Speech to Reserve Forces Parade
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Major General Kathryn Toohey AM CSC
Head Land Capability
Reserve Forces Parade
Speech to Reserve Forces Parade
Sunday, 1 Jul 2018.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I acknowledge the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, traditional custodians of this land, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.
Australia has a long history of service from its citizen soldiers – indeed, this history precedes Federation. The militia forces, forebears of today’s reservists, deployed from NSW to serve in South Africa during The Boer War. They left as New South Welshmen, but returned as Australians after our Federation on 1 January, 1901.
Seventeen years later, it was a citizen soldier, John Monash, who became one of Australia’s best known and most successful military leaders in the First World War. His leadership and military professionalism are still used as examples for all aspiring commanders within the ADF, regardless of whether they serve in the full or part time force.
Citizen soldiers then formed the second AIF in World War Two, and were the hammer stroke used by Montgomery to turn the tide of the campaign in the Western Desert, before returning to defend our shores.
Citizen soldiers – reservists, as we call them now – have deployed to every theatre in which the ADF has served since that great conflict, including Iraq, Afghanistan, The Solomon Islands, Timor, Bougainville and a multitude of others. It is fair to say that every Navy ship that sails, every Air Force squadron that deploys, and every Army formation that departs on operations includes reservists as an integral part of the team.
It is fitting that this event takes place in July, so close to the anniversary of John Monash’s victory at Hamel. As we stand here today, thousands of Australians from the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force have just completed one of the largest military exercises in the southern hemisphere, Exercise Hamel.
Exercise Hamel is an annual activity conducted in order to prepare and certify Army’s Ready Brigade for potential operations in the nation’s interest. It is no coincidence that this name was chosen to represent the pinnacle of training for Army, and other members of the ADF as they prove they are capable and ready to inherit Monash’s legacy.
This time last week I was with the incoming Chief of the Defence Force in Shoalwater Bay Training Area near Rockhampton in QLD, observing this year’s Exercise Hamel. We both noted the contributions made by reservists across the exercise.
Every component of the force deployed on Exercise Hamel includes reservists; every year, their involvement grows in size and importance. We are reliant on reservists for many specialities within the ADF, and as we look to the future, this reliance is likely to increase.
It is our expectation that our future force will not look like our current force, and that it is in the areas of most change that we are likely to see the most influence from our citizen soldiers. The skills that will underpin future ADF capabilities will come, in many instances, from the skills inherent in our reservists.
These include cyber skills and IT specialists, but also our skilled tradesmen, our lawyers, our medical professionals and a wide range of other skills and professions that support ADF capability.
We have come a long way from the citizen soldiers who served with Monash 100 years ago. What remains the same however, is the dedication that reservists have shown to our nation for over a century, the impact they have in our Defence Force, and the role they will continue to play in the future.
The tradition and contribution of the Reserves is alive and well. On behalf of the CDF, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, thank you for all that you do, and thanks also to the families and employers that support you, and our country, in your service.