Lieutenant Colonel Amanda Johnston
Why did you join the Army?
Following a recruiting presentation at my school, I picked up a couple of the glossy recruiting pamphlets.
The one that resonated with me the most was the pamphlet for the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) which was full of images of adventure training and physical training (PT), university facilities and cadets in various uniforms. Shortly after I visited a recruiting office!
Describe a moment or event that is most memorable during your time in the Army.
As a Lieutenant, I was the Troop Commander of an Engineer Troop. During a training exercise in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, my Troop ran an explosive quarry and rock-crusher to win the resources for road construction. It was a great opportunity to use both the leadership and engineering skills I had gained during my training at the Royal Military College (RMC) and ADFA.
In 2006, I deployed to Israel, Lebanon and Syria as a United Nations Military Observer (UNMO) with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation. During this deployment, we lived in the community and worked with military personnel from over 30 other countries. Our work involved conducting patrols along the contested borders, inspecting military installations and meeting with community leaders. It was a great opportunity to gain an understanding of how the United Nations operates, as well as be immersed in cultures different from our own.
As a Major, I was an Instructor at the RMC. In addition to shaping the curriculum of our future leaders, I was also involved in several other training activities, including Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence (CBRND) training, parachute familiarisation training, and sea-kayaking adventure training.
As a Lieutenant Colonel in 2011, I was deployed to Kabul in Afghanistan. I worked in Headquarters International Stabilisation Forces Afghanistan (ISAF) on the Afghan Government’s peace program, which sought to reintegrate former Taliban fighters back into society.
What do you consider to be your greatest success in Army?
In addition to deploying overseas, I consider my promotion to Lieutenant Colonel to be an important achievement in my career.
Who has been the most influential person throughout your Army career?
Warrant Officer Class One Steve DiTullio, who was my Wing Sergeant Major when I was an Officer Commanding (OC). As the senior soldier in my Wing, he always gave me well-considered and wise advice borne of his lengthy experience, and I really appreciated his insight, and sense of humour.
Brigadier Greg Bilton, who I worked for in 2010-11 when he was the Director-General Development and Plans-Army, was an inspirational leader who nurtured his staff and created an excellent working environment. In addition, working for him gave me important insights into strategic level decision-making.
What is one important piece of advice that you can pass onto other women considering a career in the Army?
In general, the Army offers excellent opportunities to anyone wanting a challenging and diverse career, and the training you receive is world-class and prepares you well for any challenge you may have to face.
Also, to be a good leader, it’s important to be yourself.
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