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    • Effective risk management in an era of strategic competition: An alternative view

      This week The Central Blue editor, Wing Commander Ulas Yildirim, discusses risk management within the Australian Defence Force. The current rule-based model of risk management that Defence uses is insufficient to properly assess the different types of risks faced by the Service and its members. Using aviation safety reform, Yildirim examines how a shift in culture can be powerful for meaningful change. However, contextualisation of change is equally important in mitigating failings based on rote adherence to rules without understanding the principles behind them. Yildirim further highlights how Defence’s culture surrounding fear of failure will inhibit the long-term evolution and change necessary for Defence to take advantage of opportunities and create space for innovation. Risk – Effect (positive or negative) of uncertainty on objectives - ISO Guide 73:2009 Never miss the opportunity of a crisis - Anonymous In the mid-1990s, when the Defence aviation community vowed to make safety its top priority, a robust aviation safety framework was implemented. Inherent to the rules of this framework was a strict regime of compliance and conformance from its operational and technical personnel. Yet, this aviation safety framework—deemed exemplary by the Nimrod Board of Inquiry—did not prevent one of the Defence aviation community’s worst peacetime accidents with the loss of a Royal Australian Navy Sea King helicopter in 2005. The resulting Board of Inquiry for this tragic event attributed the accident to several themes including organisational deficiencies, management failures, poor communication and perhaps most concerningly, compliance to existing regulations without understanding their intent. The Sea King accident reflects a common and recurring issue in risk management which is continually underpinned by a logic of compliance. This logic holds that risk events can be resolved by ensuring that personnel comply with a set of predetermined rules-based risk management system. It would be foolish to suggest that an unregulated risk management system is the most effective. For example, Defence has significantly reduced its fatal aviation accident rate since the 1990s from a peak of more than five aircraft losses and four fatalities per year down to 0.4 fatal accidents per year for the period 1993 to 2012. However, a rules-based risk management system will neither diminish the likelihood nor the consequences of events such as the Sea King accident in the same way that it could not prevent the adverse effects of COVID-19. In an era of strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific there is a need to revisit Defence’s assumptions around risk management. To do so, this article presents some common issues associated with defining risk, identifies three different categories of risk, and provides some suggestions on how notions of risk might be dealt with within Defence in the future. Defining Risk Very few topics will generate as much frustration and confusion as risk management in Defence. For instance, how might understandings of risk and the identification of opportunities be rethought in a way suggested by the quotes that opened this article, but still be reconciled against the varied risk management policies within Defence which deliberately seek to steer well clear of any crisis? Academics B. Fischoff, S. R. Watson and C. Hope argue that the definition of risk is inherently controversial due to the unrecognised disagreements about what is meant by risk. The definition of risk has the likely effect to impact the outcome of policy debates, the allocation of resources and the distribution of political power in society. Moreover, without proper review and alignment this also has the effect of creating distortion and organisational skewing of risk perceptions based on long standing assumptions and organisational norms. Therefore, it would be improper to have a single definition of risk for all situations because there is no one definition suitable for all problems. ‘Rather, the choice of definition is a political one’ highlighting the importance one places on certain events in particular situations. For instance, in 1958, the Air Force Scientific Advisor, W. B. Kennedy, advised against installing cockpit voice recorders in Air Force aircraft. Kennedy instead wrote ‘... to the RAAF, the loss of aircraft is an accepted risk with a predicated cost.’[1] Kennedy’s comments represent the Air Force’s attitude towards aviation risk management during the Cold War which took precedence over aviation safety and reflect a stark contrast to the modern narrative within Defence. To overcome the problems of being bound to a singular and universal definition, academics R. S. Kaplan and A. Mikes propose three risk categories and different systems in managing risk as follows. Preventable risks Preventable risks are those that are internal to the organisation with a degree of control existing over them. Hence, they should be eliminated or avoided. Examples can include policies to prevent unethical use of Defence funds or materiel that can lead to reputational risk within Australian society. In this context, Defence’s aviation safety framework is a prime example that seeks to avoid preventable risks by mandating specific rules in managing aviation related safety risks. Strategy risks Organisations routinely accept strategy risks to increase the net gains from their strategies. In this context, strategy risks are different from preventable risks as they are not always undesirable. For instance, Defence’s ongoing close alliance with the US that enables the Australian