Liz Cosson - 20 years preparation
Most of my roles were in logistics appointments for example in supply battalions. Down in Bandiana was my first posting in the warehouse. Then I became an administrative officer. Then I went to Sydney, where I ran a clothing store in Sydney and I then had opportunities to go up to Oakey, where I started to stream myself into aviation, spare parts, and I worked in the warehouse there.
So I was predominantly in logistics, streaming myself into aviation logistics, because I did enjoy that and had the opportunity to introduce with the Air Force logistics command, to introduce our Blackhawks. We used to have, the Air Force used to look after rotary wing and army took over rotary wing aircraft in the early 90s and that was my role to work with the Air Force and Army engineers to start to transfer all the rotary wing capability to army and introduce the Blackhawks.
And then we saw Cambodia where we had to deploy the fleet of Blackhawks into Cambodia, we had some real issues with supply chain and spare parts and I learned a great deal in hard work, but also learning our role and learning the importance of capability and particularly aviation capability. And that actually, I then was fortunate to be selected to go to Staff College down at Queenscliff with two girls with a group of male colleagues and Nova crouch and I did that here and once again, learning and just being able to demonstrate that women can do whatever women can, what they want to do, and the capacity and the capability.
So beyond Staff College, I then went into the land army and it wasn't that common back then. I went into the land army and went up to Townsville and served with the brigade but also served with reserves in Townsville, and learnt so much about reserves, and I've got so much admiration for our reserve force. People don't really understand that they have a daytime job and they commit to doing this in their spare time.
So I learned about that and then I went to the land headquarters as it was then or forces command now and Timor. Timor started where we were about to deploy our forces into East Timor first time, large contingents, first time since Vietnam. And as a logistician, understanding what we needed to do when a lot of our logistics support had been outsourced, we really had lost sight of a lot of our military equipment, and we needed that, we needed to know where it was, we needed to set up robust supply chains to make sure when we put boots on the ground in East Timor, we were able to sustain the force.
And it was really important work that we were doing and we had such a great team of larger stations and ops team and planning team. And we had great leadership from the land commander down, to get that force ready and it was such a privilege to be there doing that and doing that planning and then to be there when the troops boots were on the ground.
It was a challenging time and a lot of people don't understand that build up. But also to make sure that whatever we were doing back here in Australia, we're going to keep our troops safe. We had great commanders, General Cosgrove, of course, really inspired me so much.
When we also had troops on the ground in Bougainville at the time with the Peace monitoring group, and my role was there looking at forced rotation, and we were looking at the people going into Bougainville, and we were making sure that we're able to commit our forces to East Timor, but also make sure that we didn't lose sight of what the important work that was underway in Bougainville, that when I was selected to go as the chief of staff to Bougainville.
As I said, at the early part of my interview, that apprehension was there a little bit, I hadn't deployed anyway, but only been doing the planning and in the operations back here in Australia to say, "Okay, I'm now going to go into Bougainville", and I remember my colonel, he was the colonel for logistics support, and he said to me, "You prepared for this for 20 years, you can do this, just stretch yourself. Back yourself in, you're gonna do it". And I did it. And so when I hit the ground, got off the Herc and the team were there, and who was taking over from the chief of staff and the commander was there. I knew I'm ready for this. And then you just go,