AUSTRALIAN General John Monash was that rare combination of entrepreneur, polymath and military strategist who was arguably Australia’s outstanding military leader. Professional engineer, lawyer and part-time soldier, he rose to senior command through service at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.
Between the two world wars a class of leader emerged more intent on personal advantage than seriously studying the art of war.
It is difficult to pinpoint a senior officer post-war with the international reputation of Senator Major-General Jim Molan, who died this week aged 72.
Two decades of Australian isolation from international conflict also produced the first officer graduates for some time who did not experience operations as a professional cohort.
That was simply a minor irritation for Molan who commanded at every level from an infantry platoon in pre-Independence PNG through to Australia’s 1st Infantry Division. He held a senior operational appointment with allied forces during the Iraq War. He was a tough but fair commander.
He will be long regarded as one of Australia’s most capable military leaders.