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An uncertain and dangerous decade: Preparing the Army for the next ten years

The Australia of 2020 is amid a health and economic crisis that it did not fully anticipate, after a bushfire emergency of such significance that wartime provisions for a military response were required, while witnessing dramatic shifts in the geostrategic environment. The complexity of circumstances defies memory, with events of historic scale and significance. It has been a challenge for the Army, as part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), to respond to this confluence of problems. This is not a reflection of an idleness in the Army – far from it. It is a reflection of the inherent difficulties in making choices and trade-offs about military capability, when it is made available, and for what reason. To prepare the Army for the next decade requires us to face the questions before it, to challenge the assumptions that have driven its planning in the past, and to avoid ‘freezing’ in the face of the monumental strategic changes witnessed. The Prime Minister of Australia, The Honourable Scott Morrison, in releasing Defence’s latest strategic update and force structure described ‘[t]he simple truth is this: even as we stare down the COVID pandemic at home, we need to also prepare for a post-COVID world that is poorer, that is more dangerous, and that is more disorderly.

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