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General document | ‘Skirmishing Mist’ Dismounted Infantry 2030 Concept

Executive Summary

Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group's Land Capability Analysis (LCA) Future Technology Concept Exploration (FTCE) programme focusses on designing new and novel ways for Army to exploit and counter emerging technologies, and assessing the potential operational effectiveness of the conceptual and structural transformations. The results of these studies provide recommendations for Australian Army's consideration in order to inform research priorities, shape the future force, stimulate thought and debate, and address future warfighting challenges.

In conjunction with Army's Dismounted Combat Program, LCA conducted a FTCE study in support of future soldier development. The study aimed to develop post-2030 exploratory concepts that would support the long-term development of the soldier system and associated force structures and capabilities. The study was guided by the research question:

How will combinations of new and emerging technologies transform the battlefield engagement capability of dismounted infantry in close combat?

The study applied a systemic design approach that combined several analytical research methods with a creative, participatory co-design exercise in order to generate novel initial concepts for the post 2030 close combat force. This report provides a complete description of the 'skirmishing mist' concept developed using the systemic design approach.

Skirmishing mist is a top-down paradigm driven concept based on the principle of small independent teams operating disconnected, disaggregated and decentralised below the detection threshold whilst delivering decisive multi-domain effects.

Key tenets of the concept are:

  • Ability to move and fight dispersed, concentrating for specific actions to overwhelm a weaker enemy, and then dispersing again
  • Ability to operate for long periods without orders (emphasising local decision making) or direct communications with other groups, reducing the communications and electronic signature of the team and improving its survivability
  • Ability to deliver pervasive awareness and cueing — be intelligence driven through strong intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to 'find' and 'fix'
  • Ability to ‘infest’ the terrain by blending with the physical, social, informational and electronic environments
  • Ability to control and manage their signature by exploiting deception and concealment (deny all information) — hiding in plain sight
  • Ability to conduct remote strike capabilities to engage adversary (‘don’t be there’)
  • Only rise above detection threshold and strike (multi-domain) for high value effect (the decisive blows)
  • Skirmishing to set favourable conditions for decisive action by Brigade manoeuvre elements.

The Skirmishing Battalion (Bn) contains 25 teams under the command of an enlarged Bn headquarters reliant on artificial intelligence-enabled command and control systems to provide effective command and control of the teams. Each team comprises 20 soldiers contained in five functional cells (four soldiers per cell) – command, reconnaissance, pioneer, cyber-electromagnetic activities (CEMA) and strike. The team structure is adjustable in size and/or composition with supporting elements delivering psychological operations, air defence, human intelligence and medical capabilities depending on the operation and tactical situation.

The skirmishing force demonstrated strong find and fix capabilities but operating in a predominantly dispersed mode lacked combat mass and was vulnerable to being quickly overmatched if detected.

Key information


Nicholas Kempt

Publication number


Publication type

General document

Publish Date

April 2020


Unclassified - public release


Concept development, soldier systems, technology utilisation, future force