Are Logistics and Health Elements Enabled to be Future Ready?By Robert Cuttler February 25, 2020
Chief of Army’s guidance on an “Army in Motion” suggests that we “create the culture needed to succeed in accelerated warfare.” A pragmatic approach must be undertaken for enablers to conduct realistic training when in support of force elements. Until then, the enablers of Combat Service Support (CSS) cannot be “future ready.” Cultural reform is the key to progress in training requirements and we must understand the Learning and Development space. The Force Generation Cycle for enabling formations/units appears to be at a constant state of ready and, as such, has inherent associated risk. Army’s conduct of individual and collective training to assist in close and general support tasks is just “getting the job done.” As a result, during training exercises enablers are continually “out of the box” or considered “white forces” when conducting their core business. We are failing to adequately expose our supporting elements in real time exercises and substituting this exposure with a notional and theoretical approach to mission essential integration.
Individual and collective training
Across wider Army, there is a general misconception of what constitutes individual and collective training. Individual training establishes the base knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to perform a specific individual role or task. Collective training is the addition of personnel and changed environments, such as combined interaction within a tactical operation inclusive of any weather and all terrain (LWP-G 7-0-1). The process is conducted through a continuum from competence (individual training) through to increasing levels of proficiency, expertise, and professional mastery (collective training and experience). The three-phase Force Generation Cycle then shapes the application of this training continuum to ensure an effective and safe management of capability. Force preparation training further builds on this by providing individuals and group with the additional skills and information required for the conduct of operations in a specific theatre. It is critical to mission success that enabling formations and units be ‘ready’ to support Combat units within the Readying Phase.
To understand the current system, it is important to examine the evolution of how we arrived to this point. In the absence of more than one Sustainment Brigade, the finite resources within the enabling formations have little (to no) time to conduct any ‘readying’ activities. Collective training for CSS/Health is almost non-existent: enabling the formation's battle to remain at a constant state of ready to support the readying combat brigade each year is all consuming. Furthermore, designated employment and promotion courses for enablers ensure competency but proficiency and mastery in their craft remains haphazard.
Achieving professional mastery
Doctrine states that “Army’s success is dependent on the quality of its officers and soldiers. This quality is underpinned by challenging, realistic, effective and safe training, both individual and collective” (LWD 7-0 Ch2). Enablers are having to provide live CSS to Brigades and conduct collective training simultaneously if they wish to meet their collective training requirements. Understandably, Army projects a war-fighter centric approach. Live support is then often done ‘out of the box’ to ensure warfighter timelines are met. The result is that Sustainment Brigade force elements are not enabled to meet their own collective training requirements, lacking the versatility and decisiveness required for the preparedness that aligns with Chief of Army’s Army in Motion. Enablers need to meet the physical and intellectual standards and obligations required of their professions.
Doctrine states that, “It must be remembered that competence is the first step along the path to professional mastery. An assessment that an individual is competent means that they are able to effectively complete that skill… on return to the work environment, competent individuals undertake workplace practice and achieve higher levels of proficiency. The goal is ever-increasing levels of proficiency until mastery is gained” (LWP-G 7-0-1). Throughout the training continuum, it is important to ensure that specified roles and tasks are conducted to job standard while also applying the relevant and realistic workplace conditions in order to achieve this goal of professional mastery (cited ATI 1-20/19). According to the Systems Approach to Defence Learning, workplace conditions describe the environment under which the performance/task will occur. Factors include whether the performance will be office-based, outside (sea, land, air, space, cyber), by day or by night, inclement weather, austere environment, or require certain equipment.
The challenge is knowing when to apply the conditions within the learning outcome in the training continuum and, once identified, extending the training opportunities required to logisticians and health capabilities. Training Establishments cannot simulate nor replace real life or real time collective training or experience when enablers are in a state of continual support (“out of the box”). This 'out of the box' model also denis the enablers the opportunity to conduct their own collective training.
Consider the task of cannulation. A learner needs to progress from understanding the underpinning knowledge of the skill, practicing the skill through to being competent in the skill. Once competent, the organisation now requires the individual to be able to conduct the skill while wearing SCE inclusive of combat gloves, most likely in a dangerous and austere environment. It is conditions like these that significantly affect the user's ability to conduct the task and requires repetition to become proficient and regular practice (under multiple workplace conditions) to achieve professional mastery. Finding the balance between individual training outcomes, collective training outcomes and the provision of support to 'war-fighters' with the current resources available is proving difficult.
The Force Generation Cycle relies on a ratio of one Sustainment Brigade to multiple Combat Brigades. While in a constant state of supporting force elements, enablers cannot train and sustain to maintain a competitive advantage as part of the total land force. The cultural mindset of Army’s training continuum also contributes to the prevention of logistic and health capabilities mastering their core functions. If CSS enablers are to be “Ready Now, Future Ready,” they must be given an opportunity to exercise logistic and health capabilities under any and all workplace conditions. They must be considered part of the training audience rather than as part of training design. The potential outlined in CA’s guidance that “exists in every corner of Army” must be extended to our sustainment capability. If the cultural mindset of ‘Logistics just happens’ doesn't change, then we are merely transferring risk to a future environment where the conditions of war may not be so forgiving.
Burr, R 2019, Commander’s Statement: Army in Motion, Australian Army
Force Generation Cycle – Diagram
Army Training Instruction 1-20/19 – Army Training Management Framework
The Systems Approach to Defence Learning – SADL