My Curious Month – Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Military Education

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It’s important, but is it accessible? This month was all about the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO), as the professional military education (PME) network blew-up with discussion on all things SNCO. In particular we saw broad acknowledgement on the importance of SNCOs having an intellectual edge, and that across the globe militaries have ‘wheels in motion’ constructing […]

Dronekrieg

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‘This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.’ – Alan Turing Alan Turing’s prescient warning was in relation to the rise of machine intelligence. An ominous forecast at a time when the true potential of drone technology had not been fully grasped; but the indicators […]

The Intellectual Senior Non-Commissioned Officer

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“There is a lack of consciousness of the importance of professional education in many members of the Army, and consequently it has a lower ‘value proposition’ for most members”. – Brigadier Mick Ryan, 2016 Mastery in the profession of arms instils a culture and a habit of persistent learning and of cognitive curiosity. In 2019 […]

Meet “Carl”: Australia’s Future Soldier

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

 A visit to Integrated Personnel Protection Group, DST We see a lot of sketches, concepts and science-fiction about tomorrow’s soldier – but what about the materiel research and the proof of those concepts? Recently, I had the privilege to visit Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group’s campus at Fishermen’s Bend, Melbourne, to see our scientists developing the […]

Force restructuring in the 1990s: Lessons from Army’s failure to embrace change

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Speed is currency in the digital age, and success is determined by winning the contested decision cycle in less time and space than ever before. A future force must emphasise adaptability and the need to generate tempo and lethality through interoperability. The concept of an ‘Army in Motion’ emphasises the demand for constant innovation and […]

Wrap-Up: The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s War in 2025 Conference

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As I wrap-up the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s (ASPI) War in 2025 conference that ran last week, what stands out is the Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell’s warning that although “you may not be interested in political warfare, political warfare is most certainly interested in you”. He argued that Western democracies are vulnerable […]

Unpopular Ideas From Across the Ditch, Part 2: Cheat Codes for Innovation (and why they don’t work)

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

This series is based on lessons learned from leading innovation in the New Zealand Army and New Zealand Defence Force. Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A is the famous Konami Code. When entered into various video games it triggers power-ups, such as invulnerability, making the game easier to win. It would […]

Book Review- Snipers at War: An Equipment and Operations History

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Snipers at War: An Equipment and Operations History chronologically overviews snipers and their weapons of choice. It is an excellent examination of equipment but overlooks the operational and tactical employment of snipers. The book briefly discusses Stone Age standoff tools and then the ‘first snipers’ who employed the bow, especially noting the impact of the […]

My Curious Month

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This is the first of a new monthly serial titled ‘My Curious Month’, where we will explore common themes that pop up across the PME network, summarise them and signpost resources if you’d like to explore the topic further.

Beyond Barbaric: Understanding African conflict

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History must be studied in breadth, depth and arguably most importantly in a proper context, not least because conflict is essentially between societies or elements thereof. Air Commodore Peter W. Gray[i] Despite the broad acknowledgement of military history’s utility in Professional Military Education (PME), there is a tendency to focus overwhelmingly on the ‘big battles’ […]

#LOGBOTs – Making Army logistics “hard to find, hard to hit and hard to kill”

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

  The Infantry wants to “fight light” – what’s holding them back? Manned resupply, and convoy movements, says Jacob Choi, former Combat Service Support Battalion Operations Captain. Our current capabilities and tactics to resupply combat teams and battle groups face many challenges. Sufficient protection is often lacking, our logistic trucks are often too reliant on […]

Ambiguity – A Timeless Weapon

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Ambiguity—‘the quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness’.[1] Numerous modern warfare journals refer to the ‘hybrid’ nature of various aggressors’ contemporary, full spectrum, multi-level strategies and tactics. Stating they are hybrid suggests they are new; they are not. What is new is the use of modern technology to harness information in order […]

Book Review: Anatomy of a Campaign, the British Fiasco in Norway

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  The title of John Kiszely’s book, Anatomy of a Campaign, the British Fiasco in Norway, holds promise. Fiascoes: ‘ludicrous and humiliating failures’, make good reading. The anatomical approach is also welcome, accurately describing Kiszely’s analysis of the Allies’ 1940 Norway campaign.  His method is not a surprise given his previous role as the Director […]

Black and white photo of British obstacles emplaced at Slim River

Shock and Surprise at Slim River

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Covered in sweat, and emerging from his Type 97 Medium Tank, Lieutenant Watanabe of the Imperial Japanese Army must have been surprised. Here he stood, at the Trolak bridge. Three hours ago it had been defended by a British Brigade. Now the British Brigade was destroyed, the entire British division and its defence on this […]

Closing the Short Learning Loop

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Effective short learning loops support high readiness contingency forces, the development of new capabilities, the generation of forces for known operations and contribute to the adaption and evolution of command. Lessons teams have embedded with deployed units or undertaken independent deployments since the start of Australian combat operations in Afghanistan in the early 2000s. Their […]

A System of Systems – Revising the Sub-Unit Training Construct

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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training. —Archilochus, Greek soldier and poet Introduction Like other sub-units, Artillery Batteries operate in a chaotic, dynamic environment categorised by competing priorities and deficiencies in human resources. In the past, a systems approach to categorising and prioritising training […]

Instructor Bias at Military Training Institutions

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When it comes to meritocracy and diversity, the symbolic is real. And that means that simple actions that reduce bias, such as blind resume or application screening, are a double win: they reduce implicit bias and they help communicate our commitment to meritocracy. Eric Ries – Silicon Valley Entrepreneur The impact of instructor bias is a […]

Book Review – ‘Anatomy of Failure’

