The Federal Government has announced the creation of a new service head position for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to manage ADF personnel.
The 25 May announcement will see Major General Natasha Fox – currently the Deputy Chief of Army – promoted to Lieutenant General and appointed as the inaugural Chief of Personnel from 5 June.
The establishment of the position marks the seventh three-star position in the ADF – after the Chiefs of Air Force, Army and Navy (CAF, CA, CN), the Chief of Joint Capabilities (CJC), the Chief of Joint Operations Command (CJOC), and the Vice Chief of Defence Force (VCDF) – and is the first three-star appointment of a female officer in the ADF.
All three-star positions report to the four-star Chief of Defence Force (CDF), currently General Angus Campbell.
The appointment is the result of a key recommendation of the Defence Strategic Review (DSR), which was released to the public in April.
The DSR recognised that the ADF is facing significant “workforce challenges” across all areas of the ADF, APS and defence industry, and said that an “innovative and bold approach to recruitment and retention” was required.
“Without creative and flexible responses, the workforce situation in Defence will continue to deteriorate,” it said. “Policy, process, risk appetite and approaches to recruitment must change to increase the speed of recruitment from application to enlistment and recruitment. Recruitment time must be achieved in days, not months.”
In response, the DSR recommended that “options should be developed to change Defence’s recruitment framework to improve the eligibility pool of potential applications and to align service recruitment requirements to military employment”.
It also recommended that “ADF personnel management should be centralised into a single integrated system that is headed by a Chief of Personnel reporting directly to Chief of the Defence Force”, and that a “comprehensive strategic review of the ADF Reserves, including consideration of the reintroduction of a Ready Reserve Scheme, should be conducted by 2025”.
The announcement said Major General Fox’s appointment complemented the Government’s $400 million pledge on 2 May that it would boost retention bonuses and look to make Defence Housing more accessible.
Major General Fox attended the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in 1988 and graduated from the Royal Military College (RMC) Duntroon in 1991. A Defence bio says her foundation appointments were in logistics and logistics planning, and training positions. She became the Commanding Officer and Chief Instructor at the ADFA, for which she received a Conspicuous Service Cross.
She has served in the ADF’s Forces Command, Joint Logistics Command, Special Operations Command, Training Command – Army, and Defence People Group. She has deployed to Lebanon, Syria and Israel, and was the Chief of Staff for Joint Task Force (JTF) 633 in the UAE, for which she was appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM). Major General Fox was appointed Deputy Chief of Army on 2 February, 2022.
“Major General Fox brings over 35 years of experience in leadership, and personnel and workforce management to the new role of Chief of Personnel,” Defence Minister Richard Marles said in the release.
“We want more Australians to experience a rich and rewarding career with Defence. A Defence career is one that provides fulfilling and well-paid work, job security, and world-class training and education opportunities.
Minister for Defence Personnel Matt Keogh added: “I look forward to working with Major General Fox, alongside Deputy Secretary Defence People, Ms Justine Greig, to transform the Defence people system to continue to support and enable our Defence workforce and future capability.”