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Collaborative Policing: A Facilitated Approach to AFP/RACMP Inter-Agency Co-Operation

Collaborative Policing: A Facilitated Approach to AFP/RACMP Inter-Agency Co-Operation

The projection of policing on the modern day battlefield is something that has been recognised as a necessity for many years. The requirement for immediate law enforcement activities and imposition of the rule of law at the end of conventional operations is regarded as something that goes hand in hand with security and stability of a region[1]. Often, Civilian or indigenous Policing elements are rarely in a position to assist at the tactical level of operations, and if they are, they are barely in sufficient numbers to implement their mandated tasks. This can be due to either the willingness of nation states to send civilian police on operations, the historic misuse of indigenous policing forces against the civilian population or the popularity of the intervention itself. The niche capability and need for the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police (RACMP) to provide a security and policing presence on the ground during the conduct and in the immediate aftermath of warfighting, has never been greater yet they have been largely overlooked in favour of the Australian Federal Police International Deployment Group (AFP IDG).

There are a number of valid reasons why the AFP IDG has been the policing force of choice in recent deployments. The AFP IDG can conduct executive policing, response to emergencies, participate in mandated peace operations and implementing mentoring and training, however what happens when the AFP can’t effect their legislated endstate due to the threat level or scale of conflict? This is where the RACMP should be a considered option to assist and co-operate with their AFP colleagues, particularly in the transition to stability following cessation of hostilities. As the primary policing organisation within Army, and the Corps that can provide trained military members in conventional Australian police practices, it makes sense to combine the RACMP/AFP approach to international operations in a collaborative manner that benefits both organisations, while maintaining their separate organisational mandates.

In order to assist the RACMP, and vicariously the AFP in the tactical and operational elements of policing operational areas, there is a need for the RACMP to develop three key areas; firstly, up skilling and implementing AFP policing tactics and educational qualifications as part of RACMP training. Part of this concept has been implemented through the training of AFP Operational Safety and Support packages through the Defence Force School of Policing (DFSP). Further implementation of training and educational packages that better align the RACMP to the AFP qualifications framework, will ensure core policing cohesion for future operations where a rule of law / executive policing mandate are some of the primary factors of the mission. There is precedent for this position, as the Canadian Forces Military Police conduct the same training and meet the same qualifications as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and are designated ‘Peace Officers’ in many provinces across Canada[2]. This could also be reflected in Australia, where the RACMP and indeed all Service Police trained to this level could be designated ‘Special Constables’ in the respective Federal and State jurisdictions. As the AFP maintain the international standard of policing for the Australian Government, collaborative training and law enforcement cohesion with doctrine development (while maintaining the separation of military and civilian policing functions), will enable the proposed AFP/RACMP collaboration to become the “go to” option for future security and partnered policing operations for Government. Examples of this capacity include multi-agency approaches to post-conflict law enforcement involving tactical and operational level law enforcement activities, as was the case in Haiti after the US Intervention in 1994[3]. This training can also be transferred to the domestic environment for the RACMP in areas such as base security, police patrolling and Immediate Action to Rapid Development (IARD) – first responders to base emergencies, such as responding to active shooters and other security incidents.

Secondly, there is a need to engage external law enforcement agencies to develop and refine the security and policing skills within the RACMP that may degrade over time where military ‘warfighting’ skill development takes priority. Given the geographical dispersion of RACMP units across Australia, this would involve an MOU process where the RACMP members conduct workshops, attend incident scenes and develop training continuums with their regional State and Federal local area police commands. Policing is a niche capability involving many physical and theoretical requirements which include core policing functions that can not necessarily be learned and developed through interactions with Defence members on regional bases or during the conduct of policing specific military exercises. The ability to develop problem based learning and critical thinking that is most crucial in policing functions[4] is best to be learned from those who do so on a day to day basis.

