Adrian John Harding | 52 | Australian Army

Adrian John Harding | 52 | Australian Army

Served 21 years SERCAT7 (regular Army), 14 years SERCAT5 (active reserve) – still lucky enough to be serving as SO1 Soldier Career Manager – Eastern Region

Lieutenant Colonel, Royal Australian Engineers – RAE

Medals and citations: United Nations Peacekeeping Medal with UNSCOM Clasp (Iraq). Australian Service Medal.

Primary job: Royal Australian Engineer (RAE) Officer. Mainly serving in command, project management roles in construction and acquisition areas. Lucky enough to become an EOD Technician and study NBC Defence to support activities in Iraq post-Gulf War 1.

“Be brilliant at the basics!”

What rank are you most proud to have earned, and why? Captain – I was idealistic, young and energetic, working with soldiers, serving in overseas roles and felt I was making a difference – assisting with the clearances of explosive ordnance and making the world safer for citizens and our soldiers.

If you could impart any words of wisdom from yourself and/or any of your fallen comrades, what would it be? What would they want future generations to know? I think the fundamental and successful Australian middle power concept that we must retain is the demonstrated independent legal and moral use of controlled force to achieve outcomes in Australia’s national interest. History will judge our actions, so we must be clear at the outset and through the engagement what we are and how we will participate. Every member of the ADF has the responsibility to execute their duty in accordance with that imprimatur. 

What do you want people to remember about your service? I hope that I am remembered as being a loyal, professional and dedicated member of the ADF, the Army and the RAE. I hope that I have made a meaningful contribution of service.

What was the best and worst 'military' food you were served, and why? Fish head soup and rice. That’s what happens when you get retired SASR members to run your Unit adventure training!

What effect did your military experience have on your life? The military defined my entire adult life experience. I knew I was joining the Army at 14 YOA. At 16 YOA I received a scholarship to Duntroon and graduated at 20 YOA. During the next 16 years in regular service, I made lifelong friends – including my RAN wife - started a family and developed my military skills in support of the ADF and travelled across Australia and the world.

I transferred to SERCAT 5 but never really transitioned – even now, I am closely involved in soldier career management in NSW/ACT as part of a National Directorate. This work has become more engaging with the recent fires, floods and COVID19. It is an honour to be able to serve Australia and her citizens in any way as a part of the ADF.

Funny recollection during time of service:

Australians are well known for their convict heritage. At the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, Dawn Fraser was accused of stealing an Olympic flag from a flagpole outside Emperor Hirohito's palace, the Kōkyo. She was arrested but released without charge. In the end she was given the flag as a souvenir. I have seen similar behaviour amongst service personnel. For the Military, this character trait is worn as a badge of honour.

During training and operational activities, Australian service men and women will (on occasion) see opportunities to ‘liberate’ items of memorabilia for ‘historical records’. Most Unit recreation areas or ‘Boozers’ will have road signs and paraphernalia that reminds them of an exercise location or training venue. Legend has it that following the declaration of war against Germany in 1939, Cadets at RMC Duntroon ‘accessed’ the German Embassy and took souvenirs that still adorn the Cadet Quarter Bar to this day. Whilst I was serving with UNSCOM in al Muthana in Iraq, a small group of Australians hatched an elaborate plan to ‘liberate’ the ballistic nose cone from an Iraqi Al Hussein/modified SCUD missile and bring it back to Australia. Long story short, it now resides at the Australian War Memorial in the Gulf War section.

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