The Australian Army: Ready now, and future ready

3 June 2022

We live in a time where the character of warfare is changing rapidly – at a rate perhaps faster than ever before.

We call it Accelerated Warfare.

The geo-political uncertainty in our region, the strategic shock that came with the war in Ukraine, and the ongoing impacts of changes to our climate all point to the fact we are living this narrative now.

Our Army is being asked to do more things, in more places, more often – through bushfires, floods, COVID-19, deployments to Kabul, Solomon Islands and Tonga.

While these tasks are not our core business or our sole responsibility, we have been able to bring needed capacity and capability to urgent domestic crises, and our people derive great satisfaction from working with and helping the community – living our motto “serving the nation”.

Importantly, we are also building readiness in our Army to do things that only an Army can do.

We are focused on the Indo-Pacific region. It is our neighbourhood, and it is where all elements of power, geopolitics, technology, and populations are converging.

With this in mind, Government established three new strategic objectives: shape Australia’s strategic environment, deter actions against Australia’s interests, and respond with credible military force, when required.

Land power, which our Army provides, plays an important role.

Controlling the land, or helping control the sea or air from the land, is a critical element of the defence of Australia.

And as much as there is plenty of air and sea in the Indo-Pacific, there is also a lot of land. It is where the people live, and it is densely populated and complex.

The war in Ukraine has reinforced the utility and centrality of land power in modern conflict, and the importance of being strong and integrated in all domains – land, maritime, air, cyber and space.

It has also shown that shaping and deterrence can fail, that assumptions can be wrong, and that events can take a life of their own.

Our Army is responding to the demands of accelerated warfare by constantly evolving and adapting our capabilities, workforce, training systems, organisational structures and command and control to ensure we are future ready.

We are preparing for the future by introducing new concepts and capabilities, and by increasing capacity.

There is an impressive amount of transformation happening within our Army and across Defence

Extensive capability investments announced by the Australian Government will dramatically improve our ability to generate land power options for the Joint Force.

We are building these capabilities to ensure our land forces and special operations forces can operate in the region at long-range and up-close, across all domains and across the spectrum of mission types – including in the grey zone.

These will give Army greater operational and strategic flexibility and the means to better respond to strategic uncertainty.

Another element of Defence strategy is strengthening partnerships across our region.

Our Army trains with other armed forces, provides presence and builds capacity and connectedness in our region.

This is most evident in the Southwest Pacific, where mobile training teams, exchanges, exercises and infrastructure works are conducted continuously throughout the year.

We are committed to our established partnerships – Armies to Armies and people to people.

It is our people who bring strength to land power, and the good culture and leadership that give us our advantage.

We call it Good Soldiering — our values, attitudes and beliefs that shape how we operate, adapt and succeed.

Our emphasis on people and culture has significantly evolved.

The Centre for Australian Army Leadership now enables our junior and future leaders to master our profession, live Good Soldiering values and build teams that solve complex problems.

And the increasingly specialist nature of our workforce is driving the flexible design of future workforce requirements.

As I come to the end of my tenure as Chief of Army, I reflect on the incredible men and women who serve, have served, and will continue to serve in the future.

I am proud of them. I am grateful for the support of their families and loved ones.

My obligation has been to ensure we give our people the best lived experience to thrive and set them for success in what will be an increasingly demanding future.

We are doing that.

With them, the Australian Army is both ready now and future ready.