Opening of the Defence Special Operations Training and Education Centre

19 November 2019

Good morning Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I acknowledge the Cabrogal Clan of the Darug Nation who are the traditional custodians of this land. We acknowledge that this land was also accessed by peoples of the Dhurawal and Darug Nations.

I pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Thank you all for joining us at this important event for Special Operations Command (SOCOMD), Army and the Australian Defence Force.

Today we mark the unification of SOCOMD’s individual training and education system under the Defence Special Operations Training and Education Centre (DSOTEC).

Special Operations have been conducted in one form or another throughout our history. How Special Forces have organised, in raise, train and sustain and operationally, has changed considerably – even during my career, I have seen it grow, evolve and mature. This evolution reflects the changing strategic environment and capability requirements to conduct Special Operations.

Through this time we have seen the principles of Special Forces reaffirmed, such as

  • Quality not quantity
  • An inherently joint way of operating
  • Command at the highest appropriate level for optimum effect
  • An ethos of relentlessly pursuing excellence

We also know that effective Special Operations are about people, and these can’t be grown quickly. These attributes grow from solid fundamentals and strong foundations built in the raise, train and sustain system that enable the flexibility and agility essential to prosecute Special Operations.

Training and education are the fundamentals.

This is why workforce and training transformation is my number one priority for Army.

This is why I have strongly supported this initiative to establish DSOTEC.

DSOTEC will be equal in status to other Army training centres with O6 command, and consist of two subordinate training establishments:

  • the Australian Defence Force School of Special Operations, which was formerly known as the Special Operations Training and Education Centre (SOTEC), and
  • the Australian Defence Force Parachuting School, that up until today was known as the Parachute Training School or PTS.

These schools will build on the sustained excellence of SOTEC and PTS, typified by the delivery of world class training to equip members of the ADF and international partners with the skills needed to conduct special and airborne operations.

You already have a distinguished history, now you must channel that to strengthen our capabilities for the future. A future which SOCOMD is already reading well, anticipating and preparing for and which DSOTEC will help enable.

We describe this rapidly changing environment as Accelerated Warfare, and for this environment we need to be an Army in Motion:

  • Ready now and future ready
  • People at the centre
  • Grounded as a profession
  • Working with partners
  • To achieve our potential

What DSOTEC will deliver, and how it will deliver it, are consistent with these core principles.

Its partnerships are already strong, and I acknowledge many close partners here today from the Australian Graduate School of Management, Charles Sturt University and the Australian Institute of Sport, and from across our Defence Force.

This openness to collaboration and seeking best ideas and best practice is vital to achieving potential, to achieving and sustaining a competitive edge. At the core of our competitive edge and everything we do is Good Soldiering– it must be who we are, wherever we are in our Army, all the time.

Good Soldiering orients us on effective teaming, good character and ethical behaviour. Through Good Soldiering we seek to generate competitive advantage by amplifying and strengthening these traits which are fundamental to who we are as Australians.

I expect all staff here and all instructors here to uphold these expectations, and for you to demand it of others:

  • Your influence here as a Training and Education Centre is far reaching, and must be understood.
  • You must all be role models for what is right.
  • Here at DSOTEC I expect you to nurture a learning environment, a place where it is safe to learn and grow, and to foster the imperative of continuous learning.

I want you to continue your excellent focus on human performance to improve the psychological, physical and social competence of Defence’s people.

Your training is to be deeply rooted in the profession of arms to ensure the ethical and legal use of force in the pursuit of national objectives.

Our people and teams should contest ideas, reflect on the future, be open to change and see themselves in the larger enterprise.

  • This will demand that our training and approach crosses category, trade, corps and service comfort zones and boundaries.
  • We must also be ready and willing to partner with others, Army, ADF, international militaries, industry and academia.
  • Be open to new ideas, ready to collaborate, learn and offer learning.
  • Army is reinforcing this approach by aligning DSOTEC with Army’s other training centres to ensure that it acts as a strong and reliable conduit for knowledge transfer between SOCOMD, wider Army and the Joint Force.

DSOTEC must also deliver individual training that enhances the preparedness of the Army and ADF and provides the foundation individual skills required to generate the Special Operations Task Force.

Training transformation sets the conditions to integrate new capabilities and in the case of special operations, DSOTEC has a key role to play in the Special Operations Capability Assurance Framework by providing the doctrine and training systems inputs for new capabilities delivered through the recently approved Project Greyfin.

Indeed, more than skills training, which I know will be excellent:

  • The success of special operations will be through developing good people, with the right physical, moral and intellectual attributes
  • Tightly integrated into the Defence system
  • Preparing our people for a challenging world

So as I open our newest training centre

  • Congratulations to all involved, all who have contributed to this story
  • I look forward to you leading the way, to consistently set the standard for professional excellence in all that you do
  • To learn, and to share what you learn, to grow others and make the entire Defence team more connected, more capable

Thank you, and Good Soldiering.