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The Future is the Present - Welcome to the Land Power Forum for 2021

Four armoured vehicles in a row firing at a central point in semi-darkness; firing has produced red lighting effect

Welcome to the Australian Army’s Land Power Forum and the Australian Army Research Centre (AARC) website. The Forum is a place for writers – and readers – to describe or consider the future of the Australian Army. It has also been a gateway to other research products developed by or for the AARC. These include: the Australian Army Journal, Occasional Papers and Research Reports, and the proceedings of seminars and other events. Most importantly, the Forum has been a way in which authors can engage with others in ways they may otherwise not have the opportunity to do. This is vital for the generation of new ideas and new ways of thinking as the Australian Army continues to change.

The Land Power Forum was launched in 2020 with the article Pulling Forward the Future. In this article I described how the Australian Army had engaged in a ‘contest of ideas’ over some years, and had launched strategic plans and guidance to guide the institution in its approach to organisational change.

Organisational change is not just inevitable, but entirely normal …… Army’s capacity to innovate will be reflected in its ability to offset against emerging organisational challenges or strategic threats, or responding to crises. Responding quickly, efficiently and effectively to an unforeseen strategic need will be a direct consequence of how Army sets the environment for transformation right now.

Soon after the Forum launched, the world was in the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Army, as part of a larger Defence commitment, transitioned from bushfire relief efforts to supporting the Australian national response to the pandemic. The Defence Strategic Update was released, confirming Australia’s challenging strategic environment while directing the largest recapitalisation of the Australian Army since the end of the Second World War. Army’s preparedness was maintained amid heightened domestic and overseas commitments right until the end of the year. Last year was clearly one to show how rapidly things can change, and in ways that are demonstrably different to our nominally best predictions.

The Land Power Forum is here, in 2021, to discuss these immediate challenges as much as it fulfils its charter to engage in a ‘futures-centric’ contest of ideas. You will also see this realignment in the research products that the AARC generates, including the Strategic Assessment program (launched in 2020); and through the Army Research Scheme outcomes which will be delivered in late 2021 and 2022. This is not saying the very long term is unimportant to thinking about the Army’s future. Rather, there is sufficient reason for the Australian Army and its partners to write about the issues that lie immediately before them. The Australian Army is about to undertake a step-change to capabilities and capacities essential for Australia to remain secure. It is also about to begin a substantial force posture and structure change under the recently endorsed Army Force Structure Implementation Plan. The thoughts of Forum contributors will help to inform those responsible to transform the Army as it progresses these plans further.

 If you’ve thought about writing for, or about, the Australian Army, please contact the AARC here. The Land Power Forum publishes articles every two or three days, including assessments and insights relating to trends, events and issues. For a full list of the AARC’s other programs check here, and there is a huge range of journal articles and research papers on a variety of topics in the Library. It will become apparent there are many ways in which your writing can contribute to the future of the Australian Army.

2020 was a year that tested the Australian Army, and all who support it, in its achievement of its tasks. 2021 is likely to be just as challenging as the Army embarks on an important transformation plan. The Land Power Forum is an opportunity for all to contribute to this transformation, and an opportunity to have your well-researched opinions and arguments count. We look forward to hearing from you.

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.

Using the Contribute page you can either submit an article in response to this or register/login to make comments.