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Chief of Army opening address to Land Forces 2014

Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO, Chief of Army, opening address to Land Forces 2014.

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Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO.

Address: Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, opening address to Land Forces 2014, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Queensland, Wednesday, 24 September 2014.

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It is a pleasure to be here to help open DSTO’s inaugural Future Land Force Conference.

It is important that we put time and effort into discussing ideas about how science and engineering can combine with innovation and capability to address the challenging environment in which a future land force will fight. It is important because I believe that the countries that identify and are able to ride the wave of change – be it technological or knowledge based – have a greater chance of success, whereas those who do not are more likely to fail. This is why there has always been an intimate, if sometimes uncomfortable, relationship between science and war.

In a continuing search for military superiority, the soldier has always turned to the scientist. From the ancient war chariot, siege machines, muskets, and artillery to radar, the computer, nuclear weapons and medicine; the scientist has always placed his or her talents at the service of the state. Some may say that in our times, the demands of national security and national interests have forged a deeper relationship between science and war. This relationship is certainly not going to diminish anytime soon. If history is any guide, future war is inevitable and we are likely to employ the weapons of the age at some point.

It is a sobering thought.

However, as the Chief of Army I am charged with ensuring our Land Forces are prepared to face future challenges. I take particular interest in any technological developments and innovative thought that can help meet this demand.

In recent years Army has faced some of the changes it has needed to make to keep up with this change. Many of you will know about Plan Beersheba, where Army is in the process of reorganising into three like combat brigades with enabling combat support, combat service support and aviation brigades, and integrated Reserve components. This new force structure is also operating within a revised force generation cycle that provides rapid and scalable forces with combined arms combat proficiency at their core.

Such a force generation cycle provides both the utility of an immediately deployable force for the most likely scenarios and a strategic hedge against the uncertainty of the future. Such utility gives credible options to Government for posture (providing strategic weight), engagement (shaping the region), and response.

The introduction of the two LHDs is a significant joint capability enhancement that Army intends to support to realise its full potential. 2 RAR has implemented its new structures to support the joint amphibious capability and begun training on the current amphibious ships while the LHDs are brought into service.

Plan Beersheba enables Army to provide the greatest opportunity for our people to train both in the way they would operate, and with the people and equipment they would deploy with into the future.

The endstate of Plan Beersheba will be an Army that can generate combined arms effects in a joint coalition setting while surviving against either a peer competitor or a potent irregular enemy.

But we recognise that Beersheba is just the start. Modernisation is a continual process and in an ever changing environment, Army must look and plan to build on the success of Plan Beersheeba.

To do this we are dedicating resources and personnel towards an ‘intellectual pivot,’ founded upon operational experiences of the past 15 years. This will be an appreciation of history and analysis of future trends. In executing this intellectual pivot, we are reaching beyond traditional sources of analytical expertise.

In looking out to 2025 and beyond, we have assessed that Army modernisation needs to consider four aspects of its organisation. The first is that we require a revolution in the training and education of the Army. After all, building and sustaining advantage based on the capabilities of Army’s people – a cognitive edge – is where the Army is most likely to gain a competitive advantage. Therefore Army must capitalise on recent breakthroughs in understanding how the brain operates, learns and repairs itself, and the related field of how humans learn and adapt.

The second modernisation need is that we develop a more strategic approach to Army's collective training. The Army needs to embed the training of the landing force for amphibious capability into its force generation system. This will require better inter-service collaboration in training and assessing land forces. It will also demand enhancements to inter-service networking, training, education, and simulation.

Thirdly, we must develop a digital Army. The digital environment is changing how the world interacts and learns. As the ultimate expression of human interaction and competition, warfare will continue to be influenced profoundly by global digital connectivity. Army must view digitisation beyond the realms of networking and communications. It will impact on all aspects of capability development and the preparation for and conduct of land force operations for a joint maritime strategy.

And finally we must become a truly joint Army. Army will need to develop updated command and control, operating and logistics concepts to enable greater exploitation of the range of Army and joint enabler capabilities. Army seeks to ensure that its contribution is multiplicative not just additive. Therefore Army will continue to enhance the integration of it capabilities both within Army and across the other two Services.

The concept of continuous modernisation is the essential response to the confluence of change and advances in technology. After 15 years of continuous operations, Army is being prudent by formally undertaking a major examination of its performance, structures and processes to learn from its contemporary history.

There will be challenges: our new medium weight army must be deployable by air and sea rather than just by air. We must also strive to enhance interoperability with our coalition partners. We will need a dependable energy source and to be able to fight over a contested or even denied electromagnetic spectrum. The list goes on.

In short we need our land forces to be able to fight and win the future war. To do this we have reinvigorated our modernisation processes as well. We stratify the problems by seven themes or Army Modernisation Lines of Effort. In Army Headquarters there are now dedicated staff officers who lead the planning and execution of activities for each of these lines of effort. DSTO, in partnership with Army, has also appointed scientific leads who oversee the R&D within each line of effort. The seven Army Modernisation Line of Effort which will better align and focus S&T / R&D activities are—Human Performance, Force Protection, Land Combat, Situational Awareness, C3, Force Design and Logistics.

I believe this renewed modernisation process will reap rewards for the future land force. Australia’s defence community – the armed forces, industry and its research establishments - have a robust tradition of academic study, practical expertise and industry innovation that goes back over a century. The establishment of this conference itself is a demonstration of this spirit of innovation and partnership in defence research, manufacturing and on operations.

However, the modernisation of land forces is now a global business – nobody has a monopoly on good ideas: as such it is comforting to see international as well as Australian leaders in thought and innovation represented at this conference.

It is my hope that much like science and engineering have helped turn our Plan Beesheba into a functional reality: new armoured vehicles; our new Canberra-class LHDs; newC4ISR systems; new and enhanced soldier combat systems including, crucially, enhanced personal protection: the outcomes of this conference will help shape the land forces of the future.

The emergence of new technologies can be a deep and complicated subject, your role will certainly be critical, and in some cases decisive. But I will take the time now to offer some cautionary advice: to expect the god of technology to unilaterally save us from the drudgery of war is folly. I think many, if not most of you already agree with this. In thinking about the future we may do better to dream less about the fantastic marvels of technology. We need to consider instead the sort of tasks Land Forces may actually be called upon to perform and harness a more pragmatic application of technology to the enduring realities of war.

After the last statement, some of you may have condemned me as a Luddite; but this is simply not true. I am firmly convinced of the great benefits of new technology and I am also painfully aware of what peril I place our Army if we ignore what technology may do to us in the hands of an adversary.

It is important, however, for this conference to see the bigger picture. Although history shows us that advances in technology and innovation have produced exponential increases in military effectiveness, science and technology on their own are not enough to dominate. There are other dimensions to war. Historians have also widely noted the social, political and economic factors that have shaped how and who we fight. Cultural and intellectual changes have played a powerful role as well. As the Chief of Army, I ask that you recognise that technologically preparing our land forces to fight a future battle is vital to me, but it is one of many preparations I make.

For today, somewhere, plans are being drawn up to wage war. Today, somewhere, people will be killed in the execution of such plans. To go back to where I began, it is comforting that today, here, people are applying rigorous thought to better prepare land forces to respond to those plans and actions. For this I am deeply grateful.

Thankyou.