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Research Questions

  1. In what ways is the present force generation structure of the Australian Army falling short of optimal efficiency?
  2. What can be learned about force-generation decisions for the Australian Army by comparing the cases of other armed forces?
  3. How may the Australian Government's existing Defence Risk Management Framework shape the decisions about improving force generation by identifying challenges, causes, and effects in the Army?
  4. What are the risks and challenges facing policymakers in deciding how to structure and execute FORGEN?
  5. How may the challenges associated with the Army's FORGEN model be prioritised?

The Australian Army is changing, modernising, and reorganising its force structure in ways that affect the force generation (FORGEN) cycle of its combat and enabler elements. To ensure that this transition is successful, the Australian Army is seeking to identify and address strategic FORGEN challenges. This report takes a broad view of FORGEN, considering both the operational and the institutional factors that can affect an army's imperative to generate ready and capable forces. The report reviews the modernisation efforts and FORGEN practices of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, the French Army, and the Canadian Army to gather lessons that might be applicable to Australia's current efforts. It additionally draws on documents describing the current processes and challenges in the Australian Army and subject matter interviews to identify challenges (vulnerabilities or capability gaps) and assess their potential effects on management areas, combat functions, and enabling functions. The report also offers recommendations to address what may be seen as the most prominent current and emergent challenges facing the Australian Army. RAND identified three areas of principal importance: (1) prioritising the roles and missions of the Army; (2) designing a force to align with these roles and missions; and (3) continued communication across all levels of Defence and with the Australian Government to be able to perform the agreed roles and missions. The report is likely to be of interest to Government officials overseeing defence policy.

Key Findings

RAND identified 25 key challenges to the Army's strategic force generation model and proposed themed solutions:

  • The challenges may be grouped under three principal headings: national security–level risks, enterprise-level risks, and operational-level risks.
  • National security–level risks include identifying and reacting to the future or emergent nature and character of war, and prioritizing roles and missions among global, regional, and domestic objectives.
  • Enterprise-level risks include identifying capability gaps among Government, Force Headquarters, and Army, and sharing capabilities as appropriate; aligning the vision of Army excellence with the resources to achieve it; and managing the growth of the Army in accordance with existing policy frameworks.
  • Operational-level risks include assessing capability gaps and preparedness; aligning force generation cycles between services; properly balancing training between combat and other appropriate mission roles; and addressing the divergence of training and materiel between Active and Reserve Components.
  • The 25 challenges are interrelated: operational challenges are nested in enterprise risks, which in turn are nested under national security risks.

Recommendations

  • There is an array of challenges in an area as complex as force generation. As the Australian Army develops its FORGEN plans, it will be important to consider what kind of army Australia needs.
  • Prioritising roles and missions: there should be a clear understanding of the Army's mission sets, agreed between the Army, Australian Defence Force Headquarters, and Government, resulting in the appropriate allocation of resources.
  • Force design: a realignment of current force structure is necessary. Improving internal control mechanisms and managing the operational tempo will help, but a force design change may be needed.
  • Communication: the Government's 2016 Defence White Paper outlined the Government's strategic objectives, but existing lines of communication sometimes distort the execution of the objectives. Patterns of assumptions in Army, Headquarters, and Government distort the elaboration of objectives.
  • Managing operational tempo: there needs to be better management of operational tempo, in terms of the scale of training and the use of resources.
  • Internal control mechanisms to enforce standards could help reduce issues related to overuse and training.
  • The existing FORGEN model gives rise to friction with attempts at modernisation. Awareness of the friction should reduce modernisation problems.
  • Because of its complexity, and because efforts have already been made to improve issues related to retention, recruitment, diversity, and skills management, human capital management has been sidelined. It is important that efforts continue in this area.
  • Though it is not an urgent problem, the Reserve Component may be used to address capability gaps, rather than outside contractors.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Enterprise-Level Management Challenges and Risks Relevant to Force Generation and Modernisation

  • Chapter Three

    Identifying and Discussing Concerns in the Australian Army

  • Chapter Four

    Summary of Recommendations and Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Background on the Australian Defence Organisation and Australian Army

  • Appendix B

    Description of U.S. Army Total Army Analysis Process

The research described in this report was prepared for the Australian Army Headquarters and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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