- Halley, George, Comdr., RAN
- None noted
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 1989 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
He approached the problem with a brief appraisal. In his book “Defeat into Victory” he recalled the following:-
“I remember sitting in my office and tabulating these foundations of morale, something like this:
- There must be a great and noble object.
- Its achievement must be vital.
- The method of achievement must be active, aggressive.
- The man must feel that what he is and what he does matters directly towards the attainment of the object.
- He must be convinced that the object can be attained; that it is not out of reach.
- He must see, too, that the organisation to which he belongs and which is striving to attain the object is an efficient one.
- He must have confidence in his leaders and know that whatever dangers and hardships he is called upon to suffer, his life will not be lightly flung away.
- The man must feel that he will get a fair deal from his commanders and from the army generally.
- He must, as far as humanly possible, be given the best weapons and equipment for his task.
- His living and working conditions must be made as good as they can be.
It was one thing thus neatly to marshal my principles but quite another to develop them, apply them, and get them recognised by the whole army.
History tells us what happened. We know that this pertinent appraisal paved the way for the greatest defeat suffered by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II.
Can this lesson be applied to HMA Forces in 1989?
The author of this paper lacks the capability to comment on morale in the Army and the RAAF. His Naval career covered a wide spectrum, with a bias towards training of both officers and men. During the last 10 years, from 1967 to 1977, there was a considerable move towards closer cooperation between the services and subsequently a marked reduction in inter service rivalries. One often felt that some politicians and public servants used this so called rivalry to their advantage, in delaying the procurement of expensive new material.
It is considered that the morale situation in each of the fighting services has certain common facets. Because running a ship is a full time job, in itself, it could be argued that the navy has less time to worry about morale than the other two services. On the other hand, because of the close proximity of life in a ship, naval morale possibly is more prone to fluctuations.
The situation in the Royal Australian Navy in 1989
If we look at the problem of morale in today’s RAN what do we see? If we base our appreciation on the Field-Marshal’s three foundations of morale e.g. spiritual, intellectual and material, we might benefit also from his priorities:
“Spiritual first, because only spiritual foundations can suffer real strain. Next intellectual, because men are swayed by reason as well as feeling. Material last — important, but last — because the very highest kinds of morale are often met when material conditions are lowest.”
Where is today’s great and noble object? Hitherto the RAN was a highly professional and easily integrated part of a worldwide Royal Navy. This professionalism made it easy for the RAN to work closely with other navies, including in particular the US Navy. The achievement of this objective was considered vital. These objectives were achieved and furthermore, maintained for many years. After the great and noble objective of winning World War II the RAN was involved in the occupation of Japan, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, SEATO, Confrontation with Indonesia and Vietnam.
The achievement of these objectives was both active and aggressive. The men of the RAN, supported by the WRANS, felt that they were directly involved in attaining these objectives. The RAN developed a reputation, at sea, which compared more than favourably with the best of the RN and the USN.
Today it is postulated that this vital spiritual aspect of morale has been allowed to lapse, to appease political expediency and to satisfy the whims of the public servants. Our political servants either lack a sense of destiny or have read little history, probably both. In war there is always a great and noble objective. In the troubled times from the Korean War until the end of the Vietnam War the object was readily manifested.