Like both the Navy and Air Force, the Australian Army is undergoing the largest peace time modernisation and recapitalisation program with a focus on enhancing the long-term lethality, interoperability, survivability and capability of the force to meet the tactical and strategic objectives identified by government – major programs, including LAND 400 Phase 2 and 3, LAND 1182, LAND 4503 and LAND 19 Phase 7B, all serve as central components for developing a future fighting force.
Accelerated Warfare and Army in Motion serve as the guiding doctrines for Army's major recapitalisation and modernisation program and the way the Army's teams contribute to the development of the 'joint force' and ADF capable of dominating the multi-domain battlespace when required to secure Australia's national interests.
Accelerated Warfare seeks to identify the key future touch points for Army, while identifying the role it will play in future conflicts as part of the ADF's joint force. Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, has long identified four areas of disruption for the Army to respond to in the coming decades, namely:
- Geopolitics: The Indo-Pacific regional order is defined by a rapidly changing threat environment and operating spectrum of co-operation, competition and conflict. The days of unchallenged coalition operations are quickly fading as state and asymmetric actors all develop capabilities that threaten the natural advantages Australia and its allies have leveraged for supremacy over the past 50 years.
- Threat: Indo-Pacific Asia's operating landscape is changing. Adversaries, including violent extremist organisations and state-based threats can now control and influence all operating domains. Future strike capabilities will not just be physical but also digital, executed often at the speed of a mouse-click. Sophisticated anti-access, area denial (A2/AD) capabilities offer the ability to deny manoeuvre while distributed systems that are ‘smarter’ and smaller are becoming increasingly essential to survivability. Networking will be critical in terms of generating a system capable of ‘co-operative engagement’.
- Technology: As in civilian life, technology is changing the way war is fought. The rapid development turn around of technologies like UAS, the proliferation of non-traditional intelligence gathering devices, the convergence of big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and precision strike capabilities all present significant challenges, not only to operations, but to the decision-making process of soldiers and commanders.
- Domains: The reach of sensor and precision fire means Army must be across all domains and comprehensively integrate across them. Space and cyber have not been fully contested in previous wars and there is limited knowledge on how conflict in these domains will play out in the future. Army's ability to operate in the traditional air, sea and land domains are at risk of being debilitated from space and cyber, yet there is also great opportunity in these domains for military advantage.
In responding to these unique challenges, Army has established Accelerated Warfare as not only the successor to Plan Bersheeba, but the next stage in the evolution of the Australian Army into a fully-fledged, combined arms fighting force for the 21st century battlespace and every domain that may encompass.
Expanding on this, LTGEN Burr has launched a key thought leadership document that outlines the role Army will play in the future national security of the nation, titled Army in Motion: Army's Contribution to Defence Strategy.
"Army in Motion is our central idea to meet the demands of Accelerated Warfare. Army is designing for change and continuing our proud history of delivering mission success in demanding and dangerous environments. Army is focused on being ready now and future ready to support Defence and the nation," LTGEN Burr's executive summary identifies.
Defence Strategy – Army never operates alone
It is important to clearly articulate, LTGEN Burr is firm in stating that the Army never operates in isolation from the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force, and the Army will become an increasingly critical component of the broader 'joint force' and 'multi-domain' doctrines reshaping and enhancing the capabilities of the entire ADF.
"Army never operates alone. Army contributes to Defence, and the joint and integrated force. Army therefore does not have its own strategy but contributes
to the achievement of Defence strategy inclusive of the Defence White Paper, Integrated Investment Plan, Defence Industry Policy Statement, Defence Planning Guidance, Australia’s Military Strategy and Defence International Engagement Strategy."
LTGEN Burr's framework identifies the role Army plays and will continue to play within the national security equation for Australian policy makers, stating: "Army plays a vital role in the defence of our nation and its national interests. This includes contributing to a safe, secure and prosperous Australia, a stable Indo-Pacific region, and Australia’s efforts to protect international law, liberal institutions, universal values and human rights."
A key component of the Army's capacity to act in such a manner is the role the force plays in the 'joint force' ADF and the increasing importance the concept plays in the ADF's concept of operations (CONOPS) in the Indo-Pacific.
"Defence executes its missions as a joint and integrated force. This approach extends beyond operations; Army structures, generates and postures with a joint and integrated mindset. Army’s success depends on strong partnerships within Defence and with whole-of-government, industry, academia, the Australian community, and our allied and military partners," the document states.
"Army generates teams for the joint and integrated force. These must make the effects and capabilities of Navy, Air Force, Joint Capabilities Group and Headquarters Joint Operations Command stronger. This is because challenges and opportunities are crossing boundaries and evading single service responsibility."
As Australia's role in Indo-Pacific Asia and the strategic balance of power continues to evolve, the Australian Army will be called upon to fulfil a range of roles beyond those it has conducted over the past 50 years. Power projection and the application of 'hard power' in both a high and low intensity capacity will dramatically reshape the Australian Army despite an unprecedented level of investment.
In the second part of this series, Defence Connect will take a closer look at LTGEN Burr's focus on Accelerated Warfare and Army in Motion and the role each of those concepts will play in shaping the Army's force structure, modernisation, platform recapitalisation and broader integration into the 'joint force', 'multi-domain' orientated combat force.