When critiquing government’s strategic policy, the ‘things were better in my day’ syndrome needs to be avoided. That these decisions and the supporting background strategic analysis and assessments are always hidden from wider view by secrecy classifications and need-to-know protocols must be accepted, as must the reality that pragmatic consideration will be given to other important matters like alliance and industry policy. Still, how did SEA1000 happen?
Force development decisions are harder than ever, but that said, the strategic justification for this decision doesn’t stand up to critique – and even less so now that the capability solution, acquisition lead-times and the price-tag are known. Has a ‘replacement mentality’ disproportionately affected the decision? Perhaps combined with a shift in influence within goverment in favour of the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF)?
The prudential critique of major capability development focussing on the military tasks, current and future potential threats, and encompassing the risks and opportunity costs—once normal in such decisions—is not evident here. To the external observer it seems the Navy wanted more submarines, the CDF proposed the plan, and government acquiesced.
Published 7 February 2020 in John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations