The Australian Civil-Military Centre (ACMC) is ten years old in 2018. The ACMC was originally established by the National Security Committee of Cabinet as the ‘Australian Civil-Military Centre of Excellence’, opening in November 2008. The title soon proved a bit of a mouthful so it was shortened to ‘Australian Civil-Military Centre’ in early 2012.
The ACMC received strong endorsement from the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade in its 2008 Report of the Inquiry into Australia’s Involvement in Peace Operations. But from its very inception it was clear that the range of complex operations involving Australian agencies was too broad to restrict the ACMC’s activities to peace operations or disaster response.
Wherever Australian military, police and civilian officials are sent on operations they will need to coordinate their efforts with other government authorities; international organizations; non-government organizations; civil-society groups and the private sector.
The speed of events, the scale of humanitarian effect and the 24/7 immediacy of every sort of media, means that all personnel working in a mission or an operation need to be fully prepared to work with novel and unanticipated partners at little or no notice.
Given these pressures, it is remarkable how the early vision for the ACMC has withstood the test of time and of ever more challenging operations. What are some of our successes?
- Exercises – From the beginning ACMC was involved in facilitating multiagency exercises. But there was a tendency to assume that ACMC was ‘the’ multiagency authority. While we are multiagency and Trans-Tasman in composition, we realized that we shouldn’t be a proxy for all the organizations that need to use exercises as their way of preparing their people and learning the ropes for operations. An ever-widening range of government, international and non-government agencies now hone their ability to coordinate in the exercises which we support and facilitate. The proof of the pudding is in the measurable improvement in professional cooperation and working relationships on actual operations.
- Resources – ACMC has produced over 100 publications, three short films and dozens of live content video pieces. We produce lessons research and evaluation, often in real time, to inform operations while they are still proceeding. This work has been endorsed at the most senior levels in Government. These resources are used internationally, including by other country’s military and police forces and United Nations’ training programs.
- Support to education and training – Whether it is in our own short courses, or in the delivery of induction training, professional development and university undergraduate and graduate programs, ACMC’s reputation as a centre of expertise is acknowledged internationally.
- Multinational engagement – on behalf of the departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet; Foreign Affairs and Trade, Home Affairs and Defence, ACMC regularly facilitates international workshops leading to agreed statements by regional heads of state and other leaders on topics that range from Protection of Civilians, the Rule of Law, Maritime Security, Search, Rescue and Recovery; Regional Disaster Response; to Women, Peace and Security. If it involves civil-military-police coordination we are involved.
- Advocacy – ACMC works publicly, and behind the scenes, to promote ‘best-practice’. The impact of modern digital technologies on our workforce practices has yet to be even remotely understood. We do know that closer integration of all capabilities will require fundamentally different ways to recruit, develop, organize and employ personnel in complex operations.
It has been an incredibly busy and rewarding decade. There are many other lines of work to explore, particularly as we move into providing the multiagency ‘backbone’ to Joint and interagency taskforces. We have been fortunate to have many passionate and dedicated staff move through our ranks and from here move out to work on our behalf in other workforces.
The ACMC is a monument to everyone who has worked here and who continues to work here. If you want to see what they’ve achieved – keep clicking!