Military Wiki
Australian Army
Australian Army Emblem.svg
Active 1 March 1901 – present
Country Australia
Type Army
Size 30,235 (Regular)
16,900 (Active Reserve)
12,496 (Standby Reserve)
Part of Australian Defence Force
Engagements Second Boer War
World War I
World War II
Korean War
Malayan Emergency
Indonesian Confrontation
Vietnam War
War in Somalia
East Timor
Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands
War in Afghanistan
Iraq War
Chief of the Defence Force GEN Angus J. Campbell DSC, AM
Chief of Army LTGEN Richard M. Burr AO, DSC, MVO
Commander Forces Command MAJGEN Matt Pearce
FM The Lord Birdwood
GEN Sir John Monash
GEN Sir Henry Chauvel
GEN Sir Brudenell White
FM Sir Thomas Blamey
GEN Peter Cosgrove
Australian Army badge Australian Army Emblem.JPG
Army Roundel File:Roundel of Australian Army aviation.svg

The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of Defence (CDF) commands the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army (CA). The CA is therefore subordinate to the CDF, but is also directly responsible to the Minister for Defence.[1] Although Australian soldiers have been involved in a number of minor and major conflicts throughout its history, only in World War II has Australian territory come under direct attack.


The history of the Australian Army can be divided into two periods:

  • 1901–1947, when limits were set on the size of the regular Army, the vast majority of peacetime soldiers were in reserve units of the Citizens Military Force (also known as the CMF or Militia), and Australian Imperial Forces were formed to serve overseas,[2][3] and
  • Post-1947, when a standing peacetime regular infantry force was formed and the CMF (known as the Army Reserve after 1980) began to decline in importance.[4][3]

Soldiers of the Australian 39th Battalion in September 1942

During its history the Australian Army has fought a large number of major wars, including: Second Boer War (1899–1902), First World War (1914–1918), the Second World War (1939–1945), Korean War (1950–1953), Malayan Emergency (1950–1960), Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation (1962–1966), Vietnam War (1962–1973),[5] and more recently in Afghanistan (2001 – present) and Iraq War (2003–2009).[6] However, since 1947 it has also been involved in many peacekeeping operations, usually under the auspices of the United Nations. The largest one began in 1999 in East Timor. Other notable operations include peacekeeping on Bougainville and in the Solomon Islands, which are still ongoing to this day. Humanitarian relief after 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake in Aceh Province, Indonesia, Operation Sumatra Assist, ended on 24 March 2005.[7]

Since April 2015, the Army has deployed a 300-strong element to Iraq, designated as Task Group Taji, as part of Operation Okra. In support of a capacity building mission, Task Group Taji's main role has been to provide training to Iraqi forces, during which Australian troops have served alongside troops from New Zealand.[8]

Current deployments

As of 2014 the Australian Army had significant forces deployed in three major operations:[9]

  • Operation Slipper – Australia's commitment to the War on Terror. The Army contribution is primarily concentrated in Afghanistan, including the Mentoring Task Force attached to the US-led Combat Team Oruzgan in Oruzgan Province, consisting of an infantry battalion with attached cavalry, engineer and artillery force elements. Other forces include the Special Operations Task Group which includes SASR and Commando force elements operating in Oruzgan and Kandahar provinces.

ASLAVs in Iraq in 2006.

  • Operation Astute – Approximately 400 Australian personnel and 140 New Zealand personnel operate in East Timor as part of the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) that works in support of the Government of East Timor and the United Nations to maintain peace and stability.
  • Operation Anode – Australia's commitment to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Consists of a 160-strong Combined Task Force. The ADF contributes around 80 to 120 troops to this Task Force
  • Operation Mazurka – Australia's commitment to Multinational Force and Observers (MFO). From 1982–1986, the RAAF provided rotary wing aviation support. Since 1993 the Australian Army has maintained a presence within the organisation. Currently 25 personnel rotate twice a year, being employed in key HQ, operations and logistics positions.
  • Operation Paladin – is the Army's longest ongoing operation, where Australian personnel have served since 1956. Operation Paladin is Australia's contribution to the UN Truce Supervision Organisation that was established in 1948 to supervise the truce agreed at the conclusion of the first Arab/Israeli War.

Current organisation

The Australian Army's structure in 2012

The 1st Division comprises a deployable headquarters, while 2nd Division under the command of Forces Command is the main home-defence formation, containing Army Reserve units. 2nd Division's headquarters only performs administrative functions. The Australian Army has not deployed a divisional-sized formation since 1945 and does not expect to do so in the future.[10]

1st Division

1st Division carries out high-level training activities and deploys to command large-scale ground operations. It does not have any combat units permanently assigned.

Forces Command

Forces Command controls for administrative purposes all non-special-forces assets of the Australian Army. It is neither an operational nor a deployable command.

Additionally, Forces Command includes the following training establishments:

Special Forces

Special Operations Command comprises a command formation of equal status to the other commands in the ADF. It is a brigade-sized formation responsible for all of Australia's special-forces assets.

