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Discussion Topics

The format of the Chief of Army's Exercise was designed by the Directorate of Army Research and Analysis to maximise discussion and interaction to capitalise on the collective knowledge and experience of attendees.

To support the examination of the theme of ‘The Australian Army role in a maritime strategy’, three keynote speakers, including two international guests were invited to convey a range of perspectives. 

The focus areas identified provided a cogent sequence to the presentations and a basis for further discussion and analysis. Two of the keynote presentations were followed by a question and answer session, facilitator led break-out group discussions and a central plenary. 

The information below was provided in order to give background and context to all attendees and enhance the depth and breadth of the analysis and discussion. 

Please be advised that opinions expressed in the articles listed below are provided to promote debate and discussion in support of the Chief of Army’s Exercise 2012 and do not reflect the position of the Australian Government.

Keynote Presentation: ‘The Role of the Australian Army in the Indo-Pacific region’. This presentation will be delivered by Dr Michael Evans, and will draw in part, on his recent Quadrant article entitled 'The Essential Service'. Dr Michael Evans, The Essential Service, Quadrant Online, (Oct 2012).

Dr Jim Thomas from the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) moots that we may be in a ‘post-power projection era’. Transcript, Shaping the Agenda: American National Security in the 21st Century: Future of the Force, CSBA (June 2010), from p7.

Andrew Krepinevich, also from CSBA, refers to expeditionary land force capabilities as ‘wasting assets’.
Andrew F. Krepinevich,The Pentagon's Wasting Assets: The Eroding Foundations of American Power, Foreign Affairs (July/August 2009). Log in required for full access.

Hugh White’s opinion on the limitations of land force power projection in light of A2AD capabilities
Hugh White, Army should be careful with its aim, Sydney Morning Herald (May 2012).

Lieutenant Colonel Ben Pronk’s response to this post; and defence of flexibility of the amphibious capability across the spectrum of operations.
Ben Pronk, Good for the ADF and Good for Australia, The Interpreter (May 2012).
Ben Pronk, ADF Force Structure: Flexibility is the Key, The Interpreter (May 2012).

Douglas MacGregor and Young J. Kim argue for an ongoing requirement for power projection
Douglas MacGregor and Young J. Kim, Air-Sea Battle: Something's Missing, Armed Forces Journal (April 2012).

This RAND study details lessons learnt from the 2008 Battle of Sadr City.  In particular, it notes that “Heavy forces—i.e., tanks and infantry fighting vehicles—are key elements of maneuver (sic) in complex terrain; they are survivable, lethal, and precise (p18).” 
David E. Johnson et al, The 2008 Battle of Sadr City, RAND Corporation (2011).

Despite the presence of warships, the threat of pirates to shipping in the waters surrounding Somalia remains a problem for the transit of commerce, ship owners and the sailors taken hostage. A recent report suggests that anti-piracy forces may be thinking about taking the contest ashore. EU denies "Boots on the Ground" in Somalia raid, Defence Report, (22 May 2012).

The possible proliferation of WMDs is a situation that states take seriously. Is there an obligation to ‘do something’ if stockpiles of these agents become vulnerableMark Hosenball and Phil Stewart, Securing Syria Chemical Weapons may take tens of thousands of troops, Reuters, (17 Aug 2012).

Security tasks for major national events are now often outsourced to contractors. Would the utilisation of the military be a better option? Richard Norton-Taylor, Public prefer soldiers to private-sector employees in policing roles, The Guardian (13 Sep 2012).

Keynote Presentation: ‘The challenges for Land Forces in the Indo-Pacific region’ – a regional perspective’

Brendan Taylor’s argument that Australian foreign policy might be ignoring multilateralism in favour of bilateral relationships. 
Brendan Taylor, Multilateralism fading in our Asia debate, The Interpreter (April 2012). 

Hugh White argues that Australia must begin to consider its neighbours differently. 
Hugh White, One day, Indonesia will be the biggest kid on the block. It's time for Australia to accept that, Jakarta Globe (14 Jul 2012).

Article by US Chief of Staff of the Army General Ray Odierno in which he notes that ‘Asia's militaries remain dominated by armies, making the US Army's robust relationships with its regional partners a vital resource in a broad range of situations.’ 
Ray Odierno, The U.S. Army in a time of transition: Building a flexible force, (April 2012).

The size of African cities may take many by surprise, as would their growth projections. Here is a graphic that outlines the scale and pace of African urbanisation. Graphs, here, provide more general detail on world-wide urbanisation trends. Growth Areas, The Economist (13 Dec 2010). 

Some of the challenges of combat in urban areas were explored by the British Army in Agile Warrior 11. The summary of insights shows how complex an operation in a mega-city can become. James Kirkup, British Army 'not ready for urban warfare', The Telegraph (31 May 2011). 

Part of the solution to conducting urban combat is familiarity with the environment. The French Army has shown how this can be accomplished through training and simulation. Pierre Tran, Sharpening Urban Warfare Skills, Defense News, (22 Apr 2012). 

There is no shortage of case studies on urban operations. The civil war in Syria provides the latest example. AFP, Urban Warfare: In Aleppo, battles for city blocks, Al Arabiya News, (6 Sep 2012).

Multilateral approaches to security relationships are gaining increased recognition for its ability to buttress bilateral relationships as Toyohisa Kozuki discusses here. Toyohisa Kozuki, Why Asia needs a new security framework, Europe's World, (Summer 2012). 

The need to increase the breadth of defence debates is the message put forth by Peter DrysdaleBrendan Nicholson, More to Asian Century than Defence: Peter Drysdale, The Australian, (17 Aug 2012). 

China’s development diplomacy shows another way to build ties through informal means, but it too is not without hazards. Thomas Wheeler, China's Development Diplomacy, The Diplomat, (4 Mar 2012).

The value of multi-national defence exercises is beyond doubt in building and sustaining friendships between land forces. Still, it is worth highlighting what such experiences can accomplish hereKristy O'Brien, US marines return after SE Asia joint training, ABC News, (29 Jun 2012). 

While highlighting commonalities, multi-national defence exercises can also highlight differences, which are equally important to understand if cooperation is to be successful. Dzirhan Mahadzir, Malaysian-Australian relations: close to the limit (part 1), ASPI Strategist, (31 Aug 2012). 

High level engagement is also an important tool in building regional cooperation, as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines recently demonstrated, as did Australia and VietnamGilbert P. Felongco, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippine defence chiefs discuss security cooperation, Gulf News, (3 Oct 2012) and Defence Minister Smith heads to Vietnam, The Australian, (27 Aug 2012). 

Related links 

The following sites contain information relevant to Australian defence and security issues.

The Strategist blog, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

The Interpreter blog, from the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

Last updated
17 January 2017
Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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