Three views of risk: Selecting and acquiring military equipment

7 Nov 2011


Providing the ADF with state of the art equipment can be a challenging business. Sometimes the world market can provide a proven solution with the right level of capability, but often that isn't the case.

Then it's a matter of either accepting a more modest level of performance or going down the path of developing a new weapon system. This collection of papers provides three different perspectives of the issues that arise when defence planners have to weigh these options.

The first paper, by ASPI's Mark Thomson, discusses the applicability of commercial techniques for evaluating and managing risks in defence projects. The translation isn't straightforward because of the 'public goods' nature of defence, and cost-benefit calculations are tricky when there is a degree of subjectivity in the benefit side of the equation.

In the second paper, ASPI's Andrew Davies takes a more empirical look at defence projects and the many pitfalls that come with technically challenging projects. The paper concludes that high levels of engineering skill—a commodity in short supply within Defence—are needed if projects are to have the best chance of success. The paper is rounded off with some thoughts by recently retired DMO CEO Dr Steven Gumley, who has provided his 'four rules of defence acquisition'.

Defence projects couldn't be delivered without the work of industry. The final paper, by CEO of Thales Australia Chris Jenkins, provides an industry perspective. He argues that maintaining defence industry should be seen as a vital part of the nation's defence strategy and that tomorrow's defence capability will be shaped in no small part by the skill base being laid down today.


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