government to achieve extended deterrence is also a strategy risk requiring Defence to provide niche contributions to various allied operations over the years. Given prevention is not the ultimate aim means that a rules-based system would be inadequate to manage strategy risks. Therefore, strategy risks require a risk management system that minimises the resultant effect and the likelihood of harmful aspects of strategy risks should they occur, while maximising the opportunities that they create. External Risks External risks are those that are outside the organisation’s control. COVID-19 and its impact on all aspects of society is a topical example of an external risk. Given such events cannot be avoided, efforts should be spent in identifying and mitigating their impact. This is a rather difficult task requiring foresight and the freedom to question existing norms to mitigate the effects of an event should it occur. For example, the ability of Defence’s high end capabilities to achieve the reach and duration required of them are closely linked to liquid energy stockpiles on Australian soil or place of operation. A Sino-Indian conflict in the region may disrupt the sea lines of communication which will have a severe impact on Defence’s ability to generate strategic effects. The establishment of sovereign capabilities able to produce and store liquid energy from indigenous feedstock can mitigate external risks such as a Sino-Indian conflict in the region, thus ensuring that Defence is capable of continuing to support the Australian government. Risk versus Opportunity: Two parts of a whole There is a large body of evidence within Defence to suggest that risks are treated via rules-based risk management systems due to a culture that values prevention of failures. This is, fundamentally, an untenable position for Defence to continue to hold. Arguably, such a culture inhibits the generation of opportunities and innovation. True innovation can only occur after a cultural shift occurs; one which generates a culture that values the benefits offered by failures. In his intent, the Chief of Air Force states that the Air Force will not succeed by treating risk, but by seizing opportunity. Similarly, retired Air Commodore Bill Kourelakos argues that the existing risk averse culture within Defence, coupled with the implementation of loss-focussed aviation safety regulations, are preventing the ability to seek opportunities while generating further conservatism. These examples highlight that systems traditionally designed to manage preventable risks may no longer be viable, regardless of the perceived certainty that they provide. More importantly, preventable risks and external risks represent the thin bookends of a risk continuum dominated by strategy risks. While isolated risk decisions may have been acceptable in the past, in an era of strategic competition in the region this is no longer acceptable. Risk decisions are about being able to view all three risk categories in cohesion and making a choice for a net benefit. For example, the effects of natural disasters present complex risks for Defence including the ability to respond at a notice against drought, fires and inundation within Australian borders. While outside Australian borders, major effects of natural disasters can be large-scale human suffering, instability in the region, conflict, and substantial population movements across the porous borders of fragile states. However, the ability to effectively respond to natural disasters can also create many opportunities. For instance, academic D. Brewster argues that Australia’s work with India, the US and Japan in the multilateral naval response effort to the 2004 Tsunami was a turning point in India’s decades-long non-alignment policy. Cooperation between the four navies directly led to the 2007 proposals for a Quadrilateral (QUAD) Security Dialogue which has gained further strategic importance recently within the Indo-Pacific region. Defence’s response to the 2004 Tsunami is a great example that highlights the interactions and good management of the three risk categories starting from available materiel and trained personnel which have led to the generation of a substantial opportunity in establishing the QUAD. In contrast, the circumstances behind the Navy’s Rizzo review is a stark reminder of the opportunity cost of mismanaged risks hampering the availability of mission-worthy materiel to generate strategic effects. Now what? In light of the above examples, generation of opportunities will require a concerted effort from the whole institution. This involves driving a strategic narrative to highlight that risk decisions require being able to view all three risk categories in cohesion and challenge Defence personnel to view risk management as a means to generate opportunities. Commanders must empower their subordinates, provide them top cover, and recognise the lessons gained from innovation failures. Professional military education must inculcate risk management as a means to generate opportunity while unnecessary governance must be avoided. Additionally, Defence personnel must no longer see themselves in discrete silos, responsible for managing one type of risk divorced from the world in which Defence operates in the hopes of preventing failures. They must leverage the decades of success and knowledge that they have gained from their past experiences. Further, they must view risk management of preventable risks as a starting point rather than a finishing line and look for creative solutions to emerging problems. Importantly, personnel must avoid a singular focus on obviating past failures or rely solely on ‘one size fits all’ attitudes towards risk management. These behaviours stifle