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Department of Defence - on drones, Afghanistan, US troops in Darwin

Estimates & Committees
Scott Ludlam 17 Feb 2012

Additional Estimates - Tuesday 14 February 2012 - Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee - Department of Defence

Senator LUDLAM: I have a batch of questions that range fairly broadly across a number of topics, so you might want to direct me to officers later in the day, but I will start with opening statement stuff. I have a couple of questions about the recruitment of Afghan National Army soldiers. Can you tell me what exactly Australians have asked ISAF to do to ensure that there is not systemic infiltration of the ANA by the Taliban? 

Gen. Hurley: Just to reiterate a couple of points I made this morning in my opening address in response to this: obviously we have taken our own steps internally for the ADF, at the tactical level, but in increasing our force protection measures and how we can move up and down the scale of levels of protection should the threat so direct. What we have done there is not uncommon across ISAF. So there is some commonality in approach. We have undertaken, on our own and with ISAF, behavioural studies looking at the history of these events and, from the evidence available, what motivates people to undertake them. That information then feeds back into our understanding of how the Afghan government would approach its vetting process, how it approaches its counterintelligence process and how we approach the education, training and mentoring of the ANA leadership, who are responsible for these soldiers. 

Let me say that at the NATO ISAF chiefs of defence meeting a couple of weeks ago in Brussels, in my intervention to all of the chiefs of defence that were there-50 countries were represented-I specifically highlighted that this as an issue of major concern for Australia and that I appreciated that the work had been done but we need to make sure we go to all efforts to try to reduce the risk as much as possible. That is just to say that we take it very seriously.

In terms of what ISAF and the Afghan National Army are doing, they have reviewed and strengthened the eight-point vetting process that they use in bringing personnel into the ANA. The ANA and ISAF together have already taken steps to strengthen the ANA's counterintelligence capability, both within units and within regions where particular soldiers come from. We are also working through with the commanders of ANA units, from corps downwards, processes that they should be putting in place for understanding their people better than they might today, and also reinforcing command responsibilities. Included in that will be things like no-warning inspections going through people's equipment and so forth. It would be put through with a different message, but those sorts of issues go through. We are really helping them to develop a command philosophy that, as a very young force, they do not necessarily have at the present time. In shorthand, I suppose there are a range of physical things we have done, standing operating procedures, studies for better understanding and process improvement to ensure we have got a better understanding of what is going through the minds of the ANA soldiers. 

Senator LUDLAM: Thank you for that. I recognise that it must be formidably difficult, given that the Taliban do not hand out identity cards to their recruits. 

Gen. Hurley: That is correct. As you would be aware, many of these young men that come into the armed forces are illiterate when they start. It is not as though you can go to a high school and get their records and all the sorts of things we would be used to. That process is difficult, but a lot of attention is being paid to it. 

Senator LUDLAM: What effect has it had on morale-just sticking with the ADF at the moment-for the people there? The people they are trying to train are now turning around in some instances and killing them. I cannot imagine what that must be like for the people who are still in the middle of it. You have tried to describe what we are setting in place to prevent these kinds of things from happening but I do not understand, if this has become something of a turning point or a strategy to destroy morale and attack from the inside, how the people there are taking it. 

Gen. Hurley: I will go to the back end of your question first. I think it is very important that we do not allow the Taliban to see that this is a tactic that can be used successfully against us. That is why we need to build these measures in to deny them that opportunity as much as possible. Our reaction to it tells them a lot about us and what they can do with that type of tactic. I cannot put myself in the boots of every soldier who is over in Afghanistan at the moment, but certainly they would be wary of their environment and very watchful of what is going on around them. But they fundamentally understand that their job there is to train the Afghan National Army to be able to take over the lead responsibility. The only way you can do that is to be in amongst them. 

If we go back to the incidents that happened in the latter half of last year and the really tragic incident where we lost three people in one day and had seven wounded, that day, that evening and the next morning, to their credit, all our people in other patrol bases and so forth got on with the job. Yes, they might have been looking differently at the people around them. Yes, they may have been in an emotional state that was boiling or whatever. But to their credit they looked beyond that. In many of those areas the relationships are quite strong. They know the people and they have been working with them a while. There is a mixture of things; no simple answer. But to their credit they look beyond that and say: 'Yes, we know we've got to look after ourselves, but we've got a job to do.' 

Senator LUDLAM: Has that kind of infiltration been going on for a long while or are you assessing that this is a material change in the strategy? 

