It was interesting to read the article by Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) researcher Antonis Kamaras from Greece, published in Kathimerini newspaper on October 22. The article discusses the importance of in-country high-quality defense studies. It also mentions Australia as an example of a country that, through its White Paper and other publications, aims for a clear defense doctrine and analysis of the future challenges the Australian Defense Force (ADF) is likely to face.
Australia enjoys an excellent reputation among its allies regarding the quality of its Defense Force.
However, apart from the high-quality defense studies offered by universities and other education providers, an understated fact is that this reputation is the result of a very flexible recruitment program, which allows people of various ages and walks of life to join.
As an Australian citizen who emigrated from Greece 11 years ago and recently graduated from the RAAF Officers Training School at the age of 34, I consider myself privileged to have been a part of such a recruitment program. I was able to witness how this flexibility significantly increases the ability of a defense force to attract people who have the right qualities and the desire to serve.
With a dedicated, user-friendly website featuring all available jobs across the three services, it was not difficult to find a job that suited my interests. All advertised positions have a clear outline of the duties involved, salary expectations, posting locations, as well as age, educational and fitness requirements.
In my case, as a logistics officer in the Air Force, I was able to join in my mid-30s (the maximum age upon entry is set at 57) provided I passed a series of aptitude tests assessing my verbal, spatial and numerical abilities, and met the minimum educational, health and fitness standards for my age group.
Following that, there would be a series of interviews with psychologists and members of the ADF, along with a series of classroom-based individual and group exercises that assessed teamwork, presentation and soft skills.
As a general rule, anyone can join the ADF provided they can meet their minimum service obligations prior to the compulsory retiring age for a specific role (60 for a logistics officer). Furthermore, in its quest to remain an attractive employer, the ADF takes into consideration any previous relevant employment experience and, in my case, my postgraduate studies. This enabled me to be appointed a flying officer, a rank above entry level following completion of the Officers Training School.
This recruitment system creates a win-win situation for the government and job seekers, whether they are looking for their first role or interested in switching careers. Being able to recruit and even re-enlist people in their 30s, 40s and 50s allows the ADF to attract candidates with a wealth of experience in life and employment. Their perspectives, wisdom and skills substantially shape the ADF at both the strategic and tactical levels, allowing it to continuously evolve and remain agile.
It also underlines the fact that age is not a limiting factor. Through a well-structured training program, anyone can unleash their potential – especially when they are willing to commit to a career of safeguarding their country’s national defense and security interests.
Finally, the ADF has demonstrated a positive response to the challenges associated with the current pandemic. The ADF attracted an estimated 19.8% more applicants across Australia in 2020 who saw the Defense Force as an organization that offers a stable working environment with an excellent array of benefits. Such a system can be nothing but beneficial for a country’s national defense and security endeavors.
Flying Officer Antonios Vlachos (Royal Australian Air Force) holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International & European Studies from the University of Piraeus and a Master of Advanced Studies majoring in Strategic Affairs from the Australian National University.