Recommendations for the Way Ahead To Craft a 21st Century Integrated Force


2016-09-09 By Robbin Laird

The Williams Foundation seminar on air-sea integration provided an opportunity for both uniformed officers as well as industrial participants to provide some practical suggestions and recommendations with regard to the way ahead to craft a more integrated combat force

In this piece, I will look at the comments made by the final panel, which featured key officers from the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Navy as well as the industry presentations in the seminar.

Perspectives of the Panel at the Closing Session of the Williams Foundation Seminar

Air Marshall (Retired) Geoff Brown was the moderator for the final session of the air-sea seminar.

He oversaw a panel, which then engaged with the audience and discussed a number of practical challenges, which needed to be addressed to effectively shape an integrated force capable of prevailing in the extended battlespace of the period ahead.

The panel consisted of Rear Admiral Manazir, Rear Admiral Stu Mayer, Air Vice Marshal Warren McDonald, and Rear Admiral (Retired) James Rapp.

The challenge of shaping an integrated force is enhanced in part by an acquisition process, which buys platforms and not capabilities. And acquisition processes which are long and drawn out.

The focus of the panelists was on leveraging industry to shape fixes to gaps which then allowed broader force structure change, upon non-capital investments which drew upon needed cultural changes which the military leadership could identify and put investments against, and leveraging new opportunities posed by the introduction of new platforms, to shape new joint opportunities.

Air Vice Marshal Warren McDonald participating in the panel at the Williams Foundation seminar on air-sea integration, August 10, 2016.
Air Vice Marshal Warren McDonald participating in the panel at the Williams Foundation seminar on air-sea integration, August 10, 2016.

Rear Admiral Mayer underscored the need to focus on non-capital investments as a way ahead.

“We are focused on platform purchases to solve problems; but many of those problems can be solved with better and more effective ways to work together. And we need to identify them, train to them and operate with them to make a difference in the joint force.”

Air Vice Marshall McDonald highlighted the opportunity to leverage the new capabilities provided by Wedgetail and P-8 to shape a new approach to work with navy.

He also highlighted the opportunity inherent in integrated and air and missile defense.

“I do not meet with industry in this area without an Army officer present, because we are going to work the problem together.”

He added the sage comment that we need to focus on the practical opportunities and leverage points rather than trying to get a full-blown integrated force solution at once.

“We need to build from to in order to shape an effective way ahead.”

Another key theme was working the training area more effectively.

Here suggestions ranged from shaping more targeted training, which focused on key tactical innovations to the use of LVC to train the command elements in ways to actually leverage a joint force in a high-end fight.

And LVC was seen as key to working the training towards the high-end fight, and training warriors in how to do cooperative engagement, to get the kind of sensor to weapons hand offs which the new technologies was generating for the combat force.

A key issue is that of information sharing among national or coalition forces.

Here Air Marshal (Retired) Geoff Brown asked Rear Admiral Manazir if we were making progress in this area.

Rear Admiral Manazir highlighted that in the evolving machine-to-machine relationships, technology was providing a way ahead. For example, targets could be identified and shared without disclosing the source of that information or the classification level.

The practical problem is to move classified data around the battlespace to empower the war fighters without compromising classification methods.

According to Rear Admiral Manazir:

“Machines talking at multi-level and multi-channel encrypted security levels can exchange data without compromising the sources and methods whereby the data has been generated.

“Thereby an F-35 with US markings and an F-35 with Australian markings can share data effectively in the combat space.”

In effect, the broad problem is one of parsing information and solving the problem posed by Air Vice Marshal Gavin Turnbull at the last Williams Foundation Seminar:

“How do we get the right information to the right people at the right time?”

The Perspective of John Conway, Raytheon Australia: Reshaping the Industrial-Government Working Relationship to Support 21st Century Force Integration

John Conway focused on what he sees as a key role for industry in Australia, namely working with the Commonwealth to ensure that the ADF has sovereign control over its combat technologies.

“Integration should be viewed from the outset as an essential force multiplier in the air-sea domain, with the Australian defence industry playing a fundamental role in supporting the design, building and sustainment of a potent and agile joint force capability.”

