After 38 years of service, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton now holds the position of Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS).
He began his new role just before Australia’s unprecedented bushfire season, followed by the global COVID-19 pandemic and at a time of increasing competition between global powers.
“It is a humbling experience to be CJOPS at the moment, but also truly inspiring because I think these crises are bringing out the best in us,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.
“During Operation Bushfire Assist, I was impressed by how we integrated so well into the state emergency services to support Australians in need.”
Lieutenant General Bilton paid tribute to the many countries who sent help.
“Their assistance underscores the extent of our friendships and we are very grateful to all of them,” he said.
When Bushfire Assist ended in March, COVID-19 had already gripped the world and Defence launched Operation COVID-19 ASSIST.
About 2000 ADF personnel now augment state planning and contact tracing teams.
Lieutenant General Bilton said protecting Defence personnel and their families was at the forefront of operational planning.
“The wellbeing of our people is our biggest consideration and we will need everyone to be ready to help over the coming months,” he said.
I think these crises are bringing out the best in us.
He said ADF support was crucial to ensure the safety of Australians.
“The Australian public can count on us to work with civil agencies to protect the Australian way of life,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.
While there was a reduction of personnel deployed overseas because of the virus, Lieutenant General Bilton said Defence still had a presence abroad and would continue to pursue Australia’s interests.
“We’ve still got more than a thousand people deployed in the Middle East and more in our region,” he said.
Lieutenant General Bilton’s headquarters near Bungendore has instituted arrangements to keep the workforce safe and engaged.
“We are planning exercises and activities remotely where we can so the ADF is still able to work with its allies, partners and other agencies to maintain interoperability,” he said.
“I think we have also learnt some important lessons about what is possible from a flexible workplace perspective and I will be looking into this with some interest in the future.”
Advancing the abilities of Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) over the coming decade is a major focus of Lieutenant General Bilton during his tenure.
“HQJOC is a critical node in Australia’s intelligence architecture, focused on supporting the joint force and detecting threats to Australia’s national security,” he said.
“It is one of the world’s best purpose-built joint headquarter facilities, however, we continue to pursue initiatives to ensure we stay fit for purpose in the future.
“I’m in this position until July 2022 and it’s my job to try and make the organisation better than how I found it.”
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