As an Army in Motion, the Australian Army is constantly modernising. Significant resources - in terms of time, money and manpower - are allocated to procuring modern equipment which will allow the Army to succeed on the battlefield. Yet, by viewing procurement through the lens of capability are we maximising our future battlefield advantage? Is there a better way in which the Army can approach modernisation?

Last year I wrote a paper examining the decision by the Australian Army to cancel the self-propelled howitzer project in 2012. It was written as part of the requirements for a post-graduate degree in Decision Analytics and the aim was to determine whether, with the benefit of hindsight, the decision had been a sound one and provided good value for money for the Australian taxpayer. The research led me to a fascinating question: how can we put a dollar value on effect rather than on capability? For after all, the purpose of all military capabilities is to create an effect. By focusing on the cost of the capability, rather than how much we are paying to create that effect, are we missing the point?

This led to weeks of grappling with an abstract concept until – in a genuine eureka moment – I found an obscure equation in an old military journal article. This discovery not only provided a solid basis for giving comparative monetary values to effect rather than capability, but also led to some profound questions of how the Australian Army should employ artillery in the future.

In this article I discuss both in turn, in the hope that it will generate discussions regarding procurement in Army Headquarters and conversations regarding the future use of offensive support within Forces Command.