From the President
Firstly, I would like to express my pride for in serving as the President of this prestigious and historic Institute- RUSI NSW.
I very clearly want to acknowledge the growing benefits to RUSI NSW of our prestigious and culturally very significant location within the new extension of the Anzac Memorial at Hyde Park NSW.
As acknowledged in my first report as President nearly 12 months ago, this 'permanent home' for RUSI NSW represents a superb outcome achieved and finalised, under our previous two Presidents - BRIG David Leece, and MAJGEN Paul Irving.
To both of our Past Presidents, please accept our sincere thank you for the enormous effort(s) that you have made in stabilising and securing the long-term future of RUSI (NSW).
Implementing Our Vision for RUSI (NSW)
I acknowledged previously that I represent a 'sea change' of those who have been viewed as acceptable to be President of the RUSI and in my first year of Presidency, I identified and attempted to deal with the following opportunities and challenges available to the RUSI (NSW)
The 'big issues' that are strongly influencing my present thinking and actions:-
• COVID 19 and its associated policies and restrictions has changed the way we behave and work - both in personal and professional activities. In practice many of us have had to learn to relate by technology rather than face to face, and this has accelerated our (already underway) move towards an 'online' RUSI (NSW).
• We live in an increasingly unstable and disrupted Asia Pacific region- which is both becoming more unpredictable and dangerous- at the same time as it is becoming the focus of world power attention. One (already occurring) outcome is a greater focus on defence issues by both Governments and the general community. A closely related subset is the rapid acceptance by the community - at a time of great stress caused by natural disasters, of the changing peacetime "within Australia" role(s) of the ADF (e.g. acceptance of a 'civil defence' type role for the ADF).
• The very obvious public concerns raised by the enquiries and reports into the ADF, ranging from criticism of equipment purchase decisions, through to alleged inappropriate ADF practices in Afghanistan, and the social media commentaries that are and still will be unleashed - which will affect both serving and ex ADF members in very unpredictable ways.
*The fact that the 'traditional source of supply' of RUSI NSW senior members- generally from CMF/ A Res units and formations has largely gone, and we now have a very different force structure which de-emphasizes the independent A Res formations and this has a flow on effect on our long term viability and appeal as RUSI NSW
I am trying to test our future growth 'opportunities' by developing appropriate policies through either our RUSI (NSW) Board OR through a reinvigorated RUSI National Board:-
• The very promising growth in our RUSI's electronic presence and influence in the measurable way(s) that our online lectures, seminars and articles are being increasingly accessed from all around the world.
• The growth in partnership opportunities for RUSI NSW (e.g. with the ADF NSW based formations) for recognition of distinguished achievement in NSW Based ADF training courses.
• The emerging recognition that we (RUSI-NSW) need to focus more on partnering with Defence industries that are NSW based or focused, whilst acknowledging the need for a strong National RUSI Network to appeal to Australia and nationally focused Defence industries.
• The new capabilities of technology now enable us to have international / non-local guest speakers, as well as moving to significant involvement by those who cannot make a CBD Based weekday lunchtime-based event.
• The very great appeal of our new location within the Anzac Memorial to engage and impress visitors to our office and library
This is a very personal selection, and it is presented so RUSI members can at least understand the logic or factors presently driving my ongoing thinking as President RUSI NSW. and actions
Some Current Challenges
My current thinking on our RUSI Challenges is that they are:-
• We need to develop a strong value proposition that appeals to our major client groups which certainly include (or we should attempt to include):-
- Our traditional membership who expect the opportunity to physically attend significant RUSI (NSW) events - mostly at the Hyde Park Anzac Memorial complex.
- Our Serving ADF potential partners - such that RUSI NSW programs offers truly relevant and professionally helpful activities- in whatever ways we can, that will enable serving ADF members to benefit from and then support RUSI (NSW).
- Defence NSW and its associated network of industries - such that they grow to regard RUSI (NSW) as a valued partner.
- Selected University or professional groups who would like to benefit from the library assets AND the current programs and capabilities of the RUSI (NSW).
- Those individuals, groups or organisations from the general public who wish to be engaged and stimulated with significant Defence related issues as presented by RUSI(NSW).
• We need to work with other RUSI Branches and RUSI (National) in particular, to strengthen our collective capabilities, in order to attract active interest and support from National or International Defence industry(ies).
• We need to build on the strengths of our Board members and supporters, and I acknowledge that there is a very significant range of interests and expertise in our Board, and I thank each of them for their willingness to serve in this important role. However, a constant challenge is RENEWAL, and I do hope that we get some nominations for new Board members in our Dec 2021 RUSI NSW AGM
• We need to maximise the use of technology and systems - so that our RUSI (NSW) volunteers realise that every hour they can commit to RUSI (NSW) gives them high levels of satisfaction and personal return for their efforts.
• We need to set new and realistic RUSI (NSW) success factors- measures that recognise that we are reaching and influencing many organisations and individuals who are beyond, and are in addition to, those who are fortunate enough to be able to attend physical activities in the Sydney region at time that have historically suited the RUSI (NSW) traditional members.
I am enjoying the challenges and stimuli of being the RUSI (NSW) President at this fascinating and challenging time- during which some major significant events such as the recent AUKUS agreement to acquire nuclear propulsion submarines, means that RUSI NSW has major but as yet unresolved opportunities to re-invigorate its role of informing debate on Defence and Security Issues.
I am particularly heartened by the very warm advice and support that I have experienced this year from many sources, but in particular from our Vice Patrons. I would like to pay a particular tribute to the support of current and previous RUSI NSW Board members
Again, I thank all who have made it possible for me to experience this privilege, and I look forward to working collaboratively with the Board and our members as we meet these current challenges.
We are all reminded of the Confucian Curse: "May You Live In Interesting times".
President RUSI NSW