Army strengthens its capability through inquisitive people


June 29, 2016

Two years ago, Army began an intellectual pivot designed to review the lessons of the past 15 years, better understand the future operating environment and ensure Australian soldiers could prevail in “the first fight of the next war”.

Elements of this intellectual pivot included the Future Land Warfare Report, Afghanistan Lessons Initiative, Building on Beersheba papers and the new version of Army’s capstone doctrine, the Fundamentals of Land Power.

To continue the intellectual growth of the Army and enhance its ability to think about how it builds future capability, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell endorsed a new study that examined the future of Army’s development of its people.

“There is no evidence that Army’s people lack imagination, inquisitiveness or innovative spirit.”

The study focused on improving education, training and doctrine to ensure these elements are combined to build individual and collective professional mastery in contemporary and future soldiers and officers.

Brigadier Mick Ryan, director-general of training, says Army has a strong tradition of focusing on training and excelling in the day-to-day operations of soldiering.

“However, the institutional value placed on education and doctrine has not always reached the same level as that of training and daily operations,” Ryan says.

“One of the key aims of the new study was to ensure that training, operations, education and doctrine are equally valued and that Army’s investment in these areas is well informed and appropriately synchronised.”

In thinking about the future of Army and its education, training and doctrine, the study team consulted broadly across Army and beyond.

The vast majority of those engaged believed Army’s approach to education, training and doctrine was not broken, but was not as effective as it could be. At the same time, many said Army had the intellectual wherewithal to be world class in this regard.

“This study represents the combined efforts of the team and provides recommendations to ensure Army can achieve its aspiration of having a world-class education, training and doctrine system,” Ryan explains.

As the study notes, the Army’s training education and doctrine system is not ‘broken’, but it is not well positioned as a system to exploit advanced learning techniques and delivery to enable the organisation to retain its human capacity edge over the next two decades.

It should provide enhanced direction and advocacy for education, training and doctrine, as well as a synchronising mechanism for personnel policy, management and ongoing learning, according to Ryan.

“An explicit system, which provides top-down strategic direction executed using mission command from schools, training centres, units and individual initiative, will provide Army with the best chance to ensure it is appropriately placed for future operational commitments,” he says.

“With strategic direction, commanders empowered with appropriate authorities and resources, and the right level of connectivity and feedback mechanisms described in this study, Army can achieve a more streamlined and transparent achievement of human capacity development.

“As such, the implementation of this study will ensure Army is able to think about its future training and education needs and then ensure that its education, training and doctrine system is appropriately oriented for the demands of the next two decades.”


Implementation of the priority tasks has started. This year, Army will develop a unified human capacity strategy, focus more innovation resources on training and education, begin building its professional development framework, undertake doctrinal reform, produce a new simulation strategy, streamline the command and control of training institutions, and build its campaign for large collective training activities.

Ryan says the study represents a plan of action for Army in its campaign to enhance its education, training and doctrine.

“That is not to say this will be a simple task,” he says.

“As with all large institutional programs for change, there are cultural, implementation and technical risks. Each of these is examined and addressed in the study.

“Army seeks to learn the lessons of previous large initiatives — in our Army and in others — to ensure the objectives described in the study have high-level advocacy, are resourced and that the rationale for change is well described to Army’s people.”

Key initiatives to improve education and training

According to Ryan, Army possesses all of the ingredients for a world-class education, training and doctrine system.

It recruits some of the finest young men and women in the nation and has well-established training infrastructure and a well-trained instructor workforce.

“Army actively thinks about and seeks to shape its future as part of a whole-of-Defence approach,” Ryan says.

“Yet, as the study into education, training and doctrine notes, these assets separately do not guarantee a world-class education, training and doctrine system now or into the future.

“The elements are — to varying degrees — sound, but they are not knitted together in a cohesive, unified system within Army that is guided by strategic view of Army’s future human capacity needs.

“The current system could better exploit ‘futures’ studies and forward planning to ensure Army is able to generate individual and collective professional mastery over the next two decades.”

Ryan says the study examined a range of issues but centred on four key elements: the ‘system’, a loosely defined and implicit object at present; education and professional military education: training and doctrine.

The study provides recommendations and priorities — and these have now been endorsed by Chief of Army. The key initiatives are as follows:

  1. Army is to produce a unified strategy for the development of its human capacity. An explicit system, driven by an Army Human Capacity Strategy, will provide strategic direction that is executed through mission command at schools, training centres, units and individual initiative. Subordinate strategies for workforce, career and talent management, training and education will also have utility.
  2. There is no evidence that Army’s people lack imagination, inquisitiveness or innovative spirit. Current mechanisms encourage bottom-up innovation, however, innovation at Army schools and training centres is tactical in nature and hindered by training tempo. Strategic innovation should be nurtured to review future institutional needs and world’s best practice learning methodologies. The Army research and development plan should also be revised so more focus is placed on future learning methodologies and technologies. A new future training and education section will be established to meet these requirements.
  3. Army will institute an Officer and Enlisted Professional Development Framework. This framework will be closely linked to the revised All Corps Officer and Soldier Continuum. As part of this, Army should build an online resource, designed around Chief of Army’s professional development priorities, which provides resources for the conduct of selfstudy and for the conduct of ongoing unit professional military education to support the professional development framework.
  4. Army will review its objectives for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) qualified personnel, as well as the level of technical competencies it expects in its broader workforce. This could be an element of the proposed Army Human Development Strategy.
  5. Army will codify its strategy for the use of information technology in blended learning within a broader Defence environment. The Army, in cooperation with the Chief Information Officer and the Australian Defence College, is to develop a plan to implement distributed learning that exploits trials and takes into account training institutions, unit locations, reserve depots and the
    use of personal computing and communications devices by reserve and regular personnel.
  6. Army will reinvigorate its doctrine and affirm the hierarchy, structure and authorship of all Army doctrinal publications. Army’s doctrine will be made more accessible and where possible released for an online unclassified library.
  7. The extant foundation warfighting training management framework will be redeveloped so that it incorporates individual corps, all corps and joint outcomes. Additionally, Army should embrace a campaign approach to significant collective training activities such as Exercise Hamel. In looking out five to 10 years in planning these exercises. Army can set longer-term capability development outcomes — for Army, joint and coalition operations.

This article and image from the Department of Defence is copyright to the Commonwealth of Australia. Top image: The Australian Army’s 1st Brigade is being tested from 26 June to 14 July 2016 in South Australia as part of Exercise Hamel to ensure its soldiers are ready to meet the Australian Government’s needs as the Australian Defence Force’s ‘ready’ brigade.

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