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Australia and US armies to partner on cyber defence training

The Australian and US armies have signed a joint agreement to develop a virtual cyber training range for real-world defensive missions.

The two nations have signed a Cyber Training Capabilities Project Arrangement, a bilateral, international agreement that will enable US Cyber Command to incorporate Australian Defence Force feedback into USCYBERCOM’s simulated training domain PCTE (the Persistent Cyber Training Environment).

The PCTE, which delivered its first production version this year, is designed as a distributed, secure, reconfigurable environment for conducting independent cyber operations training activities.

The long-term goal is to provide the US Department of Defense cyberspace workforce the capability to build and conduct full-spectrum, combined and joint cyberspace training, exercises, certification and mission rehearsal in a training environment.

The Australian Army Maj. Gen., Head of Information Warfare at the ADF stated that the agreement marks the first cyber-only arrangement established between the US Army and an allied nation. He noted that Australia and the US have a strong history of working together to develop their cyber capabilities and train people to fight and win in cyberspace. This arrangement will be an important part of the ADF’s training program, and the Australian government looks forward to the mutual benefits it will bring, he added.

Tech to Australian army an edge

OpenGov Asia recently reported that the Australian Government has invested over $600 million in strengthening the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) maritime communications with a new Fleet Information Environment. This includes upgrades to naval systems and computer networks, thus enhancing its ability to securely exchange information while at sea.

A further $100 million will be invested in additional infrastructure work in Darwin, Cairns, Rockingham, Canberra and Sydney. The Minister for Defence said the upgrades are part of the government’s Economic Recovery Plan, which is creating jobs while delivering Navy with vital compatibility.

The investment is expected to create more than 100 new Australian high-tech jobs in areas such as computer systems design and engineering, and platform and system integration. The upgrades will provide faster, more capable and more secure computer-based information systems which ensure the ADF can operate in contested, congested and degraded information environments.

In March 2020, the Australian Army announced that it has established an office within the Future Land Warfare Branch of Land Capability division to increase its adoption of disruptive technologies. The role of the Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation Coordination Office (RICO) is exploration, coordination and concept development using disruptive technology.

The Director-General of Future Land Warfare Brigadier stated that the RICO was “consistent with the CA’s vision of being future-ready by looking for opportunities to integrate technology as well as becoming a more intelligent customer”. The office aims to build on the momentum of the Army’s successes with disruptive technology last year. This included the demonstration of the ghost Robotics ground robot and the concept of optionally crewed combat vehicles (OCCVs).

The RICO will use specialist personnel with the Army’s total workforce model to advance knowledge in artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, robotics and autonomy. The office will also focus on alternative power and energy, such as hybrid drive and additive manufacturing, along with autonomous leader-follower trucks and increasing experimentation with OCCVs.

The opportunities presented by disruptive technology have to be understood early if the army can exploit its capability edge.

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