Home' Army News : March 3rd 2011 Contents 'OVER THE NEXT
20 YEARS I SEE
US BEING A BUSY
CA Lt-Gen Ken Gillespie says the tempo of recent times
is not likely to slow down soon.
Army ANNIVERSARY LIFTOUT March 3, 2011
My grandfather, uncles and cousins are all ex-Army and I joined
in 2008. MRTF 2 has been the highlight of my career.
'' PTE JUSTIN SMALL, 1RAR
WHEN aircrews flew their Black
Hawks, Chinooks and MRH-90s
out of Townsville to safeguard the
aircraft from the fury of Cyclone
Yasi last month, they had to leave
their families behind.
It's a situation that speaks vol-
umes to CA Lt-Gen Ken Gillespie,
of the daily sacrifices made by the
Army's soldiers -- and their families
-- over its past 110 years.
He is obviously proud of 'the
digger'. But he also has a faith in
Defence families, the Australian
community and the twin engines of
democracy and personal freedom.
"[Australia's] Army is drawn
from the community -- it represents
the community -- and that is not the
case in a lot of countries," Lt-Gen
Gillespie says. "I think the enduring
respect we receive from our com-
munity is what makes the 110th
birthday a special day."
He believes meeting the expec-
tations of the Australian community
is a defining characteristic of the
"I think those wonderful quali-
ties of sacrifice, service and team-
work, mateship, bravery are the
things that we hold very dear to us.
And you can choose any example
you would like to pick in all those
eras of 110 years."
While the Gallipoli campaign
has had a significant effect in
imprinting the Army in the national
consciousness, Lt-Gen Gillespie
believes there is a change happen-
ing in how the community views
Australia's post-Gallipoli history.
He says smarter, better educated
younger generations -- "I constantly
find myself saying they are smart-
er than I was at their age" -- with
sophisticated technology, are gener-
ating an evolution in understanding.
"People acknowledge Gallipoli
as the start point for our national
development -- our own national
identity," Lt-Gen Gillespie said.
"But what happened to
Australian troops on the Western
Front was much more profound
than Gallipoli. Pozieres, Villiers
Bretonneux, Amiens, Mouquet farm
-- you name it."
He describes the efforts of
Australian soldiers in both world
wars as a "wonderful military tradi-
"Visit places like Egypt, Israel,
Syria and Lebanon and you actu-
ally find people who still remember
Australian troops in those areas and
their recollections to me are that
they remember Australian troops
Lt-Gen Gillespie has seen the
Army change a lot over his 44 years
As an enlistee apprentice who
joined the Army on January 15,
1968, he understands the organisa-
tion from both ends of the spec-
He has seen the Army transform
from a war footing to 20 years of
relative calm and then the last dec-
ade of heightened operations.
When he enlisted the Army was
70,000-strong. It is now an all-
volunteer force of almost 30,000
regular members and nearly 17,000
But history is not always kind.
Lt-Gen Gillespie says a dark era in
Australia's military history was the
community treatment of soldiers
during the Vietnam War. He enlist-
ed in that era and was commis-
sioned in December 1972 -- when
the Whitlam Government ended
conscription. So Vietnam is also an
important influence on the CA.
He says that situation endured
until the 1987 Welcome Home
March for Vietnam Veterans. He
says the Army and the community
"There was a national undertak-
ing to never let that happen again.
To understand the troops were sim-
ply an instrument of policy and
not necessarily the embodiment of
what was happening. So I think the
community support these days has
two aspects -- learning the lesson
that soldiers in that era got a pret-
ty shabby deal for a long time and
that they don't want that to happen
Lt-Gen Gillespie says the
Army's capacity to maintain an all-
volunteer force for just short of 40
years is perfect proof that the com-
munity is behind its soldiers.
The small, professional Army
that has developed and the ongoing
support of its families are integral
to the organisation's future, accord-
ing to Lt-Gen Gillespie.
"We will always be a military
that is at the leading edge of rep-
resenting a nation that believes in
being a good international citizen,
believes in putting its money where
its mouth is and using its military if
it has to."
He says the development of
a 'joint' ADF force by removing
duplication is important. "Even
a small force can have a major
impact on world affairs if it is joint,
removes duplication, is highly pro-
fessional, and has a proper focus,"
Importantly, he expects the
Army to continue to be busy.
"I don't see a time in the next
20 years where we won't be an
essential element of the govern-
ment's arsenal as it deals with inter-
national issues. I see us being busy
for the foreseeable future. Beyond
that, we know history is replete
with strategic shocks, surprises
and that certainly is going to be a
part of the next 20, 30 or 50 years.
But over the next 20 years I see us
being a busy organisation."
People power: The Army's strength is that it is drawn from the
community, according to CA Lt-Gen Ken Gillespie.
PHOTO BY AB JO DILORENZO
World War I
INFANTRY trainee Pte
Matthew Illman is dressed
in standard issue tunic and
trousers for the beginning
of WWI in 1914 and
standard 1908 web-
bing. The gas mask
chest harness is a
later model, intro-
duced later in the war
after some develop-
ment in the quality of
gas masks used. He is
carrying a short maga-
zine .303 Lee Enfield
rifle. The round metallic
object on the side of the
weapon just forward of
Pte Illman's hand is a
sight attachment for fir-
ing rifle grenades.
"It was a life ambi-
tion since I was a kid to
join the Army, being exposed to it at vari-
ous shows and fairs with displays from
the Army showing the equipment," Pte
"So far I have enjoyed learning about
all the different weapon systems."
INFANTRY trainee Pte Daniel
Malone is dressed in the
standard issue greens worn
with the "giggle
hat" adopted from
the British forces in
Malaya. He is carry-
ing the L1A1 SLR with
20-round magazine. It
is a later-model SLR as
it has a plastic carrying
handle. The webbing is
standard issue for the
period and the black
were introduced in the
1960s as a response
to operations in
"Joining the Army is something I have
always wanted to do," Pte Malone said.
"The training, discipline and physical
sides attracted me. I have enjoyed the fit-
ness and the weapons training."
INFANTRY trainee Pte
Samual Riseley is wearing the
standard issue DPCU
and webbing of the
present era. He is
holding the F88 Steyr
and wearing late-model
khaki boots. Pte Riseley
is wearing one of the
varieties of camouflage
"I joined the Army
because it's in my fam-
ily -- everyone in my fam-
ily serves in one way or
another and I wanted to
serve my country," he said.
"I joined the infantry
because they have a
direct influence on things
and have enjoyed the
physical side of the train-
ing so far, such as obstacle courses and
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