The Cove thanks those who provided responses and we welcome further thoughs in the comments section below.
The Chief of Army Symposium (CAS) 2022 was designed to support information exchange, share ideas, build trust, and develop Australian sourced technologies. Through this, CAS '22 sought to ensure Army is able to meet the challenges of Accelerated Warfare through being Ready Now and Future Ready.
This year, the CAS '22 Expo series was conducted in Adelaide and included events such as Army Innovation Day, Army Robotics Expo, and Army Quantum Technology Challenge. This expo series was an opportunity for leading experts in designated fields to showcase technology that can fundamentally change the way Army operates, and is a continuation of Army's commitment to innovation and Australian Industry.
The Cove reached out to all corporals, sergeants and warrant officers that attended to provide feedback on their time at the expo. Members were asked what they took away from attending the Symposium and what it meant to them as soldiers. Some of their best responses are below.
Army brings together 'thinkers' from large and small industries for collaboration on new and emerging technologies, thus ensuring a stable and more prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
I was very interested in learning that, depending on what generation we were born, [changed] how we felt about robotic and autonomous systems, not only within everyday life but in Defence.
– CPL, 8/12 Regt RAA
Quantum technology is closer to implementation than most people think. We need to harness this technology IOT gain significant advantage in future warfare.
Army needs to embrace autonomous vehicle and drone technology IOT reduce the need for placing our people in harm’s way and to prevent unnecessary battlefield casualties.
– CPL, 7 CSSB
One of the biggest take aways is how currently the Australian Defence Force has been quite competitive with its robotics technology.
...we need to be able to create a workplace that makes people want to get out of bed in the morning, as well as creating leadership and behaviour that is empowering. This made me reflect on how I am currently doing this a junior leader.
The Defence Force is moving forward in reducing its carbon footprint ... it was quite interesting to be able to speak to the team and engineers who worked on and developed the ePMV.
– CPL, AST
Service chiefs were aware of the issues plaguing retention and talent management in Defence.
– CPL, 1 INT BN
Senior leadership is concerned/worried/focused on being ready now for a conflict to happen.
Chief of the Defence Force was asked about the lessons we have started to take away from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with one of them being management of our communications signature on the battlefield. Signature management training and knowledge (communications training in general) needs to be included as part of a unit’s readiness training.
– CPL, SOI
Senior Federal and State cabinet politicians and the Defence senior leadership group expressed deep-seated concerns over the state of current conflict across the globe.
There needs to be a co-ordinated and considered approach to investment in our personnel as technology is only ever as capable as the individual that operates the relevant equipment. Interoperability of our Services and interchangeability of current platforms, training and processes is a paramount objective as this will define our ability to progress forward, if Defence chooses to remain stagnant and not become a driving force behind this adoption of new processes and technologies it will ultimately succumb to being left-behind.
– CPL, SOI
Overall, a really great event and a really good opportunity to be involved in Army’s future plans, as I am still young I feel this is the right way the Army should be heading.
– CPL, 20 REGT RAA
Integrating Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) into the ADF needs to be accompanied by an understanding of the context which it will operate. Too often there are great ideas which are overly technical, require considerable training liability, require excessive support/maintenance or they are not sufficiently mature to perform the functions expected.
There remains a knowledge gap between senior decision makers and technical experts as to the range of capabilities, functionality and availability of new technologies. This issue was highlighted in the 2021 Future Technology of War Conference, and could be resolved by more interaction of junior soldiers getting hands-on experience conducting small-scale testing of emerging technology to inform the chain of command about system performance and usefulness.
There appears to be very limited understanding of how unmanned systems will integrate into our current battle management system.
– SGT, 3 CSR
The idea that our comparatively small force could and will be integrated with AI to enhance and bolster our capability is encouraging.
[Professor Genevieve Bell] as a professor that is a master in human behaviours the presentation challenged us as humans working within a strict hierarchical organisation, to rethink our approach to innovation and human behaviours. In the past this has held back modern/innovative thinking and development.
Dr Andrew Dowse, AO impressed me the most with his presentation on Strategic Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future Land Force. He made no mistake when explaining that Defence needs to have a good look at our capabilities and focus on the now as well as the future. He challenged my thinking regarding our ability to defend this soil. As a future land force we need to make acquisition and or develop our own long range precision ballistic weapon capability.
As a relatively junior member of the organisation I feel it is my job not only as a trainer within SME to develop and deliver our training continuum but to harbour and encourage innovation. There is more need to intensive innovation and reward individuals for their innovative ideas.
The current training infrastructure is not established to and or developed/robust enough for the future. Example; training facilities don’t even have organic Wi-Fi and or DPN terminals IOT accommodate every trainee within a class.
– SGT, SME
Army is looking to local companies to provide innovative ideas and leverage off those ideas and on local talent. It is important to look to the future but I believe discussions and ideas to address what challenges Army as a whole is experiencing will better inform what we can do to be ‘Future Ready’.
– SGT, SOA
Walking through the Army Innovation Day and Army Quantum Technology Challenge was eye opening and interesting. I saw my fair share of drones that offered a range of different opportunities and capabilities.
Lastly, the Army Robotics Expo was outstanding. I lost count of how many times I did walk around and take in us much as I could from the event. I know everyone will say it, but the electric bushmaster is a concept that I never thought of, but so simple and what a step into the future.
– WO2, 1 MP Bn
The future of Defence seems to be fairly futuristic which is great to see but also does not compare to the lived experience which members currently face.
– WO2, SME
An introduction of electric capabilities needs to prove on par or better than existing capabilities.
All tech advances that relate to Army and specific trades need to educated to our officers and soldiers at the earliest opportunity and on an ongoing basis. The knowledge of current and future capabilities for Army and near peer adversaries needs to be trained across our ab-initio courses, IET and units.
If we don't understand a capability, we will not embrace it.
Our space and cyber technologies could be made ineffective without warning by near peer adversaries. Army needs to be quite cognisant of the need to maintain focus on basic soldier skills without tech or digital abilities. Technology does not negate our leadership responsibilities nor our unit training, SOPs and TTPs (it needs to be integrated).
– WO2, CATC
AI has a place in our decision making cycle, but we must be cognisant not to dilute command responsibility in decision making.
The capability only operates if you are capable. Training systems must take into account the need to ensure soldiers are properly trained to take full advantage of the technology as it comes into service.
We must not convince ourselves that technology supersedes basic soldier skills. Russia offers a key insight to fighting with poorly trained soldiers employing or not employing effective TTPs and losing any advantage they held with tech overmatch.
– WO1, CATC