This year has been the fourth that we have run the Perry Group elective at the Australian War College. The group aims to hone a more forward-thinking and creative mindset in our Defence leaders and strategists, using science fiction as a framework. It also provides the opportunity for War College students to research, and develop a group paper on, future Defence capability outside of the normal War College continuum.
This year again, we sought CDF guidance on the topics that Perry Group members might explore. The four topics are as follows:
- Space: What should be Defence’s strategy for the utilisation of the space domain?
- Information: What should be Defence’s strategy for the utilisation of the information and cyber domain?
- Climate: What security risks will climate change present to future Defence operations and business, and how should we plan for them?
- Artificial Intelligence: What challenges and opportunities does AI and automation present for Defence?
This year, we tried something different. Instead of writing an analytical piece, students were tasked to produce a short piece of fiction that would explore the issue and its implications in a more accessible way. In the process, students were mentored by noted futurists and authors such as Peter Singer and August Cole.
Each of the four groups produced a story that was guided by directing staff at the War College. They were also allocated a subject matter expert from within VCDF Group who provided guidance on work that had already been done, and who also assisted in focussing the groups on key areas that would add most value to the work of Defence’s modernisation process.
The resulting narratives are attached.
I trust you find these papers insightful and enjoyable. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute again to the development of our future Australian Defence Force.
Commander, Australian Defence College
Striking Blind uses fiction to consider the opportunities and challenges of military Artificial Intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems. Set in 2040, it describes the ADF’s use of MANDELA, the Machine Analysis Decision Learning Algorithm, a US-manufactured intelligence fusion, analysis and decision support tool inspired by AI systems currently in development.
What should be Defence’s strategy for the utilisation of the space domain in 2040?
Space in 2040 will be congested, contested and increasingly vulnerable to interference. Defence, as part of a Whole-of-Government effort, will need to have the capacity to protect critical space infrastructure and the ability to respond rapidly to potential adversarial actions. This requires prioritisation of space control and awareness technology over heavy launch capabilities, networked global partnerships, a specialist civ-mil-industry workforce, integration of AI, and shortened decision-making cycles in a crisis—all enabled by clear C2 structures.