innovation and fail to address contemporary challenges with potentially dire strategic implications in the long run. Conclusion Management of risk within Defence remains a hot topic likely to generate rigorous discussion. This is generally due to the unrecognised disagreements about what is meant by risk. Moreover, Defence’s drive to manage risk through endless rules-based risk policies creates a dissonance between a focus to prevent failures through strict rules, while lamenting the lack of generated opportunities. This is because a single rules-based risk management approach is inadequate for all situations. It is more appropriate to view risk through the lens of preventable, strategy and external risks in cohesion. Therefore, relying solely on a rules-based system as a ‘one size fits all’ to try to manage all manner of risk to prevent failures must be avoided. To achieve this there must be a cultural shift regarding risk within Defence requiring a concerted effort from every part of the institution. Only when Defence’s culture recognises that risk management is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself, can it take on higher-risk, higher-reward opportunities than its competitors. The views expressed are the author’s alone and do not reflect the opinion of the Royal Australian Air Force or the Department of Defence. Wing Commander Ulas Yildirim is the Deputy Director Force Structure Design in Air Force Headquarters. He has a Masters in Military and Defence Studies from ANU and a Doctorate in Aerospace engineering from RMIT. He is also an editor of The Central Blue blog. Follow him on Twitter @lightningulas References [1] W.B. Kennedy, "Aircraft Crash Recorder," ed. Department of Air (Melbourne: Commonwealth of Australia, 1958).

    • Developing, retaining and re-investing talent in the Defence workforce

      In her first post, Flight Lieutenant Samantha Hewitt delved into the merits a break in service can offer, and how to choose if this is the right path for you. Samantha also described the thought process she found beneficial when making her choice to return to service. In this post, Samantha highlights how her external experiences improved her understanding of the term ‘Whole-of-Australian-Government’ and how an understanding of other agencies contributes to achieving Australian National Security objectives. Workforce Generation and Australian Defence Force (ADF) Entry Surveys are showing: National Service, Career Development Opportunities and Career Prospects are amongst the top 5 reasons why people join the ADF [1]. It makes sense then that these motivations should inform how we motivate and retain our people against an increasingly competitive labour market. The implementation of the Service Category (SERCAT) scheme incorporating greater provisions for flexible working arrangements, in concert with increased career development opportunities available to the total workforce are certainly attractive. Further, the value now being placed upon individualised career management, most evident within the Air Force Enhanced Career Management system, is another promising prospect. To capitalise on this momentum, the Air Force, and ADF more widely, should further encourage and support its workforce to pursue professional breadth. A key method would be the introduction of a formal placement and secondment program which delivers opportunities to acquire external experience and build networks across industry and other government agencies. Going beyond ‘Joint’ to ‘Whole of Australian Government’ As the ADF refines how we operate as a ‘Joint Force’, the need to rapidly and seamlessly assimilate with Other Government Agencies (OGAs) has fast become essential. The recently released Defence Strategic Update, Force Structure Plan and Air Force Strategy (AFSTRAT) rely heavily on inter-agency integration to achieve ‘Whole of Australian Government’ (WoAG) effects. For Air Force to fully realise and implement the AFSTRAT, we need to better understand that through working together, and exchanging information and experience, we will more effectively deliver the mutual objective of Australian National Security. The ADF have a long history of working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) to provide emergency assistance and security to civil communities abroad. Recent ADF contributions to WoAG activities are extensive. We need only look at 2020 to recall ADF support to the Rural Fire Service throughout the catastrophic bushfire season and the enduring contribution to state and territory governments through COVID-19 Assist. This vast array of interagency support has helped to increase knowledge in parts, but is still limited to pockets of the ADF. As inter-agency work only continues to increase, Air Force must do more to optimise interoperability and inter-agency outcomes through actively pursuing placements, as well as increase personnel experience with, and build understanding of, OGA functions. Likewise, as Defence collaboration with industry matures, our understanding must grow in the multilateral space; including organisations such as the United Nations (UN), International and Australian Red Cross Movements, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and foreign militaries. Such open engagement and networking help realise potential through the exchange of information and shared experiences. This need not be resource-intensive, but rather short in duration and low in cost for big gains. Many of these organisations offer internships and exchanges, as well as training courses. I offer the following personal experience as a practical example, and to provoke thought on what other opportunities might be out there to help develop and retain our people, whilst