Gen. Hurley: It has been happening for a number of years, probably about three years. I do have statistics if I can find them for you. We have no indication at the moment that this is something the Taliban have increased dramatically in recent times. But if you look historically at the way the Taliban have operated-and this is a point I made in Brussels-subversion of the opposing force is one of their tactics. We need to be conscious of that from an intelligence perspective. 

Senator LUDLAM: Minister Smith asked for action from ISAF. Can you describe in a bit more detail what that was. 

Gen. Hurley: To go back to the comment before, General Allen, the Commander of ISAF, has put a lot of energy and effort into this with Minister Wardak, the Minister for Defence in Afghanistan. Improvement in the eight-point vetting process, additional staff, additional processes in counterintelligence, training and education and getting messages right into the chain of command of the Afghan National Army are all part and parcel of this process. 

Senator LUDLAM: Is Defence aware of whether a colourful racing identity, as he would probably be described in Australia, Matiullah Khan who is the Oruzgan police chief, I believe, has been allowed to integrate his militia into the local police force? 

Gen. Hurley: I do not think it is a process of integration. I think a number of his people have transferred out of the KAU organisation into the police. That would be the movement you are talking about. 

Senator LUDLAM: They are not rolling his entire militia into the local police? 

Gen. Hurley: No, I do not think the entire organisation has moved across. 

Senator LUDLAM: If you are able to provide us with any further detail of that on notice, I would appreciate it. I turn to the treatment of detainees who are captured by the SAS outside of Oruzgan province. My understanding is in July 2011 ISAF requested that Australia suspend transferring detainees to Afghan authorities. Is that correct? 

Gen. Hurley: That is correct. 

Senator LUDLAM: In October last year, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report on treatment of detainees in Afghan custody included evidence of torture, but Australia did recommence transferring detainees to Afghan authorities in December 2011. Did we conduct some kind of investigation that concluded that there was no material risk to detainees that we handed across to the Afghans? 

Gen. Hurley: When we suspended the transfer of detainees to the Tarin Kowt facility in the middle of last year, there were no accusations or allegations about the handling of detainees in that facility. It was related to a facility in Kandahar. But in support of the position that was being taken by ISAF at the time, we ceased our transfer. The UNAMA report came out. Again, the facilities we were using were not listed as having had allegations against them. When the general restrictions about use of the various facilities were cleared we commenced moving people back into those facilities. We did it in concert with the ISAF review of what was being provided by UNAMA. 

Senator LUDLAM: How confident are you of the wellbeing of the detainees that were transferred into Afghan custody? 

Gen. Hurley: We are quite confident in the wellbeing of the detainees. We do have our own detainee monitoring team that visits detainees on a regular basis. That team is made up of a whole-of-government organisation-so the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as Defence and legal representation. Our reporting is quite transparent to the ICRC and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and so forth.

We do make regular visits. Again, I have some stats here. Since August 2010, this interagency detainee monitoring team has conducted 85 monitoring visits, monitoring 159 detainees. This includes 45 visits to the NDS facility in Tarin Kowt, 11 visits to the Tarin Kowt central prison and 29 visits to the detention facility in Parwan. 

Senator LUDLAM: General, can you give us the citation for what you are reading from so that that can be followed up? 

Gen. Hurley: I have just got notes from the actual activity. Do you want that data in writing? 

Senator LUDLAM: Is the study or the report you are reading from in the public domain? 

Gen. Hurley: It is not a study; I am just summarising the activities over that period. 

Senator LUDLAM: Okay. Is that activity report in the public domain? 

Gen. Hurley: No, it would not be. We do not produce it as a report. I am just summarising. We know that they have done all these activities and I have just summarised what they have done. 

Senator LUDLAM: General, as much as you can, without risking anybody's security, are you able to table for us the activities of-what do I call them-a unit or a task force? 

Gen. Hurley: It is an interagency detainee monitoring team. Yes, we can pull together a brief of composition, terms of reference, what they do and so forth. 

Senator LUDLAM: That would be much appreciated. What happens to detainees who are captured by the SAS outside of Oruzgan? Are they transferred to US or Afghan custody? 

Gen. Hurley: No, they remain our detainees and we handle them into the appropriate system. 

Senator LUDLAM: What does that mean? Are they transported back to Oruzgan? Where do they go? 

Gen. Hurley: They come back to Tarin Kowt. 

Senator LUDLAM: How many detainees can be accommodated at that facility? 