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    Anatomy of Failure: Why America Loses Every War It Starts is a meticulous examination of American strategic choices about fighting wars  written through the lens of Harlan Ullman’s experience in US politics, foreign policy and the military. The book is organised by a chronological examination of each US President through the second half of […]

Message in a Bottle – Fighting the Hydra: Flexibility, Mission Command and the Australian Amphibious Force

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For the last two years I have written ‘Letters from HAMEL’ for Grounded Curiosity.  The idea was always to take my own immediate experiences of Army’s capstone training exercise, and  rapidly get them out to the ADF audience.  I realised the idea was working when one of the exercising troops quoted one of the ‘letters’ […]

Inherent Resolve – Predeployment reading list

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If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.  Sun Tzu, The Art of War Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun. Message 1: from General James Mattis, on the matter of professional reading, 20 November 2003 Australian […]

Shades of Grozny: Anti-Tank Drones and the Yom Kippur Effect

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‘Don’t shoot till you see the glint of their electro-optic sensors‘ Armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) designers employ a multilayered systems approach to protect AFV from threats in combat. This systems-of-systems configuration is referred to as the Survivability Onion. Layers of the onion include: don’t be seen, don’t be hit, don’t be penetrated and don’t be […]

Military Experimentation Part II: Continuous War-Gaming

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This article is the second in a two part series that seeks to generate discussion and debate on military experimentation. Part 2, this article, provides a series of ideas for continuous war-gaming to support concept and future force development for consideration. The Future Operating Environment (FOE) is opaque, dynamic and chaotic. Nevertheless, militaries must build […]

Military Experimentation Part I: Institutional Experimentation and a Future Force Development Process

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This article is the first in a two part series that seeks to generate discussion and debate on military experimentation. Part 1, this article, provides a brief overview of the Institutional Experimentation Spectrum and posits a Future Force Development Process for consideration. The re-emergence of great power competition coupled with the ever changing character of […]

Inclusive Innovation

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The sweeping effects of the fourth industrial revolution are readily evident in the exponential increase of emergent and disruptive technologies becoming commercially available. In this fluid and uncertain environment, we need to consider how Army can remain agile enough to learn from, exploit, and integrate into this global context. Empowering our workforce at all levels⎯through […]

Caring for our Carers

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‘Most modern armed forces equip their personnel with the latest body armour, the best protected vehicles, and the most sophisticated counter explosive electronics, acquiring as well the most advanced medical services for those physically wounded or maimed. Much less time is devoted to providing military personnel with existential or inner armaments with the mental armour […]

The Future is Now: A Path Forward in Manned-Unmanned Teaming

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The future of Australian Army Aviation lies in its ability to successfully integrate manned and unmanned aerial vehicles in the tactical and operational spheres—that future can be realised now. The inevitability of manned and unmanned teaming (MUM–T) extends beyond the forecasting of the 2016 Defence White Paper and the 2016 Integrated Investment Program. The language […]

Book Review: In the Warlords’ Shadow: Special Operations Forces, the Afghans, and Their Fight Against the Taliban

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In the Warlords’ Shadow, written by Daniel Green, examines the effect of the Village Stability Operations program in the fight against the Taliban insurgency in southern Afghanistan. This first hand account gives a detailed explanation of the challenges faced by U.S. Special Forces embedded throughout Uruzgan province and how they were able to achieve success. […]

Tactical Satellite Launch: Enabling Autonomous Futures & Expeditionary Ambitions

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‘However beautiful the strategy, one should occasionally look at the results’[1] Great power competition and not the fight against terrorism is now the focus of US national security. So in reaction to an evolving global security environment, a complete redesign of allied space security architectures is underway. This upheaval includes ideas for a US Space […]

Musings on the prominence of Informational Effects in the Operational Art

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In a time of increasing emphasis on the information domain, perhaps the words ‘See first, understand first, disseminate decisively’ offer a mantra for modern practitioners using information to wage war? The terms we’re accustomed to at the battlegroup and brigade tactical level are ‘information operations’ and ‘information actions’. These are taken to mean effects generated […]

Holistic Agility

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There is renewed interest in how Australia should navigate the coming decades of rapid technological change and increasing geopolitical multi-polarity coupled with a reduction in relative advantage of Western nations economically, technologically and potentially militarily. The Army’s Professional Military Education (PME) Strategy acknowledges these issues and states that we can’t hope to be correct in our […]

Book Review – The Future of War: A History – Lawrence Freedman

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In The Future of War: A History, Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College, London, takes readers on an unorthodox study of how the ‘future’ of war has been predicted, fictionalised and marketed throughout the course of human history; describing how past generations have envisioned their respective future conflicts and drawing parallels to a contemporary growth […]

Lazy PME: Using Science Fiction Television to Enhance Professional Military Education

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At risk of outing myself as a science fiction nerd, I often find myself thinking about how some  themes portrayed in science fiction accurately reflect dilemmas faced in the profession of arms. This is particularly apparent when considering emerging trends in warfare; like the increased use of robots and AI, bioenhancement and nanotechnology. I’m not […]

New Super Weapons – Changing the Status Quo

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The Russian President recently announced a number of high-tech weapons during his annual address to the nation. Using a combination of speed, delivery methods and size, these weapons have the ability to deliver extremely large payloads and are aimed at defeating current missile defence systems. Although some doubt remains about just how developed some of these new capabilities are, […]

Part III: Leading a Culture of Innovation

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Often when the topic of creating a culture of innovation arises, the discussion seems to focus on running activities such as “hack-a-thons”, “start-up weekends” or innovation training. While these may be useful tools to enhance an existing culture, they are less helpful in engendering an organic tradition of innovation at ground level. Rather, they are more […]

