ISSUE 190 : Mar/Apr - 2013 - Australian Defence Force Journal

adfjournal.adc.edu.au

ISSUE 190 : Mar/Apr - 2013 - Australian Defence Force Journal

In the 1990s, the US Air Force developed its own framework, the ‘Expeditionary AerospaceForce’ while, during 2005, the US Navy floated the concept of having an ‘ExpeditionaryCommand’ to respond to the requirements of the ‘War on Terror’-focused national securitystrategy. 36 Expeditionary warfare is now a powerful meme, capturing the shift in attentionof the US military from now out-dated Cold War concepts to those relevant in the post-ColdWar era.The shift in US focus has been cause for allied militaries to address expeditionary operations asa top priority, although some have simply adapted existing traditions to suit the contemporaryenvironment. 37 For example, the 1999 release of the Australian Army’s capstone document,LWD-1 Fundamentals of Land Warfare, highlighted the importance of having a more proactive,and arguably more expeditionary, approach yet did not offer anything particularly unique orrevolutionary with regards to outlining this requirement. 38 For others, the shifting focus toexpeditionary warfare has necessitated a complete revision of existing doctrine. This is evidentin NATO’s adoption of an expeditionary posture—including the formation of a ‘Rapid ReactionForce’, so as to address several failings identified during the 1999 Kosovo campaign—adjustingto a type of warfare that was far removed from that which the organisation traditionallyexercised and was configured for. 39Nevertheless, the impressive spread of expeditionary ideas has not occurred without somecriticism of the potency of its concepts. The idea of the expeditionary operation has beentarnished by its connection to a range of ‘buzzwords’ and jargon, over-complicated conceptsand its careless adaptation by forces that could not engage in expeditionary operations aswas conceived by the US Marine Corps. 40 Furthermore, the use of the term ‘expeditionary’ isargued to have been mercilessly exploited by forces to justify expenditure in times in whichdefence spending has reduced consistently since the conclusion of the Cold War. 41Australian writer Alan Stephens regards the propensity of the Australian Army to promoteexpeditionary operations as emblematic of a ‘self-serving preference’, expounding itsexpeditionary attributes to attract increasingly limited resources. 42 Noting that Westerndefence budgets continue to be reduced, along with the scale of expeditionary forces, it seemsthat this argument is somewhat flawed. Nonetheless, these arguments do give reason formodern ideas regarding expeditionary warfare to be treated with some scepticism.The second set of criticisms of post-Cold War expeditionary operations reflects doubtconcerning the need for, and likely success of, expeditionary operations in the modernsense of the term. 43 The ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are powerful remindersthat expeditions are seldom rapid and remain remarkably difficult—so much so that, in thefuture, expeditionary powers may be more reluctant to engage in them. Such deploymentstypify an enduring characteristic of expeditionary warfare, a propensity for such operationsto degenerate into prolonged and unpopular military occupations or to evolve into otherforms of warfare. 44 Applying such logic, it could be argued that modern ideas of expeditionaryoperations tend to purport something unachievable in actuality; a revolutionary form ofcombat preordained to achieve success, in order to satisfy short-term strategic requirements.These two sets of opinions suggest that the modern concepts and ideas of expeditionary warfarefill the void with nothing more than a null solution. Yet such arguments tend to forget thatirrespective of whether the modern ideas of expeditionary warfare are a unique phenomenon,they provide a framework by which militaries can be postured in a manner reflective of the99

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