Article written by Alkath Group Managing Director, Phil Guy.
The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade has raised long overdue concerns about the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) increasing involvement in domestic disaster relief efforts. The committee rightfully highlights the ‘near-persistent requirement for Defence to respond to domestic crises’, so it’s essential to consider alternative and sustainable solutions that allow the ADF to focus on warfighting capabilities while enhancing Australia’s disaster response preparedness.
For over two decades, my team and I have dedicated ourselves to addressing these two essential national capabilities by developing innovative solutions aimed at improving deployed life, boosting mission performance and improving disaster relief efforts. Two Alkath Group companies, Global Defence Solutions (GDS) and Resilience Logistic Solutions (RLS), have the expertise and innovative products that directly address the issues raised by the committee. GDS has been the trusted deployable field infrastructure partner for the ADF for more than 25 years, and backs our civilian-focused company RLS.
From experience we know that it is vital to have a plan in place for times of crisis, as ADF resources are often scarce and difficult to come by. It is not realistic or appropriate to expect the ADF to be available to respond to every domestic crisis. A sensible solution would be to establish a stockpile of products that are familiar and interoperable with Federal and State Government agencies as well as the ADF.
By focusing on a family of systems built around a common architecture of components, we can ensure operational flexibility, maintenance and training, ultimately building community resilience that can be enhanced as the crisis evolves. This approach will provide a common standard of equipment that is understood by all agencies and first responders, making it easier for the ADF to assist with support when required in more complex emergency situations.
RLS can provide the ideal standardised stockpile with its military-grade, interoperable field infrastructure. It’s scalable and modular platforms are designed to address various civilian community challenges, from floods and fires to more complex threats like chemical, biological, nuclear and radiation incidents. By providing rapidly deployed safe havens, RLS contributes to a more efficient disaster response capability.
The Australian Government’s consideration of creating a civilian disaster response force is commendable and aligns with Alkath Group’s vision of enhancing our nation’s resilience. Such a force can work in conjunction with the ADF, allowing the military to focus on their core responsibilities while the civilian force handles domestic crises.
The valid concerns raised in the committee’s report need to be addressed now – in fact, it’s long overdue. It is essential to explore innovative solutions that can alleviate the pressures on the ADF while enhancing Australia’s disaster response capabilities.