An Eye For a Storm:
Imagining the Future of Professional Military Education and its Effect on the ADF of Tomorrow.
By August Cole and P.W. Singer
Useful Fiction LLC
“The military leader, the commander, is a central figure in our common narratives about war.”
So writes Therese Heltberg in her essay “Art, Craft, or Science: How We Think About Military Leadership.” But what goes into the making of that military leader, and how can narrative assist in explaining it?
This is the central question at the heart of “An Eye for a Storm.” Deploying a deliberate blend of narrative and research (known as “Useful Fiction”), it envisions not just a future military mission, but also the future of professional military education. These are key issues to explore as the Australian Defence Force implements its Defense Enterprise Learning Strategy toward planning for 2035 and beyond, to ensure it has the “intellectual edge” in future wars and strategic competition. Through fictionalized vignettes following a young officer from the classroom to the midst of battle, the reader sees the emerging real-world trends and technologies that an ADF leader might face in the future, as well as the age-old challenges of decisions and consequences that will continue to play out in a realm of deep uncertainty. The key lesson, however, is what being “future ready” truly requires. An officer’s success or failure in the future will come in part from the education and experiences they were provided long before the point of decision.
It may be an imagined story of the future, but history tells us that the stakes of getting the education aspects of “future ready” right couldn’t be higher. If the Duke of Wellington was reputed to have said of Eton, “It is here that the battle of Waterloo was won!” it is also important to remember what George Orwell quipped in 1941: "Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there."