Clearly, the latest Defence White Paper and associated documents called for a new working relationship with industry and throughout his remarks Conway underscored the importance of reworking the relationship to achieve greater force integration and cohesion.

John Conway addressing the Williams Foundation Seminar on Air Sea Integration, August 10, 2016.

“With Australian industry now formally acknowledged as a fundamental input to capability, this places a significant responsibility upon us to synchronise with Commonwealth intent, contribute to the development of effective and efficient time-sensitive solutions, and act as a cooperative and value-adding partner within the emerging framework of the first principles review.”

He highlighted that the addition of the new platforms provides key opportunities for working the partnership towards greater force integration.

“The possibility of adding complementary networked sensors, targeting systems, kinetic and non-kinetic weapons to as many of these new platforms as possible adds significant density and resilience to the ‘kill web’ described earlier by Admiral Manazir.

With a strong Australian industrial base, enabled by efficient international supply chains, we are able to integrated these new systems swiftly into our environment, as well as keeping their important training systems in lock step.”


The Perspective of Patrick Winter, BAE Systems, Australia: Reworking Systems Integration to Shape an Integrated Force

Winter focused on ways to enhance the integration of forces, with among other approaches shaping a more open systems architecture approach.

“From an industry perspective, open systems architectures, support to collective air and sea training, and enterprise level C4ISR capabilities are the key areas where we can really make a significant contribution to air and sea integration and interoperability.”

He underscored that it was important for platform builders to buy into the new approach so that “industry can deliver a sensor as a service across a platform and the wider integrated air/sea enterprise.”

But to achieve integration there have to be agreed upon standards with regard to data exchange and security. “We need a continued focus on consistency in our data links and communications in contested environments, our multi-level security and data exchange systems, and this is where industry and the services need to work together to define and agree to approaches to interoperability in Australian and coalition environments.”

And although he did not use this term, he focused on “Big Data” management challenges to get to where integrated forces can achieve operational advantages and superiority.

“We need to finally embrace the technical and security challenges posed by large volumes of data being collected, processed and disseminated in Australia and in deployed environments. We need to work with Defence to identify innovative solutions to ensure data is available when, where and in the form it is needed.”

He sees approaches such as the use of system integration labs as ways to shape more effective integration.

“Our approach is to work as an industry team to deliver the outcomes needed by Defence through initiatives such as our systems integration labs – housed at BAE Systems, but used by RAF, other UK services and our broader industry partners.

And this is a model which we believe the ADF could adopt for future platforms and systems.”

He hammered home the point that a new industry-government working relationship was crucial to achieve the force integration possible in a software development and data-sharing world.

“The depth, breadth and unrivalled global access of the major defence primes will be critical to Defence achieving the best air and sea integration outcomes – and we would like to work more closely and more collaboratively with Defence in the planning phases.

“It’s great to see First Principles, the Defence Industry Policy and the White Paper address this very issue – but we need to ensure we maintain momentum and truly work together in a partnership moving forward.”


The Perspective of Rob Slaven, L-3 Communication Systems, Australia: The Challenge of Data Security in Coalition Operations

In both Williams Seminars this year on force integration, first on air-land, and the second on air-sea, L-3 has provided solid presentations on the communications side of the challenge.

At the air-land seminar earlier this year, Victor King, L-3 Mission Integration, provided an overview on ways to shape seamless situational awareness.

In that presentation, King talked to the question of how to balance substantial government investment in existing military systems designed to remain operational for decades with rapidly changing technology?

His answer focused on three key elements:

  1. Integrated commercial technology and standards with current military systems;
  2. Allow the market to drive technology and provide infrastructure;
  3. Utilize both military and commercial networks for an end-to-end solution.

In the air-sea integration seminar, Captain Rob Slaven, DSM RAN (Retired) and now from L-3, provided a look at the communications side of the challenge for shaping and operating an integrated force.

Slaven’s briefing was entitled: “Joint Force Information Exchange and Data Integrity in a Coalition Environment.”

He emphasized that coalition operations are essentially come as you are warfare and requires working the interoperability piece is very challenging.

