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  • Greg Quilliam

A TRAINING AND SIMULATION FOCUSED REVIEW OF THE DSR

Greg Quilliam

Senior Manager – Simulation and C4I



Introduction

It is likely the victors of future conflicts will be those who have embraced emerging and disruptive technologies, to provide highly trained forces, imbued with a level of preparedness and confidence that, when the need arises, will ensure they are able to defend their nation’s interests. The publicly available Defence Strategic Review (DSR) compels that for Australia to achieve this level of preparedness, significant restructuring to the training of Defence personnel is needed. For this transformation to occur there is strong justification for the future training continuum to incorporate the latest Augmented Reality, Decision Support, and Constructive Simulation capabilities, supported as an ecosystem, by realistic AI-driven frameworks that simulate near-peer adversaries, capable of adapting to evolving combat tactics and strategies.


Our Defence forces must be equipped to engage in warfare across the Five domains of “maritime, land, air, space and cyber”[1], but in an age where the speed of data, and the ability to rapidly synthesise that data to influence decisions is crucial, our forces must be trained and empowered to adjust to an evolving landscape in order to gain an advantage.


Collaboration among the public service, academia, and industry is imperative to the successful transition of our forces envisioned by the DSR. All parties must work together in pursuit of the strategic goal, the "Defence of Australia"[2]. This collaborative effort will enable the development of competitive and innovative simulation technologies and, prepare our military to confront the challenges outlined in the DSR and compete within the ever-changing dynamic landscape of the future battlespace.



Reforming Our Strategic Thinking

The simulation and training systems must facilitate a shift from insurgency conflicts that have shaped our training methods since the events of 2001, to embracing the strategic threats as outlined in the DSR. To achieve this reform, the government must allocate sufficient funds to examine the processes that have led to failed ICT and simulation projects over the past two decades. Subsequent findings of the necessary process changes should be implemented to inspire the transformation of Defence simulation training support. A reliance on processes designed over 20 years ago that are fast becoming obsolete, will not be sufficient to meet the requirements of the DSR nor, will it equip Australia with the highly proficient, well-trained military force required to face our uncertain geopolitical future.


The DSR identifies that within the 2023-2025 timeframe Defence needs to, as an urgent and immediate priority, be able to deliver an “Enhanced Force-In-Being”[3]. While the DSR also raises the need to develop a “Strategy of Denial”[4] and to fast track the acquisition of additional HIMARS and a land-based maritime strike capability in support of this strategy, it does not discuss the requirement to commensurately transform the training environment to a more representative approach. It is only through the provision of a relevant, realistic, and measurable training capability, that we can assure the training of ADF personnel and force elements against a near peer threat. The delivery of a highly connected, geographically dispersed training capability will be crucial to ensure the required degree of proficiency in the operation of these new systems and the Joint Force Tactics, Techniques and Procedures required to neutralise any adversary’s attempt to counter the strategy of denial.


The DSR also states that “more attention and resources must be devoted to crucial future-focused joint capabilities such as information warfare, cyber capabilities, electronic warfare, and guided weapons and explosive ordnance” [5], but the Public DSR omits the critical need to address the training gap that forging ahead with these new technologies will generate.


This discussion must also be extended to include the bias towards platforms over systems of systems. While it is true there is a clear shift towards the provision of platforms equipped with the necessary weaponry to achieve the desired operational or strategic effects, the challenge of operating within a Joint Force environment is more than just one of recruitment, it is also of quickly having the people trained to operate these new platforms. Now, more than ever, the need to conduct realistic training focussed on the delivery of integrated effects is essential. Networked simulation-based training systems can emulate complex threat profiles and support the training of offensive capability effects normally reserved for operations outside of Australia. To ensure the ADF can operate these new systems effectively, the training environment and its supporting ecosystems (ICT Backbone, Data Service, Range Infrastructure and Sustainment) must be considered as an end-to-end capability.


