Issue 2 | 2014
magazine cover
Cover Story

Changing of the guard

By Sergeant Dave Morley

The uniform may have changed but the commitment is just as strong as Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin takes the pilotís seat of the Australian Defence Force.

Despite Canberra's icy weather, General David Hurley and Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin were given a warm reception from the large crowd that braved the elements to attend the Chief of Defence Force Change of Command Parade on 30 June.

Defence members lined Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey Square at Russell Offices to watch the ceremony.

Air Chief Marshal Binskin says his aim is for the Defence Force to succeed at all levels of operations from humanitarian and disaster response through to high-end warfighting.

My priority over the next four years is to successfully transform the Australian Defence Force into the next generation force in accordance with the strategic direction of the upcoming 2015 White Paper, he states.

We must learn from the successes and failures of our past to ensure that we transition as a capable and professional force that is trusted and respected by all Australians and the region.

To do this we must continue to conduct successful global operations and continue with all aspects of our reform program.

We must deliver programs and services that sustain the health and welfare of our people and maintain our current capabilities, associated support equipment and facilities to the required levels of preparedness.

We must safely introduce new weapons systems, ensure timely and accurate information and advice to support successful operations, continue to build and maintain strong and enduring regional relationships, and understand and better manage our energy footprint.

He will continue to deal with unacceptable behaviour within Defence ranks.

Most importantly, during my tenure we must work together to fully understand, address and put behind us the legacy issues that have come to the surface over the past three years, detailing how some of our people have been poorly treated, abused or assaulted, he says.

Clearly, their treatment was, and remains, unacceptable.

We must learn from this dark aspect of our past and work to regain the respect of many in the Australian community.

Air Chief Marshal Binskin is proud to take command of a high-performing Defence Force.

I am pleased to be able to continue my close association with the strong and experienced Defence leadership team and I look forward to working with the Secretary of Defence and his dedicated leadership team, he says.

I am also looking forward to continuing to work with the entire Defence team, uniformed, both full-time and Reserves, civilians and supporting contractors to deliver the best capability possible from the available resources.

He acknowledges Defence faces continued change and challenges.

I know we are capable of meeting those challenges; we are recognised globally as a highly capable force, and rightly so, he says.

For General David Hurley, the day marked the closure of 42 years of service.

The 61-year-old career soldier from Wollongong graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in December 1975. In 1993, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for service in Somalia and, in 2010, he became a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to Defence.

He says when he was appointed the Chief of the Defence Force in 2011, the ADF was on the cusp of significant change.

More than 3300 ADF members 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, he says.

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, logistics and sustainment functions mature.

General Hurley thanked Australian Defence Force members and their families for their service and support.

I have enjoyed meeting many of you and spending time observing you at work, in the field, on bases or in our ships. I am always impressed by the passion and professionalism you apply to the work you do at home and abroad.

Despite adversity or danger, when Australia calls on its Defence Force in times of need, you respond with compassion and capability, that is why we choose to serve and I am immensely proud to have served as your Chief.

In his final message as Chief of the Defence Force, General Hurley called on people to support one another.

Respect and look after each other and make sure everyone has the best possible opportunity to develop and enjoy a rewarding career.

Take pride in our reputation for excellence and work hard to protect it.

As General Hurley departed the parade, he was accorded a 17-gun salute by Australia's Federation Guard. Earlier, a formation of four F/A-18s flew low overhead during the ceremony.

General Hurley will replace Dame Marie Bashir as Governor of New South Wales when she retires from the role in October.