Challenge the accepted
December 7th, 2017 by David Caligari and Zach Lambert
The land force’s Force Generation Cycle may no longer be optimal, but the next step is clear. Future resource scarcity and increasing soldier capability requires a more tailored force delivered rapidly to the fight. This tailored force is the future of force generation—the Modularised Land Force. The Modularised Land Force will deploy tailored ‘task groups’ not found in barracks force structures and use every exercise as a deployment. A named battalion headquarters, maintaining unit history and traditions, will be the core of each task group. The Modularised Land Force is specialised in providing the perfect team for each deployment to deliver the best outcome.
The Force Generation Cycle
The Force Generation Cycle is being challenged. This cycle is the system of management within the land force to match resources and soldiers to government requirements. It seeks a manageable tempo in training and fulfilment of the land force’s commitments. The Force Generation Cycle is a three-year block for Combat Brigades to rotate through three parts: one year of preparing for operational deployment, one year committed to operational deployments and a year to reset and support training throughout the land force. This system faces challenges that can be overcome by modularising the land force to generate more efficient, cost effective and mission capable teams.
Future Operating Environment
Our operating environment is becoming more complex, and necessitates selecting tailored forces to operate with diverse partners on dynamic missions. These forces must be selected from the Raise, Train, Sustain force—the force structure used in the barracks at home—specifically for each mission. The selected force must be optimised and bespoke, decoupled from force structures found at home. Historically, the force has been built on a single battalion, yet consisted of an amalgamation of elements from across the force. This process will be enhanced under the Modularised Land Force.
Tailored Task Groups
Tailored forces are formed of bespoke task groups that fit within multi-agency and multi-national coalitions. The modularisation of battalions within Combat Brigades is the solution. Modules form a ‘pool’ or ‘depot’, ordered by each module’s readiness to meet any commitment—being exercises, operational deployments or as standby contingency forces. Combat Brigades achieve further efficiencies by forming just three depots: Combat, Combat Support and Combat Service Support.
This depot system is an expansion of the ‘brick’ system at the small team level—the case for the smallest standard functional grouping of soldiers and equipment—to assign elements to a task group headquarters. Combat Brigades contribute modules and draw from depots to deliver capable and suitable task groups to meet future commitments. As these commitments expand, the depot’s available modules are progressively less prepared. Figure 1 is an example Combat Depot divided into modules and allocated to commitments.
Every mission is supported by a task group formed entirely for purpose. Battalion headquarters, as task group headquarters, form the core module and each depot provides their modules suited to the commitment. Battalion headquarters command their task group through mounting, force concentration, execution and post-commitment reset. After demounting, forces are returned to depots to occupy the lowest readiness position and the headquarters becomes again available for recommitment. Figure 2 shows a Combat Brigade’s available headquarters and potential depot modules.
Better Exercises, Less Often
Large exercises are resource-intensive and complex, and provide less training to participants at lower levels. More value can be derived in conducting each exercise. Better training can be provided by making exercises replicate deployments. As deployments, exercises train modules by executing mounting and force preparation through to demounting and release back to depots. Exercises are now less frequent, and their duration will include lengthened pre- and post-phases—expanding their role.
Exercises are now the focal point for land forces. They will be assessed, and tailored task groups will be pushed to failure. These task groups should fail, and lessons learned should be quickly incorporated. This will enable task groups to understand their capability. This capability will develop as the tailored task group—as a cross-functional team—learns to work together during a new expanded force preparation period.
Retaining our traditions
Unit history is not discounted under the Modularised Land Force. Unit identity is a combat multiplier and not undermined by regionally-based depots. As contemporary operations do, a deploying task group will form under the banner of a battalion headquarters. Therefore, the battalion headquarters will carry forth the history and traditions of their title.
Commitments are the catalyst for forming task groups. Commanding Officer’s and Regimental Sergeant Major’s lead tailored forces. The lengthened commitment window affords their team a chance to bond, excel and reset together before re-joining depots. For important commitments, modules can force concentrate in a single location, with modules leaving their regional base to join the team. Combat Brigades are now more homogenous and more versatile.
These changes may seem drastic, but it is critical that the land force remains optimally positioned to meet Australia’s challenges in the future. As resources become more scarce and soldiers become more capable and lethal, a modular force brings the most suitable elements of our Army more rapidly to the fight.
About the authors:
CAPT David Caligari is currently employed as the Training Officer, Depot Company at the School of Infantry.
CAPT Zach Lambert is a Joint Force Logistics Planner, employed within Headquarters, 1st Division.