Plan BEERSHEBA

An M1A1 Abrams tank from the 1st Armoured Regiment, Darwin fires at a target while conducting battlefield manoeuvres during training on Exercise Predator's Strike.

Plan BEERSHEBA will significantly enhance Army's force structure so that it can generate optimal capability to meet the challenge of contemporary warfare.

Plan BEERSHEBA - Army's future structure

Allen Fairhead charges towards his target during the Bunbury 10th Lighthorse display at the Defence Community Organisation's Welcome to the West event at Leeuwin Barracks, Fremantle, WA

Since the days of the Light Horse, the Australian Army has operated by combining different capabilities to the best military effect. This process, known as combined arms teaming, is foundational to Army and a vital component of the changes made under Plan BEERSHEBA

Plan BEERSHEBA, which was announced by Government in November 2011 and re-affirmed in Defence White Paper 2013, is Army’s modernisation plan to maximise the effectiveness of the 36-month Force Generation Cycle and provide the widest range of sustained and effective Land Force capability for directed requirements within assigned resources.

Army’s Force Generation Cycle ensures that combat Brigades, specialist capabilities and part time forces consistently train together. Army’s conventional deployable combat forces move through three 12 month phases in a 36 month cycle. The cycle concludes with the ‘ready’ phase when force elements will be held at high readiness and be deployed if necessary. The 12 months prior to this is the readying phase when these force elements undergo an intense period of training and certification to ensure that they are ready to deploy. When force elements return from an operational deployment, or conclude a period of being held at high readiness, they will enter the ‘reset’ phase which provides time to conduct individual training, including career courses, to prepare them to begin collective training again in the ‘readying’ phase.

To optimise the Force Generation Cycle the Army will comprise three ‘like’ Multi-role Combat Brigades with one at ‘Ready’ status, one being reconstituted (‘Reset’) and one being trained (‘Readying’). To maximise capability and meet Government requirements, Army will also better integrate its full and part time military components and its civilian workforce to operate together as a ‘total force.’

As part of these structural changes, Army is developing its contribution to the Australian Defence Force’s amphibious capability based on 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. The need for this capability was highlighted by the recent rapid deployments of the ADF to East Timor (1999 and in 2006), the Solomon Islands (2003) and tsunami relief operations in Sumatra (2005).

Plan BEERSHEBA will not change the vital role of the Headquarters of the 1st Division as the Defence Force’s deployable two star Joint Headquarters and certifying authority for deploying forces. Given the credible and persistent threat of terrorism and violent extremism, the Special Operations capability will remain a critically important and unique component within Army. Both these organisations will modernise in parallel to Plan BEERSHEBA implementation ensuring that they remain interoperable with Army’s Brigades.

As Plan BEERSHEBA is implemented, Army will take significant steps to becoming a digital, networked force equipped with improved B vehicles and ready to execute a comprehensive armoured fighting vehicle upgrade. Army’s understanding of amphibious operations in an international engagement and coalition framework will be mature. Army’s work force will be more flexible, enabled by role-specific physical employment standards and commonality of force structure between full and part time elements. Interoperability between Multi-role Combat Brigades, Enabling Brigades, Special Operations Forces and Headquarters 1st Division will evolve as digitisation rolls out, modularity increases and force generation processes stabilise. This will be supported by the evolution of Army’s facilities and training areas to allow each Brigade location to become the hub of instrumented live, virtual and constructive combined arms training.

Implementing these changes will not be without its challenges. However, there is a sound conceptual basis for Plan BEERSHEBA. Commonality of force structure, the ‘total force’ concept, digitisation and the development of training areas proximate to Multirole Combat Brigade locations will increase the modularity and interoperability of the land force. In concert with these changes, the experience and high calibre of Army’s people and the flexibility of the force generation cycle will be the basis of an agile and adaptable, world class Army.