What a year 2020 has been!  First bushfires, then a global pandemic followed by a difficult time for the Australian Army with the release of the IGADF Afghanistan inquiry. To say the least, it has been a year of more downs than ups, but as with most things in life there have been some positives amongst the tidal wave of bad news.

The 2019–20 bushfire emergencies saw the Australian Government call on the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to support the Australian people.  More than 5,000 personnel have been involved in a wide range of tasks, both on the front line and in logistics and other supporting roles. Following on closely after the bushfires were wrangled under control, Operation COVID-19 Assist kicked off and is ongoing with over 4,500 ADF personnel involved. Both of these national emergencies have shown that the ADF is ready to support the Australian people when called upon to do so. 

The ADF focus on domestic support was not lost on you.  There have been many articles written by you about the current and future roles of the Army Reserve. Some other recurring themes have focussed on Training Transformation, physical injury management, Leadership, Wargaming, the use of Artificial Intelligence in war and the ADF role in the near region, just to name a few.

Whilst it has been a tough year for many, one of the silver linings and most uplifting aspect for us in 2020 has been the support The Cove has received from its contributors. 90% of the content on The Cove comes from the readers and we have had an influx of articles in the past six months. The different working environment this year caused by COVID has provided people more time to reflect and provide submissions to The Cove. So much so, some authors have had to wait up to six-eight weeks to see their articles published! (Thanks for your patience everyone).    We also attribute this strong growth to the launch of the Cove App at the start of the year. With access to The Cove on any mobile device, PME is at your fingertips no matter where you are, or what you are doing.  At the time of writing, the Cove App has over 2,000 users and the site has had over 470,000 page views this year and we are looking to continue to grow these numbers again next year.   

We conducted a survey so that you, as the users of The Cove, had the opportunity to shape the tools and resources to support your PME journey. As a result of your input, you can now share articles through your mobile device. We also heard your reports on the plethora of PME, so we more intuitively grouped our articles and improved our search functions to make it easier for you to find rich media articles (ie podcasts, videos)  and all recently published articles.  

On 12 Aug 2020 we launched the Australian Army’s Professional Development Program, COVE+, which has been a stimulating and challenging enhancement to the PME of members of the Australian Army, irrespective of SERCAT, rank, trade or Corps. COVE+ modules have been specifically designed to enable you to tackle a broader range of complex problems through improving critical thinking skills within the context of the Profession of Arms.  The learning undertaken through COVE+ is intended to benefit you personally and professionally, so you will increase your personal, and consequentially raise the collective Army, intellect. The final units of the inaugural Tranche will be delivered in Jan 2021 to provide a world-class library of tertiary-level learning modules, hosted on the Australian Defence Education Learning Environment (Unclassified) or ADELE(U) learning management system. These units are available to you anywhere – 100% online and self-paced, available at no cost. Read the COVE+ Frequently Asked Questions or email us at soldier.cove@defence.gov.au for more.  

We hosted The Cove Challenge on behalf of the Force Generation Review Team and were overwhelmed with the responses submitted; from Private soldier to Major General, and even one from a Raafie!   Your creativity, ingenuity and future focussed outlook generated some really excellent submissions that were used to build the framework for the future FORGEN system. 

We also just recently concluded the annual Cove Writing Competition. Again some excellent entries, tackling a variety of topics where you felt the Army could introduce some innovation that would create time efficiencies that could then be reinvested into becoming Future ReadyPTE David Lotzof's article on using data to simplify processes was a real hit with the judges. 

The Cove team sought to branch out onto different mediums in order to provide a variety of options to accommodate people's situations and preferred learning styles. The Cove Thoughts podcast was born, and was a great success, particularly when we featured, on Vietnam Veteran's Day, an interview with David Sabben MG, Platoon Commander, 12 Platoon during the Battle of Long Tan.  

The Cove Team have the privilege to read all the articles that you submit to us. What a great job it is to spend our days reading and debating the issues you raise in your articles. We put our heads together and picked our favourite articles of the year. There are many more that would be on this list but we had to draw the line somewhere. 

The Cove Team Top Picks (we couldn't stop at just 5!):

  1. David Allison - C3 and the Hong Kong protests - an example of the future in the Asia-Pacific region - 'Be water.' Bruce Lee
  2. David Hill - Re-invigorating wargaming - time to establish 'fight-club' - 'When you speak to some in this audience and you mention wargaming they will go straight to Course of Action Analysis in the Military Appreciation Process; (Course of Action Analysis) is actually an extremely poor example of doing a wargame.'  MAJGEN Krause AM (Retd)
  3. Jack W. Klein - The Buddy System is No Buddy of Mine - '...it was as if the buddy system had made people less careful!'   Anon
  4. Dominic Lopez - Give us all extras! Contributing to the prevention of MEC downgrades through subsidised healthcare extras - 'As a first step, I propose a twelve month trial at 7 RAR.'

People's Choice Top 5 articles: based on which articles you read the most:

  1. Julian Hohnen - Conditions of Service: Reflections on 16 years of service in the Army
  2. Mike Kalms - Stranded capability? The value of the Army Reserve asset in 2020
  3. Dave McCammon - Professional development for junior combat leaders
  4. Zachary Wright-Hansen - Australia's amphibious capability: where to from here?
  5. Cate Carter - The disappearance of the military identity in the corporatisation of ADF women

If you haven't read these yet, why not use the reduced activity period to see what all the hype was about?

The Cove Team are only taking a short break over Christmas so that we can continue to bring you interesting articles for you to build your #IntellectualEdge. Why not set your notifications on the Cove App to let you know what articles are being published each day to help you pass the time while you are relaxing with family and friends this holiday period? Thank you for your tremendous support this year. Take care of yourselves over the break and we look forward to working with you to deliver an even better PME network for you next year.  


A personal note from the WO PME: I have been the WO PME for the last three years and I have been in the Army 30 years before this posting. When I marched into the PME cell to help deliver The Cove I thought I was done learning, I was wrong.

I now know how to edit articles, build webpages, use video cameras, use audio equipment, edit photos… you get the idea, the list is long.  The most important thing I learnt during my time here (more reminded really) is just how talented members of our Army are (and wider ADF).  It has been a privilege to be the first person to read articles that you send to us.  I was always delighted, never disappointed.  Thank you.