The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies NSW
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From the President
The President's Christmas 2020 Address - handout linked below
Firstly, I would like to express my thanks for the honour of being elected as your President of this prestigious and historic Institute
I very clearly want to acknowledge the very significant achievements which have occurred and been finalised under our previous two Presidents - BRIG David Leece, and MAJGEN Paul Irving.
In particular, I wish to recognise their central role in successfully negotiating an agreement to occupy, and then assisting with the design and build, and then organising the move to our new RUSI (NSW) location - a permanent home in an absolutely unique and highly significant and prestigious location in the Hyde Park Anzac Memorial. This move is a highlight achievement in the long history of our RUSI, and this outcome is very strongly due to the efforts both David and Paul but especially of Paul our outgoing President.
I also want to pay a separate tribute to our Journal Editor David Leece - who despite serious personal health issues, has continued to produce our very high quality journal editions - always on time.
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).
Developing Our Vision for RUSI (NSW)
I want to acknowledge that I represent a 'sea change' of those who have been viewed as acceptable to be President of the RUSI, and my willingness to stand for election is strongly associated with my personal "strategic scan" of how I view the opportunities and challenges available to the RUSI (NSW).
From my perspective here are the 'big issues' that are strongly influencing my present thinking:-
• COVID 19 and its associated policies and restrictions have very much 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).
• The recent and very obvious public concerns raised by the enquiry and report into some alleged 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.
I am also heartened by the following growing opportunities which I have observed during my last few years on the RUSI (NSW) Board:-
• The very promising growth in our RUSI (NSW) electronic presence and influence in the measurable way(s) that our online lectures and articled are being increasingly accessed from all around the world.
• The growth in partnership opportunities (with the RAN in Particular) for the RUSI to recognise distinguished achievement in NSW Based ADF training courses.
• The emerging recognition that we (RUSI-NSW) need to focus on Defence industries that are NSW based or focused for any potential partnerships, 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 significant involvement by those who cannot make a CBD Based weekday lunchtime based event.
• The very great appeal of our new location 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 initial thinking as President.
Some Current Challenges
I acknowledge that I have not confirmed any of the following with our new Board, and it is certainly my strong intention to engage all Board members in any final policy decisions and I confirm that we will run a full Board planning session as early as possible in 2021.
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 War 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 the 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 new Board, and I thank each of them for their willingness to serve in this important role.
• 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 look forward to the challenges and stimuli of becoming RUSI (NSW) President at this fascinating and challenging time.
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".