"Conscription" Raised As Way Of Fixing Defence Force Recruitment Crisis
Australia To Double Special Forces Troops In Afghanistan
Prepare yourself, Australia. You are about to get bombarded by an intensive propaganda campaign designed to guilt trip you into joining the Australian military.
Defence minister, Brendan Nelson has announced that igniting patriotism will be "an extremely important part" of a vast new military recruitment campaign. Nelson has long promoted his theory that the Australian soldier, or digger, is the defining iconic image of the Australian identity.
The Australian Defence Force is having enormous trouble finding new recruits in the midst of a booming economy. Young Australians may be thinking about joining the Army, or Navy, but they don't like the pay, the conditions, or the very real likelihood of being deployed into a warzone. Many simply want to go to university instead.
Tens of millions of dollars will be spent in the coming months on the extended series of television, print, internet and radio military recruitment ads that will dispense with trying to interest young people in joining the Army, the Air Force or the Navy because they want to be soldiers, pilots or sailors, and will attempt, instead, to rouse their sense of patriotism and a desire "to make a difference."
Nelson : "...we need to get away from just promoting defence jobs, to promoting the key values of the three service uniforms, and putting those in a contemporary environment so young people especially understand if you want to make a difference, there's no better way to do it than join the navy, army, or air force..."
It'll be interesting to see exactly what the "key values" Nelson mentions will turn out to be, and what exactly he is asking young Australians to "make a difference" to.
At the same time, Nelson has announced that Australians as old as 56 will now be able to join up, and the compulsory retirement age will be raised from 55 to 60 years old.
The ADF will no longer be so fussy when it comes to education qualifications in new recruits. In fact, you won't even have to finish high school if you want to get into the defence forces now.
"...we'll look at their aptitude, work and life experience," Nelson said. "We'll provide them with the necessary education and get them up to that sort of standard...."Nelson gave a preview of what we can expect to see in the advertising blitz during an interview last Sunday :
"There is no group of Australians that has done more to shape our values, beliefs and identity than those men and women who have worn and today wear the uniform of the navy, army and air force..."But do the majority of Australians really believe their "values, beliefs and identity" were formed by the Australian military's more than 100 years of international war-fighting? A long and brutal series of campaigns that killed more than 100,000 men and boys , disabled and injured hundreds of thousands more and robbed generations of children of their fathers and grandfathers?
Nelson is going to be treading on mine-filled ground if the coming recruitment ads try to rewrite the shocking fallout that World War 1, World War 2 and the Vietnam War had on Australian society.
ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day are not about celebrating victories in war for the vast majority of Australian, but are instead sombre, extremely sad occasions when we remember just how deeply successive wars have scarred and shattered Australian families and communities, particularly rural communities.
With a focus on "patriotism" and "values", the coming ads will also be in danger of drifting close to the kind of American-style cheesiness, flag-saluting and gung-ho militarism that makes most Australians laugh in dismay, or shake their heads in disbelief.
On a busy Sunday for Brendan Nelson, he also committed Australia to doubling its troop commitment in Afghanistan to almost 1000, most of whom are expected to be special forces.
Nelson, like prime minister, John Howard, refuses to acknowledge that the pullout of most Australian troops from Afghanistan in the second half of 2002, in preparation for the illegal invasion of Iraq, set the scene for a revival of Taliban strength which now has to be dealt with and is likely to result in Australian troops being killed and wounded.
"We believe there is a need (to redeploy)...we think that the Taliban will be mounting a very strong offensive shortly," Nelson said.
The Prescription For Conscription
In an interview with ABC News, influential defence industry expert Neil James, said that while improved wages and conditions will help to increase overall defence forces recruitment, national conscription could prove necessary should a serious conflict erupt in our region :
Rest assured that if Neil James is saying that, conscription is already being considered.
"It would depend on the likely duration of the problem. You'd have to say that conscription would have to be one of the things that would need to be considered," he said.
In a final bit of news related to the Australian Air Force, a new video flight simulator game is to be launched via Windows Live Messenger.
From 'The Australian' :
The game, Supreme Air Combat, developed for defence force recruiting, was launched at the Avalon Airshow by the RAAF's deputy chief, Air Vice Marshal John Blackburn.
The game features multi-player aerial combat, in which each player controls a small flight group and tries to outmanoeuvre an opponent to win.
It is based on fast turns, which its designers say is designed to encourage quick decision-making using a simulated F/A-18 jet fighter.
The game was also intended to emphasise that a career in the Australian Defence Force was "cutting edge", general defence force recruiting chief Brigadier Simon Gould said.
"It's demonstrating to young Australians that the ADF is fresh, innovative and involved in high technology. It will encourage people to join the team and "have a look at all the possible jobs we have to offer", he said.
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