Republished with permission from The Central Blue

A response to Silos of Intellectual Excellence

In her post on joint professional development, Emily Chapman made a powerful argument for closer collaboration between single service outlets, in order to expand intellectual horizons and prevent silos of intellectual excellence. The teams behind Grounded Curiosity, The Central Blue and The Cove agree. We intend to work with Emily to implement some of her ideas and strengthen ties between our forums.

  • We believe that challenging single domain identities and mindsets will help to develop our thinking.
  • We believe that sharing knowledge across services at the junior-leader level, in a less formal way, will improve our individual and collective professional mastery. Opportunities for joint dialogue at this level will complement existing service and joint professional military education.
  • We believe we will be stronger and smarter together.
  • We believe we will be strongest and smartest if we unite in a manner that fosters diverse perspectives so that they may be harnessed to pursue a common goal.
  • We think it is important to critically evaluate the depth and breadth of jointness we want to achieve, and what might be lost in the pursuit of this aim. Homogenous jointery can be harmful.

Debate within Services, or sub-elements of Services, will still be required to explore mastery of individual domains, address specific issues, and – crucially – generate alternative views on common challenges. For example, we think the different perspectives on multi-domain operations coming from the US Army and Marine Corps, on one hand, and the US Air Force on the other are invaluable.

A number of studies cite diversity of thought as one of the key factors producing quality decision-making, and without single-service mindsets, some of this diversity may be lost when we come together in the joint realm.

With that in mind, we turn to Emily’s proposals.

  • Provide visible links to like-minded websites.  The Cove has taken this feedback on board, creating a ‘Partners’ area to share links to like-minded sites, and Grounded Curiosity and The Central Blue plan to create similar pages. The editors will look for opportunities to cross-post each other’s content to broaden readership and increase the variety of issues covered.
  • Create a centralised Australian Defence Force (ADF) website. Emily proposed an ADF website, possibly sponsored by Vice Chief of Defence Force Group, to collate debate across all domains and levels of war. While we feel the proposal has merit, we would like to explore the idea further to understand where it might have value. We are cautious about losing the autonomy and grassroots momentum of the sites in their current format, or discouraging debate on Service specific topics. This proposal also raises consideration of ownership and governance.
  • Arrange a Postern Association workshop. The Postern Association, an Australian Army Association which provides an informal and self-organised network for professional development, plans to hold a workshop to discuss inclusion of Air Force and Navy perspectives. In addition, the Postern Association has created an Air Force Liaison Officer position and is seeking Navy representation. Emily has agreed to take up a the position of Postern Association Operations Director, supported by Eli Blair and a great operations team, in order to implement some of her ideas directly – a great outcome for the organisation.
  • Promote the annual DEF Aus Forum. Grounded Curiosity and Postern Association already provide great support to this event. The Central Blue will include a link to DEF Aus on its resources page, and will actively encourage its contributors to pitch their ideas in the annual forum.

We thank Emily for her suggestions – they prompted robust discussions across Services and ranks about what we were seeking to achieve and the best way to pursue those aims.

We think this kind of back and forth is exactly the sort of exchange that Grounded Curiosity, The Central Blue and The Cove should be fostering. We encourage others to be as forthcoming.