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Chief of Army’s open letter to the Army

In September 2016, Lieutenant General Campbell outlined his priorities in an open letter to the Army. An abridged version of this letter is below, and includes Lieutenant General Campbell’s four priorities and 10 lines of effort. The complete letter can be downloaded here.



At a little over a year into my appointment as Chief, I would like to share my reflections on the Army and our work together. This updates my general guidance in our continuing efforts to further develop the Army as a component of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). I invite you to reflect upon this advice, lead and take action. 


Firstly, thank you for your commitment to our Army. We should be enormously proud of the achievements and innovation of our people across a wide range of endeavours. To name just a few: the success of Exercise Hamel 16, the progress of the ADF’s amphibious capability, the modernising of our Divisional Headquarters and its role as a deployable joint task force headquarters. We are achieving this and so much more, while continuing to meet a range of real-time commitments including; current operations, contingency forces, the Defence cooperation program, Army’s assistance to aboriginal communities and Defence aid to the civil community.


Much of what I have outline here is aimed at ensuring the Army meets government or command direction like; the Defence White Paper 2016, the One Defence and Pathway to Change programs, diversity targets for women, Indigenous representation, and the CDF’s Preparedness Directive. To be clear - these directions constitute orders rather than options or suggestions. As a military that prides itself on achievement of the mission, our responses to them should therefore be focussed, energetic and aimed at complete success.


My four framework priorities

I have set four priorities to focus our thinking.  These priorities should be foremost in your planning and actions, while encouraging conversation about the development of our Army. These priorities are;

  1. Support to operations, because this is why we exist.

  2. Assist our wounded, injured and ill, to respect our people’s sacrifice and rebuild capability.

  3. Modernise the force, to give our people the best opportunity to achieve their missions and come home safely.

  4. Ongoing cultural reform and renewal, to ensure our Army reflects the expectations of the nation we serve.


Across these priorities, I ask you to keep in mind that Army is a part of, and serves the higher needs of the joint ADF.  We need to think, plan and structure to enable joint effects. These effects need to be;

  • driven by joint command and control,

  • rehearsed through joint collective training,

  • informed by joint doctrine, and

  • updated through joint professional military education.


The function, size, structure and interests of Army and the other services are secondary to the needs of the joint ADF. This does not diminish the unique expertise or role of land forces. Rather, it emphasises the nature of our work: the Army contributes to and serves the joint force.


Leadership, tone and rules

More important than what priorities we focus on is how we choose to act to address them – this is in our leadership and tone. Ethically informed, values based leadership that inspires, resources and enables subordinates to achieve their best work is always expected of Army's leaders, at every level.


Let our values of courage, initiative, respect and teamwork guide our behaviour. Our values enable us as individuals and as the Army to create relationships of trust. Being ‘good at your job’ is never an excuse for ethical failure. Ethical failure destroys trust, legitimacy and teamwork.


Attention to leadership and tone extends well beyond the Army. We need to build support for the Army’s future with the many external and internal agencies that resource, sustain and equip us. Being viewed as authoritarian, rudely assertive or even angry is deeply unhelpful.  Leadership and tone are force multipliers in generating trust and the greatest measure of drive and good will for Army’s initiatives.


It is said that rule making seeks to impose order upon chaos. My sense is that we in the military have mastered the art of rule making and by default, prefer more rules than less. Having rules is essential; having too many rules crushes initiative and innovation. Abide by our nations laws, be guided by and exemplify our Army’s values, but actively challenge and change the rules that no longer fit our needs.


The bandwidth challenge

I am very alert to the bandwidth challenge. Every leader in Army would prefer every problem fixed yesterday. Every leader in Army has multiple responsibilities, demands and timelines to meet. Narrowing down from the framework priorities to implement specific lines of effort is therefore essential.


Wherever resources, time or people are insufficient to meet every requirement, the 10 lines of effort outlined below take priority. I am biased toward improvements, rather than maintaining routine or the status quo – because that’s the only way we will change.


At the time of writing (September 2016), the Army was 1,000 people below average funded strength (AFS), but has an establishment which is 2,000 positions above AFS. We are formulating a plan to rebalance the establishment in line with AFS, while recruiting to approximately 400 less than AFS, so as to preserve employment flexibility within the total (full and part time) force. This will present difficult but necessary choices, but we are a much better trained, educated, equipped and resourced force than the one I joined. So we can bear some risk to gain the rewards of change.


Army’s 10 lines of effort

These 10 lines of effort are deliberately ordered. The first five address the major issues currently affecting our people, because people remain the core of Army capability.

Taken together, the first nine lines of effort deliver on the potential of past initiatives such as the Hardened and Networked Army, Enhanced Land Force, Adaptive Army, and Plan Beersheba.

The 10th line of effort will ensure Army continues to look to, and be prepared, for the future.  

These 10 lines of effort operationalise my four framework priorities. They are not an answer or a destination. Rather, they are a practical pathway for the Army to be the joint land force Australia requires now and into the future.


