Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Air Commodore Tony Hindmarsh, the Director of General Reserves responsible for the RAAF’s workforce design, explored NPS’ international program, research opportunities and delivered a lecture to faculty and students during a campus visit, Feb. 20.
Hindmarsh, already familiar with some of the dividends Australian graduates of NPS have brought to the RAAF, focused his visit on how NPS’ spectrum of research, international relationships and curricula could help the RAAF take an evidence-based approach to planning and further developing its workforce design.
“What the RAAF is looking for are people who can be creative, and use an evidence-based approach to workforce planning,” said Hindmarsh. “The approach to workforce planning is often very mechanistic and simplistic, but what people learn by coming to NPS is a range of disciplines that enable them to undertake manpower planning in a completely different way, and they can become much more flexible and adaptable than those who merely learn a mechanistic approach.”
A particular challenge for Hindmarsh, as noted in his lecture, is tailoring a workforce within the changing geopolitical context in the Indo-Pacific region. From a military standpoint, his goal is to recruit enough personnel trained to specific warfighting objectives, who can be deployed effectively while replacing the personnel scheduled to separate into civilian life.
“A key point is to reduce the level of risk in the delivery of our people so that we have a greater degree of certainty around what they themselves can deliver,” said Hindmarsh. “We need a very solid academic discipline to plan risk management over the next 20 years.
“I want people to be able to look more broadly, look at emerging demographics and demand profiles, and synthesize what that means,” he added. “Without that, we’re introducing another level of risk ourselves.”
According to Hindmarsh, RAAF graduates of NPS are a key enabler of the Australian military, with an advanced ability to think critically, and the skills and confidence to communicate their recommendations to the upper chains of command effectively.
“That’s a key expectation of our NPS graduates ... being able to argue their case at all levels in the organization up to the most senior levels,” said Hindmarsh. “They need to have the confidence in what they’re doing and the academic grounding to be able to convince senior officers on the rightness of their own research. The work that one of our most recent graduates from NPS has done with me over the last year has put our air force in a completely different position with respect to the sophistication of its workplace planning relative to a year ago.”
Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Al Scott, Director of NPS’ International Graduate Programs Office, noted that International students not only gain a great educational experience at NPS, but build connections that can help their force and their country.
“[Hindmarsh’s] visit confirms that we are achieving what we want to achieve from the standpoint of education,” said Scott. “That’s good not only from the perspective of building their capabilities in a particular area, contributing to that with our partners, but also from the standpoint of developing a positive relationship with a very important partner like Australia.”