“For a Coalition finding a common cause is hard, speaking one language is harder, whilst using common systems and equipment configurations would seem to be the hardest challenge of them all.”

As difficult as the challenge is, it needs to be addressed for coalitions to be effective. He focused on a multi-step approach to sorting through a solution.

“Internationally agreed interface standards and programming languages are a first step. A next step is to initiate a cyber secure program environment from project initiation.”

Clearly, one would like to get to the point of having a shared common operational picture.

But there is a broader problem raised by Slaven’s presentation, which needs to be addressed.

Which allies for which coalitions for which tasks and solutions? The countries which have core security and data sharing arrangements such as the US, the UK and Australia can seek ways to share data, that will not simply work within a broader political coalition environment.

How to best two tier solutions but with reasonable commonality as well? And this will clearly affect the training and exercise side of the equation, a subject addressed in part by the CAE briefing.

The Perspective of Rear Admiral (Retired) Rapp, Senior Naval Advisor, CAE: The Crucial Role of LVCT in the Crafting of an Integrated Force

Rear Admiral James Rapp is Senior Naval Advisor to CAE. His final operational appointment in the Royal Navy was as Flag Office Sea Training. Employing a staff of 600, he was responsible for the operational sea training of all the Royal Navy’s hips, submarines and auxiliaries, and ships from 19 other foreign navies.

Rear Admiral (Retired) Rapp focused on the increasingly dynamic and transformative role of training systems in shaping the way ahead for the joint force.

Live Virtual Constructive Training would see a greater role in the evolution of the joint force as it forged greater opportunities for force integration.

In addition to reviewing the advantages of LVCT, he underscored how essential it was in terms of operating in a training environment where security can be maintained for the fifth generation-enabled force.

He argued that “security constraints are a key barrier to integration” and highlighted ways in LVCT could assist in providing practical ways to seek solutions rooted in the training environment.

He used the example of CAE’s support to the UAE Navy as an example of how an integrated training solution can provide benefits both to industry and the client in terms of enhanced training capabilities, and learning curves.

“In the UAE case, having a single training systems provider has reduced costs, risks and enhanced the training schedule as well.”

He presented a clear case for an effective industry-service partnership in the training area to get efficiencies, flexibility and effectiveness in the training domain.

The Perspective of John Thompson, Northrop Grumman: Shaping Capabilities to Prevail in the Electronic Magnetic Warfare Maneuver Space

John Thompson is director of business development for the Force Protection business unit in Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems sector. As the senior business development representative for the Mission Systems sector’s electronic business area, Thompson leads the development and acquisition of advanced electronic warfare programs.

His presentation focused on the way ahead in the non-kinetic warfare area and its implications for full spectrum maneuverability in the air-sea battle space.

He started by focusing on a Growler being flown by an Australian pilot firing an anti-radiation missile. He saw that pilot as a node in the network, rather than simply seeing it as a plane. He saw that pilot both as a supported and supporting element in a combat network.

He suggested resetting the electronic warfare approach to understand that it is really about connectivity within the network and the ability of the network to function.

It is part of the operation of the network, rather than being a stove-piped functional capability.

He highlighted as well the CNO’s concept of operating in the electronic maneuver warfare space. And a key goal of the attack side of such operations is to create chaos in the adversary’s operational space.

He argued that it was crucial as well to shape redundant systems to be able to defend against electronic threats as well. For combat success, agility is crucial for the forces, and in that regard EW is a crucial capability, which needs to be built into the integrated force.

How do I engage at range?

In the example cited by Captain Walker of the Type 45 destroyer as the wingman for an F-35, the task is highlighted whereby target identification then pushes the choice of weapon to the appropriate capability in the battlespace.

“How will I generate a weapons quality track at range and distribute that track to the best available shooter?”

The Perspective of Lowell Shayn Hawthorne, Mitre Corporation: Evolving Approaches to Integrated Air and Missile Defense

The Mitre executive started his presentation by articulating how he saw the Australian situation.

  • The future will find Australian Defence Forces (ADF) conducting global operations
  • In a variety of environments from low intensity up to Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD) conditions
  • Requiring IAMD to protect joint forces.

