Pursuing goals through the Army

Lieutenant Keeley Marshall hasn’t looked back since starting her journey as part of the Army Gap Year program.

CAPTION: Lieutenant Keeley Marshall working as an officer with the Royal Australian Engineers on Exercise Predator’s Walk 2023, in Darwin. Story by Captain Annie Richardson.

Her aspirations to contribute to Army were nurtured from a young age by her exposure to the military through her older brothers, who have established commendable careers within the Australian Defence Force.

Hailing from the alpine town of Benalla, Victoria, when balancing her options out of school, she discovered the Officer Gap Year program.

“One of my mates was applying for this Officer Gap Year program, and I was like, ‘oh, yeah, that sounds good. I’ll give it a go’,” she said.

“It was a really great decision though – I’ve had a lot of opportunity so far, and I’m really grateful.”

Her training commenced with a five-week course at Kapooka, followed by three months of training blocks at Sydney University Regiment, and a month-long program at Royal Military College – Duntroon. At the end of her training, Lieutenant Marshall commissioned as a first lieutenant into the Royal Australian Engineers.

Upon her posting, she found herself in the tropics of Darwin, initially feeling a sense of isolation, but her unit embraced her warmly. She soon developed lasting friendships and a rewarding job as the operations lieutenant responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of her squadron.

Under the guidance of her squadron’s Officer Commanding, and her mentor, Captain Holly Wilson, Lieutenant Marshall has been learning the intricacies of commanding operations.

Captain Wilson has been a valuable source of knowledge, imparting lessons on combat engineering and preparing Lieutenant Marshall for her future role in Troop Command.

Lieutenant Marshall has embarked on a series of courses and training exercises, gaining proficiency in crucial engineering skills.

While these experiences have expanded her horizons and fortified her expertise in various facets of operations, none has been as rewarding as Exercise Predator’s Walk, where Lieutenant Marshall participated in light urban explosive breaching and a demolitions range.

Reflecting on her time at Mount Bundey Training Area, she expressed her surprise at the arduousness of the terrain.

“The mosquitoes are pretty shocking, kind of a surprise,” she said.

“But the overall experience has been really rewarding and it’s been really great to watch all the training in action.”

Lieutenant Marshall said the Army Gap Year program was a viable career option for those uncertain about committing to full-time military service.

“It is a really good way to see the Army,” she said.

“The program’s flexibility allows individuals to explore military life while maintaining the freedom to pursue other aspirations.”

Lieutenant Marshall plans to pursue her dream of becoming a paramedic.

Upon her return from the Gap Year program, she intends to enrol at university in Melbourne, while eager to take up command in a Reserve unit next year as a troop commander.

“The Reserve service should offer the ideal balance between my civilian aspirations and military commitment, so I can devote to both,” she said.

For information on the Gap Year Program, go to: army.defencejobs.gov.au/students-and-education/gap-year


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