optimising ADF workforce capability: I have been employed in the Solomon Islands with DFAT, the AFP and the Forum Fisheries Agency (linked to the International Policy Division-funded Pacific Maritime Security Program). These experiences provided invaluable understanding of the geo-strategic challenges and opportunities referred to in our most recent strategic policies. I was embedded with a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in Timor Leste working with women affected by violence, via the Government-funded program, Australian Volunteers International. I gained insight into the development sector, its relationship with government, and specifically the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Through training in humanitarian practice with RedR Australia and subsequent membership on their emergency roster system, I was able to attend the UN Civil Military Coordination Course in The Hague and complete a six week internship offered by the NATO Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) Centre of Excellence. As part of this internship, I was provided the opportunity to attend the NATO CIMIC Higher Command Course and the European Security and Defence College Gender in Operations Course. I am presently registered on the emergency deployment roster for RedR Australia (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and UN deployments), Palladium and Red Cross. These organisations offer opportunities to deploy on humanitarian and development missions nationally and internationally. Through a little networking, research and flexibility from Air Force, these opportunities have provided essential knowledge, skills, experience and networks across government and other agencies that have been directly reinvested back into Defence on multiple occasions within Joint and operationally-focussed environments. As a result of hands-on experience within other agencies and sectors, I have gained a deepened understanding of the humanitarian and development sectors and how regional engagement and Australian foreign aid is vital to our national security and the prevention of conflict. Combined with the extensive networks created through these opportunities, I now better understand roles, relationships and capabilities. On my return to service I was posted to a position where I was able to apply some of the knowledge acquired externally. I have been entrusted to provide informed advice to the chain of command and am able to influence productive working relationships with, or alongside, OGAs to enhance Defence mission outcomes. Such was the case during my involvement with Enhanced Regional Engagement planning, on deployment during ADF Assistance to the Pacific Island Forum, and in the conduct of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief exercise planning in Fiji. Whilst the global pandemic has temporarily reduced opportunities to gain experience in international settings, the Australian Bushfires and COVID-19 have highlighted the importance of collaboration between Defence, industry, the public and private sectors, NGOs and academia. Now more than ever the ADF needs to embrace the enterprise approach by developing, recognising, and valuing diverse experience sets. This will be key to succeeding in increasingly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous environments. Defence has both an opportunity, and a need, to use the networks and experience that personnel across the workforce hold to optimise mission outcomes. A better understanding of the need for and value of this information could mean that these people are best used across the organisation within military planning, Contingency Response Operations, Defence Aid to the Civil Community and other Defence settings. Capturing acquired skills, experience and networks How Defence as an organisation can capture and exploit the valuable skills and networks of people returning to Defence is a frequently discussed topic by senior ADF leaders. The recently introduced Air Force Enhanced Career Management System is helping to identify and develop talented members via career pathways, planning, differentiated management, and medium to long-term succession planning. The Career Development Plan provides personnel with the opportunity to formally record skills acquired in industry, and the public and private sectors. It also forms a key source from which to centrally capture the data, give Air Force insight to the full range of talents that its people have, and who can be employed in response to contingency operations, which usually require unique skills and experience. While an excellent concept in theory, the challenge will be having adequate flexibility and resources to enable career managers to interpret the data and capitilise on personnel capability for Air Force whilst tempering this with the passion and ambitions of the individual. Time will tell if these initiatives have the buy-in at all levels to innovate the current system. Progress and opportunities The SERCAT system affords excellent flexibility for individuals to go out and seek opportunities through flexible working arrangements such as full-time, part-time and reserve service. However, more can be done. Air Force currently sponsors attendance at the RedR Humanitarian Logistics course, and has started a pilot program delivering Humanitarian Protection training from the Humanitarian Advisory Group. Regrettably, many of these courses are limited in availability and still viewed as non-essential. This seems somewhat out of step with regional national security and climate change developments. It would be beneficial to start recognising these types of courses as a key to developing contemporary and relevant combat mastery. It should be noted that