Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 8 2010 Contents 30 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
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a worlD class
people key to success
By Chief of Army Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie
There’s no doubt that every casualty suffered has
a strong impact across Army, within our families
and amongst the wider community. Despite their
grief, our families have shown such wonderful
support for our deployed troops and our institution.
I’ve seen the Army family at its very best.
For me and for Army’s commanders at every
level, the single most important challenge to
developing a world-class adaptive Army is not the
tactile elements of war – the unrelenting focus
on new platforms, communications or weapons
The most important challenge is of realising
the full potential of our workforce. Our people
hold the key to the success of an adaptive Army.
We ask a great deal of our people and their
families through our deployments, training and
exercises and in the rigours of Army life. This
year has been particularly tough with the tragic
deaths of 10 of our soldiers in Afghanistan and the
significant wounding of many more.
In attending the funerals of these soldiers, and in
remembering their sacrifice, I was taken by the
amazing compassion, grace, pride and bravery of
each and every family. All have shown wonderful
support for our deployed troops and our institution.
It is essential that Army develops pragmatic
and comprehensive programs that support the
‘emotional contract’ we make with our soldiers and
To that end, we have developed a range of
strategies that deal with the delivery of mental
health training to leaders of all ranks, and provide
more supportive processes for members with
mental health conditions.
Until relatively recently, we had not paid sufficient
attention to the invisible mental injury, an injury
that affects not only our soldiers but also their
spouses and families. And until only very recently,
our culture did not make much allowance for a
soldier’s combat injuries unless they were the kind
Our obligation to our people also means that
our strategy addresses substance abuse and the
impact on our soldiers, their families and the wider
Army family. We must do as much as we can to
reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents.
Army is actively seeking to change the thinking
and culture that supports the idea that our people
can drink excessively without consequence.
It involves promoting a stronger awareness
and understanding about what constitutes the
responsible consumption of alcohol. No longer
can we tolerate alcohol-related injuries as tragic
accidents if we are to continue to invest in our
people as Army’s most important asset.
We’ve achieved a great deal this year. We’ve
formalised the conduct of welfare boards to ensure
the personal wishes and views of our soldiers and
their families are considered in the development of
treatment and rehabilitation plans.
We’ve brought together a range of our wounded
soldiers in a ‘Wounded Digger Forum’ to gain a
better understanding of the issues these soldiers
and their families face as they undergo treatment.
And we’re starting to ensure we have the
processes and support structures in place to
support our soldiers if and when they decide it is
time to separate from the service.
Army will support our people in a manner
that ensures they are mentally prepared for
the operational challenges ahead. Our mental
health strategy includes an improvement in
resilience training in our training institutions
which will ensure our soldiers are mentally
tough and best prepared for the arduous physical
and psychological challenges of contemporary
operations. We will be there to support them after
their mission ends.
In carrying out our day-to-day business, we
recognise that the answers to many of the
problems we face lie in the collective knowledge of
all of Army’s soldiers and officers. The concept of
learning loops recognises that Army’s IQ does not
reside solely with me or Army’s senior leadership.
We’re looking for more and more ways to harness
this collective knowledge and I’ve taken steps to
ensure our people who have recently returned from
operations come back to key positions in capability
development and equipment procurement where
their recent operational experience and ideas can
Our Facebook page will have more than 80,000
fans by the time this magazine goes to print. Many
of the fans are soldiers, but a great deal of them
The Australian Army
has instituted a series
of wide-ranging and
deep structural reforms
designed to deliver
and agility to its
command and control,
force generation and
as the Adaptive Army
Initiative, these reforms
are fundamental to
ensure Army’s balance
and its preparedness
to win the joint
land battles of the
future is indeed the
This year has affirmed my faith in the Army family. Morale
across Army is very high, our people believe passionately in
the work they are doing and they are proud of the reputation
Army holds within our community.
LefT: Chief of Army Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie talks to personnel about clothing and equipment at the recreation
area at Camp Baker on the Kandahar Airfield in May this year.Photo: Sergeant Brent Tero RIgHT: Lieutenant General Ken
Gillespie chats with participants in the ADF Paralympic Sports Program, which was a major initiative for wounded and
injured Australian Defence Force personnel who could aspire to win gold for Australia. Photo: Sergeant Brian Hartigan
are the spouses, families and friends of soldiers
who use social media as a way of keeping up to
date with what’s going on in Army. We have a long
way to go, but I am pleased that we have started
the journey of unlocking the potential of our
To our deployed men and women, I could not be
more proud of the efforts of our commanders and
people deployed on operations. Their care of their
fallen and wounded mates has been outstanding,
their messages to the families have been
inspirational and their continuing professionalism
on the battlefield is in the very finest traditions of
I look forward to next year, whereby Army’s posture
will remain a permanent state of adaptation,
centred upon our people, who will remain our
enduring number one priority.
aBIVe: Chief of Army Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie and Private Stephen King (Army Headquarters’
youngest soldier) cut Army’s 109th birthday cake in the Australian War Memorial’s Anzac Hall in March.
Photo: Sergeant Andrew Hetherington
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