As the army prepared to emerge from a decade of complex operations and transition from the current theatre in Afghanistan to the new Force 2013 baseline – setting conditions for the next major force development build towards Land Ops 2021 – it became clear that Army governance needed a refresh in order to enhance leadership, staff synchronization, and unity of effort.

To this end, starting in early 2011, the Deputy Commander Canadian Army led a major review of the existing army governance model with a view to making improvements that would ultimately lead to the implementation of command-driven priorities for future capability development. Included in the implementing directive published in August 2012 was direction to stand up the new Canadian Army Land Warfare Centre (CALWC) effective 17 September 2012.

For a number of years now, the capability and force development focused elements of Chief of Staff (COS) Land Strategy and Land Force Doctrine and Training System (LFDTS) have strived to function as a virtual warfare centre, coordinating and synchronizing developments in land concepts, design, doctrine and force structure, incorporating both new ideas and technologies, and lessons from the Army learning process. Establishing the CALWC last autumn was seen as a logical next-step to preserve the integrity of the army’s intellectual foundation as well as its war-tested land capability development process.

While many of the contributors to the warfare centre will remain virtual members, coordinated through the Warfare Centre Collaboration Team (WCCT), the creation of a core warfare centre organization establishes a single organization with overall lead responsibility for the development of the army’s overarching concepts and capability definition for both the Army of Tomorrow, looking out 5-10 years, and the Future Army looking beyond current force development horizons, as far out as the year 2040. It also provides a clear focal point for increased collaboration with CF Capability Development efforts, as well as with the CF, sister services, and allied army warfare centres.

The CALWC is mandated to actively develop, advance, experiment and communicate innovative ideas, concepts and designs aimed at preparing the Canadian Army to meet the challenges of a dynamic global future security environment. In addition to the provision of subject matter expertise, briefings, consultations and presentations, it maintains a fully developed research library as well as a robust and timely publication program.

All of these assets combined serve to provide relevant and timely advice to the army’s senior leaders. The centre’s concepts and designs teams will deliver concepts-based, capabilities-driven, force structure design tenets and specifications as well as the army’s concept development and experimentation plan, all of which will be supported by advanced graduate level academic and operational research, outreach, networks and publication.

There are a number of key efforts currently underway. In addition to ongoing work on the Force 2016 Army Interim Operating Concept, the concepts team is undertaking a historical case study analysis of Canada’s postwar army organizations to examine how the Army adapted in the past to post-conflict pressures (backcasting), as well as a series of seminar war games to develop and refine Army 2040 concepts (forecasting). Meanwhile the designs teams are undertaking a series of limited experiments to examine the impact of implementing the All Source Intelligence Centre (ASIC) construct, a re-examination of the echelon system for sustainment in adaptive dispersed operations, and an analysis of the right CSS vehicle fleet mix for brigade level operations. Finally, the CALWC is working closely with the Director General Science & Technology Army and his staff to ensure the new Defence Research and Development Canada Land Portfolio is properly focused on the army’s key S&T priorities.

Beyond these activities, the CALWC continues its foundational research and publication activities, including the ongoing serial publication of the Canadian Army Journal, the JADEX Papers, as well as other special studies on subjects such as the comprehensive approach to operations, cyber warfare, the future network, S&T trends and army operations in the Arctic. The upcoming publication of a novel titled Crisis in Urlia, a design fiction tool examining alternate future operations, will assist the army in probing new ideas creatively while highlighting the possible risks and opportunities present in an ever-changing security environment.

Of course, the future of the army does not exclusively belong to the capability development community – be that the CALWC, the extended virtual warfare centre, or our broader joint and allied partners. Rather the future of the army belongs to every member of the army, and no one organization has a monopoly on innovative thought. The future holds great challenges for us, but also great opportunities. Every soldier should and will be part of those events.
Colonel Richard Dickson, CD, is the director of the Canadian Army Land Warfare Centre in Kingston, Ontario.