The Army in Motion philosophy necessitates a force that is continuously adapting to an ever-changing environment, taking guidance from its core strengths and principles, yet always remaining open to developing new ways of employing capabilities, explains Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, AO, DSC, MVO.
The Australian Army is often called upon to meet myriad challenges facing decision makers – as technology has evolved, so too have the operating concepts and doctrine available to the Army.
The Commonwealth government has announced a $270 billion investment in modernising the Australian Defence Force, with Army expected to be the beneficiary of $55 billion over the next decade with a focus on building Army’s capacity to conduct traditional, high intensity combat capabilities.
Spearheading the revolution and evolution now transforming the Australian Army, Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, AO, DSC, MVO, is responsible for ensuring that the Army is “ready now, future ready” to meet the missions of today and the future.
The ‘Army in Motion’ concept recognises the major challenge of ‘Accelerated Warfare’ which describes changes occurring in global, regional and domestic operating environments.
Shedding light on this evolution, in this issue of On Point, LTGEN Burr took the time to answer some questions about ‘Army in Motion’ and the evolution of Army as it will fit within the ‘joint force’ and 2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan.
Considering where we are as a nation right now and the very important role that the Army plays, how do you view where we are as a nation at the moment, some of the challenges we have to our north, and how are you best gearing it to make sure that it's spot on for the response we need now, preparing for the future?
LTGEN Burr: We absolutely have been thinking about this emerging future for a while now. We described it as accelerated warfare.
The acceleration of change in our strategic environment, the convergence of that change through the many domains is materialising.
In many respects the future's already here, and it really imposed on us as an Army to think about how we organise to accelerate in our own response to that and how we think of ourselves to be able to be ready now, but also can currently gear up for that future.
So, that's been the central philosophy, if you like, of what we've called the Army in Motion, an Army that needs to continuously adapt to an ever-changing environment, to not be fixed in its ways but be guided by its core strengths, the principles that underpin how we employ capabilities.
But to be open to developing new concepts, new ways of employing these capabilities, and this environment has certainly presented those opportunities.
The Force Structure Plan really does build on the integrated investment plan from the last white paper. So good continuity through there, but added some additional capabilities. And it really helps us strengthen the Army, an Army that in its design principles we knew that we needed to be more connected, more protected, more lethal, and more enabled, the capabilities that we're receiving absolutely allow us to achieve that.
It allows us to operate in all domains and across domains and to be a more effective and a more integrated member of the joint force.
So, a lot of good news in this, and we're grateful for government's investment in the land force, and we'll be a great team member of the joint force.
How are you finding industry best supporting the delivery and the modernisation and the sustainment of the Army's existing and future capabilities? It seems to be working much better than how it used to, but what more would you like to see as well?
LTGEN Burr: Since the integrated investment plan that we've been executing over the last four years, I think Army has really strengthened its partnership with industry.
It has much more clear understanding of what it means to be a demanding customer, to be clear about future-proofing our requirements, and to driving down the cost of business.
The cost of ownership is a key issue for us in Army, in terms of sustaining these capabilities over time. They are high tech, they have a lot of sustainment, as well as a number of our legacy platforms and how we keep them going while we introduce these new capabilities.
So, lots of opportunities for industry to be on that journey with us, to be a good partner.
But more broadly, in terms of Army, which is distributed all around the country – we literally are a nationally distributed force that provides unique opportunities for SMEs all around the country.
A lot of the things that we do in Army aren't just the big platforms. There are a lot of little things, which really feeds into that SME sector. We are ripe for innovation.
We have our Innovation Day each year. Because of COVID, we did that virtually. We think that's a great thing to help smaller innovators to come to the table with their new ideas and to pick some of those and further develop those initiatives.
So, a lot going on in the traditional sense, but also thinking about the future, where we're going with robotics and autonomous systems, I think is where a lot of that innovation and partnership can really play out.
Government highlighted that in the Force Structure Plan with a significant investment in the future around autonomous systems.
We've obviously started that with our robotics and autonomous systems strategy back in 2018. We set up the Implementation and Coordination Office last year, and we're doing a lot of experimentation with unmanned and autonomous systems. And I think there's a really exciting future there.
Of course, people will still be central to everything we do, but that presents a whole new world of innovation and supply chain opportunity for us.
Of course, resilience in our supply chain is something that everyone's focused on, and that's really being addressed on a number of levels, but with government's defence industry policy, the incentives to do more here in terms of sovereign capability, I think is really strengthening our ability to be more resilient.
You can listen to the full Defence Connect Insight podcast with Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, Rick Burr, AO, DSC, MVO, here.