Did PM make Clayton’s announcement on ‘new’ Middle East mission?

This morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, supported by Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds made an announcement about a ‘new mission’ for the Australian Defence Force in the Middle East.

The Greens are apparently ‘up in arms’ over this new commitment, demanding that parliament should decide where, whether or when we send our military overseas (and I hope to all that’s holy that such ‘defence by committee’ is never allowed to happen).

But do the Green’s have anything to worry about in the first place?

In fact, I ask – seriously – did the PM et al actually announce anything ‘new’ today at all?

Even the actualities of what he announced are hardly worth the hooha on their own –

  • one P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft for one month;
  • one Australian frigate in January for six months; and,
  • ADF personnel to the International Maritime Security Construct headquarters in Bahrain.

The PM also said, “This will be an enhancement of our existing and longstanding contribution to counter-piracy and counter-terrorism missions in the waters of the Middle East”.

I say bullshit!

Why?

Because the frigate was already planned, as a replacement for HMAS Ballarat, which came home in July.

Actually, the fact that Ballarat came home more than a month ago and wasn’t planned to be replaced until sometime next year, actually represented a downgrading of Australia’s commitment to maritime security in the Middle East – because until last year, we had maintained an almost unbroken naval presence in the Gulf since 1990.

So, announcing something we had already said we were going to do anyway, is not a ‘new’ announcement.

While I will concede that the Poseidon deployment is ‘new’ (and a one-month tour (just long enough for ‘tea a bikkies’), is hardly anything to get hot and bothered about), even that isn’t new for RAAF, having sent P-3C Orions and E-7A Wedgetails for years – the latest as recently as last month, which is probably still there.

As for sending personnel (the PM didn’t say how many, but let’s guess two or three hight rankers) to the International Maritime Security Construct headquarters in Bahrain – well, is that really new either, given that the ADF “also provides a small staff that is permanently embedded within the Combined Maritime Forces Headquarters”.

One thing about today’s announcement that is ‘new’ however is the actual “International Maritime Security Construct” – so new in fact that nobody seems to know anything about it.

After extensive web searching this evening, I found just one reference to the International Maritime Security Construct on a page that wasn’t a media organisation reporting the PM’s announcement that we joined it today.

No mention of the International Maritime Security Construct on the Pentagon’s web site, nor the White House’s, nor the US Navy’s.

That one single reference I found was a “Statement from General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., Commander, U.S. Central Command, Welcoming the Kingdom of Bahrain into the International Maritime Security Construct” – dated Monday.

And, isn’t that just a little bit odd? Bahrain is welcomed into the International Maritime Security Construct on Monday – and first thing Wednesday morning ScoMo tells us the International Maritime Security Construct is headquartered in – you guessed it – Bahrain.

[Seriously though, that was a very interesting Google search. I’ve never seen a Google search where 99.9 per cent of the thousands of results refer to just one original source – ScoMo. Try it yourself!]

Just out of interest, guess which other countries are members of this International Maritime Security Construct?

The United States of America, the United Kingdom and….

…well, actually, that’s it.

The International Maritime Security Construct headquartered in Bahrain consists of USA, UK, Bahrain and now Australia.

So here’s a question for you….

Why do we need a new four-member International Maritime Security Construct in the Middle East, when we already have a 32-nation Combined Maritime Forces construct comprised of three principle task forces…

  • Combined Task Force 150, which conducts counter-terrorism and maritime security operations;
  • Combined Task Force 151, which conducts counter piracy operations;
  • Combined Task Force 152, which conducts Arabian Gulf maritime security operations.

I wonder if the answer to that question is – because the ‘coalition of the willing’ weren’t so willing to play ball on this ‘new’ thing?

So maybe the Greens are on to something after all.

Holly hell, did I actually just say that :-0

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sir_jeffrey_blog_logoAnother comment from resident crankyman Sir Jeffrey Armiger – a retired Public Servant with a pet hate for BE – bovine excrement.
Sir Jeffrey Armiger is dedicated to the eradication of BE.
Follow Sir Jeffrey on Facebook here or view his previous diatribes here.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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