Gen. Hurley: I think it is 35. 

Senator LUDLAM: What procedures are in place in relation to the detention of juveniles? 

Gen. Hurley: We endeavour not to detain juveniles. So once we determine that a detainee is a juvenile, we take all steps to link back into the community to find the appropriate person to hand the juvenile to and make that transfer as quickly as possible. 

Senator LUDLAM: I apologise for missing your opening statement; I was tied up in a different committee. Did you address the issue that was in the press last week about handling of detainees in Iraq? I think it was in the Fairfax press. 

Gen. Hurley: No, I did not. 

Senator LUDLAM: Would you care to address that issue for us and maybe clarify whether you have any misconceptions, because some pretty serious allegations were made in that report that Australian forces in Iraq knew very well what was going on with people that we were handing over into places like Abu Ghraib, who were then being tortured. At the time there was denial, both from the military and from the government, that Australia had anything to do with it. 

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Just before you do that, General, are you aware-fortunately there have not been too many Australians captured by the Taliban-how the Taliban deal with any prisoners they get? 

Gen. Hurley: Well, we do not hear too much from them, Senator, when they do it. I am only aware of one US soldier who is still in their hands, and really I cannot comment any more than that. 

Senator LUDLAM: General, the reason I ask is that one of the things that we hope separate us from the Taliban is respect for the rule of law. So I think it is worth going through when allegations surface, as they did earlier in the week, about our handling of prisoners in Iraq. Do you have a brief or any information that you care to put on the record? 

Gen. Hurley: Senator, I would rather hear what the questions are. I could read out the whole thing, but there is no doubt that we take our international domestic legal obligations very seriously. That has been our approach to detainee management for a long, long time. 

Senator LUDLAM: One of the matters that was raised in the article that Neil James from the Australian Defence Association was fairly critical of was the idea that, in fact, Australians took no prisoners at all in Iraq. We established what looked to me like a legal fiction, that in fact anybody captured by an Australian unit was legally in the custody of the United States military. Does your brief address how on earth that actually worked in practice?

Gen. Hurley: Senator, we can talk through it, but I think you would be as aware as I am that this issue was covered in quite an amount of depth in 2004 and 2005. I think there were three days of Senate hearings on the issue and an inquiry by the Senate references committee into the duties of Australian personnel in Iraq. I think if you read the responses there-and they are quite, I think, forthright-around the arrangements that were put in place, you will see that the processes were legal and appropriate for the operating environment we found ourselves in at the time. 

Senator LUDLAM: Can you go to the specifics of how it actually worked in practice? Do you still maintain that Australians took no prisoners in Iraq-that anybody captured by an Australian unit was legally in the custody of the US? 

Gen. Hurley: The US was attaining power for that operation. 

Senator LUDLAM: How did that work? Did the US have somebody attached to every Australian unit that found itself in there? 

Gen. Hurley: There were US personnel attached to the Australian Special Forces units that were in operations there. 

Senator LUDLAM: In what size? My understanding is that these guys move around in fairly small numbers, say, five or six of them at a time in vehicles, for example-some of the first people over the line. Did all of those units have a US soldier with them? 

Gen. Hurley: There was a US person attached to each of the SAS troops, which is four patrols of five-so about 20 people. 

Senator LUDLAM: So on average one US military personnel for every 20-odd Australians? 

Gen. Hurley: I think that is the rough proportion, but I will check that for you, though. 

Senator LUDLAM: I would appreciate that. And their responsibilities were to take charge of anybody who was captured? 

Gen. Hurley: They had a range of responsibilities, of which that was one. 

Senator LUDLAM: I am presuming you are familiar with the press reporting that I am referring to. Is there anything in there that has caused you go back and check our records? Do you have any concerns at all-for example, about some of the concerns that Neil James raised, that in fact this could have exposed Australians to legal liability? 

Gen. Hurley: Again, the process that we went through in 2004 and 2005 I think trawled through the operating environment, the approaches that were taken, the legal advice given and the appropriateness of the arrangement. And we do not see anything particularly new in what has been added to that to say that those responses were not as adequate today as they were then. 

Senator LUDLAM: Thanks. I appreciate that. I might revisit that issue a bit later in the day, if that is okay. Where and in what circumstances are Australian military forces using drone technology or unmanned aerial vehicles? 

Gen. Hurley: We use them in Afghanistan today, operating out of Tarin Kowt and Kandahar airfield. 

