Lieutenant General John Frewen is a career infantry officer whose father and grandfather also served in the Australian Army. He completed his secondary education at Xavier College in Melbourne and graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1986. His first appointment was as an Infantry Platoon Commander in the First Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR). He subsequently went on to command the Second Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR) and later the Army’s 1st Brigade in Darwin.
Lieutenant General Frewen has held a range of senior staff appointments, most notably Military Assistant to the Chief of Army, Chief of Staff Headquarters Forces Command, and Head Military Strategic Commitments in Australian Defence Headquarters.
His operational service includes Rwanda with the United Nations in 1994-95; leadership of the initial regional military intervention force in support of the re-establishment of law and order in the Solomon Islands in 2003 (comprising military personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga); time in Afghanistan as both the Australian National Commander in Kabul and, later, in Kandahar coordinating NATO efforts to rebuild the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police across Regional Command South. Most recently he was the national commander of all Australian Defence personnel in the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan, throughout 2017.
Lieutenant General Frewen is a graduate of the University of New South Wales, the Australian Army Command and Staff College, and the US Army War College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Masters in both Defence and Strategic Studies. LTGEN Frewen was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his leadership in the Solomon Islands and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his command of forces in the Middle East in 2017.
Lieutenant General Frewen was the Principal Deputy Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate during 2018 and 2019. From March 2020 to July 2021, Lieutenant General Frewen was Commander Defence COVID-19 Taskforce coordinating the Department of Defence response to the pandemic.
Lieutenant General Frewen is currently seconded to the Department of Health as Coordinator General of the National COVID Vaccine Taskforce. In September 2021 Lieutenant General Frewen was appointed as Chief of Joint Capabilities and will commence in that role on completion of the national vaccine rollout.