while I have referred to the humanitarian and development sphere, opportunities for training and experience are available in a myriad of sectors that will provide skills and networks complementary to the core capabilities of Defence. Short-term placements can provide a cost-neutral means from which to provide experience and exposure in lieu of secondments, which can be complicated and costly to implement. The recent release of the Air Force Strategy provides some confidence that the importance in having such arrangements are starting to be realised. Commanders, managers and leaders alike play a vital role in advocating for this development and creating a culture which values these skills and networks as core to mission success. Air Force personnel must be air-minded and strategic; practical experience and exposure to a broad range of organisations and sectors will develop professionals who are dynamic and strategic in their thinking. Compared to other large organisations, Defence is on a positive path and is by and large making the most of the limited resources available. Through implementing mechanisms for greater utilisation of external experience, and developing a supportive framework to seek opportunities for professional breadth, the Air Force can better develop, retain and re-invest it’s personnel capability. Flight Lieutenant Samantha Hewitt is a Logistics Officer currently posted to Combat Support Division. While on Leave Without Pay, she worked with various Government and Non-Government agencies in Australia, the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, and the Netherlands. Her focus has primarily been in the Humanitarian and Development Sectors; where she has a strong interest in Civil Military Cooperation training and education. In her current role within Operations Support, she hopes to support Combat Support Group and broader RAAF using the experiences she has gained with Government, Non-Government, International and Joint environments. [1] DPIR-CR-036/2020 Air Force – Enhance Career Management – Summary Report 2020

    • Beyond Drones And Robots: Untapped Potential In The ADF

      The future is now! Flight Lieutenant Jacob Simpson demonstrates how Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are practical and achievable solutions to current problems faced by the Australian Defence Force. Yet a lack of AI literacy amongst personnel runs the risk of the ADF missing opportunities to exploit this technology through bottom-up innovation. Building such initiatives are necessary to ensure the Forces continue to improve at all levels, not just large scale technologies. FLTLT Jacob Simpson offers realistic possibilities for developing AI literate personnel to take advantage of their specialised service experiences. The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is considered so significant that it is likened to the onset of electricity. If that statement is true, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is currently not prepared to exploit the technology, and will continue to be on the back foot until it can effectively develop AI literacy amongst uniformed personnel. The successful implementation of AI not only requires an understanding of what AI is and an appreciation of what it can realistically achieve, but also an extensive knowledge across all domains in which it is being deployed. The development of AI for medical purposes, for example the automation of the detection of tumours in MRI scans, necessitates an expertise in both medicine and deep learning algorithms. The ADF will similarly require a cross-domain approach - through both military and AI expertise - to solve the problems that are unique to Defence, such as inefficiencies found within the domains of intelligence, command and control, or military logistics. Therefore, the key to success is two fold. It must support a bottom-up approach; combining technical AI knowledge and military expertise found within silos of excellence. And it must also be coupled with specific education at all ranks in order to develop the necessary tools for AI prototyping. The current research and development (R&D) approach utilised by the ADF is a top-down affair. It reflects a view of AI as a high risk technology reserved for scientists, requiring sophisticated tools only for the development of drones, robots, and the weapons of tomorrow. The result is AI innovation and an R&D strategy primarily centred on the external sourcing of ideas with the use of personnel outside of Defence to solve problems only within a few major projects. The foundations for a culture of AI literacy are therefore not being built within the ADF itself. While the development of cutting-edge AI is certainly justified for large autonomous systems like the Loyal Wingman and AIR6500, the ADF’s top-down approach runs the risk of a sluggish response to this technological revolution [1]. The consequences of underestimating the impact of AI will be serious if potential adversaries are more agile in its integration [2]. However, the addition of a bottom-up approach will negate this risk and encourage rapid integration of AI technology throughout the organisation. So what is required for the ADF to support the bottom-up use of AI? The Bottom-Up Approach: More Projects - Smaller in Scope Current ADF culture suggests AI is a technology of tomorrow – not today. It is easy to think of AI projects as those focused only on advancing sophisticated capability for the future force, such as for autonomous weapons systems and robotics. These projects, however, are mammoth in scope, come with significant cost, and require many years to implement due to their complexity. The result is the confining of innovation to high-risk projects that