Why Expand the Australian Defence Force?
On 10 March 2022, the then Prime Minister announced that the Australian Defence Force personnel will increase 30% by 2040, at for $38B. As the PM noted, “You can’t flick a switch to increase your army, navy and air force overnight, growing the type of people and skills we need to face the threats of the future takes time, so we must start now so critical skills can be taught and experience gained". While the government has changed since then, there is bipartisan support for a stronger military to meet increased challenges.
|Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking to ANU, 3 August 2022,
(still image from ANU TV)
Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, made an impassioned speech to staff and students of the Australian National University, on 3 August, via video. He acknowledged Australia's contribution as the largest non-NATO provider of military assistance to his country. That assistance included not only Australian-made armored vehicles, but training in cyber defence.
On 3 August, the new Australian Prime Minister announced a review of Australia's Defence posture and structure, to report by March 2023, for mobilization needs in 2032-33. An interim report is to be provided, but no deadline for this has been made public. While the review documentation mentions infrastructure, estate, disposition, logistics, and nuclear-powered submarines, the skills required of the members of the ADF, and the people who support them, are not mentioned.
What New Skills Will Defence Personnel Need?
|Eesmaa Public Lecture, ANU, 30 July 2021
Coordinate Information Warfare
speaking in the ANU Moot Court.
Photo by Tom Worthington, CC-BY 30 March 2022
|Information Warfare Division,
Australian Department of Defence
The day after the Minister's speech, the Australian Government announced a doubling of the staff of the Australian Signals Directorate, and an expansion of offensive cyber operations. However, there was no mention of increasing the staff of the ADF Information Warfare Division.
The ADF will need personnel with very deep technical skills in how to protect our computer systems, and attack those of our enemies. They will also need a deep understanding of how to provide convincing information, directly online, and through the media.
Operate Large Armed Air, Sea & Land Drones
In the 2022 Australian election campaign, the Australian Liberal Party has proposed an "Autonomous undersea warfare capability for Australia's navy" as part of its electoral platform (5 May 2022). The new Labor government is reported to have accelerated this program, with the first drone submarine to be built in Sydney in 2023 (Robotic submarines fast-tracked for build at a site on Sydney harbor to plug capability gap, Tory Shepard, SMH, 18 August 2022). These drones, at 30 m long, are larger than the midget submarines which attacked Sydney harbor in WWII. ADF personnel will need to know how to operate and maintain the drones.
|Loyal Wingman supersonic fighter UAV
Work is also progressing on a high-performance pilot-less aircraft for the air force, the Loyal Wingman, to be built in Queensland. As well as operators, the ADF will need personnel to understand the complexities of the AI software used, and how the aircraft will operate alongside crewed aircraft. The operators may use VR headsets to fly the aircraft, while on the ground personnel would use wrist-mounted controllers.
Work with Industry
|Event canvas from NWIW 2020
by Paul Telling
How Can Mobile Devices Help With Skills?
VT to Learn to Drive the Drones
|ANU Defence Industry Workshop on XR,
5 November. 2019
Learn to Work Together Using a Smartphone
|Robert Lester sending a report from K95
An important military skill is working with others. This is where mobile devices can be as important as operating drones. Personnel will need to be able to distribute
|Tom Worthington at TT97
Promote Reserve Defence Careers via Mobile Devices
Hackathons for Recruitment and Training
In addition to the Navy Warfare Innovation Workshop (NWIW), there were two defence sponsored hackerthons run by the Australian Computer Society ran in 2020. These used Slack, Zoom, and the usual collaboration tools. These had hundreds of participants and about 80 mentors. The Shockproof hackerthon on Secure Supply Chains for the Australian and NZ Defence Forces was unusual as it was aimed at defence force personnel, but open to anyone.
A Role for Universities in Research & Teaching ADF via Mobile Devices
Some Ways to Scale
Mobile RecruitingRecruiting, training, and managing more than ten thousand extra defence personnel is a daunting task. The technology can be used to help manage this. One way is to use mobile devices to provide potential recruits with information and guide them through the application process. Ideally, an applicant should be able to do this online with their phone in a couple of sessions, without needing to speak to anyone, unless they need to clarify something.
The first time I was a graduate university student, I had to fill in a paper form and hand it in at an office. The next time I filled in an online form, the university called me a few seconds later, to check something. The third time it was all done online: I never spoke to anyone from admin, before, or during, three years of study.
Industry Standard Training
|Preparing reports from K95, 1995
Earlier I showed a photo of someone from the Australian Defence media unit, sending reports from Exercise Kangaroo 95. There is a companion photo, of me receiving the reports. But I was not at my desk in Headquarters Australian Defence Force. I happened to be on holiday, so I was receiving the reports via a pocket modem (this was last century), and adding them to the Department of Defence website, using a laptop computer. That could now all be done on a pocket-size smart device. Some personnel would require devices with higher levels of security, and which do not depend on public data networks.