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Army's 111th Birthday

Chief of Army, LTGEN David Morrison, AO, and CPL Julian Suitor cut the Australian Army's 111th birthday cake during celebrations held at the Austrailan War Memorial in Canberra

Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison address at 111th Army birthday, Australian War Memorial, Canberra 1 March 2012

LTGEN David Morrison, AO

Speech:  Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison address at 111th Army birthday, Australian War Memorial, Canberra 1 March 2012

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SGT Brett Wood        (Afghanistan, 23 May 2011)
LT Marcus Case                  (Afghanistan, 30 May 2011)
LCPL Andrew Jones            (Afghanistan, 30 May 2011)
SPR Rowan Robinson         (Afghanistan, 06 June 2011)
SGT Todd Langley                (Afghanistan, 04 July 2011)
PTE Mathew Lambert     (Afghanistan, 22 August 2011)
CFN Beau Pridue           (East Timor, 15 September 2011)
CAPT Bryce Duffy          (Afghanistan, 29 October 2011)
CPL Ashley Birt              (Afghanistan, 29 October 2011)
LCPL Luke Gavin           (Afghanistan, 29 October 2011)

A great national institution, our Army, turns 111 today.  Born on operational service in South Africa in 1901, it celebrates its birthday in the service of Australia, with our soldiers in Afghanistan, Timor Leste, the Solomons, the Sudan, and a host of smaller operations around the globe. We gather here to celebrate our history, our ethos, the wonderful achievements of our soldiers, but we do so with a deep understanding that personal loss is a part of our creed, sacrifice to the Nation and its people, inextricably linked to who we are and what we stand for. 

The ten men who have died on operational service since our last birthday, whose names have begun this address, are remembered because without remembrance we, the living, the recipients of their legacy, would not be holding true to the Army values that bind us together.  

Throughout much the last century, and every day of this one our Army has been on continuous operations all over the world in support of the liberties and values that Australia shares with other free and democratic countries. It is a formidable record and the testament to our commitment is inscribed on the walls of this shrine of remembrance – sons, daughters, a brother, a sister, a father, a mother, a lover, a friend: soldiers of the Army all.

The Australian Army of 2012 carries solemn obligations.

We serve as the legacy of the men and women who gave their youth, their hopes, their tomorrows that the rest of us may enjoy our today.

We exist to fight and win this nation’s wars, custodians of their wonderful achievements.

That entails living the values of the Army - courage, teamwork and initiative. It is easier said than done. There is no place in the Army for those who choose the softer wrong over the harder right. No place for those who lack respect for the wonderful diversity that is evident in our ranks.  Soldiers of whatever colour, creed or persuasion, who hold to the fore our values - they are true recipients of the legacy left to us by those who have gone before. They are the soldiers who Australia will continue to look to in its hours of need.

Our nation feels great respect and affection for its Army. We see this in the expressions of grief and respect from our fellow citizens which occurs each time a soldier is killed on operations. We see it in the way our soldiers are welcomed home from overseas deployments or when they perform with energy and compassion to support those Australians afflicted by natural disasters.

The bond between the Australian people and the Army is strong and its value is incalculable. It is the essential core of Army’s being.  We are a reflection of the society from which we are drawn and we are held to a higher level of account because of our place as defenders of the Nation and its interests.  That is as it should be.

Finally, let me pay tribute to the extended Army family. While our men and women have been performing superbly on operations, and also in the raise, train and sustain functions here in Australia, none of our efforts could succeed without the selfless sacrifice of our broader families-our partners, kids, the extended networks of friends and supporters. My deep-felt thanks for your unrewarded service to the nation through enabling our soldiers to go about their business knowing that what truly matters in their lives is secure and cherished.

It is the nature of this institution that milestones such as this birthday warrant reflection on loss and sacrifice. Yet they are also worthy of celebration. We have achieved much. We have never been more relevant nor more respected by our fellow citizens. Humble in that awareness let us celebrate. Happy Birthday and Good soldiering!

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