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Reader response: mind the capability

Posted By on November 15, 2017 @ 13:30

I started to read Andrew Harrison’s recent Strategist post, ‘“Capability” saves lives [1]’, with some interest, but that soon changed to disappointment as the narrowness of his definition of capability became clear. Like most military professionals I’ve encountered, Harrison considered capability to mean simply ‘pieces of kit’. There’s nothing wrong with kit, and having access to good equipment is certainly important for Australia’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen. For example, the army’s Diggerworks [2] program has done impressive work in improving the soldier combat system.

However, I would maintain that equipment isn’t the ADF’s most important capability, despite the modernisation of kit receiving so much attention from the three services, the Department of Defence and industry. Instead, the nation’s most important military capability is the intellect of its uniformed personnel.

Military personnel know that war is waged first in the mind. It is a battle of wills. Equipment’s utility is to intensify the assault on an adversary’s will to carry on and to harden the resolve of one’s own personnel. Without human agency, the best equipment (however that’s defined) is no more useful than the worst. One need only be reminded that on the eve of World War II, the French Army possessed the best tanks in the world from a technical perspective. Yet it was the German Army that properly thought through the potential of mechanised warfare and as a result its inferior tanks ground to victory.

Equipment is the sexy part of a military organisation’s identity, but it is a well-trained and well-educated mind that gets the job done. I know Harrison knows this. All professional soldiers do. Still, it’s disappointing when the next shiny toy invariably receives the attention while the education of our warriors continues to receive less than its due. If Australia is to prepare for its future defence challenges for real, as much debate and resources need to be given to improving the minds of those who serve as is given to buying the next generation of … whatever.



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URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/reader-response-mind-the-capability/

URLs in this post:

[1] Capability” saves lives: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/capability-saves-lives/

[2] Diggerworks: https://www.army.gov.au/our-work/partnerships/diggerworks

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