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Release of Australian Army Journal Vol XVI No 1 2020

Cover of AAJ Volume XVI Number 1

The Australian Army Journal is the Australian Army’s premier professional publication and a consistent presence informing the debate about the Army since the late 1940s. The topics of the journal have been ever-changing as authors reflect upon the issues affecting the Army of the day. The journal has given everyone from junior leaders to Chiefs of Army an opportunity to share ideas, discuss issues and do the most important thing that a leader can do: offer thoughts to prepare those who will inevitably follow them in the future. The recent decision to situate the journal as a professional, and not primarily academic, publication is a sign of the strength of the discussion within the Army. The Australian Army Journal remains a critical part of the Army’s past, and even amid other forms of publishing, will be equally critical for the Army in the future.

The Army needs its best minds to write about its past, present and possible future. In the time since the last edition of the Journal was published, the Army distinguished itself on Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST and has been committing all it can to supporting the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Army’s core philosophies, captured in a range of strategic documentation released since 2018, have been validated in this demanding time. The Prime Minister’s statement that the ADF must be ‘ready now, but is also future-ready’ when releasing the 2020 Defence Strategic Update is a powerful validation of the approach the Army has taken in recent years. We have the choice, now, to respond to these philosophies and messages. It demands us, as a professional military, to seek to understand our new circumstances, consider its challenges and position the Army to be what the nation demands of it.

With this in mind, the release of a new edition of the Australian Army Journal seems a perfect opportunity to reflect upon the contributions to military professionalism made over the last year. Captain James Lewis, author of the ‘The Battle for Marawi: lessons for developing urban capabilities’ in the Australian Army Journal (Vol 15, No 1, 2019) has been selected by the Chief of Army as the ‘2020 Chauvel Prize’ winner. In this outstanding article, James Lewis provides a compelling account of the issues faced by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Marawi. Lewis balances research with his own experiences of serving on Operation Augury; in doing so he highlights a range of capability implications relevant to the Australian Army in its preparations for future conflicts. The article is a great example of how professional writing can contribute to the Army’s future development, and is perfectly pitched to be widely read.   

Lewis’s article also exemplifies how the Army can engage with its many partners through the articles of the Australian Army Journal. Professional writing has always been an important way the Army has let others into conversations that would otherwise have been hidden in the distinct work environments of the Army. In sharing ideas we can build consensus on issues and demonstrate our willingness to accept the responsibility demanded by the time. The Journal contributes to the rich discourse across the ADF and within the Department of Defence as decisions about the future of the ADF are made. But it also invites the community into our discussion, helping them become aware of why the Army should matter to them. More importantly, it can give the Australian community—its people, industry, academia and all other institutions—confidence that it has an able and intellectually prepared service ready to serve the nation.

In introducing this edition of the Journal, I impress upon all readers to recognise how fundamentally different the world is from that which existed only months ago. The assumptions that form the basis of our thinking have been tested, trends have accelerated, expectations have changed and pressures are being felt all across Australian society. It is important that we challenge the assumptions in our own thinking so that the Army can be better for it. We all need to contribute, whether that be through writing a blog post or an article, making a professional video or photograph, presenting at a seminar or a ‘Cove talk’, or even simply reading widely and talking about today’s challenges in messes and soldiers’ clubs.

The Journal is important not just because it is another forum for a professional military to discuss issues; its long history shows it to be an important record of what is happening now and how all of us have positioned the Army to be the best it can be for the future.

The Australian Army Journal, Vol. XVI, No. 1 can be accessed and downloaded here.

The views expressed in this article and subsequent comments are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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