Part II: Leading Innovation

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

There is a profound difference between being an ‘innovative leader’ and being a ‘leader of innovation’. Whereas an innovative leader will drive the development of their own ideas, a leader of innovation will tap into their team’s collective knowledge to generate change. It is important to note, however, that the two are not mutually exclusive: […]

Mission Command Algorithms: An Evolution of Artificial Intelligence & Combat Leadership

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‘There is no reason to believe that leadership will be spared the impact of Artificial Intelligence’ Anyone in the military who has served in a war zone will tell you that leadership is preeminent and can literally mean the difference between tragedy and triumph during battle. But leadership in front line combat units takes on an […]

Deception, Diversion & Disguise (3D): Amphibious Operations Success in the Third Decade

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‘Be mysterious to the point of soundlessness, then be the director of your opponents fate’ An Australian Amphibious Task Group (ATG) assembled undetected in the dead of night somewhere in the Southern Ocean. The operational deception plan served its purpose and as the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) began is circuitous track northwards it was flanked […]

Generating, Expressing and Implementing Ideas – Part I

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The realisation of a human/machine, robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence approach, may represent the biggest single step innovation change our Army has ever undertaken. Army, Defence industry, and society need to further develop our collective thinking on this, possible, future. We will be looking to build partnerships of thought and action with interested parties […]

What is a Warfighting Culture?

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For the past 14 months I have been privileged to serve as an exchange officer with the United States Marine Corps. During this time I have witnessed a military organization with a strong warfighting culture founded upon four key traits – A Fighting Spirit, A Focus on Warfighting, A Critical Mindset, Innovation and Adaptation. These […]

Army Air Defence: Forget the Missiles

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Following decades of relative relegation resulting from uncontested airspace, growing trends have invigorated a renewed emphasis on Air Defence as an essential asset in the operating environment. An increasingly capable and demonstrative Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has stimulated ongoing debate over the necessity, utility, and performance of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) systems. In similar […]

Chief of Army Scholarship Program

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

This Scholarship Program reinforces Army’s intellectual foundation to robustly face future war and facilitates professional development for Army’s future leaders. Purpose The purpose of the CA Scholarship is to: select high performers to undertake academic research enable the professional development of high performers through experience not normally available in Army Strands The Chief of Army Scholarship Program […]

150 Years On – What’s Left to Learn from the ‘Letterman Plan’?

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

The story of MAJ Jonathan Letterman and the ‘Letterman Plan’ should exist forever in Combat Health lore as one of the professions most magnificent tales of innovation and success. Appointed as Medical director of the Army of the Potomac in 1862 and confronted with an Army of approximately 100,000, 30% of which were listed as […]

Book Review – Max Hastings – Das Reich

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Don’t be fooled by the cover of “Das Reich.” The burning village and camouflage smocked SS Troopers hint at something in the Sven Hassell genre, rather than a sophisticated view of topics given little treatment elsewhere. The stories of the SS Panzergrenadier Divisions in the Second World War are not widely known in the Australian […]

Return to the Jungle: a Renaissance of Close Country Warfare

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The Indo‐Pacific region is in a period of unprecedented transformation, accelerated by the shifting distribution of economic and political power[i]. The importance of the Indo-Pacific to Australian security cannot be overstated and the Army must prepare to conduct operations in this increasingly complex and lethal region, across the spectrum of conflict. This means having a versatile […]

Close Infantry Assault

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The key to Army’s success on our next battlefield will be ensuring we pay adequate attention now, and applying enough resources to institutionalise these lessons so we don’t have to learn the hard way. LTCOL N [1] The survivability of the infantry section is paramount. Its ability to execute the close assault is crucial to survivability. […]

An Eye on the Sky – UAS as an Enduring Presence in Conflict and Training

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Ex Diamond Run – Battle Group Missions Watch #BrisbanesBrigade complete delay, block and clear missions during the final stages of #ExDiamondRun at Shoalwater Bay. This is combined arms at its best with infantry providing manpower, tanks firepower, artillery offensive support and engineers explosive capabilities all while supported by our enablers like signallers and medics. Best […]

Death From Above – Armoured Mortar System

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Death from above or a crude weapon for a crude war? The utility of the armoured mortar system in future warfare The future operating environment will be violent and chaotic with military forces deploying the latest lethal technologies alongside weaponry of the past used in new ways. Land forces are expected to fight in an array of scenarios […]

A Joint Force – An Overview of Army’s Land Combat System

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Keynote Address delivered on 26 October 2017 by Major General Fergus McLachlan AM, Forces Commander – Australian Army, to the Northern Australian Defence Summit, Darwin Convention Centre, written in collaboration with Colonel Ian Langford DSC and Bar, Director Future Plans Headquarters Forces Command.  Ladies and gentlemen. Good Morning. I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of […]

Mentoring, Mission Command, and the Value of the Officers’ Mess – Increasing the ‘Speed of Trust’

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This blog reflects on the important role of the Army Officers’ Mess in the author’s early regimental service. Traditions of the Army Mess A quick online search will inform the inquisitive officer that the military tradition of the Mess started with the British, in or around 1740; with the Officers’ Mess. Soon after, Warrant Officers’ […]

Training The Way We Fight – Aide Memoire for RSOI&E

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The Benefits of Incorporating Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, Integration and Extraction into the Training Environment INTRODUCTION Whether it is deploying on global operations or on the ‘Road to Hamel’, countless hours are lost to administration in the final weeks prior to deployment that could be better spent honing our fighting skills or with family. This […]