His presentation then went on to discuss the evolving threat environment, which requires more flexible and enhanced integrated defense.

He argued that the strategic direction of the effort needed to ensure that “every asset is part of the IAMD net.”

The rest of the briefing set out how he thought this goal could be achieved or put differently, what needed to happen in order to achieve this objective.

He noted, “All systems must work together to achieve common goals in coalition and sovereign operations.”

This might well be a too hard to do issue, and perhaps can happen for a small subset of states but more difficult across coalitions.

Indeed both Chief of Navy and the Commander of the Australian Fleet, both highlighted the importance of sovereignty operations and the need to shape their integrated force obviously with close connections with the United States.

Where best to fit in IAMD into the Australian picture?

The background of Lowell Shayn Hawthorne highlights in many ways the nature of the presentation.

Mr. Shayn Hawthorne has served as the Technical Director of the OSD/MDA Program Division since March 2014 where he has developed excellent relationships with his two Portfolio Directors and Division Leadership while leading the Division through significant workforce shaping activities and helping both Portfolios achieve significant growth.

Previously, Shayn led the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Space Knowledge Center as the Technical Director, which performs independent technical assessments and evaluates experiments related to MDA space programs currently being executed. There, Shayn worked with MITRE, other FFRDCs/UARCs, and the MDA to achieve mission success. In previous MITRE work efforts, Mr. Hawthorne has been by-name requested to lead Advanced Development efforts for Air Force space situational awareness, missile warning, and missile defense sensors, as well as Command and Control (C2) systems and correlator/tracker systems.

The US built a missile defense agency, precisely to do missile defense. The problem is that in a warfighting sense dealing with an adversaries’ missiles is even more of an offensive challenge than a defensive one, and clearly what is on offer is shaping an offensive-defensive enterprise that engages to kill adversary forces, with whatever means are necessary.

In an interview conducted in Hawaii in 2014 with the then head of Army ADA, the point was underscored as follows:

The General discussed the role of ADA within Pacific defense as part of the support to airpower and to strategic decision-making.

He emphasized that the capabilities of ADA helped provide time to determine how to both generate more air power and how to use airpower and provided the national command authority time to determine how best to respond to a crisis.

There are three ways to deal with an incoming missile defense. 

There is passive defense, but there is only so much hardening and dispersal one can do without degrading your combat capability, and their many soft targets, which cannot be hardened.

You can use air strikes to take out the adversary’s missile strike force, but you may not wish to do that right away or have not fully mobilized your capability. 

The role of having active defense or an interceptor force is to buy time for [Lieutenant] General [Jan-Marc] Jouas (7th USAF Commander in the Pacific) or General [Hawk] Carlisle (the PACAF Commander) to more effectively determine how to use their airpower. 

It also allows the National Command Authority to determine the most effective way ahead with an adversary willing to strike US or allied forces and territory with missiles.

This is very close to the view articulated by the head of Australian Army Modernization, Major General McLachlan, concerning how he saw the evolving role of the Aussie Army in the defense of Australia through what the U.S. Army would call Air Defense Artillery (ADA) or shaping the lower tier to a missile defense system engaged with the power projection forces.

From his perspective, the more effective the territory of Australia could be used to shape effective defenses, the more the Air Force and Navy could focus on extended operations. He characterized this as shaping an Australian anti-access and area denial force.

Clearly, integrated air and missile defense for Australia was really not that; they are too small a force to execute the mission in these terms.

They need to shape a capable integrated force, which can execute seamlessly operations in an offensive-defensive enterprise.

They will never have enough defensive capability to deter the most likely adversaries; but with potent extended reach with some integrated defensive capabilities, they can provide for deterrence.

The way Air Commodore Heap put the goal: “We are small but we want to be capable of being a little Tasmanian Devil that you don’t want to play with because if you come at us, were going to give you a seriously hard time that will probably not be worth the effort; deterrence in its purest form.”

What Australia does in the air and missile defense regime will flow from this strategic goal and not provide for an independent capability. The American solution cannot be easily morphed to Australia.

Hawthorne’s excellent presentation introduces a number of key elements for a solution set; the question is how Australia can best leverage some of his suggestions?