Incoming Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin (left) and outgoing Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley
When I assumed command in July 2011, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) was on the cusp of significant change. More than 3,300 ADF personnel were deployed on operations in Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands and Afghanistan, new combat capability projects were commencing and Defence had just embarked on a cultural reform program. These factors informed the priorities I set for the ADF during my tenure as Chief of the Defence Force.
I am pleased that we have met the majority of these priorities and made significant progress on the remaining points. We have achieved our objectives and concluded operations in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands; we have completed our mission to train the Afghan National Army in Uruzgan; and we continue to assist and support the Afghan Security Forces as their training, logistic and sustainment functions mature. The recent search for MH370 demonstrated the strength of our existing strategic and regional partnerships and created opportunities for further cooperation with other Indo-Pacific nations.
The ADF will soon take ownership of and commence training on two new capabilities—the Joint Strike Fighter and the Landing Helicopter Dock ships. Over the past three years under my Command Team’s guidance our submarine availability has improved considerably, Navy’s reformed engineering practices are evident and Plan Beersheba is on track to further modernise the Australian Army to meet the challenges of the future.
We have accepted that the ADF did not always provide an environment where all members were safe from sexual, physical and mental abuse. I have apologised on behalf of the ADF to those who have suffered sexual, physical or mental abuse while serving in the ADF. As an organisation, we are serious about addressing long-term cultural reform and we have demonstrated our willingness to act swiftly and decisively when incidences of abusive or unacceptable behaviour occur. We are also fully committed to improving gender equality and diversity in our workforce. I want to reassure people that Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin will continue the work which began during my tenure while he is in command.
On a personal note, I thank all our members for their service, and their families for their support. I have enjoyed meeting many of our people and spending time observing them work, in the field, on base or in our ships. I am always impressed by the passion and professionalism they apply to the work we do at home and abroad. Despite adversity or danger, when Australia calls on its Defence Force in times of need, our people respond with compassion and capability—this is why we choose to serve and I am immensely proud to have served as Chief of the Defence Force.