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The generic scenario commences when government directs the ADF
to deploy a force of maximum size over a demanding distance (let’s say
4000km - perhaps it does not matter where or in what direction or against
whom except that our enemy is a credible competitor) to a mounting
base and be prepared to conduct joint manoeuvre operations as an
independent part of a US led coalition.
By saying “an independent part of a US led coalition”, we leave the option
open to a future Australian government to actually conduct independent
operations, probably the most basic expression of the independence of any
The “maximum force” is one that, while concurrently maintaining
Standing National Commitments, a high readiness reserve, the logistic
capability to deploy, support and sustain forces from the National Support
Base and the capability over time to replace deployed forces through a
rotation (and expansion) force, is still sufficient to conduct sophisticated,
21st century joint manoeuvre operations.
Such an initially deployable force, in my view (and senior ADF
commanders would be the ultimate arbiters) could peak, in manpower
terms, at approximately 30% of the 80,000 strong, full and part time ADF of
2021 (the end of the DCP). To achieve strategic guidance, it is reasonable
to have that force with the logistic capability to conduct intense combat
operations for, let’s say, 30 days, and then be able to sustain lower levels of
combat for much longer periods of time.
At the same time as the main manoeuvre force is readied for deployment,
initial (mainly logistic) deployments are made, a strategic Shaping
Campaign and an Intelligence Campaign involving whole of government
is initiated or re-focussed, and a Logistic Campaign commences or is
re-focussed on the new task.
As the deployed force is establishing itself on and around the mounting
base, a Joint Air/Space Campaign and a Joint Maritime Campaign,
independently or as part of an overall coalition effort, sets the strategic
level pre-conditions for subsequent manoeuvre operations.
With preconditions achieved or being achieved, the air/space and
maritime forces are re-assigned as components of the main force, let’s call it
the Joint Manoeuvre JTF. The Joint Manoeuvre JTF HQ has simultaneously
planned the detail of a Joint Manoeuvre Campaign to lodge a brigade
sized force from the air and sea at a distance of, let’s say for the purpose
of this presentation, 800km from the mounting base, and now effects that
By this stage, the mounting base has been developed to support the
main manoeuvre force, with access to a coalition secure second airfield for
sustaining longer-range aircraft.
The objective of the lodgement by the Joint Manoeuvre JTF is a discrete
Australian point of entry within the overall coalition area of operations or
theatre. The Joint Manoeuvre JTF conducts a Joint Manoeuvre Campaign
to affect the entry from the air and sea and concludes conventional combat
operations. The force, at a much-reduced size, then transitions to a Joint
Land Campaign to conduct enduring stabilization operations involving
The generic scenario, as justified under strategic guidance, is Australian
led, Australian supported, but US enabled. The level of US enablement
should be limited to intelligence support, the provision of explosive
ordnance in excess of 30 days, the provision of fuel for ADF long range
aircraft at the secondary airfield and the normal provision of logistic
support on a commercial basis once the coalition has settled into the
enduring (Decisive) phase.
If this sounds daunting, it is only because we do not do it and rarely
think about it. It would not sound daunting to a middle level US Marine
Corps officer. This is a bread and butter scenario for serious militaries like
we claim to be. If we are making the kind of investment in Defence that
the government is claiming over the next ten years, and we cannot say
when we can do what I have just described, we ought to be nationally and
militarily ashamed of ourselves. If this is not what it is all about, why are
we buying the alphabet soup: AWD, LHD, JSF, ARH, MRH-90s, AEW&Cs,
The third stage of holding the government accountable is critical and
is to test the impact on operational effectiveness in the above generic
scenario of changes to the force structure that politicians are proposing
through cancelling or delaying projects. If the above scenario is reasonable
and can be deduced from strategic guidance, and the government is forced
to or wants to make a decision to delay any part of the joint force as is its
right (for example delay the amphibious ships or the airwarfare destroyers,
or to buy a lesser number of fighters, or to risk the entire operational
capability of the ADF for the next 30 years by again chancing the domestic
build of submarines) then the impact on operational effectiveness can be
immediately demonstrated. A joint force that wishes to use the sea without
a capable submarine capability or control of the air, is not a capable force.
You must have all parts of the force to get the value from any one part of
the force. Delay just the subs, and you lose all capability.
The fourth step is to hold the government to account for the decisions
that it makes. No one denies a government’s right to make such decisions,
but the consequences should be clear, and they should be accountable.
This requires the entire process to be transparent. If a government knows
(and this might be the crux of the whole matter) that the strategic guidance
that it approves in a White Paper is going to form the basis of a generic
scenario which actually links strategy with real world tactics, the capability
of the ADF and the equipment that it buys, I suggest that any government
will take much more seriously its defence responsibilities, especially the
military contents and implications of its White Papers. APDR
Jim Molan is a retired major general, author, defence and security
consultant and speaker. Part 1 of the article appeared in October APDR.
Wars of choice are very important but they
do not have the consequences of failure that
larger more demanding future scenarios have.
Australian Abrams MBT
APDR Nov 2011.indd 15
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