Chief of Army closing address to the 2016 Chief of Army’s Exercise
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
I want to start by acknowledging the efforts of a few people and organisations that have been vital to the great events we have attended this week.
To Mr Ian Smith, Chairman Aerospace Maritime Defence Foundation of Australia Limited; and Mr Ian Honnery, CEO, Industry Defence Security Australia Limited - thank you, for the organisation and conduct of Land Forces 2016. It has been a comprehensive, world-class, international industry exhibition that has showcased land defence equipment, technology and services in the Indo-Pacific region.
To those behind the Future Land Forces Conference, Dr Alex Zelinsky, Chief Defence Scientist and the Head of the Defence Science and Technology Group; as well as Doctor Peter Shoubridge, the Chief of Land Division, Defence Science and Technology Group – my sincere thanks.
The focus of this year’s conference, delivering world-leading innovation to our land forces, was highly appropriate. Both Land Forces 2016, and the Future Land Forces Conference, provided rich texture and background to the many activities conducted this week.
I also note and thank the large number of industry contributors to all of the events, from within Australia, the Indo-Pacific region and the world.
We have had a very full and interesting program, with excellent speakers, and great, open, discussion. I am grateful to all of our speakers for their interest, engagement and the insight they have shared with us. Thank you.
We began the Chief of Army exercise on Tuesday, when I introduced the three issues of empowered individuals, assertive states and an unstable planet. I have heard a lot that has deepened my understanding of them, their complexity, and the ways in which we might address them. For that I am grateful.
The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, began by looking at the exercise’s theme redefining boundaries for the 21st century land force. He stressed that we need to change, that we cannot stand still. As the first speaker, Air Marshal Davies introduced ideas we would hear echoed over the next few days: that new concepts and new language of cooperation are required for the information age.
Rear Admiral Jonathon Mead, Head Naval Capability, and representing Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, Chief of Navy, reminded us of both the challenge of amphibious manoeuvre, and of developing such truly joint capabilities.
This also set the scene for Doctor Peter Dean’s examination of the geographic challenges of the Indo-Pacific the next day.
Doctor David E Johnson, from the RAND Corporation, presented us with the sobering assertion that ‘the future is now’. He also highlighted, that without a clear definition of the problem we are seeking to solve, innovation is aimless. He illustrated this point with the example of Germany in the Second World War – showing tactical and operational excellence, absent a viable strategy and suitable industrial base, is unhelpful.
Our guest speaker at dinner on that first evening, Mr Peter Jennings from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, noted that “the race, as always, will go to the agile”. Peter was speaking about responses to the geo-strategic developments over the next ten years and left us in no doubt that we are confronting “a cluttered and competitive environment in every dimension we are presented with”. His address touched on and reinforced the issues that our other speakers have raised.
Peter’s presentation – and those of all our civilian interlocutors – David Johnson, Peter Dean, Russell Glynn and Alan Ryan, highlight to me the benefit we gain, when we lift ourselves out of narrow conversations within our own forces, and engage more broadly with academia, think tanks, the media and thought leaders.
During session two yesterday morning, we looked at ‘The Indo-Pacific region in a global context’. Peter Dean presented some startling facts and figures on urbanisation, and the littoral, in the Indo–Pacific. They gave focus to our thinking on the problem.
Lieutenant General Erwin Syafitri, WAKASAD, presented an insightful look at countering extremism and insurgency. He highlighted the importance of; resolving extremism and insurgency in line with domestic considerations, enhancing security cooperation with countries in the region, and understanding and respecting other countries sovereignty.
Colonel Sape Motufaga, of the Royal Fiji Military Forces addressed climate change.
His key message brought home the magnitude of the issue for the Pacific region; “climate change is no longer a threat multiplier. It is the threat to our existence”.
During the luncheon address yesterday, Dr Alan Ryan warned against the securitisation of everything, to the point where the military becomes everything. And he called for greater recognition of the need for civilian agencies to take the lead, in many of the security problems our nations face, and where the military cannot provide the outcomes needed.
Implicit in Alan’s address, was a call to do better in developing those necessary, but latent, civilian capabilities for such an effect. While I don’t think this development is the job of militaries, we can (and should) be useful advocates, providing support, wherever and however appropriate.