Senator LUDLAM: Are they are armed? 

Gen. Hurley: No. 

Senator LUDLAM: Can you describe for us what technology specifically we use? 

Gen. Hurley: I would not be specific, Senator, other than to say that they give us full-motion video and the ability to watch what is going on under certain light and environmental conditions. Beyond that, we start to get to some sensitive areas. 

Senator LUDLAM: Are they flown out of Tarin Kowt or from the other side of the- 

Gen. Hurley: There is a smaller tactical one that is flown out of Tarin Kowt-a ScanEagle now but it is to be replaced by Shadow-and the larger Heron ones are flown from Kandahar. 

Senator LUDLAM: Do we uses drones owned by other countries or do the ADF own all the drones that we fly? 

Gen. Hurley: We could employ drones that are owned by other countries-so they are all part of the ISAF support construct. In terms of accessing surveillance reconnaissance assets, UAVs and so forth, everyone would be aware on a daily basis what assets are available, where and which ones are being tasked specifically to do specific jobs. You bid for that time for the non-Australian assets. If you are in the field, you have that built around to support your operation. If in extremis, in contact, you needed additional support, we have people in the group who can call for that support and then higher up in the decision-making echelons they will determine whether or not they can release an asset to come to support you. 

Senator LUDLAM: Would that be flown by, for example, a US- 

Gen. Hurley: It could be flown by the US. 

Senator LUDLAM: Can we book time on a 'weaponised' drone, or are we strictly only using those drones for surveillance? 

Gen. Hurley: You could to support an operation. 

Senator LUDLAM: Do Australian drone pilots receive the same kind of training as conventional fighter pilots or is it completely different? 

Air Marshal Binskin: They are not drones. A drone is something that is mindless and goes off and does its thing. They are manned remotely piloted vehicles. The aircrew that we employ in this could be fighter pilots or any other pilots as well. They are not necessarily just from the fighter community. Likewise, the sensor operators could be from a broad air force community as well. 

Senator LUDLAM: Maybe this is going to white paper stuff or broader concerns. Is there any thinking within the defence community to purchase and start using weaponised drones and UAVs? 

Gen. Hurley: I worked through the force structure review and looked to the Defence white paper. I will not be surprised if their capabilities are considered in that process. 

Senator LUDLAM: It would be odd if they were not. 

Gen. Hurley: Very odd, so I will not be surprised. But we will work through what that priority would be in terms of new capability. 

Senator LUDLAM: Can you just give us a quick update, if you did not already put it in your opening statement, on where we are up to with the joint strike fighter? Do we know how much they are going to cost? 

Gen. Hurley: Yes, we could. I think we have the subject matter experts here. It is more in the DMO space. Do you want to wait till this afternoon? 

Senator LUDLAM: I am happy to because I think other senators have questions for DMO as well. I have one very quick question for Navy. We recently participated in Exercise Milan hosted by India. Burma also attended this exercise. This is a question that I have raised once before. Australia maintains a unilateral arms embargo and we also support a universal arms embargo over the military regime in Burma, which is doing its very best to flag its democratic credentials at the moment. But I do not understand how we can maintain an arms embargo against that country while attending military exercises in which they are in attendance. Can you explain the thinking behind that? 

Mr Jennings: We have, as you say, unilateral support for a global arms embargo against Burma which has been in place since the early 1990s. The only occasions where we would have military contact with the Burmese would be on rare examples when we find ourselves participating in a multilateral exercise where the Burmese also would be participating. The one that you have referred to was a maritime exercise hosted by the Indians. I can say that, during the course of that exercise, our force element which took part had no contact with the Burmese maritime units which were involved and so, although it is correct to say that we were participants in a multilateral exercise, there was no engagement between us and the Burmese. 

Senator LUDLAM: Are there any countries that we would not conduct those sort of things with no matter what the degree of contact? What if the Iranian Navy have been invited? Maybe North Korea is a more interesting example. Would we still participate or would you have a problem with that? 

Mr Jennings: With regard to those two countries, I cannot think of any multilateral events which would bring us together with North Koreans and Iranians. 

Senator LUDLAM: But you know the point that I am trying to make. 

Mr Jennings: The point I am making is I cannot think of any occasions where that contact would take place. 

Senator LUDLAM: What if they turn up at one of these exercises such as the one that the Burmese Navy took part in? 

Mr Jennings: That is a highly hypothetical question. 

