The Sea and Land Series 2018 (SLS18) was the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) largest training exercise in 2018, bringing together 8,500 military personnel with the largest contingent of Australian government civilian and police personnel ever deployed to an Australian military exercise. Representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and Emergency Management Australia (EMA) in the Department of Home Affairs participated in the exercise, supported by Australian Civil-Military Centre (ACMC) staff.
SLS18 marked the inaugural integration of the ADF’s annual land and amphibious force generation activities, providing a platform for joint and interagency multi-echelon training that prepares Australian military, civilian and police personnel to work together ahead of a real-life emergency.
The exercise series provided a valuable opportunity for DFAT, the AFP and EMA to develop capability to respond to crises effectively with the ADF, to influence military planning and operations, and to deepen ADF understanding of the integral role government civilian and police agencies play in crisis response.
SLS18 was held throughout May and June in locations across Australia and at sea, and marked the inaugural integration of the ADF’s annual land and amphibious force generation activities, providing a platform for joint and interagency multi-echelon training. The exercise series improves readiness, effectiveness and coordination across government in response to a spectrum of operations from conventional conflict, humanitarian assistance, stabilisation and transition planning, and non-combatant evacuation operations.
AFP advisors and more than ten DFAT officers, with political, humanitarian, security, legal and consular expertise, participated in SLS18 working alongside the Joint Task Force and with the ADF onboard HMAS Canberra.
For DFAT it provided a valuable opportunity to promote its leadership role within government in international crisis response, foreign policy, and civilian aspects of military operations. We also aimed to shape military planning and enhance military understanding of the political, consular and humanitarian considerations in crisis.
SLS18 provided the AFP the opportunity to foster key relationships with the ADF and other organisations, exposing AFP members to unique leadership opportunities in a bilateral, multiagency environment with near real-world scenarios. The AFP was able to advise the ADF Commander and military forces on how the AFP would respond to a regional threat in support of an Australian whole-of-government mission. The AFP advisers bought a broad understanding of the civil environment, provided advice on criminal matters relating to Australian interests and assisted with planning for stability operations focused on the transition to rule of law.
As the DFAT Humanitarian Advisor, Cameron Noble worked with both the military personnel onboard HMAS Canberra and the Joint Task Force. His role was to provide guidance to the ADF on the treatment of civilians in combat zones, government policy, provision of humanitarian aid and Australia’s obligations under international humanitarian law. With the support of the ADF and government agency colleagues, Cemeron also designed and led an operation to evacuate Australian and approved foreign nationals from the combat zone. Cameron noted that "These experiences personally strengthened my understanding of whole-of-government crisis response capabilities, my ability to lead in crisis, and my networks across government."
As the AFP Senior Advisor to ADF, Robert Wilson was part of the Crisis Response Coordination Group (CRCG) at DJFHQ. The CRCG is an interagency team that consisted of advisers from DFAT, Military Police, ADF Legal, and CIMIC. Robert's role coordinated AFP’s response to incidents that would arise and provide briefings for the Commander and relevant component heads. He also gave a policing prospective that assisted in setting the conditions for the community to transition back to rule of law in a timely and orderly manner after conflict. Robert noted that "The knowledge that I gained and the networks that I formed have been invaluable in my roles as Senior Liaison officer at HQJOC and now as the Police Advisor with the Australian Civil Military Centre."
In general, through participation in SLS18, civilian and police personnel improved their understanding of the ADF roles, functions, structure, culture, and processes. Similarly, ADF members grew in their understanding of civilian and policing agencies. The exercise also tested policies, procedures and whole-of-government crisis management processes including the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework and activated civil-military-police coordination mechanisms with government, military and non-government partners.
The relationships and understanding developed across government through this exercise will be valuable for future operational crisis response.
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