COMADC Mick Ryan

Happy New Year!  I hope that your 2019 is full of realised opportunity, and professional development activities.

I wanted to commence the new year with a post on something I am quite excited about and that starts this year.   From 2019, for the first time, we will establish an Australian War College.

This isn’t to say that we haven’t possessed institutions that deliver professional military education to our officers and non-commissioned officers.  We have. But for the first time, we will possess a unified approach to developing our people in a single institution, underpinned by a new joint professional military education continuum, and its associated courses and curricula.

But first, some history.

In 1999, the Australian Department of Defence made decisions that would place greater focus on developing joint capabilities through a modernised structure for joint professional military education (JPME). The Australian Defence College was established as part of this in 2000.  

While the organisation became a single command, it still did not possess a truly unified approach to education and training. The constituent elements, such as the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Australian Command and Staff College, mainly acted independently. This did not foster the collaboration that allowed the exploitation of opportunities and make the best use of resources. Elements of JPME delivery remained dispersed across the command in different organisations and in stove-pipes.

Magnifying these challenges, there was no overall unifying ‘intellectual journey’ to guide those developing and running various Australian Defence College courses. 

The July 2018 Chiefs of Staff Committee approved the Australian Defence College Strategy 2018-2023.  It aimed to provide unity of action for the Australian Defence College in progressing four key areas of reform: curriculum, structural, contractual and infrastructure. 

The first part of this reform was the approval in August 2018 by the Chiefs of Staff Committee of our new Australian JPME continuum. This provides a transparent and auditable framework for Defence senior leadership to ensure that the right type and amount of Joint education and training is delivered at Australian Defence College, and that this is available to the right personnel. Importantly, in possessing a holistic joint education continuum, we can use it to design more effective learning delivery mechanisms that blend residential and non-residential learning.  You can find our new JPME Guidebook here.

It became apparent that the successful delivery of this future-focused JPME required a strategically-minded and integrated organisation, with a structure and business practices that have integrity at all levels; in its governance frameworks, pedagogy, academic practices, and development of deep levels of expertise.  To capitalise on the opportunity afforded by the new JPME continuum, the Australian Defence College developed and evaluated several different organisational models. These were designed to provide a more transparent approach to residential and non-residential joint education and joint individual training, better use of resources, and to ensure the Australian Defence College could be more future-focussed in developing initiatives for the development of the intellectual edge in our people.

The model that emerged as the most effective, which was endorsed by the Chief of Defence Force in late October 2018, is a three-pillar model which includes the Australian Defence Force Academy, a new ADF Training Centre to oversee all joint individual training, and a new Australian War College. This consolidates JPME and joint individual training functions into their own distinct areas and aims to foster greater collaboration, transparency and alignment within JPME, and joint individual training. It also permits a more focused approach to instructor development by allowing staff to develop expertise in focal areas of education or training. 

The establishment of the Australian War College raises the advocacy, profile and the explicit institutional value of JPME. The new Australian War College will be responsible for the existing Australian Command and Staff College course, the reserve staff college courses, the Defence and Strategic Studies Course and our one-star course. And, with the reallocation of resourcing from consolidating administration and business management functions, we are able to increase our investment in online learning, alumni management, instructor development, strategic JPME design, and are able to establish a Future Learning Innovation Hub. 

The new Australian War College will better facilitate continuous learning, and by consolidating the responsibility for joint education in a single institution, it can ensure there is an optimal mix of residential, non-residential, guided self- learning and funded tertiary study for more military and Defence civilian personnel in a less fragmented approach.

The year ahead promises to be very exciting as we raise the new Australian War College, while implementing our new JPME curriculum across the Australian Defence College.  That said, we will be constantly monitoring implementation of the new War College to detect where our planning may have missed issues, and to provide for incremental improvement.  

We exist in an era of rapid change in our strategic environment and in technological progress.  We must be able to anticipate or detect changes in our environment so that the intellectual preparation of our people keeps pace with changes in the world around us. The formation of the Australian War College from the start of 2019 is just one of the initiatives to assist us in ensuring our people, our most valuable capability, retain and enhance their intellectual edge into the future.

As always, if you have any thoughts on this post, you can respond to me on Twitter at @WarintheFuture.

Have a great day!