The Australian Defence Force is facing “real difficulty” with recruitment and retention, according to USSC Foreign Policy and Defence Director Professor Peter Dean.

His comments come as the Australian Defence department becomes increasingly reliant on outsourced contractors.

“Under the previous Coalition governments, we basically had a cap on the number of public servants that could go into the Defence department,” Professor Dean told Sky News Australia.

“At the very same time, the Defence spending was increasing in the number of major projects that Defence were required to deliver on – so we had a lot of money to deliver on those projects but not enough workforce.

“So one of the ways of solving those issues was to go with contractors, and this was pretty much encouraged by the previous Coalition government in terms of its approach to fulfilling those needs in the public sector.”