Air Marshal Mark Binskin will face a range of challenges when he takes over from General David Hurley as chief of the Australian Defence Force.
Australia’s new defence chief, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, will oversee a force in transition after more than a decade of armed conflict, as it tries to meet the ongoing challenges to reform its male-dominated culture.
Air Marshal Binskin, who will be promoted to the four-star rank of Air Chief Marshal, will take over from General David Hurley, 60, who’s retiring to a property on the NSW mid-north coast.
It’s understood General Hurley was invited to, but declined, to extend his three-year term, preferring to allow his successor to play a key role in the preparation and implementation of a new Defence White Paper, to be released by the federal government next year.
Under the new Australian Defence Force (ADF) leadership line-up announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday, navy chief Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs steps up to defence force vice-chief and navy fleet commander Rear Admiral Tim Barrett becomes chief of navy.
RAAF chief Air Marshal Geoff Brown and army chief Lieutenant General David Morrison have had their terms extended for a fourth year.
The new term start on July 4 under a four-year tenure, rather than the present three.
General Hurley said there was a mix of experience and continuity, as well as new blood, to help defence tackle the task of reforming its culture.
“This line-up gives everybody assurance that we are deadly serious about taking on that mission and driving that forward,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Following a series of reviews prompted by the 2011 Australian Defence Force Academy Skype scandal, defence launched its “pathway to change” strategy, comprising a five-year plan to make the military more accountable, inclusive and welcoming to women.
Defence is also confronting a period of change following Australia’s drawdown from the long period of conflict in Afghanistan.
It’s introducing new equipment, including the Joint Strike Fighter and two large landing ships, that will transform its operations.
“I know I will take command of the ADF at a time of military significance as we go into the centenary of Anzac commemorations,” Air Marshal Binskin said.
“It’s a time of transformation for the ADF and it’s a time for continued reform for the ADF. I am comfortable that I will be able to meet the challenges head on.”
Australia Defence Association executive director Neil James said the new leadership follows succession planning begun by former defence chief Angus Houston, General Hurley as vice-chief and former Labor defence minister John Faulkner.
“In the 80s and 90s there was often only one person really capable of being CDF (Chief of the Defence Force), and this time round the government had a number of options,” he said.
“They have chosen the best option.”
The 2015 Defence White Paper will propose priorities and funding to meet Australia’s defence and national security goals, including the merits of a bigger defence presence in northern Australia.
The federal government has committed to lifting defence spending to two per cent of gross domestic product, from about 1.6 per cent now.