The Air Force Perspective on Contracting by ProQuest


The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is said to rely on industry to adapt or manufacture equipment, for repair and maintenance, and for general support functions such as catering and base support in medical, information- technology and construction services. [...] is a need for lawyers. All of this points to the challenges of regulating this new phenomenon, and of identifying the appropriate role that private industry should play in supporting the public function of the military.

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									                                                                                                                                                           insight| air force contracting
Simon Chesterman

The Air Force
Perspective on
Legal and Ethical Questions for
Private Support of Air Operations
                                                                                                                                         Photo: R.A.A.F.

            HEN it comes to privatization           tion is that in time of war, the ADF may             In the case of personnel, hiring from the

                                                                                                                                                           journal of international peace operations | volume 5 | number 2 | september-october 2009
            and reliance on contractors,            need to be able to draw on the logistical            private sector can enable swift increases
            the issues facing air forces            capacities of the private sector. A                  and decreases in numbers – though in
would seem, on the face of it, to be quite          subsidiary goal is to create opportunities           practice, hires that are meant to be
different from those confronted by other            for Australian firms, including through              ‘temporary’ can quickly become
services. This is true in part because air          the Skilling Australia’s Defense Industry            ‘essential.’
forces tend not to operate in theater               program and the Australian Industry
alongside contractors. But it has led to air        Capability program. One example of this              A third possible reason is that there is
forces not being required to address some           is Australia’s involvement in the Joint              value in itself in having an effective
of the opportunities and the costs of               Strike Fighter program, which has created            Australian defense industry. The argu-
dealing with the private civilian sector,           opportunities for Australian companies to            ment that this is important from the
outside of traditional procurement. And             compete successfully on one of the largest           perspective of creating jobs may hold
that the opportunities and costs are going          defense programs in history.                         some weight politically, but it is dubious
to become more relevant over time. This                                                                  economics and, given the restrictions on
article focuses primarily on the case of the        Reasons to Rely on the Private Sector                defense expenditure (even with a 3
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), but                                                                   percent real increase), dubious defense
these arguments are applicable to other air         Putting this into the context of larger              policy. But there is an argument that due
forces.                                             debates over outsourcing, there are three            to Australia’s remoteness and special
                                                    reasons to rely on industry. Within the              circumstances, having some local capacity
Australia’s 2007 Defense and Industry               armed services, air power is perhaps most            is a strategic asset. Given the expense that
Policy Statement describes Australia’s              dependent on technology. It is likely that           would be necessary to do this effectively,
defense industry as a ‘cornerstone of our           air power will continue to be heavily                however, it is probably a losing argument
national security.’ Around A$12 billion of          technology dependent. This will include,             in general, though there may be some
tax-payers money is spent with suppliers            among other things, increasing use of                special cases worthy of consideration.
on defense every year – more than half of           armed and unarmed Unmanned Aerial
the A$23 billion defense budget. The                Vehicles (UAVs). The cost barriers to                Reasons Not to Rely on Industry
Australian Defence Force (ADF) is said              entry can be prohibitive and may require a
to rely on industry to adapt or manufac-            country like Australia to rely not merely            The traditional concerns about the private
ture equipment, for repair and mainte-              on industry but also on allies. The                  sector are sometimes grounded on the
nance, and for general support functions            development cost of the Joint Strike                 belief that there is something immoral
such as catering and base support in                Fighter, for example, would have                     about killing for money, as opposed to
medical, information-technology and                 consumed a few years of Australia’s total            killing for love of country. As a survey of
construction services. A further justifica-         defense budget.
   The author is Director of the New York University School of Law Singapore Program and Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore.
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                                                                                           35                                                Successful Contracting                         to be set up in advance, and should
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