What will the ADF look like in 2030? Part 4: A loss of experience and flexibility

The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) feminist quotas and affirmative action policies are eroding its experience and flexibility.

Its own meticulous statistics show this in vivid detail and great clarity.

When it comes to experience, there are two ways this is being lost.

Firstly, women are being promoted faster than men according to the Women in the ADF Report 2017-18, as I detailed in an earlier article in this series.

This might make for good reading in glossy politically-correct publications trumpeting gender-equality but it does come with a very real side-effect. If an organisation promotes a group of people based on their gender rather than their experience, experience is always gonna lose out.

It is a statement of the bleeding obvious to point out that if you promote females faster than men, they will have less experience when they take up roles commanding others than the men who used to fill these appointments.

Compounding this problem, women tend to serve for less time in the ADF than men according to the Women in the ADF Report 2017-18.

This table was published in the Women in the ADF 2017-18 report.

Female officers in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) serve for approximately 3.5 years less than men. In the Australian Army the gap is almost 2 years and it blows out to 7 years in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). There are also significant differences at the enlisted level, particularly in the Army where women serve for about half the time that men do.

This fact points to an increased lack of employment stability that can be expected when placing women into leadership positions. They are more likely than men to leave them.

As affirmative action plans increase the number of women in command and leadership positions, the ADF will also be increasingly forced to resort to temporary replacements to fill short-notice vacancies. These replacements invariably come from those holding junior positions and who are less experienced. Indeed, there will also be added pressure to reduce or waive time-in-rank requirements before promoting officers into gaps created by this growing instability.

It is a vicious cycle further reducing experience levels of commanders.

Ironically, men who remain in the ADF will become increasingly valuable for their experience, even though their careers will be marked down due to their gender.

Secondly, the fact that women tend to separate from the ADF earlier than men also has a more general implication for experience levels.

Across all three services and at both the officer and enlisted ranks, women only commit to the ADF for 75% of the time that men do.

This necessarily means a more feminised military of the future will be a force that retains less collective experience than was held in previous generations of the ADF.

The future feminised ADF will be an organisation that faces more churn within its workforce. It will need to recruit more women, more often to maintain the gender-diverse pipedream, even though it demonstrably results in a collective loss of experience.

In regards to flexibility, the focus on increasing female participation rates has required the ADF to introduce flexible work arrangements.

This is good for the individual. It is not so good for military units that may be required to deploy at short notice.

Women are far more likely to undertake flexible work arrangements.

Further, they also fall pregnant.

This, in itself, is not a problem. It is far more important for this nation that women have children than man fast jets. And, as a man, I readily acknowledge the enormous courage required of a woman to face childbirth.

If you want to see bravery, you do not need to travel to a distant battlefield. You just need to visit a maternity ward.

This courage is vastly underrated in our society. So much so that we are leaving it, as a nation, to expectant mothers to defend us. This says a lot more about Australian men than it does about Australian women.

On average, about 8% of women in the ADF take some form of maternity leave each year. Between mid-2013 and 17 June 2018 Defence granted more than 320,000 days of maternity leave according to answers provided by Defence to Senate Estimates.

Figures provided by Defence to Senate Estimates in late 2018.

And this number is going to rise. Since 2013, there has been a consistent increase in the number of maternity leave days granted each year, with the figures for the 2017/18 financial year at least 12% higher than those 2013/14 financial year.

By 2030, based on current trends it is likely that 120,000 to 150,000 maternity leave days will be taken by ADF members every year.

Women who are on maternity leave are not deployable, although this has not stopped US and British soldiers from giving birth in Afghanistan. It has also resulted in British, American and Australian militaries having to redeploy soldiers from operations. At least one Australian woman miscarried on her return home.

It should also be noted that female soldiers are three times more likely to face infertility than other women, as well as an increased risk of premature delivery.

Sadly, these facts are not disclosed by Defence recruiting to young women.

But it’s not only pregnant women who cannot deploy. Neither can women who have recently given birth but returned to work. The ADF classifies pregnant women as Medical Employment Classification J33 – and this classification lasts up to 24 months.

So while around 8% of women take maternity leave each year, this is just part of the picture. The ADF also employs women who are pregnant and have yet to take maternity leave, as well as new mothers who have returned to work but have not been reclassified as fit to deploy.

So it is likely that the total number of women serving in the ADF at any one point in time who cannot deploy as a result of pregnancy or child birth is closer to 20%. This means that the 2030 ADF is unlikely to be able to deploy about 6% of its officers and soldiers due to pregnancy or childbirth at any given time. But this burden will not be evenly spread. Logistical and force support units will be hit especially hard.

Furthermore, this is on top of those who cannot deploy due to other medical issues, such as injury. As will be discussed tomorrow, this problem will also increase in a feminised ADF.

The result will be heavier workloads for those who can shoulder them. This burden will fall primarily onto a decreasing number of men. But this will not benefit their careers.

