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Army April 12, 2012
WHEN is Defence, and more par-
ticularly Army, going to get serious
about developing the ADF's amphib-
ious operations capability?
As a recent OC of the Ship's
Army Detachment (SAD) in HMAS
Kanimbla, I saw first hand how little
understanding and experience Army
had in this regard.
Most combat arms personnel
seemed to have the view that the ship
was just a big, grey truck to get them
to the location where all the business
occurs. In one sense this is true but this
mindset needs to be challenged and
changed to consider the joint capability
that the amphibious force represents.
Army is just but one component of this
capability not the capability.
Although it's pleasing to see that
under Plan Beersheba Army has appar-
ently woken from its slumber, there
needs to be more done than to simply
identify a unit to carry the mantle of
Sufficient environmental knowledge
can be gained simply by embarked mili-
tary forces living in a ship. At higher
levels, staff must understand the com-
plexities of mounting and projecting
force from the sea.
Surfing the DOCM-A gazette
recently I was disappointed to see that
the Amphibious Logistics Planner
and the Operations Officer, Marine
Expeditionary Unit in San Diego and
the SO2 Operations in the Marine
Expeditionary Force SOTG at Camp
Pendleton will be disestablished on
December 31, 2013, presumably as an
These are the only amphibious-relat-
ed overseas postings. Although I do not
know the scope of duties of these posi-
tions, it would seem rather short sighted
to disestablish them at a time when the
Landing Helicopter Docks are about to
enter service. Further, this is also the
time that Army needs to increase rath-
er than reduce its exposure and hence
knowledge of amphibious operations
Perhaps someone smarter than me
can explain this decision and what the
plan is to achieve CA's intent in respect
of how Army will contribute expertise
to the ADF's amphibious capability.
Maj Colin Bailey
Queensland University Regiment
Head of Modernisation, Strategy and Plans
Army, Maj-Gen Jeff Sengelman, responds:
THANK you for your comments and
professional passion concerning the
ADF and Army's amphibious capabil-
ity, especially as it relates to developing
specialist and collective skills.
In answering your particular ques-
tion on when Army are going to under-
take this, I would like to reassure you
that Defence and Army is already
undertaking considerable effort to
develop our understanding and contri-
bution to the joint amphibious capa-
bility and the broader Defence Force
Maritime Strategy. But I also need to
emphasise that the achievement of a
mature operational capability and all
the aspects which are critical to this is
part of a longer journey which involves
many partners and will be progressively
realised over the next several years.
Your emphasis on retaining and
developing specialist skills and
knowledge of our people is right on
the mark and you may be pleased to
know that the three exchange positions
that you refer to, which were raised
in late 2011 with the USMC, will not
be disestablished. In fact, additional
exchange positions were also raised to
include a liaison officer with Marine
Corps Forces Pacific, three additional
positions in 1 Marine Expeditionary
Force and a further position with the
UK Royal Marines. Furthermore, a US
Marine colonel will take up appoint-
ment as Colonel Amphibious Capability
at HQ 1 Div later this year.
At some levels it may appear that
evidence of this major undertaking is
not as obvious as some would wish, but
please be in no doubt that we are fully
Amphibious focus needed
committed to the realisation of an effec-
tive amphibious capability.
CA has spoken extensively on this
as part of Plan Beersheba and also in
his recent speeches to the Sea Power
Conference and the Sydney Institute in
These are published on the Army
website and I encourage you to read
these as they explain our approach,
which readily acknowledges, in your
own words, the need to master "the
complexities of mounting and project-
ing force from the sea".
CA's statements are being backed
by real actions. Across Defence and
Army a substantial range of activities
is under way and focused on delivering
and maintaining directed capability.
This momentum will build and
become more extensive over the next
18 months. Army and the ADF are con-
tinuing to develop and action a detailed
plan to develop our amphibious capa-
bilities through knowledge transfer
working with the USMC, UK, France
and other regional partners.
This is all part of an endorsed plan
to achieve key milestones out to full
operating capability in 2017 and is a
high organisational priority, receiving
almost unprecedented attention.
Although there are many opportuni-
ties to learn from the experience of our
allies, it is also important to remain
cognisant of our own unique opera-
tional requirements, force posture and
organisational culture. In combina-
tion, all these approaches will allow us
to grow and contribute the necessary
expertise for this capability.
Seachange: The number of exchange postings in amphibious positions is
increasing and amphibious exercises, such as Ex Sea Lion (pictured), are
also to become more common, according to the Head of Modernisation,
Strategy and Plans, Maj-Gen Jeff Sengelman.
Photo by Leut Darren Mallett
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