The Australian Defence Force is investing in a 5th Generation networked force. 5th Generation brings immense capability through synergy. The introduction of shared common operating pictures enhances situational awareness for commanders, sailors, soldiers and airmen alike. 5th Generation allows the introduction of concepts such as the ‘kill web’ to replace the 3rd and 4th generation ‘kill chain’ concepts. 5th generation allows a force of the size of the ADF to expand the ‘high demand – low density’ use of airpower assets to land and maritime forces through improved domain awareness. 5th Generation capabilities provide Commanders with greater options for better considering effects operations, rather than conventional kinetic warfare. Finally, 5th Generation enables operations in domains other than land, sea and air.
However, like all change, and all things new, there is risk is the introduction of 5th Generation capabilities. Risk provides both opportunities, but also threats. In our knowledge of warfare, we have introduced 5th Generation capabilities in an environment of asymmetric, discretionary wars generally in the absence of high intensity. We have also faced opponents who do not have 5th Generation capabilities. Many of the threats we might face in networked operations have not been challenged by near peers. Future high intensity conflict will see the use of multi-domain actions across the full spectrum of conflict.
Even in low intensity conflict we are seeing the evolution of ‘low-tech’ threats using networked systems. Low cost drones and precision weapons can have asymmetric effects that challenge the rules-based order that we have built on global networks. Our societal dependence on networked systems and the ‘internet-of-things’ may expose vulnerabilities not only to our high-end capabilities, but also the supporting logistic and industrial base on which they depend.
The apertures for attacking 5th Generation capabilities have expanded and now stretch threat vectors to include our people, our bases and our logistic support. In high end conflict, this will also include critical infrastructure, industry and the wider population. To ‘harden’ our 5th Generation networked capabilities we will need to protect our networks and our information. As risk spreads across multi-domains, we must be prepared for threat from within and through our networks.
The Williams Foundation, PO Box 5214, KINGSTON ACT 2604