Owning Your Professional Military Development – Junior Officers

Posted Posted in Blog, Featured

Doctrine Man recently penned the well-known military adage that “no one can manage your career better than yourself”. Deployments, top jobs and plum geographic postings won’t be handed to you on a silver platter. This adage has a similar application when discussing professional development – the most important person managing your professional development is you. Junior […]

#DEFAUS17 Videos – Session 5 – Innovation and Strategy – ‘Learn and Adapt but Still Lose’ – Professor Daniel Marston

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia, Podcasts & Videos

Innovation and Strategy – ‘Learn and adapt but still lose’ – Professor Daniel Marston Daniel Marston BA MA (McGill) DPhil (Oxon.) FRHistS holds a Professorship in Military Studies and is also the Principal of the Military and Defence Studies Program at the Australian Command & Staff College in Canberra. He previously held the Ike Skelton […]

#DEFAUS17 Videos – Sessions 3 & 4 – Practical Innovation

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia, Podcasts & Videos

Group Captain Jerome Reid Jerome Reid is a self proclaimed disrupter and the new Director of the Royal Australian Air Force’s Plan Jericho. Plan Jericho provides the strategic framework for Air Force’s transformation to a 5th-generation integrated fighting force. Through Plan Jericho, Air Force will ensure it meets the expectations of Government outlined in Defence […]

#DEFAUS17 Videos – Session 2 – Innovation and War – Why We Innovate, How We Fight and Ethics

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia, Podcasts & Videos

Why We Innovate – Lieutenant Colonel Clare O’Neill Clare O’Neill is a Royal Australian Engineer and has been the Chief of Army Scholar and Fulbright Scholar in Australia-United States Alliance Studies at Georgetown University. Clare is the Founder of Grounded Curiosity and contributes to the Postern Association, Defence Entrepreneurs Forum Australia, Military Writers Guild, and […]

#DEFAUS17 Videos – Session 1 – Innovation and the Future Fight – Cyber, Artificial Intelligence and Gamification

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia, Podcasts & Videos

Innovation and the Future Fight – Cyber, Artificial Intelligence and Gamification Cyber – Alastair MacGibbon Mr Alastair MacGibbon is the Cyber Security Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Australia.  He leads the Government’s Cyber Security Strategy, aiming to transform Australia’s cyber security landscape and create a cyber resilient nation.  He drives partnerships between Government, […]

#DEFAUS17 Videos – Welcome Address – Junior Leaders and Innovation – MAJGEN Rick Burr, DSC, AM, MVO

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia, Podcasts & Videos

Welcome Address – Junior Leaders and Innovation by MAJGEN Rick Burr, DSC, AM, MVO Major General Burr is the Deputy Chief of the Australian Army, a position he has held since January 2015. Graduating from the Royal Military College—Duntroon in 1985, his diverse career encompasses unique service as Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army, Pacific, command […]

Enabling C2 Survivability – Deception, Technology and Redundancy

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Survivability of communication systems has been called into sharp focus given technology advances and their use in contested theatres. It is here that communicators need to balance survivability while still enabling C2 so that land forces can operate securely in a contested and congested electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) environment. This post focuses on how communications services […]

Partners In Innovation: Observations From ‘Across The Ditch’

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

This year I was fortunate enough to attend the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) second annual Army Innovation Competition at Linton Military Camp. The competition formed the centerpiece of a recent drive in the NZDF to promote an innovative military and was coordinated by Tim Jones who visited DEF Aus in December last year.  While […]

Conversation Starter – Goodbye To All That

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Goodbye to all that [1] There comes a time in every career when we will ‘soldier no more’. When one or both parts of the relationship between Army and the individual is no longer suitable, tenable or desired. As long as the separation is not for disciplinary reasons, then there should be a suitably significant […]

Book Review – The Human Face of War by Jim Storr

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Any army would be better if its officers displayed a more questioning attitude to their profession. Jim Storr Jim Storr’s The Human Face of War is a highly readable companion to doctrine that explores not just what to do in warfare but why we must do those things. Published in 2009 and difficult to find in […]

Command and Leadership – Fit to Fight

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“Australian Soldiers identify with their Battalion. It’s indeed their family: it leads, feeds, clothes, directs and exhausts them. Its veins are its Sections and Platoons, its limbs the companies. It has the capacity to inspire their actions, to drive them beyond exhaustion, at times to subordinate their loved ones and to provide a depth of […]

DEF Australia Letters from Talisman Sabre: The Four Currencies of War

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Introduction: Ex TALISMAN SABRE and the Beast The Australian military is about to conduct its largest multi-national amphibious operation since the landing of the 7th Australian Division in Balikpapan, Borneo in 1945. Over the next two weeks 33,000 Australian, American, Canadian, New Zealand and Japanese troops will take part in a training exercise to seize […]

Learning from the Marine Corps Commandant’s Professional Reading List

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Introduction The Marine Corps Commandant’s Professional Reading List (CPRL) is published annually, providing books ‘most pertinent for professional development and critical thinking at each level’. It is a comprehensive list organised into: Commandant’s choice which all Marines must read, and further divided by grade level. The expectation is that all Marines, officers and enlisted, read […]

Book Review – Blood Year: Islamic State and the Failures of the War on Terror

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Blood Year, written by David Kilcullen, captures the events leading up to and following the 2014 crisis in the Middle East. The book analyses key occurrences surrounding the emergence of ISIS and how the West made several strategic errors enabling the spread of the self-proclaimed caliphate. Blood Year also investigates the importance of Russian involvement […]

Imagining the Future – Global Security in the Age of Autonomous Machines

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

FOREWORD Clare O’Neill 2017 It can be a difficult and daunting activity to visualise the future operating environment when there are a myriad of different possibilities and problems at play. It can also be difficult to openly debate your ideas knowing the future may well prove you wrong. Yet robustly debating the possible character of war and warfare is exactly […]

