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A History of the Defence Reserves Association 1970-2020
By Andrew J Kilsby
This is the story of the Defence Reserves Association. It conducted a decades long battle to steadfastly support and defend the Army, Air Force and Navy Reserves. Its biggest enemy were the dozens of reviews, inquiries, and reports into the Reserves by politicians, Defence bureaucrats and uniformed policy makers, which led to endless ‘fiddling’ with Reserve structure and purpose. At times the very existence of the Reserves appeared to be in question - it seemed like the Reserves were being ‘eaten by moths’.
When the Association was formed by Major General Paul Cullen and other senior Reserve officers in 1970, many of whom were World War Two veterans, the Reserves were seen to be under threat. In a rapidly changing world, in the middle of the Cold War and by non-involvement in the war in Vietnam, there was much angst about the future of the Reserves in military and political circles.
The fact that the Reserves survived to become a more vital and effective part of the Defence Force than ever before, can be credited in large part to the endless advocacy of the DRA. Indeed, the Reserves have evolved to become an essential, integrated part of the ADF, as it embraces the same new approaches to war fighting, peace keeping, technology and doctrine. This history is not just the story of the of the DRA, but also the story of the Reserves over the past 50 years.
Having served in the Army for forty of the DRA’s fifty-year history and been both an observer and decision maker in the debate on the role and tasks of the Reserves, I found the author’s accurate recording and analysis of events compelling reading…Andrew Kilsby, in this extraordinarily well-researched book, does justice to the perseverance and achievements of those who led and served the Association at the national and state levels…His recounting of the history of the Association and its engagement with Government and Defence captures in detail the frustrations, small and major triumphs, disappointments, and policy coups of the past fifty years.