‘Hamel’ conjures different emotions depending on your frame of reference, be it if you are considering the combined arms lessons of the revered battle in WW1, be it if you participated in an Exercise Hamel over the last decade or so, or be it if you have read any of the annual Evaluation Reports or heard of the Collective Training Campaign Plan that bears its name. Either way, it is safe to say ‘Hamel’ means many things to many people, but rarely means the same thing to many people.
On 19 March 2019, BRIG James posted (on the Cove) on the need for a Training Transformation – an undisputable need – and offered that ‘we are working to ensure some part of our training is directed towards testing, evaluating, training and fielding the step change capabilities and concepts to give Army a unique position in the Joint Force’. The purpose of this article is to provide an update on what is happening in our transformation of collective training and sow the seeds for the next steps with Hamel central to realising the Chief of Army’s vision for an “Army-in-motion”.
Hamel – the Exercise and the Series
By way of context and at absolute wave tops, if you look back at Exercise Hamel through a collective training campaign lens, the astute observer will note the transformation in recent years. Prior to 2016, the Exercise Hamel was largely focused on the certification of the Reinforced Combat Brigade. Hamel 16 saw the reintroduction of HQ 1 Div/ DJFHQ (as the Two-star Joint Task Force Headquarters) and SOCOMD into the FORCOMD exercise, together with the broadening of Hamel Evaluation. Hamel 17, leveraging off TALISMAN SABRE 17, saw deeper partnering between HQ 1 Div, SOCOMD, FORCOMD and joint stakeholders – although largely one-exercise-centric, the Hamel 2017 Evaluation confirmed the organisational approach (ie Combat Functions) that continues to date. Additionally, Hamel 17 saw the inclusion of the Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE), a critical step in Army fighting a contemporary, multi-faceted and lethal OPFOR, as well as the trials for the Schebel Vertical Take Off and Land (VTOL) UAV, a possible replacement for Shadow. In 2018, deep partnering with HQ 1 Div and FORCOMD led to the integration of the Sea and Land Series of exercises. The Sea and Land Series 18 saw a continuation of the TALISMAN SABRE 17 scenario through a series of multi-echelon command post exercises, tactical field exercises, and amphibious force generation events that ultimately culminated with Hamel 18. The Hamel 18 Evaluation expanded scope to consider the training design of the Sea Land Series – highlights included the expanded inclusion of the Air Operations Centre, Interagency partners and the mix of live and constructive forces in Hamel 18. Acknowledging the increased joint partnering, the Sea and Land Series has now been subsumed under the Joint Warfighting Series banner. The execution of the initial stages and the final planning of the Joint Warfighting Series 19 is ongoing. This year will deliver Final Operating Capability for the ADF amphibious capability as we continue to rotate our Ground Combat Element and complete the integration of CH47, MRH 90 and ARH on the LHD – a powerful regional message.
Hamel – the Campaign Plan
In response to the 2016 Ryan Review recommendation that Army ‘embrace a campaign approach to significant collective training activities’, the inaugural Hamel Campaign Plan was endorsed in 2017. Central to the intent of Hamel Campaign Plan 2022+ is that land collective training progression and framework is synchronised with other services, linked to modernisation and updated on an annual basis. To that end, the annual themes within the Hamel Campaign Plan are now being used to influence coalition and joint partner participation, exercise design, evaluation criteria and the development of doctrine and training prior to the introduction of new and emerging capabilities and concepts. In the years ahead, we will test for the first time Army’s contribution to an Integrated Air and Missile Defence System, include the Land 400 Combat Reconnaissance vehicles and continue to progress world class cyber and electronic warfare capabilities being delivered through the Integrated Investment Plan.
Hamel –‘Ready Now; Future Ready’, the framework for the future.
Building on the above insights and coupled with the philosophy of ‘training through Hamel’, the diagram below illustrates the two-year collective training framework that enables the annual FORGEN (Ready Now) progression, with enhanced opportunity for FORMOD (Future Ready), whilst retaining time and opportunity for individual training (ie prior to Phase I and post Phase III).
You will notice we have a ‘TALISMAN SABRE YEAR – YEAR #1’ and a “VITAL PROSPECT / HAMEL YEAR – YEAR #2’, with each training year broken into FOUR Training Phases, with the potential for a discrete FORMOD Phase (Phase V). Further, the large purple arrow is indicative of the intent to link the TALISMAN SABRE scenario (and artefacts) from ‘Year One’ into ‘Year Two’. Additionally, note that Phases I and III are the anchors of the in-year training series to manage tempo.
The Training Phases are described as:
- Prelim: Unit preliminary actions, planning and individual training.
- Phase I: Integrated CPX which includes POLYGON (DJFHQ, AOC and a Combat Brigade HQ as OPFOR JTF), SILICON XXX (Combat Brigade HQ), and SEA HORIZON (HQ ATG).
- Phase II: Tactical Field Training Exercise and Australian Amphibious Force Certification – The ACR WFX and SEA EXPLORER (procedural rehearsals) / RAIDER (amphibious assessment)
- Phase III: Joint FTX (HAMEL / TALISMAN SABRE) – Major Combined and Joint Exercise – includes Live, Virtual and Constructive simulation methods. CJTF HQ (with enablers from 6, 16 and 17 Bde), READYING BDE HQ and FE (with atts from US, NZ and 2 Div), RESET BDE HQ (with constructive FE), US BDE HQ (with constructive FE), and the READY BDE HQ and FE as OPFOR. SOCOMD and Joint and Coalition partners (eg US and NZ) also participate. The scale of live combined and joint forces in the wider theatre is reduced in the non-TALISMAN SABRE Year.
- Phase IV: Assurance and Evaluation – This is the high readiness BG WFX. With the change to the FORGEN Cycle and the philosophy of training through EX HAMEL, this gives the opportunity for training remediation and enhanced FORMOD.
- Phase V: FORMOD and Trials – Stand-alone events as directed and required.
That said, FORMOD objectives and learning outcomes are integrated within the Training Phases:
- This sees Phase I (the Integrated CPX) offering real opportunity in progressing concepts, validating experimentation insights, confirming C4I introduction into service outcomes or more broadly informing capability declarations to government.
- Phase II, offers more tactical FORMOD opportunities especially linked to the Armoured Cavalry Regiment or the Amphibious Force – tactical risk reduction trials, introduction into service and operational test and evaluation opportunities exist.
- Phase III (HAMEL / TALISMAN SABRE), although the apparent default event for trials and FORMOD evaluation activities, this phase may not necessarily be best suited for FORMOD, but will remain important in informing capability declarations.
- As per Phase Two, Phase IV offers further tactical FORMOD opportunities – probably best suited to tactical risk reduction trials, introduction into service and operational test and evaluation events.
- Finally Phase V, offers the opportunity for discrete FORMOD event(s) as required.
In conclusion, a transformation in collective training is ongoing and Hamel has changed. Hamel is no longer just a brigade certification exercise; it has now evolved into a Series of exercises within a Campaign, and sets the Framework for future training that presents an opportunity for multi-echelon training incorporating FORMOD initiatives. Hamel is central to Army’s “Ready Now; Future Ready” philosophy, so join the ‘march to the sound of the guns’.
About the Author: Colonel Bede Galvin is the Director of Joint Land Collective Training Branch at Headquarters Forces Command. You will often find him in Shoalwater Bay Training Area or traveling from one planning event to another.