The Perils of Centralising Defence Innovation (and how to overcome them)

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

As innovation gains momentum throughout defense forces, a common theme seems to be emerging. Militaries, in particular Western ones, are increasingly seeking to centralise their dispersed innovation cells into single innovation ‘hubs’ in order to better coordinate and deliver innovation to the whole organisation. This centralised approach allows for better engagement with both academia and […]

Silos of Intellectual Excellence

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Republished with permission from The Central Blue  In this post, Emily Chapman makes the case for increased ‘jointness’ in professional education, outlining a number of proposals to increase collaboration across the services and prevent silos of intellectual excellence.  A single RAAF Officer pitched to a predominately Army audience on the need for a Joint Professional Military Education (PME) Association at […]

Strategy is Dead, Long Live Strategy

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In case your head was firmly stuck in the sand looking for the lost city of Ubar in the Empty Quarter, the bell has tolled for strategy (again). Strategy is dead and Tactics is the new monarch. Tactics has sent the heralds out with promises of agile victory on the turbulent battlefield. Supporters of the […]

Leadership in Focus – Vehicle Craft – Blending Technology and Tactical Acumen

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There is much discussion and idea exchange about the ASLAV replacement (CRV) and future Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV). These capabilities are a massive step forward, representing cutting-edge technology and superior battlefield features. However, there have been many comments about the ‘intuitive’ nature of these vehicles such as ‘the new vehicle will save lives with its […]

Enhancing Junior Leader Education Through Distributed Short Courses

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

BLUF. The Australian Army’s education of junior leaders is heavily focused on general outcomes, rarely fostering an environment that compels us to use our cognitive, analytical and intellectual abilities. The Australian Army should establish a series of short courses for junior leaders to enhance Professional Military Education (PME) using a distributed, networked and virtual delivery […]

Captain and Coach

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Has military thinking or practice seen a separation of two intrinsic command functions: the Commander and the Chief Instructor? This blog expands on an email the author recently received from the newly appointed Commander Land Warfare Centre, pertaining to the enduring nature of command. This blog seeks to generate dialogue, discourse and discussion of pertinent […]

Data Driven Decision Making – Embracing Technology to Clear the Fog 

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Imagine being able to predict enemy patrol and aerial surveillance routes with a high degree of certainty, or an increasing vehicle availability and reliability by conducting less maintenance, or predicting battlefield weather effects instantaneously using distributed sensors already inherent in military vehicles and aircraft. These capabilities are within the realm of possibility. Military practitioners are […]

Leadership in Focus – Listen, Learn and Lead

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Last week the Chief of Army came and spoke to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps’ Senior Leadership Group. His opening remarks immediately resonated with me personally and, moreover, with the group. The Chief of Army used three words to explain his leadership philosophy: ‘Listen, Learn and Lead’. These three words are particularly powerful when linked together, surpassing […]

Enough Talk – How Do We Professionally Develop Our People?

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Quick thoughts on practically applying professional development How do we practically implement professional development instead of just talking about it? Having observed and contributed to various websites, blogs and professional forums, my key observation is that we tend to talk about professional development, but there is a distinct lack of ‘this is how we do professional development’. […]

Opportunity – Perspectives and Lessons from Australia’s War in Afghanistan and Iraq 2001-2014

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

Interested in the following questions?  What happened? How well did we understand the nature of the fight? Why did Australia contribute the way it did? Were there other viable approaches? Did Australia’s contribution add value to the coalitions? What lessons can be learned for the future? Then this conference may interest you:   Conference: War […]

Debating Doctrine – Reciprocity as an Enduring Feature of War

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Blog

Debating doctrine 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 new version of Army’s capstone doctrine, LWD-1: The Fundamentals […]

47 Pieces of a Puzzle: Reflections on DEF Aus 2016 and the Written Word

Posted 5 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

The written word was the key weapon of the DEF Aus Forum 2016.  Over the course of seven months the DEF Australia Idea Pitchers and committee members wrote, proofed and published an impressive 47 original articles. These short pieces (none of which was over 1500 words long) were central to the ability to highlight a […]

DEFx 2016 Next Steps: ADF Mentoring Groups

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

DEFx Australia 2016 was a forum on 8-9 Dec 16 where ranks up to Major presented their ideas for an enhanced ADF. The forum demonstrated a ground swell of interest in building Human Capability but also highlighted the gap between our Senior Leaders’ strategic vision for this (issued via Pathways to Change, White Paper 2016, the Ryan Review, and […]

Why Army Officers Should Read About Lord Horatio Nelson

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Reposted from The Armchair Colonel with permission of the author. Why should an Army Officer read 853 pages devoted to maritime operations at the turn of the 18th Century? This review of John Sugden’s Nelson: The Sword of Albion answers this question. It makes no claims as to the relative quality of Sugden’s book. Readers […]

Reflections on the inaugural DEF Down under

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

From 08-09 December 2016, the inaugural Defence Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF) for the Southern Hemisphere was held in Canberra, Australia.  It was an exciting two days and ensured we all finished the year with an intellectual boost.  The first DEF [Aus] was the manifestation of an idea which began with the first Defence Entrepreneurs Forum held […]

Future Thinking – Crowdsourcing for Defence

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Innovation has always been a factor of military thinking to one degree or another, however in recent years it has been gathering momentum again. With increasingly complex operational environments, commanders are becoming more aware of the importance of innovative thinking. Military thinkers are looking to the commercial sector to see what principles and practices could […]

Idea Pitch – Deployable Health and the Internet-of-Things: Ground Up Recommendations for the ADF’s Deployable e-Health Management Systems

