Fresh face sought to command new border patrol operation

Defence is unlikely to choose one of its current top brass to become Tony Abbott’s new border protection tsar and will instead promote a fresh face to the rank of three stars.

Fairfax Media understands that none of the service chiefs – the heads of the army, navy and air force – nor other serving three-star commanders are being sounded out about the job, which involves co-ordinating border protection across more than a dozen government agencies.

Mr Abbott announced the new role in July as a central plank to his Operation Sovereign Borders crackdown on people smuggling.

The prime minister-elect put people smugglers and asylum seekers on notice that the incoming government would get tougher.

”I think the people smugglers now know that things are going to be very, very different in this country and in the seas to our north,” Mr Abbott told radio 2UE in Sydney.

”It wouldn’t surprise me if they attempt to test the new government’s resolve, but they will certainly find a determination more than equal to theirs.”

The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, will recommend the appointment of the three-star commander to head up Operation Sovereign Borders.

There are just six three-star officers in the Australian Defence Force, including the chiefs of the army, navy and air force, as well as the Vice-Chief of the Defence Force. The other two positions are the chief of joint operations and chief of capability development group.

But it is understood the field will be opened up considerably by creating a three-star position to head up border protection and promoting a commander from the two-star rank.

There are more than 20 two-star commanders in the navy – including several reserves – and almost 40 in the army.

It could pave the way for the current head of Border Protection Command, Rear Admiral David Johnston, to take up the more powerful role, which will entail co-ordinating operations between government agencies that deal with border protection.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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