Since Federation on January 1st, 1901, Australia’s first real platform on the global stage came on the Gallipoli peninsula of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. While the Dardanelles Campaign resulted in failure, and the deaths of almost 10,000 out of the 50,000 Australians deployed, it is an important event in the national consciousness of ANZAC nations, celebrated on the 25th of April every year.
The ANZAC spirit was reignited little over two decades later with the outbreak of World War 2 where many of the recruits were the sons of former soldiers from WW1 and had to live up to the legend that had been created a generation earlier.
The incredible reputation developed by the Australian Military, with both the ANZAC’s of WW1 and the Second Australian Imperial Force of WW2 with units such as the 9th Division which received much praise including being called the “elite formation of the British Empire” from German General Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox and a wish that specifically the 9th was with the Allies during the landing at Normandy (D-Day) from Chief of Staff of the Allied Land-force Headquarters, Major General Freddie de Guingand.
This reputation was upheld all throughout WW2 with battles like the Siege of Tobruk where allied force, made up of a number of Australian Divisions, many British Indian troops and several thousand British held the Libyan Port for 241 days under the command of Australian Major-General Leslie Morshead against an overwhelming force led by decorated Tank Commander Erwin Rommel.
Reputation with the bayonet and the fearlessness of Australian troops in the face of German armour contributed to the great international opinion of both current-day and historical Australian Armed Forces.
While there are the obvious positives of the ANZAC legend and the impact the Australian military left on our history, this allows the modern Australian nation to become lazy in regards to our armed forces. Australia’s proud military tradition and reputation creates the idea that if the world goes to war, as it has done countless times throughout human history, all we need to do is rely on our comparatively tiny military (23rd, Global Firepower – Behind Indonesia at 14, our closest and biggest practical threat) and the ANZAC spirit to protect the Australian people – or just handing the population a rifle and relying on the nationalism and widespread natural soldier belief within Australian culture.
This has hampered effective defence spending and the Australian government has continually cut military expenditure – particularly the infantry portion of the Army continually from the 70’s.
Increased activities by the ADF since the 1999 East Timor Crisis have now lead to the Army literally not having enough infantry due to recruiting shortfalls now require reservists to be increasingly called into service. If during peacetime, you require your reservists, there is clearly an issue with military organisation and funding.
While world tension increases with hostilities between Russia and the United States after the US election and especially with China’s increased presence in the South China Sea, building artificial islands for military bases and airstrips, we must ask why the military budget is regularly slashed to the point of irrelevance.
Article by Daniel – Editor at Zero Filter