This article by Professor Michael Evans via the Institute for Regional Security argues that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has failed to keep abreast of conceptual developments and debates regarding operational art that have occurred in peer English-speaking militaries. He states that weaknesses in the ADF’s understanding of operational art as the intellectual basis for future higher command have been masked by tactical success in performing global missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the conduct of regional peace enforcement operations in East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

In order to develop a relevant middle-power construct of 21st century operational art, Professor Evans argues that the ADF must embrace a number of reforms. These reforms include adopting a functional approach to operational concept development, improving joint doctrine, developing comprehensive campaign planning, and introducing significant reforms into the joint professional military education system. This article is divided into four areas of analysis:

  1. The current status of operational art in the 21st century (paying careful attention to its applicability to middle powers such as Australia).
  2. The historical influence of junior partner alliance warfare in Australian warfighting (an approach that has created a strong tactical bias in military practice).
  3. The ADF’s approach to developing a distinctive Australian operational art over the last decade.
  4. Making a case for developing a new and more intellectually rigorous middle-power model of Australian operational art.

Read the article and share your thoughts with us about whether or not you think Australia has failed to keep up when it comes to conceptual developments on the operational art.