Getting useful things quickly rather than perfect things too late
"...our national interest lies in having a clear set of international rules of the road, around trade and around freedom of navigation - the global rules-based order - along with having the capability to hold any potential adversary at risk much further from our shores. In order to achieve both of these objectives we need a defence force that has the capacity for impactful projection across the full spectrum of proportionate responses... what is absolutely critical is that we now build a defence force that has the capacity in its specific platforms and people to be able to achieve this strategic posture." - Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles MP, Hansard, Wednesday 15 February 2023
Australia' security is increasingly challenged by emerging pressures, great power competition, and an increasingly threatening strategic environment. New circumstances invariably require new approaches in statecraft and strategy. History's enduring lesson is nations who do not adapt to new challenges at first fail to thrive, and then they fail.
We have been told the Defence Strategic Review, recently passed to the Australian Government, will bring a new era in strategic thought. It will direct the building of a strategic posture to protect our national interests and way of life. While the purpose of such an approach is enduring, the new strategic thought and posture necessary to rapidly adopt a doctrine of impactful projection will require a profound departure from the strategic stasis of recent decades.
Australia needs to adopt a more dynamic and evolutionary acquisition model. Something like the PLA's approach - but tailored to suit our liberal democratic system. We must be willing to develop capabilities incrementally, starting with basic, functional, and adequate working systems which fit our strategic approach of impactful projection. We need to build small runs of these, deploy them, test them in service, and use the findings to design and develop subsequent prototypes. And then iterate through building and deploying those in small numbers too.
A key factor in such an approach is frequent iteration rapidly builds 'magazine depth' as the new missiles aren't replacing obsolescent ones, they simply add more capable weapons to an already assured magazine. Such an approach also creates an incentive for Australian industry to grow its sovereign capacity to by assuring continual funding for competent and reliable industry partners.
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