The New Australian Chief of Staff of the Air Force Focuses on the Way Ahead


2015-07-14 On July 3, 2015, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) had its change of command.

Air Marshal Brown retired and the RAAF welcomed Air Marshal Leo Davies as its new chief.

Change of Command for RAAF from on Vimeo.

In an article published on the Australian MoD website about the change of command:

The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, AO, officially handed over command of the Royal Australian Air Force to Air Marshal Leo Davies, AO CSC at a ceremony in Canberra today.
Air Marshal Brown ended his four year term by expressing his gratitude to all Air Force staff for their contribution and thanking his colleagues, family and friends for their support during his 35 year career in Air Force.
“I cannot leave without expressing my thanks to everyone in Air Force for the past 35 years. I have always felt fortunate to be part of the Air Force,” Air Marshal Brown said.
“To be entrusted with the command of the Air Force is a special honour and even greater responsibility. The privilege of leading the Air Force has been immensely rewarding due to the contribution made by everyone in the Air Force.”

The Director General Chaplaincy - Air Force, Air Commodore Kevin Russell (left), reads a benadiction during the Air Force's Change of Command Ceremony. The Ceremony sees the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, AO, officially hand over command of the Royal Australian Air Force to Air Marshal Leo Davies (right), AO, CSC.
The Director General Chaplaincy – Air Force, Air Commodore Kevin Russell (left), reads a benadiction during the Air Force’s Change of Command Ceremony. The Ceremony sees the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, AO, officially hand over command of the Royal Australian Air Force to Air Marshal Leo Davies (right), AO, CSC.

Air Marshal Brown welcomed Air Marshal Davies to the job and said he trusted Air Force would give Air Marshal Davies the same support that he was afforded.
“I leave Air Force knowing that we are on the right path for the future, and Air Force is in the capable hands of Air Marshal Davies who will continue Plan Jericho,” Air Marshal Brown said.
Air Marshal Davies said he was deeply honoured and privileged to lead the Royal Australian Air Force, and thanked Air Marshal Brown for his leadership and vision.
“I accept this responsibility of leadership of the Royal Australian Air Force with all of its challenges and rewards, knowing that I will work hard every day to build on the achievements others have already made,” Air Marshal Davies said.
“I thank you in advance for your support as we face the future challenges that will be demanded of us. I feel privileged to lead you at such an exciting time in Air Force’s history.
Air Marshal Davies has served in a number of roles including the Commanding Officer of No 1 Squadron, Officer Commanding No 82 Wing Amberley, Director General Capability Planning in Air Force Headquarters, and was posted to Washington as the Air Attaché.  His last posting was as Deputy Chief of Air Force.

In an interview with Second Line of Defense earlier this year, the new Chief of Staff discussed the way ahead and the reshaping of the RAAF to be at the spearhead of “fifth generation warfare” as the Australian Minister of Defence has put it.

Air Marshal Brown launched Plan Jericho, a comprehensive effort at transformation not only of the Air Force, but in terms of its role within the joint force.

Air Vice-Marshal Davies started precisely on the point of how he viewed Plan Jericho and its importance in helping shape a way ahead.

According to Davies: “The Plan Jericho approach dovetails very well with the overall relook which Australian defense is taking with regard to first principles.

There is a first principles review going on at the same time we have launched the Plan Jericho effort.

We think our approach is not simply about the Air Force but the overall process of transformation for Australian defense.”

He emphasized that “if we simply continue without transformation we will not be able to deal with threat environment which Australia and its allies face.

Significant innovation, shaping distributed operational capabilities, and greater coalition effectiveness are all part of the way ahead.

It is about building a more credible deterrent force, one whose effectiveness can not be in doubt in the eyes of the adversaries of the democracies.”

He explained further how he looked at the challeng.

“I call it the Janes factor.

I want a potential adversary to look at the Royal Australian Air Force, the Australian Defense Force more broadly, and then at a coalition force, of which Australia is a part, and flick through Janes fighting ships, fighting aircraft, fighting systems, and conclude that I do not want to butt heads with that group, actually.

That’s going to hurt me more than I can stand.

I suspect if we continue to evolve as we are, and have done over the last 20 years, without taking on a fifth generation warfare approach, then when they read that Jane’s volume on Australia, they’ll say probably they won’t be able to hurt me that badly.

This is clearly NOT the conclusion we wish our adversaries to reach.”

Air Vice-Marshal Davies highlighted that a key trajectory for force transformation was to be able to combine kinetic with non-kinetic capabilities to deliver the kind of combat effects, which are needed for a wide variety of combat tasks and situations.

He comes from an F-111 background, and the ability to project lethality at a distance was built into the F-111 approach.

But this approach is not the most relevant to the way ahead, for it is about combined capabilities delivering a multiplicity of effects appropriate to the task which is required.

“What we’ve had trouble appreciating, and this is somewhat tough for an F111 man, is that that concept is no longer valid.

We need to take the fighting force, not just the kinetic effect, to battle, and so our requirement for air lift, our requirement for anywhere refueling, became part of a fighter support package, but really the fighter support package now includes electronic warfare, it includes ISR, and it includes the ability to update the battle second by second, minute by minute, whereas what and we have been reliant upon ISR updates of day by day up until this point.

If we don’t have all the elements as we go forward into a particular series of events, I don’t believe we will prevail.