Planned restructuring

Under a restructuring program known as Plan Beersheba announced in late 2011, the 1st, 3rd and 7th Brigades will re-formed as combined-arms multi-role manoeuvre brigades with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (part of the 3rd Brigade) as the core of a future amphibious force[12] similar to the United States Marine Corps.[13]

Colours, standards and guidons


All colours of the Army were on parade for the centenary of the Army, 10 March 2001.

Infantry, and some other combat units of the Australian Army carry flags called the Queen's Colour and the Regimental Colour, known as "the Colours".[14] Armoured units carry Standards and Guidons – flags smaller than Colours traditionally carried by Cavalry, Lancer, Light Horse and Mounted Infantry units. The 1st Armoured Regiment is the only unit in the Australian Army to carry a Standard, in the tradition of heavy armoured units. Artillery units' guns are considered to be their Colours, and on parade are provided with the same respect.[15] Non-combat units (combat service support corps) do not have Colours, as Colours are battle flags and so are only available to combat units. As a substitute, many have Standards or Banners.[16] Units awarded battle honours have them emblazoned on their Colours, Standards and Guidons. They are a link to the unit's past and a memorial to the fallen. Artillery do not have Battle Honours – their single Honour is "Ubique" which means "Everywhere" – although they can received Honour Titles.[17]


Governor-General Sir William Deane presents the new Army Banner to the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army in 2001.

The Army is the guardian of the National Flag and as such, unlike the Royal Australian Air Force, does not have a flag or Colours. The Army, instead, has a banner, known as the Army Banner. To commemorate the centenary of the Army, the Governor General Sir William Deane, presented the Army with a new Banner at a parade in front of the Australian War Memorial on 10 March 2001. The Banner was presented to the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army (RSM-A), Warrant Officer Peter Rosemond.

The Army Banner bears the Australian Coat of Arms on the obverse, with the dates "1901–2001" in gold in the upper hoist. The reverse bears the "rising sun" badge of the Australian Army, flanked by seven campaign honours on small gold-edged scrolls: South Africa, World War I, World War II, Korea, Malaya-Borneo, South Vietnam, and Peacekeeping. The banner is trimmed with gold fringe, has gold and crimson cords and tassels, and is mounted on a pike with the usual British royal crest finial.[18]



In the 2010–11 financial year the Army had an average strength of 47,135 personnel: 30,235 permanent (regular) and 16,900 active reservists (part-time).[19] In addition there are another 12,496 members of the Standby Reserve.[20] The regular Army is targeted to expand to 31,000 personnel by 2014–15.[19]

Rank and insignia

The ranks of the Australian Army are based on the ranks of the British Army, and carry mostly the same actual insignia. For officers the ranks are identical except for the shoulder title "Australia". The Non-Commissioned Officer insignia are the same up until Warrant Officer ranks, where they are stylised for Australia (for example, using the Australian, rather than the British coat of arms). The ranks of the Australian Army are as follows:

  1. Private (PTE) – E2
  2. Private Proficient (PTE(P)) Also used within the Private equivalent ranks – E3
  3. Lance Corporal or Lance Bombardier (LCPL or LBDR) – E4
  4. Corporal or Bombardier (CPL or BDR) – E5
  5. Sergeant (SGT) – E6
  6. Staff Sergeant (SSGT) – E7
  7. Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) – E8
  8. Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) – E9
  9. Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army (RSM-A) – E10
  10. Second Lieutenant (2LT) – O1
  11. Lieutenant (LT) – O2
  12. Captain (CAPT) – O3
  13. Major (MAJ) – O4
  14. Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) – O5
  15. Colonel (COL) – O6
  16. Brigadier (BRIG) – O7. Like the United Kingdom, prior to 1922 Australia used the rank Brigadier General
  17. Major General (MAJGEN) – O8
  18. Lieutenant General (LTGEN) – O9
  19. General (GEN) – O10
  20. Field Marshal (FM) – O11. This rank is generally reserved for wartime and ceremonial purposes; there are no regular appointments to the rank. Sir Thomas Blamey is the only Australian-born officer promoted to the rank. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is currently the only living holder of the rank of Field Marshal in the Australian Army. The Duke, however, does not have any active role in the Australian command structure.


