spending was taken selfishly with full knowledge that the strategic risk to 22 million Australians had been significantly increased. There are some things that should be above political survival, but of course they are not.
The definition of "selfish" also applies to an entrenched defence bureaucracy (EDB) that eats up billions but returns nothing in real combat capability.
-Air combat roadmap: a wreck
-Basic ship sustainment: a wreck
-Submarines: a wreck
-Project management skills: a wreck
And so on...
The need for a defence budget is based primarily on an estimate of the need, adjusted by the investment available. The need is often referred to as the strategic environment, and sometimes as the threat.
If you believe that there is absolutely no need for any money to be spent on defence and that security can be achieved without armed forces, then I respect your view, but we do not share a common starting point for discussion.
If you believe that the world is not yet perfect, that there is even a small chance that one day Australia may have to use force in pursuit of its interests if not its survival, and that the future is always unpredictable, then you will think that we need armed forces, and we have a basis for considering how much is enough.
Pretty hard to do when the EDB is white-anting Defence while becoming a de facto fifth-column destroying military capability just as well as any enemy.
Assessing how much is enough was prosecuted by competent people in Defence in preparation for the 2009 Defence White Paper. They derived a force structure tested in a number of scenarios and derived from the best knowledge of the demands the strategic environment could place on Australia in the future.
The White Paper for 2009 was a clown-car event. Anyone thinking different is mentally affected.
They came up with "Force 2030", known for having 12 submarines, up to 100 joint strike fighters, three air warfare destroyers, two amphibious ships, new armoured vehicles, etcetera. The Government accepted that and wrote it into the white paper.
Force 2030 was not thought up by the uninitiated, but by the best civilian/military tactical and strategic brains available. Of course, some commentators objected, especially those with a barrow to push, such as a submarine-only force.
Defective thinking at its very best.. and, a magical 2030 force allows for fanciful dreaming while doing nothing of worth. For example, naming the faulty and under-developed F-35 as if it was a reliable solution when there was no evidence to indicate such a thing.
Submarines? Try maintaining the 6 we have as proof-of-concept before going on a rent-seeking mission for the ages.
While you are at it sir, consider how long-range strike ability was thrown away on a lie, and the helicopter capability allowed to fester into an unworkable joke.
For the EDB, we can consider some additional points of defect here and here.
Without addressing the core faults in Australian senior defence leadership, General Molan ignores issues that are the ultimate relation to his cart-before-the-horse thinking.
The current not-so-bright political leadership may be faulty, however they are not the true source of today's Defence problems. Jim Molan's attempt at revisionist history and blame-shifting away from his peer-group (such as Angus Houston) don't make his arguments very solid.