Building a 21st Century Integrated High End Force: The Aussies Work a Way Ahead


2017-03-15  The US Navy leadership has articulated what they see as a key way ahead to build a 21st century integrated force and have introduced the concepts of kill web and distributed lethality to get at the concept.

The key is to buy the right platforms, and to build an integrated force from the ground up and as you do so you work integration backwards as well to leverage legacy assets, which are capable of making the transition.

The challenge is how to acquire, build, buy and develop such a force going forward?

This is no easy task because the core focus of the legacy mindset is about buying a platform and then figuring out how to integrate that platform with the force.

With the acquisition of the P-8, Triton and F-35 the US Navy has been leaning forward to shape thinking and a way ahead to work towards a more integrated force going forward, although the notion that buying more Super Hornets at the expense of the F-35 makes little sense from this standpoint.

If the USN wants a 21st century integrated force going forward, the F-35 is a key foundational element to get that capability; the Super Hornet is headed towards a future of being a bomb truck for the F-35.

The Aussies have grasped this point from the outset of their planned acquisition of the F-35 and have looked from the outset beyond the buying of a new platform to the shaping of a new force.

The F-35 is key driver of change for the Aussies but it is not an in and of itself capability.

The Williams Foundation has been a thought leader in bringing together the key players in the Australian military as well as allies to shape a way ahead for the integrated force.

Now the Foundation is hosting a conference on April 11, 2017 in Canberra which will explicitly address the key challenge of how to develop such an integrated force with a key case study being the way ahead to build an integrated missile defense capability built into the force.

According to the Williams Foundation:

Since March 2014, the Williams Foundation has conducted a series of Seminars that explored the opportunities and challenges afforded by the introduction of next generation combat capabilities. 

Topics that have been explored to date included:

  • Air Combat Operations – 2025 and Beyond
    • Battlespace Awareness – The Joint Edge
    • Integrating Innovative Airpower (held in Copenhagen)
    • Training for an Integrated ADF: Live, Virtual and Constructive
    • Design-Led Innovation
    • New Thinking on Air-Land
    • New Thinking on Air-Sea

The Next Step – The Integrated Force Seminar

The hypotheses the seminar will explore are:

We must operate as an integrated team from the design, through delivery to the operation of the force; failure to act as such will incur unacceptable risk in future operations.

If we don’t “design” the integrated force we are committed to “after-market” integration.

We can’t build and operate an integrated force using business models developed for acquiring stand-alone, stove-piped capabilities.

“Design” is about more than just platforms and systems … it is about how we design, acquire, operate and sustain an integrated force in a more complex interconnected global context.

If we over-complicate the “design” process we will stall our efforts and get the same results we have had over the past 20 years; i.e. stove-piped capabilities.

We must recognise that the task load of the three Services in their raise, train, sustain and Capablity Manager roles means that simply delivering a large volume of Force Design guidance to the three Services at once will not work; we must be cogniscant of the realites of the Service’s exisiting tasks and loadings when seeking to transform to an integrated force model.

In preparation for the Seminar, the Williams Foundation has run a six month IAMD Study, exploring the challenges of the IAMD program and the concept of integrated force design, as one example of the forty programs that the Department of Defence has embarked upon.   The IAMD Study Report will be launched at the seminar.

 Seminar Program

The Seminar will be run at the National Gallery of Australia on 11 April 2017.  The program will include coordinated presentations from the three Services and VCDF Group.

They will all be addressing the challenges and opportunities of integrated force design. 

In an afternoon session, a series of presentations and a panel discussion comprising Defence Industry and CASG will explore how the integrated force will be acquired and sustained given the predominance of business models developed for acquiring stand-alone, stove-piped capabilities.

Second Line of Defense will be attending the Seminar and will report on the debates, discussions and the thinking about the way ahead.