Two thousand eighteen has been another busy year for The Central Blue as we continue to pursue the blog’s aims of fostering informed discussion and debate on issues relating to Australian air power and encouraging airmen to write about their profession of arms. The Central Blue is now a healthy two-year-old and, like most two-year-olds, is making its presence known! We have now published over 140 posts, including 59 posts in 2018 and have carved out a small niche for ourselves in the blogosphere. There remains much work to do, particularly regarding getting airmen to apply pen to paper or fingers to keys but our growing number of contributors on The Central Blue show that it can be done.
2018 in review
We ran our first two series this year: #highintensitywar in support of the Williams Foundation’s seminar on the same topic on 22 March 2018, and then #jointstrike in support of the seminar in August 2018. We found the series was a great way to focus our efforts and stimulate content from contributors, either entirely new material or revisions of existing work. The series represented a number of firsts for The Central Blue:
We collaborated with From Balloons to Drones on the #highintensitywar series, and both blogs achieved greater reach and penetration — for generating content and reaching readers — than had they gone it alone;
We republished material from The Strategy Bridge, Logistics in War, Angle of Attack, The Strategist, and ADBR as part of an effort to make the blog an accessible and curated set of readings to enhance the discussion at and around the Williams Foundation’s seminars.
Our content this year featured continued to feature:
Some of our highlights as editors this year have included posts by first-time contributors such as Angeline Lewis’ outstanding post on Australian strategy and the rules-based order, Robert Vine’s insightful two-part series on the future of air superiority and Claire Pearson’s reflection on organisational culture in the 21st century. We highlight these posts as they epitomise what we are hoping to achieve through The Central Blue: airmen putting their thoughts into words to further their profession’s body of knowledge.
We were also proud this year to publish Shaun McGill’s post of Air Force personnel issues. Shaun’s post was originally crafted as an entry to the 2017 Chief of Air Force Essays Competition. Working with The Central Blue editors, Shaun was able to condense his competition entry and clarify his arguments into a stimulating blog post.
Finally, we are grateful to Air Marshal Geoff Brown AO (Ret’d) and the Board of the Williams Foundation for encouraging The Central Blue editors’ input on issues that the Foundation should explore, and the ways in which those issues could be explored. We have found that the blog has helped form new professional networks that have contributed to the quality and robustness of discussion at Williams Foundation seminars, both through the supporting series and the introduction of new and more diverse speakers at the seminars themselves. The Board has been incredibly encouraging and supportive of our efforts to enhance The Central Blue and professional development, including supporting our request for a social media manager and agreeing to support the 2018 Australian Defence Entrepreneurs Forum.
We have bid farewell to two of our original editors this year, with Wing Command Travis Hallen and Squadron Leader Alexandra McCubbin taking up postings in the United States. While we are sad to see Trav and Kanye go, we are also excited at the professional networks that they may be able to build in Washington and New York.
We have welcomed Wing Commander Rob Gill and Dr Ross Mahoney to the editorial team. We were particularly pleased to welcome Ross as our social media and web manager in September, and our followers have no doubt noticed an increase in the quality and quantity of our presence across Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We have also appreciated Ross’ expertise as an air power historian and as the editor of From Balloons to Drones.
So, as we head into 2019, our editorial team consists of:
Wing Commander Jo Brick;
Wing Commander Rob Gill;
Squadron Leader Jenna Higgins;
Dr Ross Mahoney;
Wing Commander Chris McInnes
We already have a number of initiatives planned for 2019, including two series to support the Williams Foundation’s seminars next year. The first of these, to support a Williams seminar in April, will focus on Defence sustainment as an element of Australian self-reliance.
We will also be launching a series of reviews of science fiction movies and books to foster discussion about the opportunities and challenges presented by artificial intelligence and automation. This series will kick off over the holiday period and should provide some neat summer reading.
We are also really excited about the launch of the Air Force’s new professional military education framework in 2019, including its new online professional development portal known as The Runway. We sincerely hope that The Runway can bring a nice shade of blue to Australia’s official professional development resources such as The Cove and The Forge and look forward to working with The Runway to foster informed discussion and debate about issues affecting Australian air power.
In closing, we would like to thank our readers, followers, and especially our contributors and wish them all a safe and happy festive season. We encourage them to use their downtime to read, rest, recuperate and, obviously, write!