In language we in the military are familiar with, as echoed by Vice Admiral Johnston this morning, it was a call for us to know when we are supported, and when we should be supporting.
Yesterday afternoon General Robert Brown, and Doctor Russell Glenn, spoke on preparing the land force for hybrid threats. Russell’s insights are summed up by the title he used; “observations on the nature of contemporary conflict by a hybrid conflict non-believer”. I call that truth in advertising. His observations were pithy and insightful.
General Brown emphasised the human dimension of our response to these threats.
I can personally relate to the example he used of Fox Connor and Dwight Eisenhower – it reinforced the imperative we all have, to develop our people.
Taking a cue from the need to work across multiple domains – air, land, sea, cyber and space – General Brown identified ‘Five M’s’, to inform and guide our preparation of land forces; multi-domain, multiple dilemmas, multi-national, multi-interagency; and multiple options for our commander. All five require people, who are agile, possess clarity of thought and innovation.
This morning Vice Admiral Johnston emphasised for the Australian Defence Force, being joint is the only way we can deliver the full effects of our military capabilities, within the full spectrum of national power. He emphasised; “if you can work in a coalition environment you can work in an interagency environment, but you need to work at it”.
Major General Peter Kelly, the New Zealand Chief of Army, and our final speaker, built on this theme. As well as sharing recent experience of such operations, he addressed the importance of cultural awareness, collaboration and training for interagency operations.
General Kelly closed out a great list of speakers – once again, I am truly grateful for all of their efforts. This leads me to some others I must also acknowledge. Their efforts have been vital to the activity we have enjoyed over the last few days.
I wish to thank; Lieutenant Colonel Bernie White and the soldiers of 16 Air Land Regiment for the static display, the military police under the supervision of Warrant Officer Class Two Hayden Watson, and the drivers, under the supervision of Sergeant Adam Valladares, for their tireless work.
I also thank the Joint Operations Support Services from around the country; they helped facilitate our guests quickly through the airport. Thanks to the Army Band Adelaide, for the fantastic musical support. Thank you to the Army Communication team, under Rebecca Constance, for the branding, materials and media liaison.
Thanks also to the team here at the Adelaide Convention Centre for hosting us so well.
To our many escort officers and host officers. Thank you for being of such assistance to our visitors. I know our guests appreciated it.
I want to thank the Director of International Engagements – Army, Colonel Peter Connolly, and his International Engagement team, for coordinating the bilateral visits program, and I also acknowledge the service attaches for their assistance.
Thank you to Colonel Chris Smith and Colonel Tim Connolly, and their team, for putting the exercise together. In particular, I want to acknowledge the work of Maria Nicholls and Sheralee Ide, who put the spouses program together, and Monique Andrews and Major Dave Hill, who carried the greatest share of the burden in planning and coordination of the exercise. Finally, thanks to Major George Acheson-Thom, for his tireless work in the daily coordination of that effort.
It is apparent that some clear and consistent themes have emerged over the last two days in our exploration of redefining boundaries for the 21st century land force. The impact of the digital revolution is apparent – the global digital commons cuts across all of our boundaries.
There seems an almost universal consensus that ‘hybrid’ war (or its may other labels) is nothing particularly new. However, the intersection of the associated tactical and operational methods with the information age, presents land forces with far greater complexity than previously. Indeed, complexity has emerged as a strong, cross cutting theme. As has the theme of our ‘people’.
While we have heard that geography matters, states matter, technology and complexity matter, the singular thing that emerges from the exercise is that ‘people’ matter most.
If I can be as bold to say there is an answer, from our presentations and discussion, time and time again, it has been ‘people’.
How we together train, educate and empower them; through appropriate mission command; and the use of current and emerging technologies, is vitally important.
Activities such as this exercise are important. They provide a place in our otherwise hectic schedules, where we can get together, and share thoughts and ideas, and build the relationships we need to address the issues we all confront.
I, and the leadership team of the Australian Army, look forward to when we next meet in a forum such as this, at the Chief of Army Exercise in 2018.
Equally importantly, I look forward to building upon our collaboration, cooperation and friendship as we address our shared interests.
Thank you for your time, engagement and friendship in this exercise. I trust that you have a safe journey home.
I wish you all ‘good soldiering’.