Royal Australian Air Force’s ability to adapt to changing needs was evident when Combat Support Group (CSG) evolved from Operational Support Group on 18 May 1998.
CAPTION: Royal Australian Air Force Combat Support Group aviators march behind Combat Support Groups banner celebrating the group’s 25th birthday, during the Anzac Day 2023 parade in Brisbane, Queensland. Story by Flight Lieutenant Suellen Heath. Photo by Corporal Kieren Whiteley.
Now celebrating 25 years of projecting airpower, CSG is still evolving to meet the growing demands of ensuring the safety of Australians and their allies.
Knowing this all too well is Warrant Officer Anthony Hartley, Headquarters CSG, who has spent most of his 29 years’ service as an airfield defence guard in CSG.
“An airfield defence guard is one capability that is reviewed continuously and adapts as we contribute to a secure and safe operating environment through the conduct of specialist security operations to protect air operations across the full spectrum on ground,” Warrant Officer Hartley said.
“Over the years, the way we secure the airbase operating environment has evolved greatly with one of the greatest changes occurring in more recent years.
“As our role included a close-combat role, females were not permitted to perform this duty due to policy.
“This policy has rightly changed in the past 10 years, with RAAF now having several female airfield defence guards.”
Due to CSG being at the start and finish of every mission, capability changes within are easily felt, not only across the air force but across the whole Australian Defence Force.
CSG is the largest force-element group in the Royal Australian Air Force, having the most aviators and the most diverse range of capabilities from health support, security, communications, airbase recovery and fixed airbase support.
Another significant change in recent years within CSG has been the implementation of the Indigenous liaison capability, which provides a culturally safe workplace by embedding First Nations peoples’ histories, traditions and cultures to promote diversity, respect and an inclusive workforce.
Commander CSG Air Commodore David Paddison said CSG has evolved into a more integrated force where it flows capabilities across the network to the point of demand within Australia or to other locations across the globe.
“We have proven that we are capable of being able to operate comfortably in support of domestic operations while in high-threat environments at short notice,” Air Commodore Paddison said.
“It is essential we continue to develop into a nuanced force that sets its operating methodology to the environmental demands, while remembering it is first and foremost about projecting airpower from our airbase network, which has the capacity to provide a footprint from anywhere in the world.
“In our 25th year, the level of contribution we can provide is scalable depending on mission objectives and includes the full spectrum of threat’s from high-end warfighting through to international engagement, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as domestic defence assistance to the civil community.
“I cannot express enough how privileged I feel every day that I get to stand alongside the aviators of CSG, who quietly go about their business.”