In the month before Land Forces kicked off, Army quietly introduced the concept of Accelerated Warfare as their next future statement, complementing the ‘Army in motion’ idea from new Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr.
“As a central idea, Accelerated Warfare describes both the operating environment and a description of ‘how we respond’,” according to the statement [which is available on the Army website]. “Accelerated Warfare provides the start-state for how we think, equip, train, educate, organise and prepare for war. This is a critical step in becoming future ready.”
Army is looking to develop its thinking around geopolitics, threat, technology and domains and how they in turn respond to the challenges in each of these spaces.
“Put together, the geopolitical context, changing threat, disruptive technologies and domain integration means that we must prepare for an accelerating environment. Future warfare, in certain parts, will be fought at the speed of machines, with success belonging to the side who can adapt the fastest.
“As we discuss ‘how we respond’, we will also think about our organisational elements. Our people must be leaders and integrators who contribute to multi-disciplinary teams, enabling us to thrive in uncertainty, adapt to change and generate solutions. We must leverage emerging technology as a potential source of advantage, integrating new technologies within the joint force. Partnerships through teaming with our international military partners, industry and academia will be of paramount importance to unlock potential and strengthen relationships for mutual benefit,” the statement outlined.
These are all excellent strategic frameworks to work within but the immortal words of former secretary of the Defence department Arthur Tange spring to mind – “strategy without money is no strategy at all.” Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne has been persistent in his $200 billion across the decade talking point for the better part of two years now. The Integrated Investment Plan is still as rubbery as the day it came out, and my 2.5 year-long campaign for the IIP website continues.
The ability to deliver the wish list of capabilities outlined in that document rest upon the nine Fundamental Inputs to Capability (FICs), of which industry is one. I would argue that despite being formally recognised as a FIC, there is still much work to be done to build the relationship between Defence and Industry when it comes to planning and communicating what is happening in the Defence capability space.
A letter from Army Aviation to industry released last month underscored this.
“Neither Army nor CASG will accept ad hoc industry meetings outside these key published Battlefield Aviation Program events. Defence may request meetings to obtain information to meet a specific need,” the letter stated.
I commented on this letter at the time of its release, questioning the rationale behind such thinking. It doesn’t sound like a partnership model that supports an accelerated way of doing anything does it? But both letter authors assure me this was the complete opposite of their intent. They wanted to minimise pointless meetings and focus on deeper engagement.
Defence is not the best at communicating what it is doing or thinking. The instinct to hide behind a process is still strong within the organisation. For example, the fact that Air 6500, the partner program to Land 19 Phase 7B, will be delayed by 18 months at least is common knowledge for many but there has been no formal acknowledgement of the delay. The relatively new Major Service Provider (MSP) Arrangement has managed not only to irritate the winners, but SMEs and people within defence as well who are unsure if they should use the MSP arrangement or Defence Support Services (DSS) panel. MSP is not getting the throughput of work intended and has created more headaches than it solved in trying to consolidate the contractor workforce and create a better value for money proposition for Defence.
Accelerated warfare is a concept that will need to be underpinned by acceleration by not just Army but by the whole Defence community. I’m not sure we’re set up to do that.
This article first appeared in the September 2018 edition of ADM.