Local Home Grown this month is Lieutenant Colonel Bradley Robertson, former School Captain of Forster High.
Name: Brad Robertson.
You grew up in the Great Lakes. What did you love about growing up there?
The Great Lakes is a wonderful place to grow up. The people are friendly, and the environment is spectacular. I have travelled all over Australia and lived in Perth, Darwin, Melbourne, Townsville and Canberra. The Great Lakes has always been the standard I compare other places to.
My favourite memories as a teenager were the lakes and fishing in a small boat.
Favourite local beach?
One Mile in Forster remains my favourite beach. The sand is always warm, and the life guards always friendly. During pre-season training, you would often see our team running up and down the sand hill at the northern end of the beach. Was hard work getting up, but the view on the way down was worth it.
I now take my three children there, and it is always a highlight of our holiday.
You were school captain at Forster High. Any memorable moments you can share with us from your school days?
I have very fond memories of my time at Forster High. One of my classmates was an 85-year-old grandmother, who inspired us to believe that it was never to late to achieve your goals. I had a fabulous history teacher, Mrs Staples, who went beyond the call of duty to inspire and encourage us to look beyond our current horizons and pursue our interests.
Mr Thornton, my Principal, maintained an interest in all his former students, even travelling specially to Canberra to visit me at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Forster High provided me with the confidence to chase opportunities and taught me to believe in my ability.
Where did life take you when you finished your HSC? I completed Year 12 at Forster High School and entered the Australian Defence Force Academy, where I achieved a Bachelor of Arts in 1995, majoring in history. On graduation, I entered the Royal Military College in 1996, graduating to the Royal Australian Army Ordinance Corps. My first posting was to Perth Logistics Battalion as a Platoon Commander.
In 1999 I was posted to the 1st Combat Service Support Battalion (CSSB) in Darwin as Platoon Commander of Supply Platoon within Distribution Company. With a platoon of 85 soldiers, we were responsible for the provision of all supply support to the Australian 1st Brigade. In 2000 I was promoted to Captain and appointed Second in Command of Supply Company. In February 2000 I deployed as part of the United Nations force to East Timor. I spent 4 months there.
In 2002 I was posted to Headquarters 1st Brigade in Darwin as the Logistics Current Operations Officer. In May of that year, I deployed as the Officer Commanding (OC) Intermediate Support Base in Kuwait, providing support to SASR (Special Air Services Regiment) during Operation SLIPPER in Afghanistan.
In December 2004, while posted to Melbourne, I was sent to Indonesia as part of Operation SUMATRA ASSIST, supporting international humanitarian efforts in Aceh after the tsunami. In December 2005, I completed a Masters of Business from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
In 2006 I was promoted to Major and posted to 3 CSSB in Townsville as OC 3rd Field Supply Company. In March, I was force assigned to Operation LARRY ASSIST and commanded the Combat Service Support Team (CSST), which arrived in Innisfail 24 hours after the cyclone passed.
Once all elements arrived in Innisfail I was employed as the Operations Officer, ensuring the communities received food, water and shelter. A highlight of this period was co-ordinating a rescue of an infant suffering breathing difficulties across a swollen river.
In May 2006 I was assigned to Operation ASTUTE as the OC 3 Combat Service Support Team. Deploying my forces on HMAS Tobruk, I conducted an amphibious lodgement within Timor Leste. I was awarded a Deputy Chief Joint Operations Commendation. In 2007 I became the first Australian Army logistics officer to command Rifle Company Butterworth in Malaysia.
In 2008 I completed Australian Command and Staff Course (ACSC). My performance on the course resulted in the awarding of both the Chief of Defence Force and Commander Joint Logistics Prizes.
In 2010 I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and posted to Army Headquarters.
I married my wife Kate in 1997, and we have three wonderful children, Emma (11), Isabel (9) and William (1). If you were to say what has been my life’s achievement, I would have to say meeting Kate and introducing our three children into this world. I do not think I could have achieved half of what I have without the love and support of my family.
You are currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Australian Army. For those of us who don’t know, what does this role involve?
I am currently responsible for sustaining Army. This makes me responsible for identifying what Army requires for the next ten years and allocating appropriate funding and resources to meets this requirement. I will be presented to a board next year for command consideration.
Whereabouts are you currently based?
I am currently based in Canberra at Army Headquarters.
What was it about the Army that made you pursue a career there?
I had never considered Army as a career until the school career adviser recommended I look into it. The more I looked, the greater the interest, and before too long I had sent my application to Defence Recruiting.
Being in charge of 120 soldiers in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Having the opportunity to immerse myself in another culture and command soldiers as they learn new skills and techniques was a wonderful experience.
Most memorable moment from your time in service that you can share with us:
My memorable moment would have to be the work we did in Aceh. The environment was difficult and the loss of life beyond comprehension, but everyone worked hard and provided hope to the people of Aceh.
I have deployed to Timor and Afghanistan, but the greatest challenge of my career was to separate myself from the destruction and death in Aceh of so many people at the hands of Mother Nature.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
In 5 years’ time I hope to have completed command of a Battalion (600 – 700 soldiers) and be promoted to Colonel. I have loved my time in the Australian Army and will continue to serve into the immediate future.
When you are not at work, where can we find you?
In Forster I played soccer for the Forster Tuncurry Tigers Soccer Club. I still play soccer, although I am a little slower now. I play for the Australian National University team. I also spend time encouraging my children in their sporting pursuits, including netball and gymnastics. My family also enjoys travelling.
Kate and I travelled to Canada in 2007; I was fortunate enough to go to England and Germany with work in 2010, and Kate and I took the girls to Disneyland in mid 2009.
What would be your advice to someone considering joining the armed forces?
Joining the Defence Force is a fantastic career. I have travelled throughout the world, lived all over Australia, worked with amazing people and been part of an organisation that values you as an individual. If you are after a challenge, if you want security of employment and if you think you can make a difference, then join the military. Call 131 901.
Words to live by:
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”
– Malcolm S. Forbes.