Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 1 2011 Contents WWW.DEFENCE.GOV.AU/DEFENCEMAGAZINE > 17
ChieF OF The DeFenCe FORCe’S COLuMn
I am extremely proud of how quickly we were able to
respond and what our people – some of whom were
themselves affected by these disasters – were able to achieve.
The beginning of 2011 has already
been a ver y busy period for the men
and women of Defence.
In addition to supporting and enabling
the 3300 ADF men and women we have
deployed to 12 operating locations around
the world, during the past two months we
have also supported a number of response
and recovery operations in Queensland,
Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern
Territory following a series of natural
This was the largest ADF response to a
civil emergency ever undertaken. All told,
we were able to deploy the equivalent of
an entire joint brigade group of about 3500
people on two operations, as well as other
Defence Assistance to the Civil Community
tasks, at short notice and during a period
when our people are normally stood-down
for the Christmas/New Year period to spend
time with their families.
Our people undertook a range of diverse
tasks. They went door-to-door to deliver
warnings and advice; built sandbag levies;
evacuated residents; conducted aerial
reconnaissance; assisted with clean-up;
re-built critical infrastructure; cleared roads;
delivered emergency food, water and other
cargo such as laptops, mattresses, tents and
stretchers; surveyed waterways; re-directed
creeks; conducted damage assessments; and
assisted with search and rescue operations.
I am extremely proud of how quickly we
were able to respond and what our people –
some of whom were themselves affected by
these disasters – were able to achieve.
There can be no doubt the actions of
ADF men and women saved lives. To all
these people, thank you. Your actions,
conduct and professionalism have rightly
earned you much admiration from your
fellow Australians, especially those who
benefited from your immediate and
buSy – and it’s
only the beginning
By Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston
Of course, with our significant ADF
presence in affected areas, I know that
many ADF families were directly impacted.
To those affected, I want you to
ensure you are accessing all the support
mechanisms we have in place to assist you.
Information can be found at http://www.
defence.gov.au/dco/ or through your unit.
Please make use of the services available to
you. Your safety and wellbeing – and that
of your family – is very important to me and
the Service chiefs.
Of course, our response hasn’t just been
here at home. In late February, following
the devastating earthquake in New Zealand,
the ADF provided strategic airlift of
emergency services urban search and rescue
personnel and equipment to Christchurch.
We were able to respond very quickly to this
disaster, and we had two C-130s and a C-17
on the ground in Christchurch only 24 hours
after the earthquake.
I was also very proud in late January as
I watched the Governor-General present
Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith with
the Victoria Cross for Australia “for the
most conspicuous gallantry in action in
circumstances of extreme peril as a Patrol
Second-in-Command, Special Operations
Task Group on Operation SLIPPER on the
11th of June 2010”.
On that day, in the most dangerous and
demanding of situations – when his patrol
was outnumbered and his life and the lives
of his mates were under imminent threat –
Corporal Roberts-Smith cast aside concern
for his own safety and placed the lives of
his mates above his own. I greatly respect
the extreme valour shown by Corporal
Roberts-Smith. Ben has brought great credit
to himself and the Australian Defence Force.
Finally, the early part of 2011 also
brought with it some disappointment
when I received Part One of the report of
the HMAS Success Commission of Inquiry.
This report concerns alleged incidents of
unacceptable behaviour involving members
of the crew of HMAS Success between March
and May 2009.
I was very disturbed by the content of
the report and the serious questions of
individual accountability and cultural issues
that were identified.
It was found, among many other
problems, that there was a break-down
of discipline, many instances of drunken
and out-of-control shore leave behaviour,
inappropriate conduct toward females and,
among one sub-section, a culture of silence
and mutual protection.
The Chief of Navy and I are bitterly
disappointed with the behaviour of a
number of individuals, as well as the serious
problems that have been raised regarding
leadership, accountability and failures
within the chain of command.
Therefore, I have fully accepted the
findings, recommendations and conclusions
of Part One of the report.
I have established a specialist HMAS
Success implementation team headed by
Rear Admiral Allan Du Toit to implement
the actions we intend to take and I have
directed him to report regularly to me
on progress. I will accept nothing less
than a fully resourced, fully supported
and energised approach to implementing
I want it to be clear that the
unacceptable behaviour involving some
members of the crew of HMAS Success
between March and May 2009 is not what
I expect from the men and women of
However, I stress that the actions of
certain individuals on this deployment
should not tarnish the reputation of the
Navy nor the entire ship’s company of HMAS
Success, now and into the future. The vast
majority of our Naval officers and sailors are
dedicated, professional and serve our nation
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