Monday 08th April

ANZAC facts: How much do you know about Australian forces?

Every ANZAC Day we stop and say thank you to those who serve and served Australia in our military. But how much do you know about the men and women who protect our great nation?

Australia may not have an obsession with their military like the United States of America does, but Aussies are certainly proud of the ANZACs past and present. A lot of Australians may not know too much about our services. Well here are some facts about Australia’s Defence Force.

WHAT IS THE ADF?

The Australian Defence Force comprises of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and a number of 'tri-service' units.

HOW MANY SERVE IN THE ADF?

The ADF as of 2017 has around 80,000 full-time personnel and active reservists, and is supported by the Department of Defence and several other civilian agencies.

HOW MUCH DOES AUSTRALIA SPEND ON MILITARY PER YEAR?

The ADF had a budget of $34.6 billion AUD in the 2017–2018 financial year. That may sound like a lot, however, our allies the United States spend $706 billion per year which is around a trillion Australian dollars! This level of expenditure in Australia is equivalent to approximately 1.9% of Australian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 7.28% of total Australian Government expenditure.

WHEN DID THE AUSTRALIAN MILITARY START?

Australia has had military forces since Federation which was officially on 1 January 1901. The Australian Government established the Australian Army and Commonwealth Naval Force as each Australian states had their own forces. In 1911, the Government established the Royal Australian Navy, taking over from the Commonwealth Naval Force. The Army then started the Australian Flying Corps in 1912 which became the Royal Australian Air Force in 1921. The three services all saw action for the first time during World War I in various locations around the world.

HOW BIG IS THE AUSTRALIAN NAVY?

The Royal Australian Navy has around 50 commissioned warships, which has amongst them frigates, submarines, patrol boats and auxiliary ships. The RAN has other combat vehicles such as training helicopters.

HOW BIG IS THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY?

The Army is organised into three main elements which report to the Chief of Army; the Headquarters of the 1st Division, Special Operations Command and Forces Command. The Australian Army in 2017 had 44,828 service men and women, 30,161 are permanent while 13,801 are active reserves.

HOW BIG IS THE AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE?

The RAAF has nineteen flying squadrons with four combat squadrons, two maritime patrol squadrons, six transport squadrons, six training and one Airborne Early Warning & Control squadron and a Joint Terminal Attack Controller squadron.

HOW MANY WOMEN ARE THERE IN THE AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE?

As of 30 June 2017, women accounted for 16.7% of the ADF's permanent force and 17.1% of reservists. The proportion of women is highest in the Air Force 20.6%, then 20.4% of the navy but just 13% of army troops.

WHAT DIVERSITY IS THERE IN THE AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE?

The Australian Defence Force has become more diverse over the years, matching the rest of the Australian general population. According to a Census, Christianity amongst ADF members was around 66% in 2003 but dropped to 52% in 2015. In the same time, those stating they had no religious affiliation went up from 31% to 47%. Only 1% of ADF members though say they are of a religion that is not Christianity based.

Up until November 1992, openly gay and lesbian personnel were banned from the ADF. The Australian Government decided to remove this prohibition though it was opposed by many within the ADF at the time. It wasn’t until 1 January 2009 that same-sex couples were allowed the same access to military retirement pensions and superannuation as heterosexual couples. Since 2008, the ADF now has a contingent of gay and lesbian personnel who take part in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade. It wasn’t until 2013 though that these personnel were authorised to wear their uniforms at the event.