Senior officer professional development in the Australian Defence Force: constant study to prepare

Author/s (editor/s):

Cathy Downes

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 55

An ongoing debate within the Australian military procession concerns the most effective, yet affordable, method of preparing officers for senior rank. Almost all participants in this debate have agreed that the current senior officer development effort is fragmented, extremely restricted in coverage, and does not meet the needs of the profession. Despite this consensus, these weaknesses have not proven a sufficient catalyst for change. Until it can be proved that senior officers are inadequate and/or incompetent, it has been argues, there is no rationale of sufficient power to overcome the inertia created, in significant part, by budgetary constraints. However, this monograph argues that there are cogent and potent reasons for change; for setting in place substantial and broad-ranging improvements in how officers in the future are to be prepared for senior command and leadership roles. These reasons are explained in the development of a dynamic concept of senior officership. This is followed by a discussion and analysis of some eight possibilities for improving and developing a responsive senior officer professional development programme, including the design of a workable and feasible model of a National Defence College of Australia.

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