Home' Navy News : June 23rd 2011 Contents Suite 104
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June 23, 2011
NO REGRETS: CDF ACM
Angus Houston reflects on
his career in his office at
Russell Offices and, inset,
ACM Houston greets mem-
bers of HMAS Parramatta's
ship's company during their
2010 Operation Slipper
Photos: FSGT John Carroll and
ABET Nathan Jeal
By SGT Andrew Hetherington
IF A Royal Air Force assessor had done
his job correctly in 1966, then ACM
Angus Houston would never have led
"I sat in the cockpit of a Jet Provost
for an ejection seat height assessment to
join the RAF as a pilot," ACM Houston
"The seat had been left in the fully up
position and the individual who gave me
the cockpit check to determine if I was
the suitable height for aircrew training
didn't know how the seat worked.
"The result was me being rejected
for being too tall right from the outset.
I guess it was a turning point in my life,
because if it had gone another way I
don't know what would have happened."
Four years later ACM Houston suc-
ceeded in his ambition to become a mili-
tary pilot by joining the RAAF.
In 1970 he began a distinguished
career in the RAAF spanning more than
He became CAF in 2001 and CDF
With all of his life and career experi-
ence, what ACM Houston will reflect
on most in retirement will not be the
exhilaration of flying or planning war
operations, but the people with whom he
served with and led.
"What I will look back on is 41-and-
a-half years of wonderful people," he
"I will miss them. It's an incredible
privilege to command the ADF; man for
man and woman for woman we have the
best defence force in the world."
One of the high points of ACM
Houston's career was witnessing the
ADF's ability to meld people from all
three Services, and Defence civilians,
into an operational team.
"It's quite spectacular the effect you
can get by taking all of that expertise,
enthusiasm and talent and sending it
off to do something as a team," ACM
The lowest point during his time as
CDF was the loss of ADF personnel on
The responsibility of announcing to
Australia the death of one of his peo-
ple meant much more to him than just
speaking to the cameras. Each announce-
ment was made with humility and com-
He said there was a great sense of
sadness and loss associated with the
deaths, which became very clear each
time he engaged with the families.
"It was important I focused on
announcing the bad news, answering
the questions from the media and then
ensuring everything went to plan in
terms of the repatriation of the individual
and to support the families 100 per cent."
During his career ACM Houston said
he had no idea he would ever occupy the
office of CDF.
"Did I ever think I would get here as
CDF? No way. I was a helicopter pilot
in the Air Force. I don't know why I
emerged as CDF and I've never pursued
or worried about it as the important thing
was to focus on the job and get on with
it." Although he doesn't have a new
career planned after July 4, he does
know what he will do the day after he
finishes his busy role.
"I actually finish work one minute
past midnight on July 3, so I'll just go
to bed, roll over, go to sleep, knowing
I'm not going to get a phone call in the
night," ACM Houston said.
"On July 4, I will get up and I'll
either go for a long run or bike ride."
His parting message to the ADF is
simple -- keep doing what you are doing.
"Your professionalism, dedication
and ability to work in teams makes
you a very capable, impressive defence
force," he said.
"No matter the diversity of the task,
nor the uncertainty of the situation, nor
the short notice for deployment, I can
tell you that in the last six years I have
never been disappointed in what you
have been able to achieve on operations.
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