Birthday message

1 March 2022

Happy birthday Army!

I would like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather this morning, and I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

I thank Aunty Selina Walker for her Welcome to Country on behalf of the Ngunnawal people.

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

Welcome to all Joint and Army Headquarters staff, family and guests from across the Canberra region.

Our people are gathering across Australia in the same way as we are here this morning.

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

Thank you to the RMC Band for your performance today, to Army Headquarters Chef, Sergeant Sujan “Sammy” Bhattarai, for the cake to celebrate Army’s birthday this morning, and to Lieutenant Russ Lowes for organising this event on Blamey Parade here at Russell Offices this morning.

Birthday Message

Today we celebrate Army’s 121st birthday.

A birthday we proudly share with Navy, and to whom we also wish happy birthday.

As Chief of Army, I also wish to recognise the outstanding work being done by everyone across our Australian Defence Force, our Department and our industry partners.

I particularly acknowledge the work currently going on in response to the invasion of Ukraine, and the severe weather events here at home.

Together we have a vital mission to fulfil.

Our mission focus is strengthened by the qualities we celebrate today — our proud history of service and sacrifice, our values and rich traditions forged through war, defending Australia’s mainland, and serving the Australian people.

The Australian Army is an amazing national institution.

We use this special occasion to recognise and reflect on our accomplishments and to honour the traditions and legacy of the more than two million Australians who have served in our Army.

Importantly, we remember and pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of our national interests since 1901.

We have much to be proud of, and much to live up to. And we do.

Every day we do what is asked of us, at home and abroad — making a positive difference for others, adding to and strengthening the story of Army in service of our nation.

In these past 12 months, we have continued to deliver as an Army in Motion.

It hasn’t been easy. Managing personal circumstances in the uneven context of COVID-19 has been challenging, but you have delivered. Thank you.

There has been continued excellence in assistance to domestic crises, including right now for floods in Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

Many of you have supported regional partners in Tonga, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, and continued our defence cooperation programs more broadly across the region.

Others demonstrated excellence during the evacuation from Kabul.

These are just some of the recent collective highlights. And you have done this while continuing to modernise, introduce new capabilities, resume training and rebuild individual and collective preparedness.

Across the joint staff and the defence enterprise, you have strengthened our alignment, embraced the urgency of transformation, strengthened partnerships and integration with defence industry.

It’s impressive, and I thank you all for your hard work, dedication and professionalism.

I thank you all those who support you and enable you to do what do you do – especially your families and loved ones.

Army – the past/next 12 months

As we celebrate our birthday we look ahead.

In these extraordinary times our Army, and Defence Force, must continue to be Ready Now and Future Ready, with people at the centre of all that we do.

Preparing for what we describe as Accelerated Warfare has been and will continue to be our focus. It is already here.

The extensive capability investments announced by Government will dramatically improve our ability to generate land power options for the joint force to Shape, Deter and Respond.

They offer more operational and strategic flexibility and the means to respond to changing circumstances.

A versatile and credible combat force that is more potent and connected is increasingly becoming a reality.

Based on what is approved and what we might anticipate from the Force Structure Plan, we can expect to field initial elements of our new combined arms capabilities within the next five years.

These include Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles, Infantry Fighting Vehicles, the new main battle tank, combat engineering vehicles, Apaches, Blackhawks and more Chinook helicopters, as well as air defence systems and protected mobile fires.

We are building these capabilities to ensure our land forces and special operations forces can operate at long-range and up-close, across the spectrum and in all domains.

For example the prospect of long-range land-based strike operating with littoral manoeuvre, amphibious and aviation capabilities, enhanced information warfare and special operations effects, and the ISR and targeting enterprise offer immense value to the joint force.

This is exciting. Yet as we all know, there is also much more happening outside of these signature capabilities.

The incredible work happening in Robotics and Autonomous Systems is leading edge, leading us to a near-term future of enhanced Human-Machine teaming.

RAS and AI helps us to generate scale, mass, effect, and reach in all domains. It will enable new operating concepts, and unlock potential in our people.

These significant force multipliers demonstrate our Army is changing rapidly.

They are only a couple of posting cycles away.

Introducing, integrating and mastering this suite of capabilities will be our collective endeavour. The urgency and necessary focus should now be obvious.

Introducing such an extensive array of new capabilities into service in a short period is challenging, but by necessity, stimulates transformation.

The Army Objective Force is the endorsed conceptual framework that guides our thinking and optimises the organisation of new and emerging capabilities.

We will continue to leverage the Army Operating System that aligns land capability, people capability and preparedness together with Defence enterprise arrangements so we can manage risk and align our actions and priorities.

We seek to ensure our Army is future ready and more capable sooner.

Future Ready teams

Generating teams that are Future Ready continues to be my priority.

Modernising our training system complements the necessary emphasis on recruiting and retention.

The ongoing embrace of the Total Workforce System, and exciting initiatives such as the Flexible Unit Establishment trial and Specialist Soldier Scheme, will help us generate more flexibility and capacity.

Most importantly, our people can expect new opportunities to serve, grow and achieve professional mastery.

This benefit is further strengthened when taken in context of the broader C2 and organisational initiatives currently underway, such as the formation of a focused Health brigade.

Land Combat College

One new initiative I will announce today is the establishment of a Land Combat College.

The need for our training system to be agile and scalable in the generation of Army’s future warfighting capabilities is clear.

A wide-ranging review of Army’s Training Enterprise identified the opportunity to simplify the training system by reorganising its authorities and structures to enhance the focus of professional mastery for our people.

Army will take the first steps to establish a new Land Combat College, to provide a single authority for land combat education and training.

This will improve the simplicity, agility and capacity within our Army to build and strengthen our warfighting capability.

From today, the Combined Arms Training Centre and subordinate schools will be reorganised and grouped under the Royal Military College - Australia.

Underpinned by future-focused industry partnerships, coherence in our training centres will help us generate capability at a greater scale, focus tactical excellence and enhance personnel development and education to suit Army’s total workforce.

This is exactly what our training system must do to unlock the potential in our people and achieve professional mastery in what is an increasingly demanding profession.

Conclusion and Jonathan Church Good Soldiering award

This will be another year of continuous change, new challenges and opportunities for our Army.

We all have a role — and that is to understand the interconnected nature of the many efforts currently underway and to continue to work together, support each other and to deliver new capabilities for the future.

At the centre of all these changes are our people. You, your teams, your families. You enable our future and deliver results today.

Continue to live our values — Service. Courage. Respect. Integrity. Excellence.

Do your best every day, and know that you are a valued member of a bigger team with a proud history and a vital future.

This is what Good Soldiering is. This is what our Army is.

I wish to conclude by acknowledging the Jonathan Church Good Soldiering awards.

A prestigious award that celebrates our values, and recognises soldiers and junior leaders who demonstrate exemplary character and service.

By their actions, attitudes, courage and example, recipients of the award have helped others in ways beyond what is expected of them in their regular duties.

They have all demonstrated selflessness, compassion, honour and humility.

It is my great pleasure to use this occasion on our Army’s birthday to honour and present the Jonathan Church Good Soldiering Awards to recipients of the past two years.

Congratulations to the recipients. Thank you for your example.

To everyone in Army – thank you for what you do.

Happy Birthday, and best wishes for the year ahead.

Good Soldiering.