Opening of the Defence Watch Industry Briefing

4 July 2019

Good morning,

I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we stand this morning, the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respects to their elders, both past and present.

Thank you to C3i for this event today, and to the National Press Club for hosting us. Fostering strong connections between Australia’s Army and the Defence Industry that supports us is an important task.

The Defence Watch Industry Briefing program is an excellent forum and opportunity for our panel of Army speakers to describe our thinking about the environment, technological change and what this means for Army’s and partnerships with defence Industry.

Here today, defence industry is represented by a range of companies who provide everything from torches to Armoured Fighting Vehicles. Thank you for your support, you play a vital role in generating land capability.

Let me open by saying that it has been an important week for Australia. On Monday, his Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) was sworn in as Governor General and on Tuesday the 46th Australian Parliament was opened.

By coincidence, I passed my first year in command of Army on Tuesday as well. It has been a busy 12 months. Army is supporting Australian Defence Force operations from Afghanistan to the Philippines, and hard at work in the region training and helping others. We continue to be an Army for the nation and in the community, exemplified by the work of our soldiers in response to the Townsville floods at the beginning of this year. Our modernisation is continuous, and new platform and systems, large and small, are always being introduced or upgraded. Army never stands still.

Over the same period I have asked Army to reflect on Australia’s security context and how it could change in the future. Like most of you, we have observed that geopolitics, technology, population migration and demographics are shaping our operating environment in unexpected ways.

These changes to our operating environment have converged to directly impact the character of war. We no longer observe through the prism of a “peace or war” preferring instead a model describing cooperation, competition and conflict across all elements of national power. This thinking does not change our mission of preparing land forces for war, but it extends our responsibilities, and creates new demands to rapidly scale and deploy our force.

Army characterises these changes in the operating environment as “Accelerated Warfare.” This name is a constant reminder that change is occurring at a more rapid pace than many of our processes, concepts, capabilities and structures were designed for.

Specific technologies

It is difficult to identify the most important variable in this environment. Context may amplify different factors at different times. This is part of the challenge. Technology is only one of the determinants of battlefield success, although how we partner with industry to access it is very relevant for our forum today.

In particular, like society and industry, land warfare is being impacted by:

  • Increasing computational power
  • New forms of human-machine interaction
  • Interplay between the digital and physical worlds, and
  • New materials

Government has also recognised that maintaining advantage in the future requires a renewed focus on the way Industry and Defence work together – evidenced through the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement and the 2018 Defence Industrial Capability Plan.

The 2018 Defence Industrial Capability Plan announced ten Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities. The Sovereign Industry Capability Priorities highlight the extent to which preparing land forces is a whole of nation effort. The following priorities are closely aligned to some of Army’s needs:

  • Munitions and small arms research, design, development and manufacture
  • Combat clothing survivability and signature reduction technologies
  • Land combat vehicle and technology upgrades
  • Surveillance and intelligence data collection, analysis, dissemination and complex systems integration, and
  • Test, evaluation, certification and systems assurance

Army in Motion

This evolution of tasks, and technologies, the challenge of Accelerated Warfare, and the need for new or different partnerships makes it prudent to design Army for continual change. We call this being an Army in Motion.

We have always been an Army in Motion but codifying this as Army’s central philosophy orients us on a deliberate approach to continuously improve and prepare for the future.

An Army in Motion recognises that the role of land forces in warfare has expanded. Our Army must deliver effects in all domains to be more valuable to the ADF. Army must employ – and counter – cyber capabilities, information warfare, unmanned aerial and sub-surface systems and proliferating missile technologies to name a few.

Army teams will operate in the land and littoral, and deliver effects into the air, maritime and cyber domains. Clearly, we have no intention of impinging on other service responsibilities but control of water, air and cyber terrain immediately adjacent to the land is necessary to exert control. Equally, we are not losing sight of the enduring requirement to fight and win against other land forces.

To meet this increasing array of threats Army will be more connected, protected, lethal and enabled. This is not a small undertaking, every Army combat vehicle, helicopter, and watercraft is being upgraded or replaced in the next decade. Army’s largest ever recapitalization.

As we modernise Army, we know that land forces operate as a component of Joint system and subordinate to Defence and National Strategy. Aligning concepts, capabilities and capacity ensures that land forces operate, and are sustained as part of a Joint and integrated ADF.

The diversity of roles, tasks and geographies means that Army has a lot of moving parts. I am focused on simplifying this as much as practicably possible and reducing barriers to those who connect to Army. The practical examples of this that you will be most interested in include generic systems architectures, bar coding for equipment and systems for modular transport and warehousing of supplies and equipment. We need more solutions like these to simplify our Army and win back capacity.

Because the future is uncertain, our Army in Motion is also prepared to change the size, and type of teams we generate. I refer to this as scaling, which is generating the capacity we need in a particular capability for a given task. Scaling is a requirement for nearly all military activities, from creating more construction engineers for the Pacific Step Up to delivering new combat clothing to adapt to specific environments.

We can’t scale alone, and in an uncertain world Army will need to scale more often. This demands more of our partnerships with Defence industry.

Capability management

As the ADFs land capability manager, I am responsible for the emphasis and value we place on our integration with industry. Our primary mechanism to do this is through strong partnerships and good teams.

Partnering, with particular focus on small and medium enterprises will increase in importance. Army intends to complement multi-purpose platforms delivered through the Integrated Investment plan with, smaller, more numerous systems that can be purpose built for specific missions and incorporate new technologies at lower cost.

To facilitate partnering Army must create opportunities to collaborate, explore emerging technologies and use industry across all the fundamental inputs to capability – including the delivery of training.

Our speakers today will talk in more detail about this approach.

Major General Kath Toohey will speak next and describe our Modernisation priorities and our work focused on emerging technologies.

Following General Toohey is Army’s Director General Training and Doctrine, Brigadier Ben James, who will focus on the efforts to modernise Army’s training system making us better able to keep pace with changing technologies and demands.

Our final speaker is Head Land Systems, Major General Andrew Botterell. Major General Botterell will reflect on acquisition, Army’s Defence’s responsibility to be a smart buyer, supply chain resilience and ensuring that we can continuously modernise in response to emerging threats.

As you listen, I ask that you reflect on the opportunities that an Army in motion presents and how we might move forward in partnership.

I look forward to working with you in the years ahead.

Thank you.