Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 23:15 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 23:15 | SYDNEY

Reader ripostes: Foreigners in the ADF


Sam Roggeveen


This post is part of the ADF recruitment abroad debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

27 May 2009 16:53

This post is part of the ADF recruitment abroad debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

Two reader responses below to Cameron Crouch's post, first from Peter Layton, then Marc Gugliotta. Cameron will respond to these and Rodger Shanahan's post soon:

Cameron Crouch makes some good points. I would suggest, though, that focusing recruitment on the South-West Pacific could have some advantages beyond the ADF. Cameron’s concept of offering Australian citizenship is one means but perhaps it is worth examining an alternative of the external recruits from the Pacific returning home after their service. If they left the ADF after, say, 15-20 years service with a reasonable pension and lump sum they would be able to open small businesses and invest in the local communities they returned to, buying housing, raising familles and becoming a beneficial influence in their local social and political community. 

They would bring needed skills, expertise, knowledge and transnational contacts and relationships back home to enrich their local communities, and also Australia, in a long-term interdependent manner. It is in a way a form of assistance to local communities, but in terms of recompense for service rendered and not a handout. 

Many of the islands cannot sustain a reasonable standard of living without some form of external funding. Some well-thought out scheme that allowed young people from the Pacific Islands to join the ADF, become skilled and receive good pay and compensation, and then return to their homes financially better off may offer real economic, social and political benefits to both their countries and Australia. This is not some Ghurkha-type concept but rather one that over the longer term would act to integrate Australia and the islands through mutual interdependence. Offering island recruits citizenship risks denuding the parent societies of their best young people, to everyone's detriment. A return scheme would be more sustainable and in its own limited way contribute to building a more secure and prosperous Australasia. 

Marc Gugliotta:

I just read your post on Overseas Recruitment and I wholeheartedly agree with your argument. I have often thought Overseas Recruitment should be part of the response to ADF recruitment difficulties, particularly in view of successful experiences by the British and American militaries to name a few.

However, I have one concern and I am curious to know your thoughts on it. My concern is whether deploying ADF personnel to their own nations would cause problems.

Now, there are several aspects to this. First, it would likely only be relevant to personnel from the immediate Pacific neighbourhood, due to improbability of Australian forces being deployed to South Africa or the Phillipines. Secondly, my understanding is that overseas recruited personnel in similar militaries have rarely, if ever, been deployed to their country of origin. Indeed, my cursory understanding of the British Indian Army suggests that they always took great pains to deploy troops far from their home. Of course, it is unlikely that the ADF would ever do some of the more unsavoury actions of the British Indian Army. Thirdly, accepting that it were a problem, juggling different units to prevent personnel being deployed to their home is probably not an option for such a small military as ours. This is exacerbated if they are spread throughout the ADF, which my instinct says is correct anyway.

So, let's say we have Fijian personnel in the ADF and they are called to intervene in Fiji for whatever reason; would it be possible to rely on the impartial execution of orders? While I am not doubting the ethics of the ADF, it is not hard to conceive a situation where Fijian personnel would be reluctant to fufill their orders. It is also possible that such problems could be managed or that the esprit de corps you mention could mitigate them.