By now, the Australian public is largely aware of the ‘quotas’ for women being pushed inside the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
The Australian Army is chasing a goal of 15% female participation by 2023 and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) both have targets of 25%.
The Australian public has also largely been informed that these quotas have driven an increase in women in the ADF from 15% in 2014 to 17.9% as at 30 Jun 2018.
This seems like a small change and is hardly likely to cause alarm.
But delve into the figures published in the Women in the ADF Report 2017-18 and the reporting from previous years and a very different picture emerges. They show that these quotas will not just be met. They will be smashed, creating a very different ADF by 2030.
When the Department of Defence released Battling with Words in 2014, its claim that the number of Anglo-Australian males in the military was ‘no longer desirable’ hardly caused a stir, probably because few thought it would be taken seriously. But this idea has been ruthlessly pursued.
Indeed, in 2016 General Angus Campbell warned recruiters while he was Chief of Army that they would be sacked if they raised any concerns about the pro-feminist agenda.
Already more than 22% of officer cadets and young lieutenants in the Army are female. The RAN sits at almost 24% of its junior and trainee officers being female. In the RAAF 28% of junior officers are female and more than one third of trainee officers are women.
At the soldier level, the figures are even greater.
Almost 24% of the Army’s trainees are women. The figure is over 37% in the RAN and 44% in the RAAF.
And although the programs to feminise the ADF first commenced in 2013, it is only recently that they have really borne fruit.
The RAN has had a net increase of over 300 females since 2015. The RAAF has seen an increase of over 500 and the Army’s ranks of women have grown by more than 760. The vast majority of those increases came in the last two years.
Meanwhile, the number of men serving this nation has fallen: the ADF has lost more than 1,000 men since 2015, most of them in the last 12 months. In 2018, for the first time since the feminisation process commenced, the number of men leaving the ADF outpaced the number of women joining it.
In other words, the ADF has started shrinking.
There goes any plan to double the size of the Army in the next 11 years.
Assuming these quotas are maintained (a safe assumption considering there appears to be zero interest by either of the major political parties to change course), more men will need to go to reach the ADF’s female quotas: about another 1,100 and on current rates this is likely to occur sometime by early 2021.
However, this figure will rise even higher if new ‘targets’ are set. And that is more of a probability than a possibility. Already the Army has spoken about targets of 25% and there is a push across the Commonwealth for women to hold 50% of positions on government boards. This will have implications for female participation at senior ranks in the ADF and that, in turn, will have flow on effects for recruitment and promotions.
So this drama is not over yet.
‘Gender equality’ quotas are not going away any time soon and the ADF, if anything, still has a long way to go before it ‘catches up’ with politically-correct expectations.
Even if there are no new quotas set, the current recruitment and retention plans favouring females are likely to result in significant change within the ADF anyway.
Data contained in the Women in the ADF Report 2017-18 shows that over the past three years there has been a general trend that has seen a drop in the number of men joining the ADF and an increase in the number of men leaving it.
However, when it comes to females, the trend shows an increase in both the numbers of women joining and leaving, although more are joining. The increase in women leaving is probably a result of the fact that women tend to serve for a shorter period than men and are also about twice as likely to pull the pin during initial training. It seems that the ADF can recruit larger numbers of women but it cannot retain them and already those who have signed on in the last couple of years are leaving.
Overall, the trend from the past three years shows that the ADF is shrinking and that the number of those leaving is increasing by about 450 personnel a year. No one can predict how long this trend will continue.
Although it is difficult to precisely predict how this will change the ADF by 2030, these trends do paint a clear general picture. Even if they stabilise at their current levels in any general sense it is obvious that there will be more women serving but a lot less men in uniform by 2030.
Assuming that recruitment in each of the three services stabilises at 2017-18 levels with the same numbers recruited, in the same gender ratios and with the same separation rates (based on recruitment and retention figures contained in the Women in the ADF Report 2017-18), by 2030 it is likely that approximately 21% of the Army, 29% of the RAN and 35% of the RAAF will be women.
Importantly, unless the ADF changes its recruitment and retention programs, by 2030 it will also be smaller. Even if the trends of the last three years stabilise it will still mean that the ADF is likely to lose about 1,350 personnel over the next decade unless changes are made to scrap the current program or, alternatively, reduce recruitment standards or introduce incentives to increase retention.
Steady as she goes will result in a massive demographic revolution inside the ADF over the next decade.
But steady as she goes is a big assumption.
More likely, trends that have seen an increase in separation rates, increases in the number of females recruited and larger decreases in the number of successful male applicants are likely to continue until at least 2022. This is when the next iteration of the cultural change agenda within the ADF, Pathway to Change, will end.
Modelling this scenario assumes separation rates will continue to increase for both genders until 2022 before returning to current levels. It also assumes that female recruitment will continue to increase while male recruitment will fall before both level out at 2022 levels. Under this scenario the RAAF will reach 50% gender recruitment parity in 2021.
If the trends these assumptions are based upon hold, by 2030 approximately 27% of the Army, 34% of the RAN and over 40% of the RAAF will be women.
The overall size of the ADF will also be significantly smaller, shedding approximately 4,500 personnel.
These figures are alarming. No nation has ever defended itself with such a high proportion of women in the military.
But based on the ADF’s own data and recruitment and retention trends this is the future of Australia’s defences unless it is prepared to overhaul its radically-feminist approach to manpower. And quickly.
There is also another reason this seemingly implausible scenario just might unfold.
The ADF has paid scant attention to the views of the bulk of its soldiers, sailors and airmen: blokes.
No one knows whether men will continue to serve this nation in such large numbers given that over the next decade their careers are likely to take a back seat to affirmative action plans. Current trends indicate that this is already a significant risk to the ADF.
Most likely males will still join up and serve this nation. There is something in the character of men that is patriotic and also attracted to danger. But there is also something men find in the camaraderie of mostly male military service that they also find enjoyable and fulfilling.
This reality is not accepted or understood and it is not inconceivable that by 2030 the only jobs in the entire ADF that will remain primarily masculine will be within the Royal Australian Infantry Corps, although even those roles will face significant change.
No one knows whether men will be prepared to cop this – especially as, in all likelihood, the path to leadership positions traditionally shaped around experience in combat roles will be replaced by a model that ensures women are not hampered by ‘unconscious bias’.
The most likely scenario is that men will still enlist. But they will just grumble quicker and leave earlier, creating a military that retains less experience and that is forced to spend vastly more on recruitment.
But if the gender that has provided the bulk of its recruits opts out, it is going to be very difficult for the ADF to maintain its current size.
That should concern all Australians, given the potential for global power to shift dramatically over the next decade with the rise of China. Historically, when global powers rise so does the frequency of war.
Moreover, if there is any war that involves Australia over this period, we will be hoping that we become the first nation on earth to leave it up to the fairer sex to man a significant bulk of our defences.
I would suggest that is a vain hope.
Next week I will outline how the current feminist program is already eroding experience and flexibility within the ADF.
Stay tuned over coming days as the remainder of this series is published.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences about the feminisation of the ADF. Please comment below or email me at [email protected]