Senator LUDLAM: I thought you might say that. So the way that we get around it is that we do not have any direct contact with the Burmese Navy and that makes it okay?

Mr Jennings: There is a significant benefit to be gained from our participation in these exercises and we participate as a country which is invited by the host, in this case India. It is of benefit not only to us but also to regional security that navies, in this particular case, would operate together. So there is benefit to Australia. We worked to minimise the contact to the point of creating zero contact between ourselves and the Burmese. 

Senator LUDLAM: How is that done? 

Mr Jennings: By ensuring that, in the context of the exercise, the forces simply do not interact. 

Senator LUDLAM: Did Defence raise any objections with the Indian government, for example, about Burma's participation in those exercises? 

Mr Jennings: I would need to take that on notice. 

Senator LUDLAM: I would appreciate that if you could. My last set of questions relates to President Obama's announcement late last year about the establishment of a US Marine base-I am happy to be corrected on the language-to be established outside Darwin. Senator Feeney, if you have anything- 

Senator Feeney: As you know, we have this issue where there are joint facilities. There are not dedicated US military facilities in Australia. 

Senator LUDLAM: I understand. 

Senator Feeney: That is why we like to avoid the language of referring to them as US bases. 

Senator LUDLAM: I understand. This US base will be flying an Australian flag, and I understand why that is being done this way. I recognise that that is a political decision as well, so I am not going to seek- 

Mr D Lewis: Senator, sorry. If I could just correct you again, you say 'this base'. We have made it quite clear that it is not a US base. I am sorry. 

Senator LUDLAM: So where exactly will these 2,500-odd US Marines be stationed? What do I have to refer to it as to not be corrected? 

Mr D Lewis: They will be stationed at various places but on Australian military facilities. 

Senator LUDLAM: So I could call it a 'facility' but not a 'base'. 

Mr D Lewis: Senator, you described it as a 'US base'. I am sorry. I am just correcting that. It is not a US base. It might be an Australian base-an Australian military facility-but it is not a US base. 

Senator LUDLAM: This is going to look kind of funny in print. There will be 2,500 US service personnel stationed there, but I am not allowed to call it a base. 

Mr Jennings: The phrase that we use to describe what is projected to happen is that the Americans will operate a rotational presence into various military facilities in the north of Australia. They will not be a permanent military presence. They will operate there during, essentially, the northern dry season. When it is the wet season they will be exercising and operating throughout the South-East Asian region. During the times that those forces are here in Australia, they will be operating out of Australian defence facilities. 

Senator LUDLAM: Okay. The Darwin facility was obviously the one that got the most attention subsequent to President Obama's speech, but can you either provide here or table for us a list of the total number of facilities that will be impacted-for example, the air weapons range at Oobagooma in Western Australia and the Curtin air base? Have all those facilities been caught up in whatever deal has been done? 

Mr Jennings: It is quite possible that any exercise range in the north would become potentially an area that could be used by the US presence. 

Senator LUDLAM: It sounds like a blank cheque. Everything that we have is on the table. 

Mr Jennings: At this point it is a question of us, with the Americans, designing what the shape of that footprint might be. It is not yet the case that we have established the precise scheme of manoeuvre for those forces in the coming five or six years, but I think it is highly likely that they will be able to avail themselves of the range of training areas that we have in the north of the country. 

Gen. Hurley: I think they would also be mindful that they have to support themselves while they are over here, so I think they will concentrate on the major training areas like Bradshaw and Delamere. To disperse themselves much further than that becomes logistically very difficult and very expensive. Mindful of their budget, I think they will be trying to minimise the cost of doing business as far as possible. 

Senator LUDLAM: That is understandable. Just to be parochial for a second, we have concentrated mostly on the north, but what about Fleet Base West in Garden Island and the Marine Complex in the south of Western Australia? Has that been offered up to the US Navy as a maintenance port or a sea-swap port?

Mr Jennings: That is not yet part of the plans that have been agreed as a result of the President's and the Prime Minister's announcement of last year. 

Senator LUDLAM: Not yet. 

Mr Jennings: But both countries have indicated an interest in looking at the possibility of using HMAS Stirling, in particular, as an area which American fleet units might seek to visit. 

Senator LUDLAM: Submarines? 

Mr Jennings: That is something which would be the subject of later deliberation between the two countries, I guess. 

Senator LUDLAM: So what do we actually have on the public record at the moment apart from what I read in the NT News and going back and reading President Obama's speech? Nobody knows a damn thing about what has been offered up, what deals have been done, what is on the table and what is not. Can you provide us with anything at all, as a voter of this country, as to what has been offered to the US government and what has been agreed up to date? 

