10 June 2018

On 23 August, The Sir Richard Williams Foundation is holding a seminar on joint strike to discuss the imperative for an independent deterrent. The aim of the seminar is to build a common understanding of the need for an independent joint strike capability to provide Australia with a powerful and potent deterrent and a means of demonstrating strategic intent. In the lead up to the seminar, The Central Blue will be running a series (similar to #highintensitywar) in order to generate discussion and enable those that cannot to attend to gain a perspective on the topic. What does #jointstrike mean for Australia and its region? We want to hear from you!

Australia’s geopolitical circumstances and regional threats are much changed from those which existed in 1963 when Australia committed to acquire the potent F-111 air strike capability. They are now more complex and much less straightforward than the Cold War heritage scenarios of the 1960s. But one aspect remains unchanged: Australia’s geography continues to support the case for an independent strike capability with strategic reach. An independent strike capability expands the range of options to achieve Australia’s strategic ends, signals a serious intent and commitment about Australia’s national security, and has the capacity to influence strategic outcomes short of resorting to armed conflict.

Conceiving, planning, programming and delivering a credible strike capability is not easy.  While some elements such as long-range strike weapons can be bought off the shelf, the integration of the various elements of a strike capability is complex and takes time before the conception develops into a mature and credible military capability. But a strike capability without the enabling capabilities such as electronic warfare, surveillance, and air-to-air refueling is of little utility so a potent strike system is far more than weapons and carriage platforms. Doctrine, policy, organisation, training and sustainment arrangements are just a few of the non-materiel aspects that cannot be overlooked.

The historical view of Australian #jointstrike – an F-111 loaded with 48 Mk82 500lb bombs [Image credit: Air Force Image Gallery]

In short, the complexity and time required to build a nation’s strike capability is such that any government wishing to retain an independent ability to ‘reach out and touch somebody’ to shape their behaviour has little option other than to maintain a standing strike capability.  Evolving and emerging technologies such as electronic warfare, cyber operations, space, and unmanned systems do, however, mean that any such standing strike capability will undoubtedly consist of a greater variety of more sophisticated means to strike than the kinetic firepower embodied in something like the F-111.

With this background and intent in mind, the editors at The Central Blue have come up with a number of topics to provoke your thinking in the lead up to the seminar. This is by no means an exhaustive list but we hope it prompts mental contact!

Questions to :

  • What is the impact of #jointstrike on the national, campaign, operational and tactical levels?
  • Can #jointstrike bring a new dimension to future Australian defence and national security policy?
  • How have partner forces developed and employed #jointstrike capabilities in recent campaigns?
  • What can surface forces bring to the #jointstrike capability
  • What does multi-domain #jointstrike look like and how would it work?
  • How does Australia’s emerging amphibious capabilities contribute to #jointstrike?
  • How do we best understand the #jointstrike options available and of the best way of delivering a balanced range of strike capabilities across the Australian Defence Force?
  • What emerging technologies should be considered to enable support, planning and targeting systems?
  • How do emerging #jointstrike options such as cyber and electronic warfare affect traditional notions of warfare and combat?
  • What are the impacts of emerging #jointstrike capabilities on training and exercise regimens?
  • What is the role of modelling and simulation in optimising and developing a mature and sophisticated #jointstrike capability?
  • Should Australia consider a nuclear #jointstrike option?
  • How would an nuclear strike capability in Australia’s region impact the power structures and relationships?
  • What impacts would prioritising #jointstrike have on Australia’s existing and future force structures?

We hope these suggestions provide some food for thought and hopefully prompt some discussion. We would love to hear your ideas on what issues should be explored as part of the #jointstrike series. If you think you have a a question or an idea that would add to the #jointstrike discussion, or know someone who might, contact us at thecentralblue@gmail.com.