  1. Recruiting: more choice from more people will provide the best base from which to build our Army.


For over a decade, Army has not achieved its recruiting targets, particularly against specialist trades and diversity goals. The personnel and skills shortfalls are directly and adversely affecting Army’s capability.


More effective recruiting across a broader cross-section of the community will deliver an Army more representative of the society we serve. My goals are 25% women and 5% declared Indigenous representation.


Key areas for improvement are streamlining and shortening the recruiting process, and enhancing Army's support to Defence Force Recruiting to connect with potential recruits.


  1. Implementation of the 2016 Ryan Review into training, education and doctrine: we should aspire to be the best Army in the world. 


Army no longer leads in some aspects of our training, education and doctrine development. While we remain a well trained and professional force, a periodic review of our system of building professional mastery is essential. The Ryan Review, once implemented, will ensure we remain at the forefront of developing our people.


  1. Reserve transformation: our Army is an integrated and operationally-focused force of about 45,000 (30,000 full-time, 15,000 part time)


Since 2004, 2,500 reservists have deployed on operations. An effective Army Reserve is essential to sustaining an Australian brigade group deployed on operations over successive rotations. Attracting, training and retaining part time officers and soldiers remains a critical challenge we must resolve.


We are developing initiatives that focus on opening recruiting pathways, aligning depots and demography, and making structural adjustments to better support training and development of our people. Reserves have and will continue to serve on all operational deployments.


  1. Special Operations renewal: Special Operations Command is a trusted team of teams, delivering national mission forces.


Special Operations Command is a world class formation with trained personnel and specialist equipment. Like other elements of the Army, Special Operations Command works collaboratively, helping to realise a more integrated approach to ADF joint and interagency operations.


In recognition of the lessons learned over the last 15 years of operations, the Command is committed to ensuring all personnel have the training and cultural understanding necessary to complete the full suite of missions to which they may be assigned. Professional competence and lethality are assumed; trust, humility and compassion are the true hallmarks of the special operator. 


  1. Retention: the Army is an organisation in which people have purpose and are inspired to serve.  


Acknowledging that retention is a very broad issue, influenced by external factors like economic cycles and operational commitments, our focus is to be on just three elements: resilience, rehabilitation and inspiration.


We are working to build resilience within the force. Well-being programs are underway to help maintain the physical, mental and moral health of our people.  We also need to ensure Army remains open to individuals changing their employment stream or specialisation. A one career, many jobs approach will support broader retention through flexibility, opportunity and new challenges.


My goal is to assist with dignity our wounded, injured and ill to return to their original duties, or otherwise to alternate productive military service, or else transition to civilian life with opportunity. This must be an approach focussed on assistance to independence, not support into dependence. The engaged and active individual is essential to healing.


Our leadership, at all levels, must inspire in our people a desire to serve with our team. Are you working to be the best leader they deserve?


  1. Joint Warfighting Readiness: in all aspects, readiness is the essential first step to success in operations.


The Defence White Paper 2016 requires the Army to provide forces that are ready for a range of joint warfighting and operational settings. The objective is consistently high force generation outcomes tested by scenarios incorporating a joint task force, brigade-level land manoeuvre, reserve capability, and joint and special operations components. A ready force invests in cooperation with its allies and friends, international engagement and regional security building.


  1. Amphibious force development: the Army is amphibious capable.


Amphibious forces are important for peacetime regional engagement, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and joint warfighting. Informed by the trial program undertaken by the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), Army is developing our permanent amphibious support force structure, force generation of amphibious force elements, and preparations for a future riverine capability.


  1. Implementation of the Houston Review into Army aviation: Army aviation is in all aspects a safe, sustainable and effective contributor to ADF capability.


Army aviation is vital to joint land warfighting and we operate some of the most capable and technologically advanced combat helicopters in the world.  The recently completed Houston Review indicates we are doing well in many areas, particularly our management of operational airworthiness. However, it also provides a series of connected, whole of capability recommendations on how Army might best take our aviation capability forward.


  1. Force posture: Army will be postured for Plan Beersheba and to receive capabilities being delivered under the Integrated Investment Plan.


Army’s force posture requires constant review and adjustment. The Defence White Paper 2016 introduces significant new capabilities to Army over the next 10 years. These include a cyber capability, enhanced air defence, long range rocket artillery, and land-based anti-ship missiles. A more contemporary force posture will deliver the sustainable force intended by Plan Beersheba.


  1. Modernisation: Army thinks critically to deliver the capabilities required to meet Australia’s future strategic challenges.


Army has consistently invested time and resources into looking to the future. I am seeking to generate extended and iterative discussion, in partnership with others, on issues that will inform decisions on Army’s future. We should aspire to establishing Army as a constructive thought-leader on national security challenges, defence capability and leadership; all with a focus on the implications for joint land operations.


Modernisation will bring into service the land projects of the Integrated Investment Plan including Land 200, Land 400 and the soldier combat system. Army’s priority is to preserve these three projects essential to success in the close fight: the network, protected manoeuvre, and the empowered solider.


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