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The Implications of the United States Army's Army-After-Next Concepts for the Australian Army

An Australian Army soldier prepares to launch a PD-100 Black Hornet miniature unmanned aerial vehicle during Exercise Chong Ju at Puckapunyal training area, north of Melbourne in Victoria, on 19 October 2016.
1 June 1999
Lieutenant Colonel Greg de Somer

This paper analyses the implications of the concepts derived from the US Army's Army-After-Next (AAN) Project for the Australian Army. The paper is designed as an overview; it is a snapshot of ideas arising from the revolution in military affairs (RMA) and a speculative insight into the future strategic environment, rather than a detailed assessment or exhaustive examination of the AAN Project as a whole. Such an approach is necessarily selective, with issues identified and examined insofar as they impact on the debate central to the Australian Army's force development process.

The AAN Project is now an institutionalised process within the US Army to focus on possible future warfare and emergent technologies that show potential, and which should therefore attract research and development investment to realise that capability. The AAN concept embodies a vision for the future of warfighting. Such warfare is likely to be characterised by rapid non-linear movement and the precise delivery of combat power by highly agile, technically advanced forces. The emphasis is on situational awareness, agility, mobility, firepower and sustainability. The speed at which the Australian Army adapts to these concepts
depends on a recognition of what is emerging and a commitment to embrace change. The AAN Project is important, and the Australian Army can derive much from the conceptual nature of the process.

The policy dilemma central to the debate is whether resources should be shifted from some areas, and the forces associated with them, to others. This paper recommends that the Australian Army needs to be aware of Australia's unique strategic policy and particular requirements when reviewing the concepts of the US Army's force development project. A concept that would be relevant for the Australian Army is one that proposes an integrated, digitised force, invariably joint, postured for warfighting in a multinational alliance or coalition context, adaptable to other tasks and threats (both symmetric and asymmetric) to afford the maximum utility throughout the spectrum of conflict. At the same time the Australian Army must maintain an adequate capability as it adapts for the future.

Last updated
5 December 2017
Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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