Discussion paper

An Australian intellectual edge for conflict and competition in the 21st century

Defence National security Cyber intelligence Intelligence services Australia

Executive Summary

  • The Australian Defence Force and broader national security community face a capability gap. – Not for equipment but in achieving and maintaining an ‘intellectual edge’.
  • The intellectual edge, manifest in individuals and institutions, will be critical for maintaining western military prowess in a future where Australia’s military capabilities will often be smaller than adversaries and only occasionally technologically dominant.
  • The convergence of information and biological technologies may radically reshape education, particularly in the Professional Military Education sphere.
  • The ‘strategy’ for building the intellectual edge contains three components: institutional, educational and technological. At the intersection of these three areas lies an adaptive, continuous and accessible future approach.

Policy Recommendations

  • Defence should adopt ‘the intellectual edge’ as a policy goal in the next Defence White Paper and develop a strategic vision that defines and resources its required outcomes out to 2030.
  • Capability development in Defence be evolved to recognise military education as a key military capability.
  • Expand Defence’s current level of research and development, and innovation funding, for new methods of learning, enhanced human-machine teaming education and ways to expand the accessibility of military education.
  • Build capacity to re-educate and re-skill Defence personnel more rapidly to account for accelerating technological change.
  • Defence should continue to enhance accessibility of military education to service deployed, remote personnel and organisations.
  • Continue to enhance the quality of Defence’s partnering with Australian universities for the purpose of a broad education for military personnel.
  • Enhance Defence collaboration with allies on sharing information on best-practice military education.
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