Contemporary Operating Environment

7 Brigade Hybrid Warfare Symposium: Dr Malcolm Davis

By Tom McDermott May 16, 2019

In this excellent 20 min talk from the 7 Brigade Hybrid Warfare Symposium, Dr Malcolm Davis (Senior Analyst from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute) briefs 7 Brigade officers and visitors on the implications for Australia of the US Third Offset Strategy.

You might want to ask yourself (or discuss) the following questions:

For Junior Leaders:

  1. Malcolm talks about 'human-machine' teaming.  How do you think this would work for you as a section or platoon commander?  Would you welcome it?
  2. Do you think we are relying too much on technology, or do you think we should be leaning into the opportunities?
  3. What do you think of the armoured / protected mobility vehicles being used by Australia?  Do we need to invest in heavier vehicles, or just find innovative tactics for use?
  4. Most experts believe that we will increasingly fight in very large, urban areas (megacities).  How do we need to adapt to be able to fight and win in these environments?
  5. How do we prevent our forces from being 'found' on the future battlefield?

For Sub Unit Command Teams:

  1. Do you think Army is well established for innovating at the tactical level?
  2. Do you think you are 'grouped' well at sub-unit / combat team level?  Would you prefer to 'group' at a lower level?
  3. Do you think you understand the ideas of 'combining arms'?  What is the point of it?
  4. If you were supported by 'human - machine' teaming, how would you have to change your C2 structures in order to take advantage of ISR and support assets.
  5. What are the logistical implications of operating as part of a 'third offset' force?  If you had to operate over very significant distances, would you be able to sustain yourself?

For Unit Command Teams:

  1. How might you structure an annual 'Training and Education Plan' in order to prepare a force for operations against both unconventional and peer adversaries.
  2. How would styles of leadership (and ethics) need to change to take into account 'human / machine' teaming?
  3. Dr Davis mentions nuclear deterrence and tactical nuclear weapons at various stages.  Is this scaremongering, or do we need to reinvest in this area?
  4. Do you think 'Hybrid Warfare' is a useful term?  Isn't all warfare 'hybrid'?

For Senior Leaders:

  1. What are the implications for Australian strategy if the US military grows significantly in the next decade?
  2. How might Army maintain a 'knowledge and speed' advantage over potential adversaries?
  3. How might Army change its procurement processes to gain 'tempo' against potential adversaries?
  4. What might be the optimal Australian contribution to a US 'Third Offset' force?
  5. Is it realistic to train an Australian Combat Brigade for both unconventional and peer adversaries?
  6. Is Australian industry established to support any form of Australian 'Third Offset'?
  7. How do we overcome the 'ethics gap' between Australia and potential adversaries?




Tom McDermott

Tom McDermott is a serving Australian Army Officer and a student of strategy and military ethics. You can follow him on Twitter via the handle @helmandproject.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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