22 December 2023

Founding head of Defence Space Command hands over to new leader

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Defence Space Command

Outgoing Commander AVM Cath Roberts hands over Defence Space Command to Major General Greg Novak. Photo: ADF.

The founding head of the Australian Defence Force’s new Space Command, Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts has handed the reins over to her replacement, Major General Greg Novak.

“Serving as the inaugural Defence Space Commander has been a privilege,” AVM Roberts said in a release.

“I’m most proud of the progress we have made in defining a whole new space career pathway, with our budding and talented space workforce being able to be recognised as space professionals.”

A highly regarded aerospace engineer by trade, AVM Roberts has had a distinguished air force career, working on important projects such as the comprehensive and multiphased Project AIR 5376 F/A-18 Hornet Upgrade Program, and as the Director General of the AIR 6000 New Air Combat Capability (NACC) program for which the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) selected the Lockheed Martin F-35A.

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She also served as Head Aerospace Systems and Director General Aerospace Combat Systems in the Capability Acquisition & Sustainment Group (CASG), and as the inaugural Head of Air Force Capability.

AVM Roberts is also a self-confessed ‘sci-fi junkie’, and in 2021 said of her then-new role, “To reach for the stars and actually get there is a phenomenal feeling. As an aerospace engineer I have always been fascinated by space – the ultimate high ground.”

The establishment of Space Command was announced in May 2021, and it was formally stood up in January 2022. It was established to deliver and manage a range of current and new Australian Defence Force (ADF) space and terrestrial-based capabilities over the next few decades, including satellite-based communications (SATCOM), earth observation capabilities, terrestrial-based low-earth orbit observations telescopes and radars, and earth and space-based electronic warfare systems.

Initially falling under the oversight of the RAAF, Defence Space Command was transferred to the Joint Capabilities Group (JCG) in July 2023.

AVM Cath Roberts

AVM Cath Roberts salutes a guard of honour as she departs Space Command headquarters at Canberra’s Brindabella Park. Photo: ADF.

In leaving the role, AVM Roberts said she was pleased with the progress Space Command had made in delivering on the lines of effort in the Defence Space Strategy and recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review (DSR).

“We are also well on the way to developing a resilient space architecture with our international and industry partners,” she said.

“We are now on the cusp of ADF personnel being able to opt into a career in space. This will allow people, regardless of their service, to build deep professional mastery in their chosen field through education, experience and exposure.

“Major General Novak has extensive operational and space experience locally and overseas, commanding deployed forces and working with United States Strategic Command in strategic deterrence, space – as an operational domain – and integrated global operations,” she added.

“I confidently hand over to Major General Novak, who will lead the command through the evolve stage, and continue to oversee implementation of DSR space priorities.”

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Major General Novak was most recently commander of the Australian Army’s 6th Brigade which is responsible for specialised intelligence, electronic warfare, military policing, ground-based air defence and force-level engineering effects.

“After an extremely rewarding two years at 6th Brigade, there’s nowhere in Defence I’d rather be than here in Defence Space Command,” Major General Novak said. “It’s a young command with important work to do and a clear strategy to get after it.

“Defence Space Command is uniquely positioned to shape space power for the ADF’s integrated force now and into the future.

“We’ve got great people working alongside like-minded space counterparts from Defence, government, industry, academia and our international partners,” he added. “Together, we’re all going to be working hard to operationalise, modernise and maximise space power for the ADF and Australia.

“I’m looking forward to building on the strong foundation that’s been laid and continuing to take Defence Space Command forward during my tenure.”

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liberalsocialist10:37 am 01 Jan 24

What a waste of personnel and money. Let’s sort out the lack of personnel and equipment in terrestrial domains before we play this silly game that Australia, at best, has a minute contribution to offer.

I was hoping for Buzz Lightyear. Oh well never mind. To infinity and beyond.

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