We will not be able to have the response that we need and for a force as small as the ADF is, that’s simply not going to be effective”

The force integration piece is the goal for Plan Jericho.

He mentioned that the Royal Australian Navy leadership was shaping a convergent approach to innovation and looking at naval and air integration as a key element of moving forward as well for their platforms.

“We already see manifestations of this in Operation Okra, where we have navy controllers on the Wedgetail and we will have Air Force controllers onboard Navy ships as well.

This is about breaking the cultural barriers.”

Air Commander Gary Martin, the Australian Air Attache in the United States, with Air Commodore Davies after the interview. Credit: SLD
Air Commander Gary Martin, the Australian Air Attache in the United States, with Air Commodore Davies after the interview in late April  2015. Credit: SLD

A key element associated with the Plan Jericho approach is enhancing risk tolerance.

Risk aversion will not see the kind of innovation necessary to shape an integrated force which can leverage the new platforms, with the F-35 being a centerpiece for the innovation process.

“With the new technologies, the younger generation intuitively probes ways to do things differently.

We need to not get in the way but to facilitate change as senior leaders.

And we can seek out opportunities to enhance innovation.

For example, we have bought the C-27J in order to access many of the shorter airstrips in our area of operation.We can access four times the number of air fields in the Australian region with C27 than we can C130J.

We are going to send young crews to work with a mix of experienced C-130 crew members because we want to have fresh looks at how this fleet might operate in an island environment as vast as Australia and deliver the kind of military tasks that these crews will face and the Government expects.”

A core effort for the RAAF and the ADF is working a diversity of coalition efforts, and the coming of the global F-35 fleet enhances our ability to shape new working relationships in the near term.

“We have seen an expanding willingness among partners to share experiences and to shape convergent ways ahead in the past few years.

And we hope to continue this trend going forward.

For example, as South Korea adds the F-35 and works logistics or its integration with its Navy or Army, how might we learn from what they do?

And as we expand ways to enhance interoperability with the integration efforts we can expand the apertures of how we integrate various pieces of equipment going forward based on expanding working relationships with Asian and other allies.

I think that is the next step.”

We concluded the discussion by addressing a core question: when his time as Chief of the RAAF is over what will he hope to look back on as achievements during his time in office?

“There are two key tasks which I hope we will succeed in achieving.

The first is pushing beyond the platform approach.

A C-17 is not just about going from point A to point B. How do we reshape its role as we craft a fifth generation warfare approach?

More generally, how do we tie our inventory together in a more effective war fighting approach enabling us to prevail in the 21st century strategic environment?

The second is overcoming a risk averse culture.

We need to open opportunities for the young officers, airmen and airwomen to drive innovation and to open the aperture for integrative change.”

On August 6, 2015, the Williams Foundation will host an important conference on Plan Jericho, and the new COS will provide the keynote address at that conference.

According to the Williams Foundation:

The Sir Richard Williams Foundation invites you to attend a half-day Seminar from 0830 to 1230 on 6 August 2015 at the National Gallery of Australia.

Plan Jericho states that “Air platforms, command and control, and information management systems must be acquired in a deliberate manner, with a full regard for future operating concepts. We must achieve the future Air Force by design.”  This Seminar will explore that statement and ask:

  • how can the RAAF, in partnership with the other Services, create the appropriate innovation / transformation environment to support the design and implementation of the RAAF’s Plan Jericho, and
  • is the RAAF on track to achieve the “future Air Force by design”?     

This Seminar will build on the Williams Foundation Seminar series that has explored the opportunities and challenges afforded by the introduction of 5th Generation Air Combat capabilities.  

The Seminar will:

  • examine how innovation can be encouraged at all levels and how can it lead to “transformation” by using US Industry and Military examples; and
  • identify options for a new model of teaming with Industry to support innovation and transformation.

 For more details download the agenda

Following the half-day seminar, there will be an invitation-only Workshop from 1230 to 1630 for Defence personnel who will play a role in implementing 5th generation enabled operations.  Workshop participants will be issued with invitations through the RAAF Plan Jericho Office.

Inquiries: [email protected]

Second Line of Defense will attend the Conference and provide reporting from Australia before and after the event.

A full update on Plan Jericho will be provided as well as interviews with senior Australian defense officials and reporting from the field as well.

The significance of Aussie innovation goes beyond the confines of Australia.

For example, the working relationship with the USMC-USN team seen in the Northern territories will be highly interactive with the Aussies in shaping innovation both for the USN-USMC team as well as Australia.

Air-ground integration is an important aspect of the process of change which can already be seen in play in the current Talisman Sabre exercise.

FOG BAY, Australia (July 11, 2015)

U.S. Marines assigned to 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Australian Army soldiers assigned to 2nd battalion, Royal Australian regiment, set up a perimeter after a tactical insertion via MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft as part of an amphibious assault during Talisman Sabre 2015 at Fog Bay, Australia, July 11, 2015.

Talisman Sabre is a biennial exercise that provides an invaluable opportunity for approximately 30,000 U.S. and Australian service members to conduct operations in a combined, joint and interagency environment that will increase both countries’ ability to plan and execute contingency responses, from combat missions to humanitarian assistance efforts. 

Credit: Fleet Combat Camera Pacific:7/11/15