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Introduction ‘…compassion and technology aren’t necessarily incompatible, they can be mutually beneficial… machine oddly enough may be medicine’s best friend’ Dr. Atul Gawande – Complications1 I am first and foremost a clinician (a physiotherapist to be exact) and as such, above all else, my commitment to the ADF is the provision of the highest quality […]

Idea Pitch – Posting Teams NOT People

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Introduction Advances in the field of psychology are allowing experts to discern, more accurately than ever, the characteristics of an individual’s personality. In human resources, this is allowing people to be matched to vocations they enjoy, as they are more likely to be predisposed to doing well in fields that match their character. Such insights […]

Idea Pitch – Fighting Power, Intellectual Mastery and the Challenge of Teaching (Part 2)

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Introduction My first blog explored the reasons why I think Army is not realising the full intellectual potential of the personnel in our force. I explained how I felt that Army does not deliver or teach knowledge from doctrine or on individual courses in a way that is conducive to attaining intellectual mastery. I believe that this […]

Idea Pitch – Future Vertical Lift: Shaping the Australian Defence Force’s Rotary Future

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Introduction From the beginning of the Korean War, and in every major theatre of conflict since, the battlefield helicopter has proven its worth and enhanced combat operations. To the colonial Americans of the 19th century, the names Kiowa, Apache, Blackhawk, Iroquois, Sioux and Chinook personified a fearsome, proud and often brutal adversary. To the active […]

Idea Pitch – Humans Are More Important Than Hardware: Human Performance Optimisation in Army (Part 1)

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Introduction Human Performance (HP) describes efforts to maximise the potential of people in contributing to organisational objectives. HP is a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon that requires an approach that is multi-disciplinary and interdependent. The tangible benefits of human performance optimisation are, however, not always apparent or easily demonstrated. As such we are prone to under-resource its […]

Idea Pitch – Fighting Power, Intellectual Mastery and the Challenge of Teaching (Part 1)

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Introduction Throughout 2013 and 2014 I had the privilege to be an instructor at RMC-D. During this period I watched hundreds of staff cadets study diligently to learn a huge amount of information in six weeks of theory lessons. I was then also able to watch them transition to the next curriculum package, and within […]

Idea Pitch – Local Mentoring Nodes – Developing Human Capital

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Introduction BLUF: A pilot Barracks Mentoring Group provides a model for joint professional military education, to engender cultural change and facilitate mentoring at the tactical level. This model can be established as an ADF wide initiative as a way of developing human capital. While Defence prepares for the next iteration of Pathways to Change, the […]

Idea Pitch – A Joint Professional Military Education Association

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

As a passionate advocate of Professional Military Education (PME), I commend the efforts of the Australian Army personnel who have established The Postern Association. Founded in a desire to build intellectual mastery within the Australian Army, there is little doubt that the Association is a much-needed step forward to provide Army personnel with a professional […]

Idea Pitch – An ADF Leadership Development Institute: Developing the Next Gen Leaders for the ADF and Australia

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Introduction For years I have pondered about the way we train leadership in the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force (ADF). How much of our success is testament to the experiential training model, and how much is attributed to luck? Are our measures for success based on fact, or a perception given to us […]

Idea Pitch – All Eyes (Ears and Tongues) on the Not-So-Far-East

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Disclaimers: The figures used here are drawn from the most recent figures attained from education administrators, and the Manager Languages – Army. To limit the scope of this topic, the discussed niche is the Officer Corps, though the rationale used herein can be applied to all-corps and ranks. ‘Chinese’ refers to Chinese (Mandarin), the study […]

Idea Pitch – Cultural Training in the Army

Posted 10 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

The Chasm: Physical and Human Terrain, Training and Reality We believe that Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is not a desirable capability – it is critical. Cultural training through Army’s force generation (FORGEN) system is (we believe) inadequate, providing a surface deep, ‘just-in-time’ approach that seeks to mitigate rather than exploit cultural agility. This proposal outlines an individual […]

Mindfulness for Military: Improving Human Performance, Cognitive Mastery, Emotional Intelligence and Resilience

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Blog

As the Australian Army seeks methods to improve human performance, cognitive mastery, emotional intelligence, leadership, resilience and innovation it should consider the success that mindfulness training is having in many organisations across the globe. Mindfulness training has been thoroughly tested in a diverse range of industries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. It is […]

Idea Pitch – A Cultural and Regional Training Continuum

Posted 6 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Bottom Line Up Front – An Australian Regional, Culture and Language Familiarisation Program (RCLF) The Australian Army’s ability to operate in complex and human-dense environments is enhanced through cultural and regional training. If the Australian Army is to become a truly expeditionary force, able to respond rapidly to unforseen government requirements, this training must be […]

The Postern Association – The Vehicles for Intellectual Mastery (Part 2 of 4)

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest […]

The Postern Association (Part 1 of 4)

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

This year a small and dedicated team of Australian Army personnel has been bringing together the DEF Australia activities. This team believes that professional development and innovation are best done as collective activities, and also that initiatives need to think beyond short term goals. So concurrently to the DEF[X] activities, the DEF team has been working on ‘where to […]

Idea Pitch – Head Up, Eyes on Target, Hands on Weapon

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Augmented Reality and the Future Australian Soldier The augmented reality (AR) game Pokémon GO was recently released in Australia, and became an instant sensation. Quietly, on the other side of the world, the Israeli Army purchased its first two sets of the Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset. Israel has decided that it needs to be […]

Leadership in Focus – The Timeless Leadership Question

Posted Posted in Blog

The frequently asked leadership question, ‘Are great leaders born or created?’ consistently creates vigorous, robust discussion. So what is the answer? Warren Bennis believes that leaders are made: The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are […]

