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Operational Art and the ADF Experience

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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In the 1980s the Australian Defence Force ADF, along with other Western militaries, imported the concept of operational art from the US. Operational art is a well-studied and tested concept within the United States military, but Australia is a significantly smaller military, and operates in a different strategic context. The 2016 Australian Defence White Paper identifies three Strategic Defence Interests a secure resilient Australia, a secure near region, and a stable Indo-Pacific region and rules-based global order which supports Australian interests. The white paper envisages two options for Australia one where Australia contributes to a US led military commitment, and the other where the ADF leads a regional contingency operation. Since introducing operational art into ADF doctrine, the ADF has participated in multiple military commitments, including commitments as a junior coalition partner in US led commitments, as well as the lead nation of a number of major regional stability operations. This monograph asks if the ADF experience supports the applicability of operational art. To answer this question, two case studies are examined Operation Stabilise, the 1999 intervention in East Timor and Operation Slipper, Australias contribution to the US led operation in Afghanistan. This monograph concludes that operational art is an inevitable reality for operations where the ADF is the lead nation. However, when the ADF is contributing as a junior coalition partner, responsibility for operational art is held by the lead nation, with ADF objectives restricted to supporting the lead nation objectives. Operational art is not exclusively defined by techniques used to synchronize tactical actions rather, it occurs where there is a dialogue between the policy makers and the tactical commander.

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2016,31 May 2017



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Approved For Public Release;

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