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Defence Reserves Association Annual Conference

Speech by the Head Modernisation and Strategic Planning - Army, Major General J.J Sengelman, DSC, AM, CSC at the Defence Reserves Association Annual Conference,
28 July 2012.

Download the speech.

Major General Barry, General Officers, members of the Defence Reserves Association and distinguished guests.

Thank you for inviting me here today to provide an update on Plan Beersheba and our progress in modernising the Army. It is an opportunity I welcome and also one I actively sought. I pass on the apologies of the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison who is unfortunately unable to be here. As you know, he remains a strong advocate of the Defence Reserves; especially in terms of their contribution to capability outputs as part of the Total Force.

For almost a year now, the Army and the Reserve community have approached the renewed and complex task of developing a modernisation plan which would optimise the Reserves’ contribution to capability within a Total Force construct with determination and collaboration. This sense of collaboration was embodied in the Reserve Modernisation Workshops, many in which I directly participated, and where I witnessed the open consultation process which has shaped and influenced PLAN BEERSHEBA. This is no revelation to me as I have served on more than several occasions with the Reserve, both in peace and on operations. In this sense, phrases like Total Force construct or One Army are not jingoistic expressions for me. They have meaning and their substance and my confidence of what can be achieved is borne of direct experience.

There are exciting and challenging times ahead for Army – and I must make it abundantly clear that when I use the term ‘Army’, I include the Army Reserve as a fundamental component of the land force. You see, as Head of Modernisation and Strategic Planning for Army, if it were otherwise, then quite simply, we could not achieve the tasks set and the expectations levied of us by our Nation. The Reserve is not an alternative or a round out. You. Me. We. One Team. One Army. Nowhere is this more important to me than on the battlefield where our Army, which trains how it expects to fight and operate, has learnt to be ‘colour blind’. That is, the colour of your uniform, the service of origin, your Corps, your unit, reserve or fulltime, gender or race. They matter little on the battlefield and different criteria come to the fore. I have seen it many times and I welcome it. It is the Army of Combat Teams, Battle Groups and Joint Task Forces. Where physical employment standards, performance and competency determine merit and flexible arrangements offer many paths to success.

Now in my appointment, it won’t surprise you that I focus on much more than the Reserve. I am currently engaged on the White Paper Team. I also oversee the Army aspects of the Defence Capability Plan where our new equipment comes from and I am directly leading for CA, the implementation of PLAN BEERSHEBA. I am looking forward at our concepts for how we will fight and the emerging threats which may challenge us. I am also focussed on our doctrine, our simulation and as we speak I am busy ensuring some key initiatives are successful. These include digitization of the Army, Amphibious capabilities and several other major projects. What is exciting about this? It’s all happening now. What is challenging about this? It’s all happening now. But it’s a challenge I am quite confident in meeting.

Considerable investment has been made into modernisation of the Army Reserve over the past two years, and - thanks in no small part to the contribution of some of you, we now have a defined role, tasks and designated capability outputs that Army requires from its Reserve - and this is where the challenge begins. Army has defined what contribution it requires from the Reserve and has articulated the requirement within Plan BEERSHEBA - which is Army’s over-arching plan for modernisation. What I would like to first do is provide you with some context around BEERSHEBA and Army modernisation before I describe in detail those challenges specific to the Reserve that I am most focussed on ensuring is a success.

In recent years, we have implemented the outcomes of the Hardened and Networked Army and the Enhanced Land Force. We are also now well advanced in implementing the Adaptive Army initiative that was implemented by the previous Chief of Army and continues.

Plan BEERSHEBA is the next stage of the Adaptive Army and this year Army will commence implementing BEERSHEBA with the modernisation of the Reserve as the initial main effort. This is well advanced but will continue to be modified as we learn lessons. In this sense, several key issues remain subject to detailed capability and equipment analysis, experimentation, and planning before decisions on final force structures are made.

The development of Plan BEERSHEBA is based on the lessons we have learned from current operations and has involved extensive discussion and debate within Army about the best structure to take forward. The phased approach to implementing BEERSHEBA means that I have asked my staff to continue to discuss the details of how capability should evolve in Army, within the principles announced by Government and based on emerging capabilities being introduced into the ADF. Therefore some elements of the future force structure are not ‘set in stone’. Over the next 12 months war-games, trials and exercises will validate some of these. Over the next three years, the first rotation of our 36 month force generation Cycle involving aligned Reserve Battle Groups will also inform our choices. No one should be surprised at this. An Adaptive Army is a learning Army and as we posture for the challenges ahead, PLAN BEERSHEBA sets a new approach for a more capable and sustainable Land Force.

The experience of being continually deployed on operations for the last 12 or so years has taught us many things. But many aspects that will be crucial for the challenges ahead, where not necessarily prominent in Iraq, Afghanistan or even Timor. So our choices for the future are founded on the foundations of our established knowledge built over many decades and our best insights of what the future may require. The overall Army response to this is embodied in part by our current move to establish ‘like’ brigades, to apply a Force Generation Cycle and to establish a robust mechanism for the Reserve. These are just the first steps in a journey and will continue to modernise our Army and deliver a Land Force which is potent, agile and affordable.