Future Thinking – Cyberspace: A Contested Domain

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Australia and Australians are targets for malicious actors—including serious and organised criminal syndicates and foreign adversaries—who are all using cyberspace to further their aims and attack our interests – The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, April 2016 ‘the ADF is likely to be blind to the operational vulnerabilities of their major complex systems and […]

Future Thinking – Recruiting the Uniformed Cyberwarrior

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

The recently released 2016 Defence White Paper prescribed a re-balancing of 1200 Australian Public Service positions to be generated to support growth in intelligence, space and cyber security across Defence. The Army, RAN and RAAF continue to grow their respective service cyber capabilities under the umbrella of the VCDF Group’s guiding strategy. The APS and […]

The Resilience Adventure

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Blog

The first occasion a soldier faces real fear must not be on the battlefield. Just like any other skill, managing one’s fear and stress requires investment and practise. Roosevelt said it best when he declared that, ‘Courage is the ability to operate in the presence of fear, not the absence of fear’. But what he […]

Idea Pitch – Online Short Courses for Professional Military Education

Posted 24 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

The Problem – the ‘Fire Hose’ Approach to Education As the recent Ryan Review noted, the Australian Army’s current system of Professional Military Education (PME) is not broken, but needs reinvigoration. There are long stretches between officer promotion courses when immersion into the profession of arms is sporadic and incidental. Professional development can be diminished […]

Risky Business: Equipping Junior Leaders to Exploit Risk on the Battlefield

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

‘In the art of war, lesser men are schemers, who avoid risk with mediocre results.’[i]  Napoleon Bonaparte Introduction To an extent unmatched by any other human endeavor, combat compels leaders to deliberately expose their subordinates to destruction to achieve success. Almost uniquely, military operations require leaders to weigh the cost of achieving a task against […]

Future Thinking – Space Culture: What do we need for the Future Fight?

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Space is a domain that is increasingly contested, congested and competitive. As the cost and technical barriers to space diminish, the range of states and non-state actors able to access space (either directly or by leveraging another’s capabilities) continues to grow. Over a dozen states are now capable of independently launching satellites into space; more […]

Innovation Toolbox – Innovation: Why do we need it in the military? (Part 1 of 3)

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit. Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) Ask any senior military leader today what qualities they want in their […]

Social Media in the Military: Opportunities, Perils and a Safe Middle Path

Posted 6 CommentsPosted in Blog, Featured

Knowledge is generated anew from connections that weren’t there before.  Margaret Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science Introduction Social media has revolutionised global communication and professional discourse.  It has demonstrated a capacity for penetration that is historically unprecedented, especially compared to other means of communication.  For example Facebook took just 12 years to gain 1.65 […]

How Electronic Learning Environments Can Support Professional Military Education

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Blog

Social media is commonly being used by the future leaders of Army for Professional Military Education (PME). Blogs have been accepted as a professionally and socially acceptable form of communication for both formal and informal PME. Against this backdrop, Officer Training Wing (OTW) at the Land Warfare Centre (LWC) has embraced these communication tools through […]

Professional Military Education and Innovation – An Historical Perspective

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

After recently embarking on a new phase of professional study I have developed a renewed appreciation of the importance that historical lessons can play in understanding the future of war. History presents us with many lessons relevant to the role and impact of innovation within military organisations. Indeed, a range of historical events and now […]

DEF Australia Letters from HAMEL Part 3: The Operational Level of War. What is it Good For?

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

The Op HAMEL intervention is ending.  With the Kamarian Armed Forces in retreat and the International Boundary restored, peace is steadily returning to East Cultania.  Grateful Cultanians line the streets, thanking the ANZUS (and British) coalition for their help.  For another year the Australian Army has trained for what is probably the most technically complex role they might face; ‘three block’ war against a near peer enemy in a major coalition.  As […]

DEF Australia Letters from HAMEL Part 2: Just War and Tactical Ethics in a Brutal World 

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Many of you who read this will be tacticians.  Congratulations, and good luck.  You’ve volunteered for one of the hardest, most illogical and least predictable jobs going.  Every tactician is, at heart, a problem solver.  The problems you face may vary in context, but the core question is always the same.  How and where to apply limited assets, in the most efficient way and […]

DEF Australia Letters from Hamel Part 1: The Duel, the Enemy and Psychological Mastery 

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

I’ve just watched a Rehearsal of Coordination (ROC) Drill on Ex HAMEL, and I’m struck by a thought.  I had the same thought when teaching tactics and planning at the British Staff College.  The thought is as follows: As western militaries we plan well.  We are good at applying our process, at manoeuvring forces, at building […]

Redefining ‘Mountains of Steel’: The Utility of Disaggregated CSS in Contemporary Warfare

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

Army’s logisticians have operated under an obsolescent doctrine for decades that is out of touch with a rapidly accelerating technological arms race between combatants. Tendency to concentrate critical logistic effects around single nodes removes redundancy, exposing major sustainment nodes to singular, catastrophic enemy actions that paralyse the fighting force. In this light, Army’s commanders must now […]

How do you see the #FutureFight?