inevitably necessitate top-down managerial modus operandi. This approach does not exploit the benefits of machine learning (ML) that are available now [3]. ML does not need to be the preserve of multi-million dollar projects; sufficient off-the-shelf tools and ML algorithms have already emerged to render the implementation of AI projects exceedingly accessible to all ADF personnel. This is reflected in the fact that AI is a hobby to many. One only needs to peruse r/learnmachinelearning to find AI hobbyists showing off complex algorithms they have built using basic tools at home. The ADF could use these same tools, accessible to all personnel, within an AI developer environment on Defence networks and look to smaller AI projects with lower risk. Why smaller projects? The success of a project is determined by the balance of its triple constraints: time, cost and scope (Fig.1). The disproportionate dominance of one constraint, such as the large scope of AI projects within Defence, necessitates the compensatory increase of the others as a form of risk management. However, it is this form of retrospective risk management that leads to the top-down directives seen in Defence capability acquisition. Implicit within Figure 1 is the recognition that project scope neither corresponds to, nor predicts project quality. On the contrary – the smaller the project, the less time and cost required to produce a quality result, therefore reducing the consequence of failure. This is an important distinction for the pursuit of bottom-up innovation within Defence for AI, as it is the projects of smaller scope that can accelerate a wider proliferation of R&D. These are not the exciting projects involving drones and robots, but can be as simple as maximising administrative efficiency – such as automating the processes for the filling of forms - rendering the task less menial and time-consuming. Embracing small projects enables improvements in efficiency for the ADF organisation, and allow it to keep pace with AI technological development. Indeed, a case for fostering smaller AI projects within Defence is made with the ‘AI-Search’ detection system. The search and rescue (SAR) portable AI system was designed to rapidly locate vessels at sea through deep learning (DL) algorithms. A junior officer, LEUT Hubbert, developed the visual search algorithm through the use of common off-the-shelf ML tools in a mere two weeks [6]. This effort was supported by the Plan Jericho innovation hub, which helped fund and test the low-cost AI capability on a C-27 Spartan in 2019 [7]. This type of small scale, improvised R&D activity demonstrates exactly what bottom-up AI innovation can rapidly achieve. The ADF needs to professionally develop more personnel like LEUT Hubbert, whose prior knowledge of ML rendered possible his initiative. Personnel need to be given opportunities to acquire this niche skill. How can the ADF develop personnel that can deliver innovative bottom-up AI projects? Two initiatives are needed: Opportunities for AI Professional Military Education (PME), and a dedicated AI developer environment. The latter of these requirements is being established through the Defence Artificial Intelligence Centre (DAIC), but the former is currently very limited and must change. The Importance of Education for Developing AI Innovation Established under the Joint Capabilities Group in 2019, the DAIC serves as a centralised authority for the deployment of new AI capabilities within the ADF. Innovation is fostered through unclassified collaboration between the ADF and a network of industry, academia and allies. R&D efforts are to be focused within a collection of laboratories under the Defence Technology Acceleration ColLab (DTAC), where project proposals will be vetted by a dedicated management team to ensure non-repetition elsewhere. The DTAC plans to enable development of bottom-up AI innovation within the ADF through providing ML development tools on an unclassified network. However, one issue remains: a lack of AI-educated ADF personnel. In order for ADF personnel to effectively contribute to the DTAC, an AI education program needs to be developed which enables uniformed personnel to build the skills to develop prototype AI applications. Specifically, AI literate Defence members need: an understanding of ML techniques, fluency in the Python computer coding language, experience in data wrangling, and practical knowledge of ML tools provided within the DTAC developer environment. These four requirements enable familiarity with the various data structures available for training algorithms, the different solutions that are achievable for a specific problem, and the level of effort required to complete a given undertaking. Armed with such knowledge, uniformed personnel will be able to uncover niche solutions in practical project ideas of smaller scope. More importantly however, it will allow for the horizontal integration of ML algorithms within the ADF through combining the specialist knowledge found in intelligence, aviation, logistics, engineering and other ADF roles with AI configured for each respective domain. Building an ADF workforce that is AI literate will therefore be essential for the DTAC to exploit siloed specialist Defence knowledge within its ranks, without which bottom-up innovation becomes unachievable. The Missing Piece - Education Options for ADF Personnel The skills required to develop AI solutions can be very difficult to learn independently, and there are few options for formal education for Defence personnel. The first step in generating an AI literate workforce is the provision of short courses. These courses should offer a higher-level understanding of what AI actually is, and how Defence could exploit its