Thirdly, and as a direct result of the above two points, an increase in the policing skills of RACMP members will lead to an increase in professionalism and capability of military policing both in the exercise and operational environments, as well as security and policing patrols across Defence establishments Australia wide. Learning from the leaders of international policing, and refining those skills with their State and Federal police counterparts will have a corollary effect on the security and policing capability of RACMP members across Australia. Defence bases are not autonomous locations. Not only do they have a variety of domestic and international troops, they contain civilian and APS staff, contractors and visitors of all ages, including minors. Domestic security on Defence establishments is essential for the protection of Defence’s most critical asset, its people. The up skilling of the RACMP and the requirement for collaborative engagement with the AFP should now be considered as a necessity, given the recent decision by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to have more involvement by Defence in domestic terrorist incidents[5]. It is essential that our frontline Defence security and policing organisations are able to have the skill set, education and learned knowledge of core security and policing functions to deal with all aspects of security, police and emergency management, of which the implementation of the above points will go a long way in addressing those key issues.

A recent blog on this forum by Major Tim Dawe and Colonel David Connery[6]  outlines concerns surrounding the complexities in ADF-AFP interoperability implementation. It is the contention of this author that should some or all of the above points be implemented (collated through an RACMP or Joint Service Police Group/AFP Fusion Cell), then the collaborative issues raised by MAJ Dawe and COL Connery could be addressed with a minimum of disruption to the overall ability of Army to project land power, In fact, the RACMP could become the significant enablers of the AFP within Defence, either through a collaborative agreement of police training domestically and internationally (developing the RACMP capability to assist AFP primacy in policing functions and the training and mentoring of policing agencies on operations in all facets of core policing skills), or as the security and force protection/Other Government Agency (OGA) Platoon security element for the AFP. In a policing, security, detainee management, force protection and logistics capacity, this collaboration makes sense and can be utilised across the globe in future conflict areas where those capabilities are required in a Whole of Government approach[7].  Further, this proposal could also meet the intent of the Chief of Army[8] where modernisation and Joint Force design were key planning developments, as was the implementation of the Ryan Review in the building of professional mastery, enabling the RACMP to develop and refine key capabilities and strategic innovation within the joint sphere[9] through the improvement of their security and core policing skills, in line with the AFP.

The implementation of the above points and the up skilling of the RACMP, especially in the security and policing sphere, would be a catalyst and significant turning point in the true meaning of “Military Police”. Future indications of warfare and stability operations indicate that they will be more volatile as belligerent groups fight for control of political power, power of illicit means or a combination of both. This type of national subversion and the establishment of illegitimate power bases will be conducted using more lethal means than ever before[10]. As such, the Military Police may need to become more ‘Stability Police/Gendarmerie’ oriented. If this is to come to the fore, the AFP and RACMP will need to develop closer partnerships by developing integrated doctrine and joint collaborative structures for future conflict that meets and exceeds the ADF’s and the AFP’s security, policing and detainee management needs.

[1] See Baily, D, 1997; Hills, A, 2009; Bailey, D and Perito, R, 2010 et al.

[2] Draper, R, 2015, ‘The Canadian Forces Military Police: Exploring the Need for Comprehensive Peace Officer Status In Accordance With Federal and Provincial Statute Law’, Athabasca University, Canada.

[3] Donais, T, 2005, ‘Back to Square One: The Politics of Police Reform in Haiti’, in “Civil Wars Journal, Vol 7, No. 3, 2005.

[4] Cox, D, 2011, ‘Educating Police for Uncertain Times: The Australian Experience and the Case for a “Normative” Approach’, Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism, Vol 6, No 1, 2011.

[5] Greene, A, 2017, ‘Defence Force to Take Greater Role in Responding to Domestic Terrorism’, ABC online. Retrieved July 17, 2017 from

[6] Dawe, T and Connery, D, 2017, ‘Army-Police Interoperability: Collective Contributions to Future Land Power’, Australian Army Land Power Forum, Department of Defence, Canberra. Retrieved June 16, 2017 from /amphibious-joint-interagency/arm...

[7] Australian Civil-Military Centre, 2016, ‘Afghanistan: Lessons from Australia’s Whole-of-Government Mission’, Australian Government, Canberra.

[8] Campbell, A, 2016 ‘Open Letter to the Australian Army’, Department of Defence, Australian Government, Canberra. Retrieved June 18, 2017 from /160901_ca_o...

[9] Ryan, M, 2016 ‘The Ryan Review: A Study of Army’s Education, Training and Doctrine Needs for the Future’, Department of Defence, Australian Government, Canberra. Retrieved June 18, 2017 from 2016_05_dgt_theryanrevie...

[10] Friesendorf, C, 2012, ‘International Intervention and the Use of Force: Military and Police Roles’, The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, Geneva, Switzerland.

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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