Although the Army Reserve had continually risen to the challenges of providing force elements for operations over the past few years, Army knows it can achieve greater capability outputs from its Reserve component. Because of this, last year Army conducted a detailed analysis of the Reserve contribution to capability and the Total Force. This was done in a more holistic manner than in the past and included the use of consultation periods with serving and ex-service communities such as yours. The outcome of these engagements was a series of principles to guide the employment of the Army Reserve; structures and command and control arrangements at Brigade level and above; and the endorsed force structure design. This design was principally focussed on the 2nd Division (which comprises the bulk of the Army Reserve) and analysis of other Reserve elements, for example in 6 Brigade (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Electronic Warfare), 17 (Combat Services Support), and 16 (Aviation) Bdes and Special Operations Command.

Before I look at specific challenges for the Reserve in more detail, it is important that everyone understands what Plan BEERSHEBA is and isn’t.


– is Army’s response to Government direction in the Defence White Paper 2009 and is the second series of coordinated actions in the Adaptive Army Campaign. The plan involves broad structural change and reform to the manner in which Army raises, trains and sustains Land Forces for Joint operations.
– involves broad force structure changes for Army that are designed to continue our evolution and readiness to meet the challenges of the future security environment.

Whilst it is important to understand from the outset what Plan BEERSHEBA is, it is equally important to grasp what it is not. Plan BEERSHEBA:

– Is not the label for every force structure and equipment change that will occur within Army over the next decade.
– Is not an all encompassing plan that involves Force Structure changes for every unit within Army.
– Does not assume outcomes from ongoing reviews such as the Force Posture Review, Defence White Paper 2013 or current Defence projects.
– Does not contain any new money for Army in its initial Tranche. Plan BEERSHEBA will be implemented as part of ‘normal modernisation business’ from within the existing Army budget.

The first major announcement concerned restructuring Army’s three Regular Brigades into ‘alike’ Multi-role Combat Brigades. This does not mean that they will be identical nor will this happen immediately. However, in the next 2 years substantial momentum will build to progressively implement key changes that will significantly enhance Army’s ability to generate and deploy forces from within existing Brigade structures, leveraging from geographic synergies and established training relationships.

The Plan BEERSHEBA force structure changes will result in three combat manoeuvre battle groups per Multi-role Combat Brigade. These will comprise one Armoured Corps unit, and two Infantry Battalions. Importantly, a detailed force structure for these manoeuvre units remains subject to further capability analysis, experimentation and planning before final structures are confirmed.

Army will take steps in a deliberate and planned manner to evolve extant structures as decisions are made. Careful attention will be paid, however, to ensure that our preparation and support to current operations is not adversely affected.

Plan BEERSHEBA also involves greater alignment of the Army Reserve into Army’s ‘Force Generation Cycle’ as an important component of the Total Force Concept. Under this new model, two Reserve Brigades within the second division will form a ‘permanent partnership’ or supporting relationship with one of the Regular Army Multi-role Combat Brigades. They will be tasked with force generating a set of defined capability outputs which may augment the Multi-role Combat Brigade during the Ready phase of their Force Generation Cycle.

Enabling capabilities such as Intelligence, Surveillance, Logistics, Aviation and Health Support, to name a few, reside within our three enabling Brigades and are a scarce and valuable resource. For reasons of managing sustainment and technical oversight, Plan BEERSHEBA will centralise both the Regular and Reserve personnel for each capability under a single command, wherever possible.

Special Operations Command will also undergo some force structure changes to better enable task organisation of its unique conventional and unconventional capabilities into tailored task groups to meet a range of missions and threats.

Reserve forces will support all components of the Plan BEERSHEBA force structure. Reserve capability outputs may augment Multi-role Combat Brigades or deploy separately on discrete tasks. The Second Division’s contribution is to provide capabilities for integration into broader Army elements, which is in essence integration of effect. This means that the 2nd Division generates the force element to an agreed standard of training and hands it over for use at an agreed time. Within the enabling Brigades and other functional commands, the Reserve component of the capability will generally integrate structurally as part of the overall capability requirement.

As noted, the outcomes from the series of Army Reserve Modernisation activities conducted during 2011 are largely relevant to the Second Division in particular. The work on the enabling brigades and other functional commands is not as well advanced but is the subject of particular focus in 2012/13.

There are currently just over 17,000 Active Reservists. Approximately eleven thousand of these are located in the Second Division, with just over five thousand outside the Second Division but in the Army Group, and the remainder working in other parts of Defence or deployed on operations. At any given time, about three and a half thousand Army Reserve personnel of that total are undergoing training of some type in order to achieve their first Army qualification.

Within the Second Division, each set of two Brigades will be expected to manage the generation of a set of defined capability outputs every third year. These defined capabilities will be subject to progressive certification culminating in Exercise Talisman Sabre or Hamel alongside their supported Multi-role Combat Brigade.

