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Army October 13, 2011
THE eighth RSM-A, WO
Stephen Ward, handed over
to WO Dave Ashley on
September 28 and said after
almost 33 years in the Army, the main
lesson he had learnt was that soldiers
"Obviously, communication is the
role of RSMs and in particular the RSM-
A, but if communication is open between
all levels, then you can make sure it is
effective from the CA's office all the way
down to the digger at the coal face and
vice-versa so the digger has a voice," he
said.WO Ward was promoted to major by
CA Lt-Gen David Morrison at the hando-
When asked about the soldier of
today Maj Ward said today's soldier was
much more professional and educated
than he was as a young soldier.
"I often called myself a farm boy
from central Queensland, with little edu-
cation, coming into a system that was
pretty simple," he said.
"I carried an SLR with 60 rounds,
two basic pouches, two water bottles and
a bum pack.
"Then I look at our soldiers and
what's expected of them now and it is far
and above what was expected of me as a
"I believe the education and profes-
sional development we are giving our
young corporals and lieutenants is just
outstanding. They all demonstrate sound
leadership, as demonstrated by the way
they are performing on operations in East
Timor, Solomon Islands and on the bat-
tlefield in Afghanistan. They lead from
the front and they lead with confidence."
Maj Ward believes the qualities of
a good soldier are being professional,
upholding Army's true values of courage,
initiative and teamwork, understanding
the core behaviours and guidelines as
well as grasping the reasons Army is
delivering professional development.
"They must understand how to men-
tor, even as a private and must be able
to mentor those who are less trained or
educated," he said.
"Today's soldier must be able to train,
and we are seeing evidence of that in
Afghanistan, as we have privates training
Afghan National Army junior leaders on
the battlefield, and they must also be able
to lead, regardless of rank."
Maj Ward said the major future chal-
lenge for soldiers would be getting their
heads around using and rapidly changing
He said the biggest challenge he
faced as RSM-A was attending 24 repa-
triations and 26 funerals.
"How do you comfort families? How
do you understand looking after people
who are left behind, in particular, the
young kids who are affected?
"Hand in hand with those challenges
is then understanding how our wounded
and injured people are looked after when
you can't get to visit everyone on a regu-
lar basis, particularly as there are now
more than 180 soldiers who are affected.
"I have been exceptionally proud to
be wearing the uniform and extremely
proud to be selected and considered wor-
thy of the position of RSM-A.
"Being RSM-A combined with the
ability to get out and talk to our young
soldiers has been a huge highlight for
"As is seeing our young soldiers on
operations, realising their quality is just
as good as anyone we have ever sent off-
shore in the past."
Maj Ward's advice to the new
RSM-A was to take the job on and have
"This was exactly what I did. It is a
big challenge -- it is a great job with a
wide span of influence," he said.
With his commission, Maj Ward
the Manager for World War I Events
(Centenary of Anzac) as a project officer.
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of
Anzac Day, the project will start in 2014
and could possibly begin with a re-enact-
ment of the sailing of the first AIF out of
Albany in Western Australia.
The Centenary of Anzac will not be
just about WWI, but will commemorate
the 75th anniversary of World War II,
the 65th anniversary of the Korean War
and the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam
War, peacekeeping, peacemaking and
Maj Ward said the Centenary of
Anzac project should be seen as a com-
memorate service to the nation as an
Army and a Defence Force.
"The event will finish in 2018, most
likely with large Remembrance Day ser-
vices held in different nations around the
world," he said.
'Communication is key'
LCpl Mark Doran sits down with outgoing
RSM-A WO Stephen Ward to discuss his time in
the top enlisted job and his plans for the future.
EVEN the RSM-A isn't immune to
making mistakes. Maj Ward said he
was often in a hurry and regularly
snatched-up his pace-stick and shoved
his slouch hat on his head to get mov-
"On one occasion I had left the car
and walked for nearly 20m before I
noticed my hat didn't feel quite right,"
"A soldier stopped me and said 'Sir,
your hat is on back to front'.
"I will admit it was embarrassing,
but I was also impressed that the sol-
dier had the courage to tell the RSM-A
he was incorrectly dressed."
HATS OFF TO A BRAVE DIGGER
At a patrol base in the
Mirabad Valley last year,
then RSM-A WO Stephen
Ward talks with deployed
troops about new
Photo by Sgt Brent Tero
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