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July 12, 2018
HE lure of adventure drew
then 17-year-old Rick Burr
to life in the Army.
Beginning as an RMC
staff cadet in 1982, four years later
he was commanding soldiers as a
platoon commander in 8/9RAR.
On promotion to CA more than
30 years later, Lt-Gen Burr reflects
on why he serves.
“The Army has offered all
the leadership opportunities and
adventure I sought,” he said.
“You have new opportunities to
grow and help people succeed.”
Lt-Gen Burr was promoted to
captain and joined SASR in 1988.
He went on to become the CO in
“New deployments and struc-
tures opened up; that’s the excite-
ment of Army,” he said.
“Army is always adapting, it’s
always in motion; new opportuni-
ties are just around the corner.”
When Lt-Gen Burr passed
special forces selection, he didn’t
know his service would take him to
Army’s top job.
“Back then special forces was
quite a small part of our Army,”
“With 9/11 and the war on ter-
rorism, the special forces’ utility
grew and with it came new oppor-
tunities. It improved my ability as a
commander, to think strategically,
to understand the rapidly changing
world we live in.”
Lt-Gen Burr recently saw Army
in action during Ex Hamel, just
before assuming his new role.
“The amphibious capability
is very mature and the air-mobile
capability has come a long way,”
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AT BLAMEY Square in Canberra, Lt-Gen
Rick Burr accepted his appointment as
CA from his predecessor, Gen Angus
Campbell, now CDF, on July 2.
In his speech, Gen Campbell reflected
on the soldiers he met during his time as
“When we visit our troops on opera-
tions and when we see major exercise
activities such as Exercise Hamel, we see
an extraordinary institution and an extraor-
dinary capability,” Gen Campbell said.
“But what we mostly see, every day,
are extraordinary people; people who
have taken the most significant step you
can take in the service of this nation.”
Lt-Gen Burr said he was proud to
serve as CA, and acknowledged Gen
“I commit to building on this work
and Army should expect continuity and
momentum from me with respect to my
predecessor’s policies and direction,”
Lt-Gen Burr said.
“Taking command of the Australian
Army today is an incredible honour.
“I commit to serving with you, and for
all of you.”
Ushering in a new era
New CA Lt-Gen Rick Burr is excited for the next chapter
of his military career, writes Sgt Max Bree.
Passing the baton
he said. “I’ve seen our ability to
operate as a ground force in the
most demanding of combat condi-
“We have innovative ways to
think differently about the threats
of today with decentralised signa-
“All of these things are being
practised well and it’s great to see.”
Despite this, Lt-Gen Burr
sees Army becoming more “tech-
focused” with emphasis on target
acquisition and joint theatre effects
being more critical in coming dec-
A soon-to-be-released strategic
framework will emphasise the need
for Army to continue its journey
through advances in technology
and capability in line with ADF’s
“We’re looking at better under-
standing the threat environment
and the changing character of con-
flict,” he said.
“We have to embrace new tech-
nology, employ it to its best effect
and know how to mitigate it being
used against us.”
Lt-Gen Burr said this would
present soldiers opportunities to
digitise, employ unmanned sys-
tems and operate new vehicles.
Army will continue investing
in its soldiers, who Lt-Gen Burr
described as Army’s “enduring
“Everyone’s got their own tal-
ents and the job of a leader is to get
the best out of them individually
for the team’s benefit,” he said.
“You’ve got to let them be their
best and channel their individual
skills as part of the outcome you
seek. It’s satisfying when peo-
ple feel like they’re on a winning
Lt-Gen Burr believes soldiers of
today are well placed to embrace
new technology and equipment.
“I know what soldiers want to
do and my job is to enable them to
be engaged in the process, to share
their ideas, for us to explore and
adopt them where we can,” he said.
“We’ll become a more spe-
cialised workforce in some areas,
because of the nature of technol-
ogy and skills required to employ
and sustain them.
“Army has always been that
way and we will continue to be.”
After seeing how Army’s equip-
ment and systems evolved from
the 1980s, Lt-Gen Burr said he
almost wished he could have his
“I would love to be joining the
Army today,” he said.
“Stepping off as a young officer
or soldier is full of excitement and
opportunity, I’m very envious.
“It’s a credit to successive lead-
ership teams that build the Army of
today; my job is to make sure we
continue to allow it to realise its
when people feel
like they’re on a
CA Lt-Gen Rick Burr
Outgoing CA, now CDF,
Gen Angus Campbell,
CA Lt-Gen Rick Burr
at Russell Offices in
Photo: Cpl Tristan Kennedy
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