2016-03-22 By Robbin Laird
During the previous week, at the Air Power Conference and then at the Williams Seminar on new approaches to air-land integration, a key focus has been upon how to shape a more integrated and effective force structure for 21st century missions and operations.
From the perspective of the ground forces, this means how to shape more effective ground maneuver forces in general, and in higher intensity conflicts, in particular.
Working more effective ways for air and ground elements to shape what we have earlier called, three-dimensional warriors, namely ground maneuver elements which can reach out into the air, space, and sea domains for operational support, and empowerment, is a key element of what Plan Jericho is all about and the intersection of Plan Jericho with Army modernization.
It is in part about shaping ways to take advantage of the information age, or as the Air Commander of Australia, Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Turnbull put it – “Getting the right information, to the right person, at the right time.”
It is not about data collection; it is about shaping effective decision-making at the point of attack.
As a senior Army officer involved with Army modernization, Brigadier General Mills, put it at the Williams Seminar the core focus of shaping a more effective integrated and connected force was as follows: “To generate more force, more rapidly, and more effectively when called to do so.”
Last Friday, the ADF tested out evolving concepts in what they called Jericho Dawn.
According to an Australian Ministry of Defence press release on March 21, 2016, the exercise was described as follows:
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Australian Army, with support from Northrop Grumman, have successfully conducted a firepower demonstration and a combat team quick attack demonstration at Puckapunyal Military Area in Victoria as part of Exercise Jericho Dawn to display the powerful effects of integrated air and land operations.
The live fire exercise allowed RAAF and Army operators, together with Defence and industry representatives, to observe the combined air and land capabilities in two scenarios.
The operators demonstrated the current capabilities, before trialling new ways to improve air-land integration, including the way that aircraft and vehicles connect and translate information through different communication networks.
Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies AO, CSC, said that the demonstration showcased existing air-land operations technologies and processes, and the operational gains that have already been achieved through better integration of systems and information.
“Through today’s demonstration we were able to provide a visualisation of the effects of some of the Australian Defence Force’s capabilities,” Air Marshal Davies said.
“The lessons identified from the activity will help shape Defence’s future capability decisions and improve existing training activities.
“Demonstrations such as today are an important means of testing and displaying joint effects.
“We are building on the Air Force’s international reputation for being good at what we currently do, and asking important questions about taking Air Force’s contribution to joint operations even further.
“If this kind of training exercise shows us something we can do that would help Air Force, Army and Navy fight better as a team, then that’s what we will pursue.”
The Australian Army’s Head Modernisation and Strategic Planning, Major General Gus McLachlan, AM, said that greater air-land integration is an important step towards the Army and the ADF working in a joint, combined and interoperable environment.
“Our Army is focussed on two key areas to ensure improved air-land integration. The first is to deliver better communication systems to ensure an agile, efficient and timely response to an intelligent, well-armed and motivated adversary,” said Major General McLachlan.
“The second is to advance how we plan and conduct air-land operations to deliver the right effect, at the right place, at the right time.
“The demonstration highlights how we can better harness the strengths of our team by digitally connecting air and land platforms.
“This increased connectivity enhances awareness and communication. It gives a common operating picture, so we are better able to plan and execute joint operations into the future.”
Chief Executive Australia, Ian Irving said Northrop Grumman has unparalleled expertise developing and deploying airborne gateways that ensure resilient communications of disparate networks and enable a fully networked battlespace.
“We’ve applied this key capability for more than a decade in numerous operational programs, exercises and demonstrations and have seen how effective and transformational networking a diverse force of assets can be,” said Mr Irving.
“Northrop Grumman congratulates Air Force and Army on their initiative in undertaking this technology demonstration and we look forward to continuing to support the ADF as it builds interoperability in its current and fifth-generation force.
“As demonstrated during the Jericho Dawn exercise, the ability to share information and situational awareness from various sources across diverse platforms and domains is critically important in facilitating joint and coalition operations.”
Capabilities involved include RAAF’s C-17A, AP-3C, KC-30A, E-7A Wedgetail and FA-18 Hornet aircraft, as well as the Army’s air-land enablers from the 16th Air Land Regiment, Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters from 1st Aviation Regiment, and vehicles and equipment from the Combined Arms Training Centre.
We will be reporting more on the exercise and the evolving approach in upcoming interviews with key members of the RAAF and the Australian Army in the weeks to come.
And as Lt. General Davis, the Deputy Commandant of Aviation highlighted at the beginning of his presentation to the Williams Foundation seminar that when he attended the Avalon Air Show and then head of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) introduced Plan Jericho, it was clear that the Marines and the RAAF were on the same page.
“I went back to the Commandant and said that we need to work more closely with the RAAF because with Plan Jericho they are onto something big with regard to innovation.”