Defence must also, expedite the development of adaptive competencies that are vital to enhancing the preparedness of our soldiers, sailors, and aviators. This will enable them to effectively operate the new systems and capabilities outlined in the DSR across the multidimensional battlefield.

Addressing Challenges in Government Processes

It is crucial for the Business-to-Government partnerships that Defence focuses on addressing the risk aversion within the ADF and APS. This risk aversion has been a foremost contributing challenge with the DSR sighting the “current approach to capability acquisition [as] not suitable given our strategic circumstances, and there is a clear need for a more efficient acquisition process” [6] . The challenge, according to Drucker, the famous management guru, is that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” [7], so Defence must prioritise addressing the change in cultural practices within the APS and ADF, if the new strategic direction is to be affected.


The DSR should serve as the catalyst for changes in Defence’s approach to procurement, engineering, testing, and the rapid delivery of training environments. The DSR stresses that for Defence to accelerate processes to deliver capability there is a need to “reduce integration complexity and costs and break down barriers for Australian industry participation” [8] . This must be inclusive of all aspects of simulated training, from immersive augmented reality training to state-of-the-art command and leadership training, if a cultural change is to be accepted. It is also essential to establish a robust ICT infrastructure designed to align with the goals of the DSR rather than to conform to the objectives of a business enterprise office technology framework.


The current approach has led to many disappointments or prolonged delays to ICT and simulation projects, rendering them outdated and therefore impractical to enact. As demonstrated in the statement by Grant Douglas, “For executives who have carefully established a career in the public sector, with hopes or expectations of greater things, being a sponsor of a high-risk large ICT software project is seen as a possible end to that plan”[9].

The Albanese Government is determined to reform Defence and its capability acquisition processes to ensure our defence forces have the capabilities they need and sooner.”[10]


It must be accepted that there is a fundamental difference between systems designed for experimentation, capability development, and training, and systems designed for office productivity. While simulation capabilities can be utilised for the three former applications, they don't work well within the enterprise ICT architecture, designed for business operations. Many of the simulation applications used today are based on combat algorithms, code and standards designed during the Cold War, however these applications still provide highly successful training, if implemented within an ICT architecture that is designed to allow them to work effectively. The ADF does not have the current motivation or funding to rewrite these applications, nor does it have the resident capability to develop new applications that are designed to work on enterprise ICT systems. This was evident in Joint Project 9711 (JP9711) – Core Simulation Capability, where its total investment of “$897 million”[11], sought to create a core infrastructure that harnessed the power of legacy applications more effectively as opposed to, creating new simulation applications for use in the enterprise environment.


The DSR highlights that “Projects of high strategic importance and urgency must be given special consideration for accelerated acquisition and delivery.”[12]. Streamlining procurement processes utilising the full gambit of LEAN methodologies will “relentlessly work on eliminating waste”[13], while the implementing the “Theory of Constraints”[14] will go some way to addressing bottlenecks and reducing the size of projects while increasing the frequency of delivery. Rewarding behaviours that lead to successful delivery of outcomes, and learning from mistakes, should be prioritised over the current system that seemingly rewards slavish adherence to inefficient processes. To meet the DSR intent the organisation must balance the requirement for robust project governance against a much-needed bias for action, in order to deliver the right outcome at the right time for the Warfighter.



Conclusion

As Australia, moves down the path outlined in the DSR, Defence needs to consider how to ensure the best utilisation of available training systems, what applications need to be created or modified to meet the training effect and what training outcomes are required to ensure future success of the Warfighter.


Simulation systems need to be more relevant, designed to meet the “Enhanced Force-In-Being” training system addressing the significant shift in capabilities that our Defence force is being directed to undertake. There needs to be realistic financial support and bold strategic planning to embrace the emerging and disruptive capabilities in immersive, cognitive, and constructive Simulations. Cultural and process changes focused on outcome delivery, and a dedicated ICT architecture environment specifically supportive of simulation and training technologies. These aspects are all required for delivery of the “Future Integrated Force” and enhanced force preparedness to ensure Australia maintains one of the most well-trained military forces in the world, equipped and ready for whatever future conflict may arise.


