Army chief attends Longford reunion

AUSTRALIAN chief of army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison, is using diligence and transparency in his push to quash systemic challenges within the force.

Lt-Gen. Morrison became a national figurehead of retribution when a video condemning ``unacceptable behaviour'' within the army went viral last year.

He was guest of honour at yesterday's National Servicemen's Association of Australia commemoration service and reunion at Longford.

``It's a big honour for me,'' Lt-Gen. Morrison said.

``I think we, as Australians, need to recognise our fellow citizens who have contributed to the development of this country.

``Certainly the national servicemen of the '50s, '60s and early '70's were very much part of that group.''

He said although the army's future was a key priority for its success, it was integral to remember the soldiers who laid its foundation.

``You only have to look at the army units that served from Tasmania in World War I and World War II,'' Lt-Gen. Morrison said.

``Battalions and units with a particular Tasmanian lineage had incredible feats of arms - there is a very rich history.

``Down in Hobart there's a wonderful walk up through the gardens that rise above the harbour where it shows all of the remembrance stones of people who went overseas and didn't return.

``It's wonderfully evocative, I remembered very clearly my first walk down through there and I've done it several times since.''

Lt-Gen. Morrison said public perception of the army remained high and supported open action taken to cut undesirable behaviour from its ranks, particularly in light of sexual misconduct charges made against personnel last year.

``Strong statements are well and good, but it's action that speaks far louder than words,'' he said.

``My experience from last year was that the Australian public, quite apparently, were disgusted at what had occurred - they expected action to be taken and they expected a high level of honesty and transparency from the leadership of the army.

``We've introduced a number of key policies, both around how you should use appropriately social media, and on the positive side a number of policies and initiatives to recruit and retain women.''

He said initiatives to recruit and retain members from a wider range of Australian groups were successfully introduced to the army, which stands with about 30,000 active troops.

``(Recruitment is) very important, we are not a large army,'' Lt-Gen. Morrison said.

``We need to keep the staff levels up in order to be able to provide the types of capabilities that the government or nation might ask of us.

``We've certainly had people who have joined the army specifically, perhaps, to serve overseas . . . they've now chosen to end their military service going into civilian life, and they will be better citizens of Australia for the experience they've had.

``I'm not concerned that we'll see any long-term detriment to the army at the moment.''

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