The capabilities required from the Second Division are: a Battle Group based on an infantry battalion, consisting of Infantry, Combat Engineers, Artillery based mortars, Bushmaster protected mobility from the RAAC, as well as enabling signals and combat service support elements. In addition, there are additional capability bricks, including Construction Engineers and some logistic elements, which are expected to be provided, but not as part of the Battle Group.

This directed capability will result in the following key impacts on the Second Division’s Force Structure:

– Equipping of Reserve Artillery units with Mortars and their conversion to a Battery sub-unit;
– Equipping of Reserve Armoured Corps units with Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles in order to generate crews for a protected mobility capability;
– Placement of all Reserve Engineer capabilities in each Brigade under one Combat Engineer Headquarters, involving the conversion of Construction Engineer units to sub-; and
– The amalgamation of Victorian University Regiments into a single unit, involving the reversion of the Monash University Regiment to a Company of Melbourne University Regiment.

It is important to note that existing geographic and demographic limitations may prevent complete force generation of each capability entirely from the two Reserve Brigades. In this circumstance, extant ‘national call-for’ arrangements will be employed to cover the shortfall. Headquarters Second Division will provide this national coordination and support when necessary.

Within the three ‘enabling’ formations and Special Operations Command, a principle of “integration of structure” will be applied. This will result in one formation Headquarters commanding both full time and part time components of its assigned capabilities, providing a more sustainable and simplified model for specialist Force Generation. This is the principle currently employed to great effect within the 17th Combat Service Support Brigade where, as one example, the Reserve is fundamental to the delivery of health capability. Around 40% of the total personnel of the 17thBde are Active Reservists.

As has already been stated, Plan BEERSHEBA is just the next step in the modernisation of Army under the Adaptive Army Campaign. As such, ongoing current projects, reviews and further analysis will inform the detail required future changes. But there are challenges in implementing this.

At present, Army is currently developing the transition plan for the introduction of Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles into the Reserve. Armoured units within the Second Division will undergo Establishment Reviews next year prior to implementation to align their establishment with the Reserve Force Structures required and the level of Reserve personnel that are likely to be available to them.

The allocation of Protected Mobility Vehicles to Reserve units is intimately linked to Army’s draw down from major operations and analysis of the future capability of the Multi-role Combat Brigades under Plan BEERSHEBA. Current operational fleets of vehicles reduce availability in Australia which means that entitled units (both Regular and Reserve) are holding less than their full entitlement.

The intent at this stage is to successively roll out vehicles to align with Reserve Brigades as they enter the Force Generation Cycle. This is not without inherent complexity, and you will no doubt be aware that the Government has announced the purchase of additional Bushmaster vehicles. This is great news for Army, There are additional issues requiring resolution such as where the vehicles are to be located and the contractual arrangements required to support their maintenance. Fortunately, these concerns are not insurmountable and Army is working hard to solve them. On the basis of current transition planning, it is likely that the priorities for phased implementation will be to the 5th and 8th Brigades in 2014-15, to the 4th and 9th Brigades in 2015-16 and the 11th and 13th Brigades in 2016-17.

Moving to Reserve force structures. There will be some force structure changes to the Reserve required under Plan BEERSHEBA. The majority of these changes will see current Reserve independent sub-units grouped under the command of a Battalion sized unit, which make eminent sense from a command and control and governance perspective, and the growth of an additional Engineer unit and an Armoured sub-unit in Queensland.

The requirement for these changes has been widely communicated within Army and I understand that there is generally widespread support for them – most importantly the Army Reserve community understand their importance. I have been impressed to date by the Reserve community reaction. Some of the changes are not initially popular with some at a local level, but by and large the community has taken a broader view and has seen the need for change and accepted that some local changes have to occur in order to generate the increased contribution from the Reserve as a whole. Making such changes to the Reserve establishment places Army in a position to more effectively and efficiently deliver the capability outcomes required under BEERSHEBA.

As a final point, I would like to touch on Plan SUAKIN which I realise you are already quite aware of and see from today’s agenda that this will be addressed in much greater detail this afternoon. The work on reviewing the Army Reserve has, and continues to be conducted, in close consultation with the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Group, specifically with Major General Brereton’s staff on the cost of Reserve forces and conditions of service under the auspices of Plan SUAKIN.

I am encouraged that the Reserve Reform Stream under Major General Brereton’s leadership, with the close support from the Defence Reserves Association, has established the right conditions for modernising Defence's people concepts through Plan SUAKIN. Army's challenge will be to judiciously analyse, understand and apply the opportunities inherent in Plan SUAKIN. You can be sure that this Plan is well understood by the Defence leadership team and we are all enthused by the potential of this. I look forward to its progressive implementation.

There are exciting times ahead for Army and a number of challenges to be overcome in the coming years. Support and understanding from groups such as this are critical and I look forward to your contributions as we step forward together as an Army to implement Plan Beersheba. I thank you for the opportunity to speak today and would now like to open the floor to questions.