Army's 120th birthday

1 March 2021

Happy birthday Army.

I would like to Acknowledge the Ngunnawal people and thank Aunty Serena Walker for her Welcome to Country on behalf of Aunty Violet Sheridan.

I would also like to acknowledge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have served our country in times of peace and war.

I also recognise and thank Aunty Lorraine, who served our Army in uniform for many years and now continues to serve the community as part of a range of organisations as well supporting Army in her role as Army’s second Indigenous elder.

I would like acknowledge all Joint and Army Headquarters staff across the Canberra region.

I acknowledge the importance and quality of the work you do here to make the Army Ready Now and Future Ready.

I thank you for your support.

I know that Soldiers and officers are gathered across Australia in the same way.

They too will use our Birthday to acknowledge the great work being done in units and commands across our Army and the Joint force.

Like the states, in 1901 Federation brought Army together and we are stronger in this unity.

We also share our birthday with our team mates in Navy, and this year, on 31 March, Air Force celebrates its 100th birthday. We extend our warmest wishes to them on this special occasion.

Each Service has a unique story and identity. Our stories connect and intersect at many points.

This mutual dependence and shared purpose was formally recognised through the creation of the Australian Defence Force in 1986 and strengthened through the new Defence missions announced last year.

Army’s mission is to prepare Land Power in order to enable the Joint Force in Peace and War.

This shared purpose unites us. We harness each other’s strengths.

It has long been this way.

From the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force landing in Rabaul, PNG in the first days of World War 1, to the many domestic support tasks last year and our most recent expedition over Christmas to support Fiji in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasa.

We will work together more frequently in the future with new capabilities and operational imperatives making us more integrated, aligned and effective.

We must be.

The capabilities announced by Government last year will enable the Army to generate the land power element of military power and contribute to Shape, Deter and Respond options for our nation.

Army’s Force Structure Implementation Plan will help us deliver these new capabilities.

Through this plan we will have larger and more capable watercraft, outstanding short range air defence and, with long range fires, be able to realise new concepts of employment for joint strike at ranges far beyond what we can do now.

These capabilities will complement new protected mobile fires, Apache helicopters, armoured fighting vehicles, soldier systems and an increasing array of robotic and unmanned systems.

This year, in 2021, we will begin to action some key elements of this plan.

We will ensure that the command and control of Army Aviation is appropriate for the scale of our investment, the increasing number of unmanned aerial systems, and the demands of air worthiness.

We will work with the other groups and services to analyse options for centres of excellence for aviation and littoral manoeuvre.

We will confirm the 2nd Division’s roles and tasks and assign the appropriate resources, ensuring the 2nd Division’s national footprint is aligned to tasks and to recruiting opportunities.

We will refine the options for the organisation and disposition of new long range missile, artillery and air defence systems.

And we will work with the other groups and services to complete cost and option analysis for the storage and maintenance of Army’s vehicle fleets.

We are 120 years young and an exciting future lies ahead.

It will be a demanding future.

We live in a dynamic region. Profound changes in every facet of society are compounding and accelerating, and impact everything we do. This environment is what we call Accelerated Warfare.

In response our Army must expect to be in perpetual motion.

Army will be expected to be more responsive, and do more things in more places, more of the time.

We will need to continuously adapt and evolve. We will need to be bold and creative.

We must all understand and embrace this imperative.

Competitive advantage in this environment remains our people. It always has been.

Good Soldiering is who we are. Individuals of good character and sound ethical grounding. Strong teams who actively include others and bring people together to be effective and achieve their mission.

Leaders at every level must live and promote this culture.

Working collaboratively, we learn from and grow with others - other services, government, industry and allies. We work together to solve problems - as we did so well over the past year.

Regardless of Service category, location or role, our people provide Army’s competitive advantage. Our shared values, attitudes and beliefs, as described in Good Soldiering, make us stronger.

In 2021, we will continue to develop our Good Soldiering monitoring and evaluation framework.

We will emphasise culture, leadership and accountability in all we do.

We will ensure that Army remains trusted as a national institution and postured to succeed in Accelerated Warfare.

By being an Army that more Australians want to join, we will strengthen our team. We need people with different perspectives, skills, and life experiences. They need to believe that they are welcome. Their lived experience must confirm this.

And today, as we do every day, we thank our families and those who support us, and acknowledge that as more is asked of us, we must also ensure we continue to explore how we can better support our families and communities.

Our Army, all of us, must continue to give back.

We cannot be complacent or take this support for granted.

We must continuously work to strengthen the foundations and fundamentals of our profession.

Our nation, our allies and partners, the ADF and our communities will continue to face difficult, human-centric problems.

It is people on the ground, of good character, living our values, living Good Soldiering that will always make the difference.

The slouch hat and rising sun badge are the globally-recognised symbols of this strength of character and professional ability.

So over this coming year, please tell this great story.

Engage with your community. Be positive.

Be proud to be part of an Army in the community, for the Nation.

So, as you do on birthdays, enjoy the day, but take the time to reflect and recommit.

Let us be thankful for those who have gone before.

Be proud of your own service and what you do today.

As we think about the future – and we cannot know what lies ahead – appreciate we must all work together to unlock the incredible potential in our people and strengthen the foundations of our profession so we can defend Australia and our national interests, and so contribute to the ever-evolving and inspirational story of the Australian Army.

Happy birthday and Good Soldiering.