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Minister announces Air Force appointment and Navy extension.

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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon. Peter Reith, MP Minister for Defence


31 May 2001 MIN 171/01



Air Vice-Marshal Angus Houston has been appointed the new Chief of Air Force.

AVM Houston’s term will run for a period of three years and is the first appointment under the Government’s three-year posting policy. He succeeds Air Marshal McCormack who retires as CAF on 19 June.

Air Vice-Marshal Houston is currently positioned as Head of Strategic Command. This position coupled with his extensive policy and operational experience will position him well to perform the role of Chief of Air Force.

I am also pleased to announce that the current Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral David Shackleton will have his appointment extended for an additional 12 months. Vice Admiral Shackleton took up the role of Chief of Navy in July 1999 and his extension brings his term into line with the Government’s three-year posting policy.



Editors note:

(Biographies of VADML Shackleton and AVM Houston are attached)




For further information contact: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095






Air Vice-Marshal Houston joined the RAAF as a cadet pilot in 1970 and spent the early part of his career flying Iroquois helicopters in various parts of Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. After graduation from Flying Instructors Course in 1975, AVM Houston completed several instructional tours on Macchi, BAC Strikemaster and Iroquois aircraft. One of these tours resulted in AVM Houston being loaned to the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) from 1976-1978. On return to Australia he spent two years with No 9 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley. In late 1979 AVM Houston was posted to Hill AFB Utah for exchange duties with a Unites States Air Force helicopter unit.

After a further stint with No 9 Squadron as the Executive Officer and staff training at RAAF Staff College, AVM Houston was posted to Department of Air Development Division where he was involved in determining helicopter operational requirements before joining the Black Hawk Project Team. In 1987, AVM Houston assumed command of No 9 Squadron where he was responsible for the introduction of the Black Hawk, relocation of the unit from Amberley to Townsville and its transfer to Army. In 1989 he enjoyed one year in the Army with 5 Aviation Regiment as a squadron commander.

Following graduation from Joint Services Staff College, AVM Houston was posted to the Joint Operations staff at Headquarters Australian Defence Force (HQADF) as Joint Operation 3 (JOPS 3) and was heavily involved in strategic planning during the Gulf events of 1990/91. On promotion to Group Captain in July 1992, he assumed the post of Director Air Force Policy and negotiated the establishment of the RSAF Flying School at RAAF Base Pearce. After completing a C130H conversion in 1993, AVM Houston commanded No 86 Wing from 1994-95.

AVM Houston attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London in 1996. He was Chief of Staff, Headquarters Australian Theatre in 1997-99 and Commander Integrated Air Defence System from 1999-2000. He assumed his present position of Head Strategic Command on 17 Aug 2000.

AVM Houston and his wife, Liz, have three sons. Liz is a special education teacher. AVM Houston is a keen runner, enjoys bushwalking, a paddle in his kayak, and when time permits has an enduring interest in history, current affairs and wildlife. He has recently become a golfer.




Vice Admiral David Shackleton, AO

Royal Australian Navy

Chief of Navy


Rear Admiral David Shackleton was promoted to Vice Admiral on 3 July 1999, and assumed command of the Royal Australian Navy at that time.

David Shackleton was born in Leeds UK in March 1948, and joined the RAN as a Supplementary List Seaman Officer from Adelaide, South Australia, in March 1966. After completing initial training, he gained extensive experience through almost continuous sea service from 1967 to 1979. In that time he served in HMA Ships ANZAC, STUART, SYDNEY, VAMPIRE, CURLEW, QUEENBOROUGH, MELBOURNE, PERTH (twice), HOBART (twice), as well as undergoing training in the USA and exchange service with the Royal Navy where he served in HMS ARIADNE.

He saw Vietnam service in HMAS PERTH while qualifying as a seaman officer, and subsequently qualified as a warfare officer, specialising in combat systems and aircraft direction. He has served as Executive Officer of HMAS PERTH (DDG38), and commanded HMAS DERWENT (DE49) and HMAS BRISBANE (DDG41).

Highlights of staff postings up to the rank of Captain include being a member of the Directing Staff of the RAN Staff College, Project Director for acquisition of the Maritime Intelligence Centre, Director of Operational Requirements for the Jindalee Over-The-Horizon- radar system, and the inaugural Chief Staff Officer C3I to the Maritime Commander.

On promotion to Commodore in December 1993, he took up the position of Director General, Naval Policy and Warfare in Navy Office, Canberra, with responsibilities for development and coordination of strategic policy for the RAN. During this posting, he also completed the 1994 Senior International Defence Management Course at USN Post Graduate School Monterey.

Commodore Shackleton joined the Defence Acquisition Organisation in September 1996 as Director General, Information Management. On implementation of the Defence Reform Program in July 1997, he changed roles to become the first Director General, Command and Support Systems, with responsibilities for the acquisition of all of Defence’s major command and intelligence information support systems and joint operational headquarters.

On promotion to Rear Admiral in July 1998, he joined Australian Defence Headquarters, and took up the position of Head, Capability Development, with responsibilities for the operational requirements of all new major capital equipment investments for all of the Australian Defence Force.

Vice Admiral Shackleton is an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and a graduate of the RAN and Joint Services Staff Colleges. He has a Diploma in Corporate Management, a Graduate Diploma in Management, and a Master of Business Administration (Executive) from Monash University. He was made an Officer in the Order of Australia (Military Division) on Australia Day 2000.

David Shackleton is married to Robyn, and has two sons (Peter and Christopher) by a previous marriage.

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