View Full Version : Irregular Warfare Symposium, Massey University, New Zealand, 27 August 2015

10-11-2015, 12:09 AM
On Thursday, 27 August 2015 Massey University's Centre for Defence and Security Studies (CDSS) held a symposium on Irregular Warfare (IW), hosted by the New Zealand Army at Linton Camp in the Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess. A series of presentations covering topics from the impact of current technology on IW to personal experiences in specific IW operational environments were interspersed with questions to panels of speakers. The panels delved deeper into subjects raised by the presenters, and also introduced some interesting tangents. The event was an opportunity to broaden the discussion about IW beyond the second-year Irregular Warfare paper taught by CDSS as part of the regular academic year, and in particular to involve military practitioners who would equally benefit from a better understanding of this prevalent form of warfare in the contemporary security environment.

The first half of the symposium included Theo Corfiatis' presentation of a summation of some of the technologies employed by IW practitioners and how their use is shaping the battlefield. Bryan Dorn gave an interesting presentation on a methodology he has devised in order to more successfully trace the IW systems in place and developing among combatants. This methodology is already starting to be integrated into the New Zealand Defence Force's pre-deployment training. Then Squadron Leader Robert Nash presented on the subject of narrative, in particular how narrative as a form of soft power is being successfully used by anti-Western forces globally. There were valuable lessons to be taken away from each of these presentations, but it also highlighted that much of New Zealand's current theoretical knowledge is grounded in the experience and strategy of international thinkers.

As a counter-balance to the more theoretical morning presentations, the keynote speech made by Colonel Grant Motley of the New Zealand Defence Force's Defence College, and several regionally based presentations by military officers who had encountered IW on specific operations (in the Sinai, Sudan and Syria), gave the audience a practitioner's view of IW from the New Zealand perspective. Colonel Motley's organisational reflections on how IW requires the Defence Force to prepare its soldiers, sailors and airmen for combat in the contemporary world, and the operational settings that demonstrated eye-witness accounts of how IW is enacted on the ground in various parts of the world, were thought-provoking.

In listening to the afternoon presentations it seems that New Zealand's approach to considerations of IW must combine both elements of the morning and afternoon presentations - it must be aware of and incorporate the lessons learned from international experience, particularly because New Zealand's own direct experience of IW is relatively limited. But equally, what experience New Zealand does have of IW must remain part of the conversation and colour our contribution to a holistic examination of IW with our own particular lessons learned. To balance these two elements will not only mature New Zealand's own understanding of the subject, but will enable it to contribute meaningfully to a global approach to the challenge IW presents.

Perhaps the most intriguing tangent that occurred during the panel discussions was prompted by a question from the audience about how New Zealand and the rest of the world combats the worldview and messaging of an IW threat such as Daesh (ISIS). Both panel members and audience members contributed to an answer that was centred in New Zealand's own understanding of its civic life, that in order to counteract a messaging pernicious but remarkably attractive to some elements of the global community, a strong identity grounded in our own worldview and values is essential.

What was apparent throughout the symposium is the complexity of IW, and the necessity for ongoing debates about individual sub-topics, as well as about IW holistically. What symposiums like the one held on 27 August do is contribute to what must be an ongoing discussion about the challenges of IW in the contemporary world. Just as IW requires an adaptive, agile approach, so must the strategic and security fields engage in a dynamic conversation that continues to examine and re-examine that complexity in light of new perspectives in civilian and military experiences. Massey University is to be commended for promoting an event that gives its students a chance to discuss a subject they have been studying in theory in the context of what that theory means in practical terms. Conversely, military practitioners have the opportunity to consider more thoroughly why what they encounter in an operational theatre is occurring, and how in light of that knowledge they may be able to approach the practical challenges of Irregular Warfare in a more effective manner. CDSS students, military practitioners, academic thinkers and interested members of the public alike will find benefit in being involved in more events of this nature.

10-11-2015, 01:19 PM

Are any of the Kiwi presentations available online?

10-12-2015, 08:05 AM
This link works:http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle_uuid=D6D86FA3-D7E7-B2FD-1D69-66EE7D984025

I missed this as I was travelling.
Cheers guys.

11-26-2015, 05:04 PM
Somehow the NZDF have discovered this thread and I am in contact with the co-hosts for this event. (Update 29/12/16 no response from NZDF to either email or letter after initial response).

This maybe helpful:
(The) Adaptive Warfighting Centre (AWC) – Lessons that sits with TRADOC (NZ) and consists of Doctrine, Simulation, Lessons Learned and Land Professional Military Education (LPME). Along with Land Lessons Learned, my team also covers Professional Development platforms such as symposiums, reports and publications to enable professional and interpersonal adaptability during training and operations of the NZ Army.

I am very glad to hear that the thread has had over 3.3k views. Attendance at the symposium was 3 x more than what we expected and all attendees agreed that we needed more events of that nature.

We will be running a similar event in May 16 with the focus - Building Partner Capacity and another co-hosted symposium with Massey University in Sep 16 with the focus – Complex Operations and Crisis Leadership.The actual proceedings are not freely available, at some of the speaker's request and AWC does not yet have an open access website. Their email address is: awc@nzdf.mil.nz