Defence policies are now also geared to ensure that women who have been unfit to work, train or deploy due to pregnancy are still competitive against men at promotion boards. They will be considered for promotion at exactly the same time as men. And, often enough, they will be promoted at the expense of men, as detailed by this recent answer from Defence to Senate Estimates:

In order to determine the relative merit of an individual against their peers, a PAC is required to review an individual’s values, performance, experience, qualifications and
potential. A Medical Employment Classification of J33 (Pregnant) is not considered during this process.

A medical classification that precludes a member from deploying on exercise or operations does not preclude them from being presented to a PAC for selection or promotion.

This does not just amaze men. It amazes women in the ADF too.

One female officer has contacted to me to express incredulity at the fact that throughout her entire career at a certain rank level she was either on sick leave, maternity leave or offering restricted service due to pregnancy and childbirth without any impact on her seniority and would be promoted alongside her male colleagues.

Further, even after women are medically classified as deployable following pregnancy they can still effectively provide restricted service. Defence has also told Senate Estimates that women who are breastfeeding do not need to deploy or go on exercise. Women who have continued breastfeeding toddlers have simply refused to leave their barracks environment. Indeed, the RAAF boasts that it is the first military force in the world to have achieved accreditation as a breastfeeding-friendly workplace.

The ADF can choose a flexible workplace for a feminised workforce. Or it can pursue a force that is flexible enough to deploy at short notice. It cannot choose both.

By 2030 it will be well and truly committed to the former to the detriment of our national security.

Tomorrow I will examine how the push for gender equality is eroding capability.


Stay tuned over coming days as the remainder of this series is published.

Part 1: The revolution is underway

Part 2: Females come first

Part 3: The de-manning process

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences about the feminisation of the ADF. Please comment below or email me at personal@bernardgaynor.com.au.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of nine children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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  1. Some great summations here. I particularly commend that of Lex Van Blyenburgh, whom I knew as a fine young Engineer officer in the late 70’s, and a great footballer!

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  2. Once upon a time, the Services had a ‘non-effective’ establishment margin which statistically accounted for non-effective periods of service across ranks and trades/ categories. This was not mean or pointed or a protest about all the various types of non-effective service periods. It simply accounted for the range of non-effective service periods, and yes, highly feminised trades/cat’s had bigger margins due to maternity leave and other special leave periods taken more often by mothers than fathers. This was workforce capability demand being realistic about the average effective strength and therefore the real availability levels of the workforce at any given time, including deployability. Guess what happened to these non-effective margins? They became easy, low hanging fruit during successive ‘efficiency reviews’ in the 90s. A long time ago now, and arguably too far gone to be part of any argument to restore the margins. Now the 2019 era flexible WF drive, chiefly under the TWM, is all good for capability, chiefly because it encourages members to stay longer, and, easily overlooked, it also improves the return rate of members that leave. But let’s not kid ourselves, being more flexible and generous with time off work and accepting of periods of non-deployability, does come at a price if you wish WF capability to be the same: more people are needed to make up for a non-effective margin that is a reality of being more flexible with time off work and deployability. I’s Just plain, simple mathematics that workforce modellers usually take into account, that workforce establishment folk used to take into account, that workforce finance folk seem to ignore now, and that capability folk scratch their heads about wondering why fewer people absorbing the deployment workload are burning out and affecting the effectiveness of deployment rotations. WF management is a mix of science and art, try and do it with all science or all art, and you will fail. You judge for yourself, if 10% of a WF profile by rank and trade/cat is on average non-effective at any time, should you expect 90% of that workforce element to do 100% of the service-wide workload, or does it make better sense to apply a loading to that WF element , and fund and establish it for 110% of the baseline capability requirement? Can’t afford that you say? That’s fine, but be honest about the fact that the capability output available at any time is 90% of the funded establishment, not 100% And let’s be brave enough to tell our fine politicians over the lake that all our flexibility and kindness to our WF is a wonderful thing in the longer term, in that it saves on WF turnover costs. But at any given tactical day in time, the available WF output is 90% of the WF establishment demand. Don’t pretend otherwise, please, or else I will wonder whether you really passed Y10 or leaving certificate level maths. ?

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    • Thanks for this.

      I agree in large part but will push back on flexible work arrangements benefiting the ADF by keeping people in longer.

      It is possible that these may lengthen service periods for women. But Defence has published no statistics demonstrating this. Nor have they published statistics about this for men – and the Women in the ADF reports contains 100 of graphs and tables so I’m not sure why this data has not been mapped.

      But I’m prepared to accept that they will primarily assist with female retention as the data shows females are twice as likely as men to take advantage of them. The problem is that ADF statistics overwhelmingly show that females serve for a far shorter period than men. So the reality is that female-focused recruitment & retention campaigns will still leave the ADF short because flexible work arrangements don’t provide enough incentive to bridge the gap previously provided by male-centric recruitment. And, by their very nature, flexible work arrangements prioritise the individual above the team. The so any benefit the ADF receives in terms of increased retention is offset by a loss of team capability…

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  3. No experience of military life here, but it looks like the fear of accusation, coupled with the rewards for unquestioning support of trendy theory is being used to wreck Australia’s ability to defend itself. Only an enemy would approve of this.