Mr Jennings: I would say that I think there has actually been an extensive amount of information announced by both countries as to what is anticipated by the US Global Force Posture Review and our cooperation with them. You do not have to rely on the Northern Territory News. There is actually a range of material available, announced by the President and the Prime Minister during the President's visit, on the record in terms of the communiques that were issued at the last two AusMIN meetings which indicate in very precise terms what is anticipated within phase 1 of this cooperative activity through Marine Corps operations and increased US Air Force access to northern facilities. It seems to me that that information is there in some detail. Having said that, we are still at a point where the design of the precise shape of the US rotational presence has yet to be determined. That is not unusual as we look forward over a five- to six-year time frame and that is something that is being worked on even as we speak. 

Senator LUDLAM: That is what you call phase 1. What does phase 2 look like? 

Mr Jennings: We will know it when we get there. 

Senator LUDLAM: Or we will be told when they are ready to tell us. 

Mr Jennings: What we will do is systematically work our way through phase 1 and then we will probably look at phase 2 sometime after that. 

Senator LUDLAM: I guess-when we are told that that is necessary. Have you folk considered some of the perennial issues that occur around the periphery of US bases at the world? It is the subtext of the force posture review that they need to withdraw forces from Okinawa because the US military are as deeply unpopular there as they are in other places. There is sexual and other kinds of violence as a result of drunkenness and drug taking. There is the black economy and there is the sense of immunity-and the actual immunity-that such personnel have from domestic laws. Have you done any social impact assessment of the effects of stationing large numbers of troops in Darwin? 

Mr Jennings: The way you ask the question is, candidly, rather loaded in terms of some of the assumptions you have made there. 

Senator IAN MACDONALD: And inaccurate. 

Senator LUDLAM: Have you studied this stuff at all? I will let you answer the question. 

Mr Jennings: I would not share some of these things. There are a couple of points I would make. The first is there is no relationship between the negotiations that have been held between the United States and the position of their marine forces in Okinawa; they are unrelated. It is not a marine presence which is going to come from Okinawa in terms of the operations up in the north. Your comments about sexual matters, frankly, I would only want to address if you were to put precise questions to me rather than make general assertions. 

Senator LUDLAM: All right. I would be very happy to do that. 

Senator FEENEY: We are obviously not here to debate the force posture in Okinawa. 

Senator LUDLAM: I understand that. Let us keep it really simple then. I am very happy to provide you with decades of evidence of the things that occur around not just US bases but many bases. Have you done, or do you intend to do, a social impact assessment? 

Mr Jennings: Yes. Although it may not have been covered in the Northern Territory News, we will in fact be doing a social impact assessment. That was part of the announcement that was made at the time of the President's visit. I should also say that the legal basis on which American forces are dealt with in Australia is clear and has been clear for many years-indeed, since the conclusion of the State of Forces Agreement in 1963, which provides a very clear legal basis for the treatment of American soldiers. 

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Is this similar to what happens at Shoalwater Bay when the Americans come in for exercises? That has been happening for 20 years now. 

Gen. Hurley: It is a similar model. I expect the US will come in and flow through Robertson Barracks, which will be a staging area for them to go out into the field. If they think they are coming here for a six-month holiday in Northern Australia, being out at Bradshaw training area for four of those months will not be part of it. 

Mr Jennings: It is not one of the leafy suburbs! 

Senator LUDLAM: It does not sound like one. 

Gen. Hurley: Secondly, having commanded the brigade in Darwin and having had many Marine Corps visits to Darwin while I was there, I would say they are very concerned and serious about how they set the visits up, how they maintain discipline during the visits and how they leave their footprint in the Darwin community when they go. If they had been hallmarked by what you are saying, the Northern Territory government would have its hand up at the moment about this entire proposal. But it does not. It has experienced these people coming there. I think it is a slight on the US Marine Corps to say what you are saying. 

Senator LUDLAM: It does not sound like there is a great deal of awareness of the experience of host populations in other parts of the world. 

Gen. Hurley: You are talking about permanent US bases that have been in places for decades; we are talking about troops coming to Australia to exercise for limited periods. 

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Do you have statistics on increases in sexual attacks and venereal disease in Rockhampton? 

Gen. Hurley: No, I do not. 

Proceedings suspended from 12:30 to 13:31

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