CoveTalk | RSM-A Panel

The Cove, in conjunction with the Blamey Barracks Sergeants Mess, was pleased to bring you this very special livestream from the Home of the Soldier. This event was hosted by WO1 Mark Grigg on Thursday, 12 October. 

This panel brings together six of the last twelve Regimental Sergeant Majors of the Army to gave us an insight into their careers and provided useful advice on soldiering, leadership and more.

The RSM-A Panel consisted of:

12th RSM of the Army

Warrant Officer Kim Felmingham, NSC, OAM

11th RSM of the Army

Warrant Officer Grant McFarlane, AM

10th RSM of the Army

Mr Don Spinks, AM

9th RSM of the Army

Warrant Officer David Ashley, AM

7th RSM of the Army

Mr Kevin Woods, CSC, OAM

5th RSM of the Army

Mr Peter Rosemond, CSC, OAM

This was the first time since 1983 (when the first RSM-A was appointed), that such an event like this has occurred. Each of the participants progressed through the ranks on very different career paths to become the senior soldier of our Army, providing a wealth of experience for the audience to tap into. This was an amazing opportunity to hear about their lived experiences, whilst receiving advice on the evolving requirements of the Australian soldier. And with collectively over 200 years of service, discussed what they had witnessed as our Army developed and evolved in order to meet the needs of the day, they didn’t disappoint.

The event was hosted by The Cove’s own WO1 Mark Grigg, who directed the following questions to the RSM-As’:

  1. In 1993, when Wally Thompson was appointed as the Australian Army’s first RSM-A, how have you seen the role of the RSM-A evolve and why does it remain so important for our Army into the future?
  2. We are all stewards within this great institution, what stands out for you as your greatest impact or achievement during your time as a soldier?
  3. Passing on knowledge, training and developing has always been important in Army; for the instructors in our training establishments today, or for those soldiers considering being instructors in the future, what advice do you have for them?
  4. War has always driven innovation and technology advances. How important was an innovative mindset for Army’s soldiers throughout your service and how important do you see an innovated mindset for our soldiers into the future?
  5. What is the toughest decision you ever had to support in your career, why was it tough and do you still stand by that support?
  6. As Master Trainers and experts within their chosen employment category, what is the strength or value that you see our WO1s need to continue to bring to our Army?
  7. What advice do you have that will assist NCOs and WOs as they support officers in decision making?
  8. What is the one piece of advice you would give your former soldier self that may assist our current serving soldiers to have a rich and enjoyable career in Army?

Questions from the audience were as follows:

  1. WO1 Cliffy Lyons (ALTC) – Is there something if you could bookend from your last day in uniform to where you are now, is there one thing through your lens of experience is when you look back into the organisation of Army now is there one key thing that stands out that differs from your experience when you were in uniform?
  2. WO Ken Robertson (Senior Enlisted Advisor to CDF) – What advice would you give soldiers to successfully work and operate in a joint environment?
  3. WO2 James Long (3 BDE) – The technological advancement in equipment and weaponry is a 'gimmie' on the road to 2040. Using recent world events as an example, how much emphasis should we continue to incorporate on mastering the basic analogue skills that can not be technologically overmatched?

Some important quotes that we took from the board are as follows:

  • “Stewardship of the organisation is everyone’s responsibility. Strive to leave an inheritance for others that follow; it’s not about leaving a legacy,” – WO Kim Felmingham
  • “Live your life and career tenaciously; you will get out of your career what you put into it” – WO Dave Ashley
  • “Challenge yourself and learn something new every day.” – WO Grant McFarlane
  • “We need to be more compassionate with our people, we all make mistakes.” – Mr Kev Woods
  • “Every soldier is a volunteer, so assume they are all here to be their best.” – Mr Pedro Rosemond
  • “Don’t not be heard, it is your responsibility to give advice.” – Mr Don Spinks

The Cove would like to thank the following people for their support with the preparation and execution of the livestream:

  • SGT Elizabeth Flook (PA to RSM-A)
  • PMC (WO1 Damien Woolfe) and members of the Blamey Barracks Sergeants Mess
  • Multi Media Technicians from HQ FORCOMD – CPL Sharnee Ainsworth and CPL Shannon Gordon
  • Command Sergeant Major Forces Command – WO1 Darren Murch
  • Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army – WO Kim Felmingham

For more CoveTalks, check out The Cove’s Features.