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Land Warfare, an Introduction

Will Longstaff, Night attack by 13th Brigade on Villers-Bretonneux, 24-25 Apr 1918
Artwork by Will Longstaff, Night attack by 13th Brigade on Villers-Bretonneux, 24-25 Apr 1918


This publication has an express purpose. It is to provide soldiers with an understanding of their trade. Waging war is a complex and dangerous business, but it is also an essential one for the Australian state and people. The maxim that ‘if you want peace you must prepare for war’ remains as true as ever. The converse also remains true. If you want war, disarm. Australia needs soldiers who are physically and mentally prepared to do what is needed in times of danger, and to do it better than their adversary.

While this work’s primary audience is Australian Army soldiers, the sailors and aviators of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force will also find utility in its reading. War today is a joint enterprise and the distinctions between operations on land, at sea and in the air are not as important as they once were. Sailors and aviators aspiring to high command will also need to understand land operations, much as present-day soldiers need to be comfortable with directing operations against targets on the sea and in the air. The final intended audience is the civilian policymakers in the Department of Defence and the political staffs who serve their ministers. In a democracy, civilians need to understand war because ultimately it is their responsibility to oversee its waging. Moreover, in the present-day Australian Defence Force (ADF), those not in uniform are responsible for many of the decisions that provide the resources with which soldiers will fight and the facilities at which they will train. Meanwhile, other civilians play critical roles in interpreting the future strategic environment. If defence civilians are to make good decisions and provide sound advice they must firstly understand war, both its nature and character and how it adapts to the context of the age.

As an introduction, this work should be seen as the starting point for an exploration of the nature and character of war. It is not meant to be the final say on land warfare, or war more generally. Rather, it is the author’s hope that it will find a place in the professional military education of the next generation of those wearing an Australian uniform, no matter the rank, trade or service. Commanders should find it an accessible assignment for unit discussions and the professional development of subordinates. The ADF may also use it as an aid for those starting their military careers, such as entrants to the Australian Defence Force Academy or the service schools. It is meant to be the starting point for a career-long journey of study and reflection. Finally, to foster ongoing study, the work includes a list of further reading as an appendix.

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