The Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army mark 120 years of service to the country on Monday (1 March), with personnel and veterans around the country commemorating all they have achieved.

Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr and Private Harrison Nguyen cut the Australian Army’s birthday cake, at the 120th birthday of the Australian Army celebration, held at Russell Offices, Canberra. (PHOTO: ADF)

Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester congratulated the two services on this significant milestone and acknowledged the almost two million Australians who had served throughout history, many of whom were in the Navy or Army. “Since 1901, the men and women of the Navy and Army have served with distinction, through war and peace, and more recently as part of major domestic operations,” Chester said. In the past year, Navy and Army have faced new and unexpected challenges as part of the Australian Government’s responses to bushfires, a global pandemic and other humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

“They have been the reassuring faces in our communities, whether it was helping with coronavirus testing checkpoints or evacuating families from bushfire ravaged areas, and while a lot has changed over the last 120 years, the dedication, skills and willingness of our men and women in uniform to help has never wavered,” Chester added. “Today is also an important day to thank all those families who have supported our personnel throughout history, and those that continue to support them today. Happy birthday to the Navy and Army, and to the personnel who have and still do wear those uniforms with pride, thank you for your service.”

The Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army formed on 1 March 1901, through the amalgamation of the Australian colonial forces following Federation. At the time, they were known as the Commonwealth Naval Forces and Commonwealth Military Forces. Their current titles were officially granted in 1911 and 1980 respectively. This year also marks an important milestone for the Royal Australian Air Force, which will be celebrating its 100th birthday on 31 March 2021.

Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, said the birthday celebrations marked Army’s service to the Nation in war and peace, since 1901. “Today we recognise those two million Australians who have worn, and continue to wear, the slouch hat and Rising Sun, at home and abroad,” Burr said, adding that while it is important to reflect on Army’s history, the celebrations were an opportunity to look to the future, given the significant investment that government is making in Army over the next decade.
“We are 120 years young, and a dynamic and demanding future lies ahead – the capability and organisational changes for our Army are exciting. We will address the challenges of the future by looking forward, working with and learning from other groups and services in Defence, and with government, industry and allies.”
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, said Navy can draw strength and honour from humble beginnings 120 years ago. “We are far from the fledgling naval force formed in the autumn of 1901,” Noonan, adding that he acknowledged the importance of Navy people and roles they have played in this development. “Our competitive advantage is our Navy family, all those who have contributed past and present. In the past year, the Royal Australian Navy has faced new and unexpected challenges as part of the Australian government’s responses to bushfires, a global pandemic and other humanitarian and disaster relief operations.”


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