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  4. I remain bitterly disappointed in the failure of male senior officers of the ADF to stand up and speak out against this PC erosion of our military capability. Of course, no female senior officer is going to admit that she is less capable than her male counterparts, or protest about the lack of equity in merit promotions, or acknowledge the reduction in force capability attributable directly to the number of women in uniform.
    We taxpayers have a right to expect maximum bang for our defence buck. I want a dollar’s worth of capability for every dollar I contribute; it’s just not acceptable that politicians pandering to some misconceived idea of “fairness” should be permitted to push for female quotas in our armed forces, resulting in the inevitable reduction in their capability and deployability. If our senior officers don’t have the guts to call this stupidity for what it is, what hope do we have that they have the guts to send women into the midst of the shit, shot and shell-storm of battle, knowing that they are probably MORE likely to come home in a body bag than the men?

    I retired from the Army in 1996 after nearly 24 years of service. Even back then, it was apparent that the experiment with putting females in more and more historically (and practically) male employments was a dismal failure. I shudder to think how bad it is now.

    Thanks, Bernard, for having the courage and tenacity to bring this issue into the limelight. I have read your articles with interest, and I wish you success in getting our politicians to take notice and respond with some of that uncommonly encountered “common sense”, and stop the rot before the balloon goes up and we find out just how badly the uniformed female experiment has failed.

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  5. I am astounded, but not surprised, that recent past and present male ADF leaders have not objected to all of this PC madness. How many senior officers have resigned in protest at what is going on ? If not so serious, this whole situation would be laughable. Keep up the good work Bernard, Australians need to be made aware that this is what our elected representatives are doing, or allowing to happen.

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  6. Has any other nation’s armed services gone as far as Australia’s military in this regard?
    Truly, Australia is the not-so-clever-country, and is pig-headedly set a death wish.
    It will not look so pretty when young women start coming home in body bags while their male counterparts are at home, twiddling their thumbs.

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  7. How surprising you are not going viral on social media! You don’t fit the Politically Correct Ideology so therefore you get silenced.This is happening more and more across the globe.Stay committed please and God give you all you need to fight this good fight against the growth of the PC protected crowd. bit my bit the Homosexual mafia is infiltrating everywhere. As a grand-mother who has become so increasingly aware of the Left Propaganda being fed to my little grand-children I started researching things for myself. The horror of what I found in the Catholic Church alone drove me to despair. I however found myself directed to the SSPX in Lake Bathurst and since Christmas my husband and I are more than happy to drive over an hour to the Seminary for the most amazing High /Sung Tridentine Masses and have discovered that the true light of Christ still burns if only in tiny little pockets where you can get a proper confession and priests truly believe the tenants of our Fatih. Of course more and more we find ourselves isolated as we no longer stay ‘silent’ on heretical issues as even our once great Catholic institution becomes heretical by the day and does not speak out as it should. Recently while caring for my granddaughter of 21months I objected to her hot pink underwear having a fake fly sown in as more of the subliminal anti- femininity that is driving towards gender neutrality. My daughter thought I was crazy for even noticing such a thing and made the excuse that they could be seen as shorts when clearly they were not but even as hot pink little baby girl shorts – why the fly? Peter Alexander had to pull all their boy pyjama stock with ‘boys will be boys’ as the insignia after the Feminazies outcry but no one seems to notice that all these little bits of alteration to what was once ‘normal’ is changing the natural order of things towards a Godless anti Nature society. God bless and guide you and give you strength against the Evil that pervades all.

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  8. Your work is exceptional and I am sure read by those that have influence in the ADF. This is just a general comment as opposed to this particular one of your well researched articles.

    Just thought that you might be interested in the following:
    Armed but not dangerous: Women in the Israeli Military Martin van Creveld at

    Has an Abstract which reads as follows:

    Over the years, the fact that Israel has been the only country in history to conscript women for military service has given rise to many myths. This article will separate those myths from the facts. The facts are as follows. During pre-state days, women formed about 15% of the armed movements that opposed the British. When the War of Independence broke out, however, women were taken out of combat units. They were never allowed to return; instead, as in other armed forces, they filled ‘traditional’ slots. The expansion of women’s role in the military, which took place during the late 1970s, was the result of the Israel Defence Force’s (IDF) desperate quest for manpower. This expansion of women’s roles coincided with the incipient decline of the Israeli Army as a fighting force. As first the Lebanese adventure and then the need to put down the Palestinian Intifada accelerated that decline during the eighties, more women entered the IDF; the more women entered the IDF, the more its prestige declined. Thus, in the IDF as in the armed forces of all other developed countries, the entry of women into the military, far from representing a feminist triumph, is both cause and symptom of the decline

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  9. I reckon I was a damn good sailor and very competent in my job. I watched as females and females of a certain “orientation”, with less than half my experience and skill sets were promoted above me. Still I stuck at it only for the pattern to continue. Where once some females were subordinate to me and worked directly for me, after a posting or two and a gap of a few years, we were back working together, but now she was in charge and I was the surboardinate

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