Small arms F88 Austeyr (service rifle), F89 Minimi (support weapon), Browning Hi-Power (sidearm), MAG-58 (general purpose machine gun), SR-25 (sniper rifle), SR-98 (sniper rifle), HK417 (Designated Marksman rifle), Mk48 Maximi, AW50F
Special forces M4 carbine, Heckler & Koch USP, SR-25, F89 Minimi, MP5, SR-98, Mk48, HK416, HK417, Blaser R93 Tactical, Barrett M82, Mk14 EBR
Main battle tanks 59 M1A1 Abrams
Infantry fighting vehicles 257 ASLAV
Armoured Personnel Carriers 431 M113 Armored Vehicles upgraded to M113AS3/4 standard (around 100 of these will be placed in reserve)
Infantry Mobility Vehicles 838 Bushmaster PMVs,[21][22] 214 more on order as of July 2012 [23] 31 Nary HMT 400 vehicles
Light Utility Vehicles 1,200 G-Wagon 4 × 4 and 6x6, 10,000 Land Rover FFR and GS, 1,295 Unimog 1700L
Artillery 112 L118/L119 105 mm Hamel Guns, 120 M2A2 105 mm Howitzer, 36 M198 155 mm Howitzer, 35 M777A2 155 mm Howitzer, 36 RBS-70 surface to air missile systems.[24][25]
Radar AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radar, AMSTAR Ground Surveillance RADAR, AN/TPQ-48 Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar, GIRAFFE FOC, Portable Search and Target Acquisition Radar - Extended Range.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Insitu Aerosonde, Elbit Systems Skylark and Boeing ScanEagle[26]
Aircraft Type Versions Number in service[27] Notes
OH-58 Kiowa OH-58A Scout helicopter 206B 27 of 56 still in service To be replaced by the Eurocopter Tiger.
Boeing CH-47 Chinook Transport helicopter CH-47D 7 One lost in Afghanistan on 30 May 2011. From an initial fleet of six; two additional CH-47Ds were ordered in December 2011 as attrition replacement and to boost heavy lift capabilities until the delivery of seven CH-47Fs, which will replace the CH-47Ds.[28]
Eurocopter Tiger Attack helicopter Tiger ARH 22 Delivery completed early July 2011
Sikorsky S-70 Blackhawk Utility helicopter S-70A-9 35 To be eventually replaced by the MRH 90
MRH 90 Utility helicopter TTH: Tactical Transport Helicopter 15(40) As of 2011, used for testing and training purposes. Total of 46 on order (including 6 for Royal Australian Navy)

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Army bases

The Army's operational headquarters, Forces Command, is located at Victoria Barracks in Sydney. The Australian Army 's three regular brigades are based at Robertson Barracks near Darwin, Lavarack Barracks in Townsville and Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane. The Deployable Joint Force Headquarters is also located at Gallipoli Barracks.

Other important Army bases include the Army Aviation Centre near Oakey, Queensland, Holsworthy Barracks near Sydney, Lone Pine Barracks in Singleton, New South Wales and Woodside Barracks near Adelaide, South Australia. The SASR is based at Campbell Barracks Swanbourne, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia.

Puckapunyal north of Melbourne, Victoria houses the Australian Army's Combined Arms Training Centre, Land Warfare Development Centre, and three of the five principal Combat Arms schools. Further barracks include Steele Barracks in Sydney, Keswick Barracks in Adelaide, and Irwin Barracks at Karrakatta in Perth. Dozens of Australian Army Reserve depots are located across Australia.

See also


  1. "Defence Act (1903) – SECT 9 Command of Defence Force and arms of Defence Force". Australasian Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  2. Grey 2008, pp. 88 & 147.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Odgers 1988, p. 5.
  4. Grey 2008, pp. 200–201.
  5. Odgers 1988.
  6. Grey 2008, pp. 284–285.
  7. "Australian War Memorial Official History of Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations". Retrieved 4 April 2009. 
  8. Department of Defence (15 April 2015). "Troops to deploy to Iraq". Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2019. 
  9. "Global Operations". Department of Defence. Australian Government. 3 March 2010. Archived from the original on 20 October 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  10. Horner 2001, p. 195.
  11. "Forces Command". Australian Army. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  12. "Defence announces major Army restructure". ABC Online. 12 December 2011. 
  13. "Specialist force trained for East Timor-style operations". Herald Sun. Australia. 12 December 2012. 
  14. Jobson 2009, p. 53.
  15. Jobson 2009, pp. 55–56.
  16. "National Flags, Military Flags, & Queens and Regimental Colours". Digger History. Archived from the original on 5 April 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2007. 
  17. Jobson 2009, p. 58.
  18. "Army Flags (Australia)". Flags of the World. Archived from the original on 3 April 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2007. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 Department of Defence (2011). Portfolio Budget Statements 2011–12: Defence Portfolio. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-642-29739-6. 
  20. Australian National Audit Office (2009). Army Reserve Forces. Audit Report No.31 2008–09. Canberra: Australian National Audit Office. ISBN 0-642-81063-X. 
  21. "Contract Signed for Additional Bushmasters". The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Minister for Defence. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2008. 
  22. "More vehicles on the way". Canberra: Australian Department of Defence. 26 May 2011. p. 16. 
  23. "Australian Army orders additional Bushmasters from Thales". Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  24. "Australian Military Strength". Retrieved 14 March 2008. 
  25. 57 M777A2 and an as yet unannounced self-propelled gun are set to replace both 105 mm and 155 mm systems used by the artillery units of the Australian Regular Army.
  26. "Army Technology". Defence Jobs. Retrieved 31 January 2011. 
  27. "2009 World Military Aircraft Inventory – Australia". Aviation Week & Space Technology. 26 January 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2010. [dead link]
  28. "Defence to buy two more Chinook choppers". ninemsn. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 


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