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Force Design (Spotlight Brief 1/21)

16 March 2021
Spotlight Brief
Strategic Analysis
Strategy

Envisioning a new command & control (C2) architecture for all-domain operations

Source: MITRE - Feb 21

It is a universal truism that legacy systems are challenged in the effective command and control of joint forces due to impediments between domains, echelons, classifications, and allies. This article investigates the needs of a future, joint command and control system and uses two operational vignettes against a threat with advantages in geography, initiative, and force generation to discuss these needs. The Australian Joint Force has an ongoing challenge in establishing and normalising an agile and resilient 21s Century digital command and control network. The reality is that the future Army must change to meet the challenge of Unified Domain Operations foreshadowed in the draft Future Land Operating Concept. This article highlights some steps required to adapt contemporary command and control structure to meet the emerging demands of all-domain convergence.

Further reading:

‘The future of Defence command and control is agile’, Defence Science and Technology, 19 Feb 21

‘How To Make The Third Offset Real: The Combined JADC2’, Breaking Defense, 05 Feb 21

‘C2, Technology, & the Complex Endeavor Space’, NATO C2 Centre of Excellence, 18 Jan 21

‘Network-Centric Warfare: Can Europe be ready?’, Wavell Room, 21 Dec 20

‘Challenges Loom for Joint All-Domain Command, Control’, National Defense, 08 Dec 20

Russian lessons learned in Syria

Source: MITRE - Jun 20

While there has much work on Western conflicts within the Middle East, Russian efforts in Syria have been more constrained due to Syrian and Russian control of media. This paper explains Russian lessons, and includes comments by Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu; General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov, and several of the leaders of military districts (Dvornikov, Lapin, Zhuravlev) who have fought in Syria. It is important reading for two reasons. The first is the practical use of technology, capabilities and concepts that we are ourselves interested in; the second is to understand possible competitor and threat systems. The report specifically addresses:

  • use of Special Forces and Private Military Companies
  • urban combat
  • field testing of new equipment
  • updates to military art, including the use of robotics, new tactics and improved leadership (including a shift towards greater flexibility and possibly mission command)
  • enabler support.

Further reading:

‘The Second Karabakh War: Lessons and Implications for Russia (Part One)’, The Jamestown Foundation, 05 Jan 21

‘The Russian military’s lessons learned in Syria’, Institute for the Study of War, Jan 21

‘Russia’s War in Syria: Assessing Russian Military Capabilities and Lessons Learned’, Foreign Policy Research Institute, 17 Dec 20

‘Russian Lessons from the Syrian Operation and the Culture of Military Innovation’, George Marshall European Centre for Strategic Studies, Feb 20

‘Russia’s Military Leaders Exploit Lessons From Experiments in Syria’, The Jamestown Foundation, 23 Jul 19

Cruising for a Bruising: Maritime Competition in an Anti-Access Age

Source: Security Studies – Oct 20

Recent studies suggest technology has offered defence an operational and strategic advantage over the offense in the age-old tension between the two forms of warfare. Yet most Western militaries remain focused on offensive power projection. Jonathan Caverley and Peter Dombrowski look at the US Navy, an offensively focused organisation, and the potential to escalate a crisis that may undermine the Government’s desired strategic goals. While maritime focused, there are key points and concepts here relating to Chinese capabilities that will affect the Joint Force.

Further reading:

‘It’s the Navy’s world now: preserving the right Army force structure in an era of seapower’s strategic primacy’, Modern War Institute, 12 Jan 21

‘Offence for Defence?’, Armada International, 07 Jan 21

‘How to solve logistical challenges during a South China Sea conflict’, Defense News, 24 Dec 20

‘Why drones have raised the odds and risks of small wars’, The Print, 01 Dec 20

‘The Relations of the Offensive and Defensive to Each Other in Tactics’, On War, 1873

A new era for Chinese military logistics

Source: Asian Security – Feb 21

The recent expansion of PLA operations well beyond the Chinese borders demands an expeditionary, strategic and joint logistics system. The PLA’s response is the Joint Logistics Support Force. This force, started by Xi Jin Ping with the Central Military Commission, is the centralisation of many independent units and agencies. The Chinese response to COVID-19 in Wuhan saw its debut as a key actor, allowing for identification of key details and assessments of efficacy. This assessment highlights possible shortfalls in jointery, command structure, logistic information systems and command and control culture. The article is highly pertinent reading for those seeking to understand how China may support its extra-regional military activities into the future.

Further reading:

‘China’s military modernisation’, East Asia Forum, 16 Dec 20

‘PLA Fields New Rapid-Assembly Camp System’, Ashtree Analytics, 12 Dec 20

‘China’s armed forces and the impact of COVID-19’, International Institute for Strategic Studies, 07 May 20

‘What the Fight Against the New Coronavirus Tells Us About the Post-Reform PLA’, The Diplomat, 15 Feb 20

‘President encourages PLA logistics force’, China Daily, 21 Oct 19

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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