Posted Posted in Blog, Innovation - DEF Australia

The next conflicts will be won by intelligent people with the courage to challenge our current thinking and outlooks. This foundation of innovative people starts with thinking about what our future operating environment looks like. Imagining the future is a tough ask; however, the words ‘innovation’ and ‘future’ go hand-in-hand. We are not innovating for today, we are innovating for […]

A Review of Army’s Education, Training and Doctrine – Needs for the Future

Posted Posted in Blog

In 2014, the Australian Army commenced 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 included the Future Land Warfare Report, the Afghanistan lessons initiative, the ‘Building on […]

Exchange Programme Long Look

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

I was privileged to be selected to attend Exchange Programme Long Look (LL) in 2015. LL is an incredible professional development opportunity for junior officers and NCOs. Each LL experience will be different and processes may vary, but here are my thoughts about the programme for fellow Subbies who may be interested. General outline LL is […]

Time Wasted and Lessons Learnt

Posted Posted in Blog, Featured

It takes considerable knowledge just to recognise the extent of your own ignorance. Thomas Sowell[1] Introduction The leadership, readiness, resilience, mental toughness and moral courage of Army’s junior leaders are topics that entice passionate debate. The result of these robust discussions often concludes with a clear outline of the faults of junior officers: ‘they didn’t rehearse,’ […]

Case Study – Army Strategic Scholarship – Johns Hopkins SAIS

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

This case study by Brigadier Mick Ryan links to a series on Grounded Curiosity about the Chief of Army Scholarship Program and highlights the opportunities at John Hopkins SAIS through the Army Strategic Scholarship. Williamson Murray has described the profession of arms, and in particular the demands of military leadership, as the most intellectually demanding of all professions. […]

Army Foundation Scholarship

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

General Outline The Army Foundation Scholarship is one of four strands to the Chief of Army Scholarship Program. It was previously known as the Chief of Army Scholarship and is awarded to high performing individuals at the rank of Sergeant-to-Lieutenant Colonel for the purposes of academic research or professional development usually over a period not […]

Erudite Warrior

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

One of the key differences between a professional and an employee is a commitment to the pursuit of professional knowledge – beyond that which is formally delivered.  Erudite Warrior is a new social media resource intended to “foster the study of the profession of arms”. Basically, the editors share a selection of interesting, relevant, topical and/or thought provoking articles via Facebook and Twitter. […]

Episode 5 – Brigadier Mick Ryan AM

Posted Posted in Blog, Podcasts & Videos

This podcast features great insights from Brigadier Mick Ryan AM. The podcast begins with Brigadier Ryan discussing his roles in the Australian Army including as Commander 1st Brigade, and building networks through educational opportunities at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico and John Hopkins University in Washington D.C. Listen to Brigadier Ryan discuss […]

Global Voices

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

Global Voices is a non-profit organisation that seeks to promote Australian youth engagement in international diplomacy and foreign policy discussion. In the past five years, Global Voices has sent over 35 delegations to 18 of the most prestigious international conferences in the world. Defence Delegation One of the delegations focuses entirely on defence and security […]

Online Military Blogs and Websites

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

Here is a list of online resources to get you started exploring avenues for your self-initiated or team professional military development: Land Power Forum – short posts published by the Australian Army on topics including modernisation, future of land power, strategy, emerging threats and opportunities, land combat, logistics, cyber and space, amphibious / joint / interagencies operations […]

Facebook Accounts to Follow

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

Here are some Facebook accounts to follow in order to get you started in the world of social media for professional military use: Australia: Grounded Curiosity Erudite Warrior Dead Prussian Podcast Security Scholar The Lowy Institute for International Policy Australian Strategic Policy Institute United States: The Strategy Bridge The Military Leader Platoon Leader Company Command […]

Manoeuvre Self Study Program

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

Want to self-initiate your professional development? Stuck in a posting to the Back of Bourke with no-one to help with your professional development pathway? Check out the Maneuver Self Study Program brought to you by the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence. A commitment to learning is just as important as your commitment to fitness […]

#CCLKOW – Weekly Online Professional Development Discussion

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

Need quick ideas for professional development/discussion in 2016? Ideas from ‪#‎CCLKOW‬ may help – a weekly conversation on military affairs jointly hosted by the Center for Company-Level Leaders (CCL) at the US Military Academy at West Point and the Kings of War (KOW), a blog of the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. The […]

Military Reading Lists

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

Looking for some military reading lists for inspiration? Want to know what senior commanders think we should be reading? Here are some lists to get you started: Australian Chief of Army’s Reading List – philosophers of war, character of land warfare, culture and conflict, military organisation culture and behaviours, strategy and doctrine, logistics, command and leadership, […]

Jonathan Church Award

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

The Chief of Army’s Jonathan Church Ethical Solider Award is awarded annually to junior soldiers and junior officers who personify Army’s ten core behaviours with emphasis on compassionate and ethical soldiering. The award is named in honour of Trooper Jonathan Church. Trooper Church was a Special Air Service Regiment paramedic who served with the United […]

Army Capabilities Integration Centre – Weekly Professional Development

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

Don’t know what to run for professional development with your team? Read thoughts, insight and advice from the master of Soldier-Scholar leadership – Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. Click here to check it out at the Army Capabilities Integration Center’s weekly online professional development site. Over 70 topics and counting, topics have included: The Use and Abuse of Military […]

Robert Chaloner Prize for Outstanding Young Strategic Leadership ($1,000)

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

The Rob Chaloner Prize is awarded by the Institute for Regional Security (IFRS) annual in recognition of outstanding young strategic leadership. The prize of $1,000 allows the recipient to undertake further personal development of their choosing. The process is via nominations not applications, so if you have a junior to mid-level officer who fits the criteria, […]

Future Strategic Leaders Congress

Posted Posted in Blog, Opportunities

Future Strategic Leaders’ Congress Interested in behind-the-scenes information on strategic affairs in our region? The Future Strategic Leaders’ Congress, run by the Institute for Regional Security (IFRS), is one of the few opportunities for military junior leaders to engage directly with senior national security leaders, industry heads, and leading thinkers around a central, strategic theme. Critical […]