On 24 October 2019, the Sir Richard Williams Foundation is holding a seminar examining the requirements of Fifth Generation Manoeuvre. The aim of the seminar, building on previous seminars and series looking at #jointstrike and #highintensitywar, is to examine the differences and potential gaps in how the Australian Defence Force must equip and organise for multi-domain operations. In support of the seminar, The Central Blue will run a #5thgenmanoeuvre series to generate discussion and enable those that cannot attend the ability to gain a perspective on the topic. Do you have thoughts on what #5thgenmanoeuvre means for Australia and its region? We want to hear from you!

The term ‘fifth-generation manoeuvre’ conveys the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) nascent ability to orchestrate a new way of fighting, characterised by increased tempo and new ways and means of projecting power. Building on the ADF’s existing manoeuvre capability, there is a need to explore the differences in character and attributes of fifth-generation manoeuvre and identify potential gaps in the way we must think, equip and organise to meet emerging national security outcomes.

In doing so, we should consider manoeuvre from a historical perspective and evolve concepts to address emerging requirements of contemporary operations, especially as they relate to power projection and the emergence of the electromagnetic spectrum as a warfighting domain in its own right. We must examine how we sense, make sense, and decide within the emerging operational environment, cognisant of the increasingly sophisticated and integrated relationship between humans, technology, and autonomous systems which will characterise fifth-generation operations.

Questions abound regarding how enduring requirements for situational awareness and deeper environment understanding can be met, and command intent communicated through a contested and congested electromagnetic spectrum. Multi-domain command and control will be a critical enabler for fifth-generation manoeuvre with communication and network resilience a fundamental consideration in force design and employment. Finally, we must consider how we shape a fifth-generation mindset for combat support and combat service support functions to better exploit the advantages of greater access and movement of information as well as the traditional physical enablers of manoeuvre.

The Central Blue’s #5thgenmanoeuvre series, together with the seminar, will seek to explore these issues. Definitive answers are unlikely – but perhaps a better idea of the critical questions that must be explored will begin to emerge.

We welcome contributions leading up to the seminar to help shape the discussion, but we are also keen to read about how the seminar shaped attendees’ thinking after the event.

We encourage submissions from students, academics, policymakers, service personnel of all ranks, industry, and from others with an interest in these issues. We encourage potential contributors to engage early in their writing process!

To help get you started, we pose the following topic suggestions:

  • What are the differences in character and attributes of fifth-generation manoeuvre when compared to the past?
  • What are potential gaps in the way we must think, equip and organise to meet emerging national security outcomes?
  • How can the ADF orchestrate a rapid increase in tempo and open up new ways and means of projecting power and undertaking an indirect approach to warfare?
  • How does the evolving relationship between the human and technology and the trusted autonomous systems affect fifth-generation operations and manoeuvre?
  • What is the role of critical infrastructure and geography, and the opportunities and risks associated with the Australian operating environment?
  • How can multi-domain command and control be a critical enabler for fifth-generation manoeuvre with communication and network resilience?
  • How can we better operate when the electromagnetic spectrum is both contested and congested?
  • What are some of the logistics and sustainment challenges arising from fifth-generation manoeuvre?
  • What does a fifth-generation manoeuvrist look like? How do we develop them?

To submit an article email us at thecentralblue@gmail.com.