In his forward to the new capstone doctrine, Australian Military Power, CDF General Campbell highlights ‘to fight and win, the ADF must fight as a cohesive force and with a clear understanding of how military power supports national power’. The doctrine attempts to distil the complex system of systems that comprise the Defence enterprise. As capstone doctrine, Australian Military Power seeks to set a foundation by framing the art and science of how the ADF fights when directed to by the Australian Government. Like all doctrine, it is the product of much review. Unfortunately, it also misses the mark, particularly in relation to what the ADF is now terming Information Warfare.
Chapter 2 of the new doctrine breaks Military Power into three distinct components, described as the ADF’s Fighting Power–Intellectual (with a further two sub-components of Mission Command and The Manoeuvrist Approach); Moral; and Physical. Later, readers are introduced to five domains, two environments (one defined and the other unclear), and in a confusing diagram, a disconnected ‘information activities’ reference vaguely similar to the way intelligence is characterised. It also reframes the Information and Cyber Domain of only a couple of years ago to a focused, singular Cyber Domain. By doing so it removes the natural ‘fit’ for non-technical informational capabilities to be developed. At best, the authors may have tacitly recognised that Information is separate from Military in the familiar, but possibly flawed, DIME construct used to categorise instruments of national power. Perhaps more likely, it adopts Australia’s favourite big-screen solicitor Dennis Danuto’s approach to something inherently complex and requiring expertise: ‘It’s the vibe and ah, no that’s it. It’s the vibe. I rest my case’.
Australian Military Power was developed four years after the ADF, to great fanfare and marketing, created an Information Warfare Division, and more than 20 years after the introspective series of reviews following INTERFET re-highlighted the importance of operating in and through the information environment. Yet this capstone document in no way describes how the ADF should do this as part of Military Power. Nor does it describe how the Military contributes to the broader National Power ‘Information’ effort. At face value it reads very Clausewitzian. But, dig a little deeper and the core concept of Military Power is articulated as an organisational underpinning, not the employment of ADF capabilities, particularly force, at the direction of the Government. Most importantly, if—as most paraphrase Clausewitz—‘war is a contest of wills’, this core element of how to fight and win is missing from the conception of Military Power within our capstone doctrine (yet, perhaps not surprising, is core to Army’s description of Land Power). Clausewitz states, bluntly: ‘If you want to overcome your enemy you must match your effort against his power of resistance, which can be expressed as the product of two inseparable factors, viz. the total means at his disposal and the strength of his will’. Somehow, Australian Military Power not only separates them, it almost negates one completely.
Rethinking how we ‘fight and win’ through application of Military Power leads to a revision of how the ADF conceives itself as the military instrument of National Power—a new Military Power Quartet focused on will, and organised through Intellectual, Moral, Physical and Informational Power. It deliberately builds on the three current components proposed by Australian Military Power’s authors. The Military Power Quartet is linked to warfare and in the effects each generate against target systems or target audiences to either safeguard our own will, or fracture the adversaries’.
Intellectual Power provides the knowledge to fight and win. Intellectual power comprises the ideas, concepts, organisational lessons and knowledge captured within Defence doctrine. It encompasses ‘how’ the ADF prepares for and employs force using the capabilities inherent to the organisation and integration with allies and partners. Intellectual power is predominantly a defensive element focused on achieving third-order (cognitive) effects within the members of the ADF, and allies and partners, to safeguard friendly will. It is primarily generated through the Information and Cyber Domain and reinforced through actions in the operational environment.
Moral Power establishes and sustains legitimacy for the decision to fight and win. Moral power generates and sustains fighting cohesion by establishing and sustaining the lawful, ethical and moral reasons for the use of the military instrument of National Power. It explains ‘why’ the ADF is employing force or conducting activities. Moral Power is predominantly a defensive element focused on achieving third-order (cognitive) effects within the members of the Australian public, the ADF, allies, partners and the international community to safeguard friendly will. It is primarily generated through the Information and Cyber Domain and reinforced through lawful, ethical and moral action in the operational environment.
Physical Power provides a means to fight and win. Physical Power encompasses those capabilities that can create physical effects on the adversary and the operational environment. It encompasses ‘when, with what, and where’ the ADF is employing lethal and non-lethal force. Physical Power is an offensive element focused on achieving first- and second-order effects against adversary capabilities to fracture will. It is primarily generated through the Maritime, Land, Air and Space domains and enhanced through action in the information environment.
Informational Power provides a means to fight and win. Informational Power encompasses those capabilities that can create informational effects on the adversary and the operational environment. It encompasses ‘when, with what, and where’ the ADF is using and employing lethal and non-lethal force. Informational Power is an offensive element focused on achieving first- and second-order effects against adversary understanding to fracture will. It is primarily generated through the Information and Cyber Domain but can be enhanced through actions in operational and information environments.
While many scholars would argue Clausewitz’s use of ‘moral elements’ is analogous to ‘psychological elements’, the distinction between Moral and Informational power is a useful organising construct for the ADF as it seeks to consolidate Military Power and contribute to National Power. The Military Power Quartet encompasses the sword and shield of war and warfare. It focuses on ensuring Military Power, as an instrument of National Power, is targeting adversary capability and understanding to affect will, while also protecting our own.
Part 2 of this post applies the Military Power Quartet to current conflict with a particular focus on the employment of Informational and Moral Power.
Jason Logue has recently completed 30 years of service in the ADF—the past 20 almost solely focused on planning, integrating and achieving effects in the information environment. In the absence of a formalised career approach, he is one of a handful of ADF officers with more than a single posting as an information staff officer working across capability specialist and information environment generalist roles. He has undertaken a broad range of information environment-related military and postgraduate professional education. He most recently completed a Master’s level program focused on terrorist use of propaganda, a subject he now supports as an Associate Lecturer. He is currently seconded to an Interagency position.
1 Australian Defence Force (2021). ADF-C-0 Australian Military Power, Edn 1, Lessons and Doctrine Directorate.
2 Australian Defence Force (2021). p ii.
3 Australian Defence Force (2021). pp 20-21.
4 Australian Defence Force (2021). pp 28-29.
5 Australian Defence Force (2021). pp 66-68.
6 Armstrong, Matt (2019). [Twitter] https://twitter.com/mountainrunner/status/1102221338402611200?s=21 retrieved on 10 August 2021. Armstrong argues that DIME was created with the aspiration four US federal agencies would closely coordinate at the national level for strategic effect – State, Information Agency, Defense, and Treasury. The actual instrument was the powerful Department with a mandate and budget, not necessarily what it did. The DIME construct supported deconfliction more than cooperation.
7 Sitch, Rob dir (1997) The Castle, Working Dog Productions and Village Roadshow Australia.
8 Australian Defence Force (2021). pp 59-62.
9 Clausewitz, Carl von, edited and translated by Howard, Michael and Paret, Peter (1976) On War, Princeton University Press, New Jersey. p 77.
10 Clausewitz, Carl von (1976). p 97.
11 Clausewitz, Carl von (1976). P 184-185.
12Clausewitz, Carl von, edited and translated by Howard, Michael and Paret, Peter (1976) On War, Princeton University Press, New Jersey. p 184-185.
13Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2022). ‘Russian President Vladimir Putin launches invasion of Ukraine, NATO agrees to increase troops in eastern flank,’ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-24/vladimir-putin-launches-invasion…