Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 9 2009 Contents 11
ChIef of the DefenCe forCe’s Column
would like to congratulate
the men and women of Defence
on a job exceptionally well
done this year. 2009 has been
eventful and demanding
with many unexpected tasks
in addition to the anticipated
requirements of our various
deployments, exercises and training.
Of course, this has meant that we have
all been required to work very hard to enable
and support our busy operational tempo. I
am delighted with the way in which all our
operations are progressing. I would like
to particularly acknowledge our efforts in
Afghanistan training and mentoring the Afghan
National Army; our success in our offshore
maritime area with numerous boardings and
interdictions; and our very fast response to
assistance requests from our neighbours in
Indonesia, Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.
In this short column I could not possibly
go into all of our many achievements this year.
However, I would like to highlight some of
the events that, in one way or another, were
particularly significant for all of us in Defence.
I was so very proud in January when Trooper
Mark Donaldson was presented with the Victoria
Cross for his exceptional act of gallantry in
Afghanistan. Since his investiture, Trooper Donaldson
has been an outstanding ambassador for the
Australian Defence Force and our nation, culminating
with an audience with the Queen in November.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the
good is often followed closely by the bad. This was
the case in February when parts of Victoria were
devastated by bushfires and many Australian lives
were lost. Defence was very quick to respond to this
national disaster and all told about 850 ADF men
and women took part in Operation VIC FIRE ASSIST.
When I visited our people during this deployment
I was so inspired by their stoic determination and
spirit of compassion. Our people will probably never
fully realise the impact they were able to have on
our fellow Australians in need.
March saw the official opening of
Headquarters Joint Operations Command
(HQJOC) and our improved higher command and
control arrangements. These new arrangements
have been in place about nine months now, and
I can say that I am very pleased with the way in
which HQJOC has been planning and managing
our joint operations and exercises. We are
responding very quickly and effectively to
In May, the 2009 White Paper was launched,
along with the Strategic Reform Program. In addition
to setting our strategic direction and providing the
ADF with an outstanding plan for our future force
structure, we also committed to a program of reform
that will ensure every dollar in Defence is better
spent. In years to come, 2009 will go down as the year
Defence began to improve the way we do business.
July brought the end of Operation CATALYST
in Iraq. During the course of this six-year operation,
more than 15 000 Australian men and women
were instrumental in developing a secure and
stable Iraq. To all our people who contributed to
Operation CATALYST, I offer my sincere gratitude
for your service. In completing this task, you
performed extremely well under considerable
pressure and you significantly enhanced the
reputation of the ADF with your fellow countrymen,
our allies and the people of Iraq.
2009 also brought new leadership to Defence
and in June, we welcomed a new Ministerial team.
Minister John Faulkner, Minister Greg Combet
and Parliamentary Secretary Mike Kelly have all
expressed to me how pleased they are with our
efforts this year. Defence also welcomed a new
Secretary with the appointment of Dr Ian Watt in
August. Dr Watt and I look forward to continuing to
work together closely next year in leading Defence
through our program of reform to deliver Force 2030.
I am also delighted with the performance of
the three Services this year. The Service Chiefs
have done a wonderful job maintaining their
important raise, train, sustain role during a very
busy operational tempo – whilst at the same
time they are also embarked upon their individual
cultural and structural reforms. I look forward to
seeing what 2010 will bring for New Generation
Navy, Adaptive Army and Air Force – One Team.
During 2009, we also made great strides in
our continued efforts to look after our people.
The review into mental health, our program to
assist our wounded people, the Action Plan into
the recruitment and retention of women, and
improvements to Occupational Health and Safety,
are just a small number of initiatives this year. I
think it is because of this approach to our people,
as well as a number of other new and successful
strategies, that we have been able to turn around
our workforce growth. This year we have had
steady improvement within most of our critical
categories and separation rates have continued
to decrease, while recruiting is improving.
Finally, I would like to express my deep
sadness at the loss of five of our soldiers this year.
Private Gregory Sher, Corporal Mathew Hopkins,
Sergeant Brett Till and Private Benjamin Ranaudo
were all lost in Afghanistan and Lance Corporal
Mason Edwards was lost while he was training
here at home. For the families of these men, 2009
will be one of the worst of their life – the year
in which their families were never to be whole
again. I would like everyone in Defence, as they
celebrate Christmas with their own family, to keep
these families in their hearts. The loss of these
fine young men will certainly be in my thoughts as
I reflect on the year that was and contemplate the
sacrifice they have made for our nation.
2009: A reflection
from the Chief
I was so very proud in January when Trooper Mark
Donaldson was presented with the Victoria Cross for
his exceptional act of gallantry in afghanistan
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