benefits. Short courses could be provided by DAIC, and be aimed at mid-level and senior officers. General online courses could also be made available to all interested personnel wishing to understand the technology as part of their PME. While this is a first, and interim step, short courses are not enough to develop the skills required to utilise AI development tools and contribute to the DTAC. To produce specialist personnel who can contribute, Defence needs to implement formal education options in AI/Data Science in collaboration with UNSW Canberra. As of writing, there are no AI-focused qualifications available for study through the ADFA postgraduate program. Only one class introduced in 2019, ‘Big Data Analytics for Security’, teaches ML techniques for the purpose of cyber defence. In my personal experience, it was this class that got me interested in the subject of AI and inspired me to pursue a deeper understanding of the technology. However, I have not been able to find another ADF supported program in AI that can realistically be completed part-time. Another option open to personnel is to study outside UNSW Canberra through distance learning. There are currently three Masters of Data Science degrees with online classes on ML available through the DASS program. However, this still makes a postgraduate degree prohibitively expensive for many junior military professionals. The preferred option is a selection courses that offer increasingly complex understanding to those who are interested in specialising. A DAIC led education program open to all roles in the RAN, Army, and RAAF can offer short courses, diplomas and masters via coursework to personnel wishing to specialise. DAIC could follow the education model used by Defence Science & Technology Group (DSTG) within the Joint and Operations Analysis Division for developing military personnel with Decision Analytics skills. DSTG held an annual short course which gave the option for participants to gain a diploma in Decision Analytics upon completion or continue to study via enrolling at UNSW Canberra for the masters via coursework. An equivalent approach for AI could allow members to have flexibility, developing general AI awareness amongst the ADF as well as producing AI specialists within the ADF capable of contributing to the DTAC. Postgraduate education will also support innovation through the option for a research project in the final year of the degree for high performers.This enables personnel to explore options for AI within their own fields; once completed, these projects could directly be supported for implementation by the DTAC. UNSW Canberra already has PhD options available for AI, so ADF personnel could even continue these projects at the PhD level if desired. Conclusion A lack of investment in AI education for ADF personnel will result in DTAC project collaboration being weighted towards industry and academia; thereby ensuring very little innovation will originate from within the organisation. This limits bottom-up innovation; instead, efforts will be disproportionately focused upon problems deemed by industry and academia to be relevant – that is, projects ambitiously scaled for profitability, complexity and academic research interests. That approach risks a continued focus on large projects, or worse, the stove-piping of AI projects with a failure to consider the needs of the end user [8]. To fully mobilise AI development, the ADF will need project ideas that originate from within the organisation – not only outside it. Education is the first step in fostering a bottom-up AI innovation movement and setting the foundations for a bottom-up innovation culture within the ADF. PME focused on AI will allow for personnel to understand the strengths and weaknesses of this technology with a realistic appreciation of how it can be implemented. Knowledge in AI will inspire personnel to find solutions within their own siloed roles across the ADF, leading to new opportunities for AI projects that are smaller in scope and immediately achievable. If the ADF is to rapidly exploit AI, top-down innovation cannot be the only R&D strategy. AI has matured enough to allow for rapid development of tools to support the ADF of today, not just the ADF of tomorrow. Jacob Simpson is a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Air Force. He holds a Masters in Strategic Studies from the Australian National University and is currently undertaking a Masters in Decision Analytics at the University of New South Wales. References [1] ADBR (2019). Accenture report highlights impact of Artificial Intelligence. [online] ADBR. Available at: [2] Shoebridge, M. (2019). AI and autonomous systems are urgent priorities for today’s defence force. [online] The Strategist. Available at: [3] Moy, G., Shekh, S., Oxenham, M. and Ellis-Steinborner, S. (2020). Recent Advances in Artificial Intelligence and their Impact on Defence. Defence Science and Technology Group. [4] Hulett, D. (2013). Integrated cost-schedule risk analysis. Farnham: Gower. [5] Kuper, S. (2019). Artificial intelligence to enhance Aussie search and rescue capabilities. [online] Available at: [6] Royal Australian Air Force (2019). AI-Search to Transform Search & Rescue | Royal Australian Air Force. [online] Available at: [7] Milne, S. (2020). AI-Search enters ‘second phase of development.’ [online] Available at: [8] ADM (2020). University of Queensland partners with ADF on AI - Australian Defence Magazine. [online] Available at: [9] Middlebrooks, S.E. (2003). The COMPASS Paradigm For The Systematic Evaluation Of U.S. Army Command And Control Systems Using Neural Network And Discrete Event Computer Simulation. [online] Available at:

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