 

Meikai Group

Meikai is a Professional Services Consultancy dedicated to facilitating and solving capability problems and challenges for our clients. Meikai specialises in the provision of engineering, project management and program delivery services to support the implementation of emerging and disruptive technology within the ICT, simulation, and training domains.


About the Author

Greg Quilliam – Senior Manager - Simulation and C4I

Greg is Meikai’s senior manager responsible for leading the Simulation and C4I section. Greg has more than 15 years of experience working in Simulation space. His Simulation career began as a Simulation Manager for the Combat Training Centre, focused on ensuring that the Australian Defence Force could, “train as you fight” and that they received the final polish before deploying into theatre. Greg has a Bachelor of Information Technology from Central Queensland University and an MBA in Digital Transformation from the University of Southern Queensland.


 

References


Footnote: 9. Douglas, G 2021, ‘An insider's perspective: Governance of large ICT software projects in the Australian and New Zealand public sectors’, phd thesis, viewed 9 July 2023, <http://hdl.handle.net/1885/242622>.


Footnote: 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,12. Defence and Smith, S. (2023) National defence: Defence strategic review: 2023. Canberra, ACT: Department of Defence.


Footnote: 13. Essence of Lean – Eliminating Waste (Muda) | Lean Production. (n.d.). Introduction to Lean Manufacturing | Lean Production. https://www.leanproduction.com/essence-of-lean/#:~:text=The%20core%20idea%20of%20lean,the%20perspective%20of%20your%20customer.


Footnote: 14, Goldratt, E & Cox, J 2004, The goal: A process of ongoing improvement, 3rd edn, North River Press, Great Barrington, MA


Footnote: 7, Guley, G & Reznik, T 2018, Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast and Transformation for Lunch, The Jabian Journal, viewed 9 July 2023, <https://journal.jabian.com/culture-eats-strategy-for-breakfast-and-transformation-for-lunch/>.


Footnote: 10, Marles, R. and Conroy, P. (2023) A strong partnership with industry to implement the Defence Strategic Review, A strong partnership with industry to implement the Defence Strategic Review | Defence Ministers. Available at: https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/media-releases/2023-04-24/strong-partnership-industry-implement-defence-strategic-review (Accessed: 07 July 2023)


Footnote: 11, Battlespace Publications. (2019). Training and Simulation Update. Battlespace. https://battle-updates.com/update/training-and-simulation-update-15/

[1] Commonwealth of Australia, “Defence Strategic Review”, 2023, p. 24. [2] Commonwealth of Australia, “Defence Strategic Review”, 2023, p. 6. [3] Commonwealth of Australia, “Defence Strategic Review”, 2023, p. 65. [4] Commonwealth of Australia, “Defence Strategic Review”, 2023, p. 65. [5] Commonwealth of Australia, “Defence Strategic Review”, 2023, p. 51. [6] Commonwealth of Australia, “Defence Strategic Review”, 2023, p. 91. [7] Guley, G & Reznik, T 2018, “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast and Transformation for Lunch”, The Jabian Journal. [8] Commonwealth of Australia, “Defence Strategic Review”, 2023, p. 67. [9] Douglas G, “An insider’s perspective, Governance of large ICT software projects in the Australian and New Zealand public sectors”, 2021, p 90. [10] Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles,A strong partnership with industry to implement the Defence Strategic Review”, 24 April 2023. [11] Battlespace Publications, “Training and Simulation Update”, 2019. [12] Commonwealth of Australia, “Defence Strategic Review”, 2023, p. 95. [13] Essence of Lean – Eliminating Waste (Muda) | Lean Production, 2023. [14] Goldratt, E & Cox, J “The Goal”, 2004, p. 4.

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