Ambassadors

The Commando Welfare Trust is proud to be supported by a network of Australian leaders.

Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon

First elected to the House of Representatives in 1996, Joel served as Defence Minister and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in the Rudd Government. He also served as Chief Government Whip in the Gillard Government.

Over the course of his 26 years in the Parliament, Joel held a number of Shadow Ministerial positions including Assistant Treasury, Financial Services, Defence, Mining, Energy, Agriculture, Small Business, Tourism and Regional Australia. He was also the Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade.

Joel retired from the House of Representatives in 2022 after 26 years of service.

Joel’s son, Jack Fitzgibbon, is a member of 2nd Commando Regiment who we tragically lost earlier this year in a training accident.

It is a testimony to Joel and his family that they have turned this event into a positive through their work with the Commando Welfare Trust.

We thank the Fitzgibbon family for their ongoing support.

Vale Lance Corporal Jack Fitzgibbon.

Ryan Tindall

Ryan’s extensive background in the Australian Army Special Forces and his diverse experience in subsequent roles make him a valuable asset to the Commando Welfare Trust.

Ryan served 13 years in the Special Forces where his time included five special operations task force deployments in Afghanistan, four deployments on personal security detachments and three counter-terrorism operations.

Highlights (among many) include participating in an offensive in East Shah Wali Kot, where he contributed to his unit being awarded Battle Honors of East Shah Wali Kot.

During his military career, Ryan served as a Non-Commissioned Officer and played a crucial role as a military instructor at the Special Forces Training School. Ryan served with pride in the 2nd Commando Regiment and additionally as the Deputy President of the Unit Trust; supporting the underlying culture of the Regiment. His intimate knowledge of the rank and file makes him well-equipped to understand all ranks and roles of Special Operations.

In his current position as Owner, Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Operations at Empire Protection, Ryan brings operational excellence to this specialised security management business; particularly in the Defence Industry and Personal Protection portfolios.

Ryan’s passion for community service is also commendable; visible through his volunteer work with the NSW Surf Life Saving Club, where he serves as a Senior Instructor, Patrol Vice Captain, and Duty Officer.

Ryan’s outstanding work was validated when he was recognised as Duty Officer of the Year, stemming in part from his leadership in a significant surf rescue operation during the 2019 state flood emergency. His actions in this event highlight his exceptional capabilities in high-pressure situations.

As a Trustee for the Return Services League (RSL), Ryan continues to contribute to the welfare and support of fellow commandos and veterans. His dedication to raising awareness of the sacrifices made by his commando brothers, and serving the community is evident in his multifaceted and ongoing roles and achievements.

Richard James

Richard holds a tertiary qualification in Management Science and in 2019 completed the Senior Executive MBA at Melbourne Business School. His 20-plus years’ of business experience will be an asset to supporting the growth of the Commando Welfare Trust.
With his early career focusing on the Automotive industry, Richard further developed his experience of change management in complex systems working for an Australian-based management consultancy. Richard joined SYPAQ in 2019.

Richard works predominantly from SYPAQ’s Canberra and Brisbane offices as General Manager of the Consulting division. His responsibilities span the management of SYPAQ’s Consulting Services, Managed Services and Systems Integration projects. Richard’s team specialises in Enterprise Digital Transformation, Agile Delivery and Atlassian Services, Cyber Security, Emerging Technology Integration into legacy environments and Software Application Development and Test Automation.

Richard is a member of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) Queensland Council which focuses on being an active voice and connector for industry and government. Richard’s responsibilities on the council include participating in ICT procurement legislation for the future of jobs and the skills required for tomorrow.

Away from the office, Richard is a volunteer at his local Surf Life Saving club Nippers program that his two young daughters attend.

Reece Dewar OAM

Reece has over 20 years’ experience in the Australian Defence Force, with 12 years of service with Special Operations Command. He is highly experienced in Counter-Terrorism and Offshore Recovery Operations gained through 17 Years of training and operational deployment in the Australian Defence Force and as an advisor to the UAE Government.

Reece was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to the Special Operations Community.

Reece has been responsible for the development of National Level Defence and Law Enforcement Capabilities within Australia and the Middle East. He has significant experience in national security, operational management and training.

After retiring from the Australian Defence Force he has been an instructor in Leadership and Management, primary advisor for the development and employment of the UAE Special Operations, Offshore Recovery and Counter-Terrorism Company, and Operations and Training Advisor for UAE Law Enforcement, Special Operations.

Reece returned to Australia in January 2018 where he is the Managing Director of GRIFFIN Security Consultancy and Training Pty Ltd. On returning to Australia he was contracted to Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation as the Venue Security Operations Coordinator.

He holds a Diploma of Security Operations Management, Diploma of Project Management, Diploma of Leadership and Management, Diploma of Assessment and Training.

Reece was a part of Channel 10’s hit show Hunted.

Marcus Thompson, AM, PhD

Dr Marcus Thompson is a retired Major General who served 34 years in the Australian Army. Graduating from the Royal Military College in 1988, Marcus was allocated to the Royal Australian Corps of Signals.

He served in a variety of command, regimental and Special Operations appointments including: Command of the 3rd Combat Signal Regiment; secondment to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as the Senior Advisor Defence Policy and Operations; Director General Special Operations Capability; Commander 6th Brigade; and deployments to East Timor, Iraq, and Afghanistan. His final appointment was as the inaugural Head of Information Warfare for the Australian Defence Force.

Marcus holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering with honours from the University of New South Wales, a Bachelor of Business from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, a Master of Defence Studies from the University of Canberra, a Master of Strategic Studies from Deakin University, and a PhD in Cyber Security from the University of New South Wales. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Since leaving the Australian Army, Marcus has founded Cyber Compass Pty Ltd, an independent advisory focused on improving cyber security and developing sovereign Australian capability. He has worked with and supported many Australian entities, including Macquarie Technology Group, ParaFlare, several major banks and financial institutions, and the Melbourne Business School. He is a Non-Executive Director of Penten, and a Non-Executive Director of Bank Australia.

Professor Ian Langford, PhD, DSC and Bars

With 30 years of experience and as a senior officer in the Australian Defence Force, Ian Langford has had the challenge and opportunity of leading large and small teams in complex and ambiguous environments.

Ian has held a range of appointments in the Army and Special Forces throughout his career. Ian commanded the 2nd Commando Regiment, as well as multiple Special Operations Task Groups in Afghanistan, Iraq, and on domestic counter-terrorism duties. Ian has also led the at the strategic level, responsible for the Army’s future strategic investments, future concepts and capabilities, major capital acquisitions and critical sustainment systems as the Head of Land Capability on two separate occasions in both 2019/20 and again in 2022.

Ian Langford’s operational service includes deployments to Timor Leste, Afghanistan, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and the South-West Pacific. For his service, Ian has been awarded several Australian commendations, and the Distinguished Service Cross on three occasions. In 2019, he was appointed as an Honourary Aide de Camp to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. He was also until recently the patron of the Defence Entrepreneur’s Forum, an internationally recognised innovation pathway for young leaders as part a global defence innovation network.

Ian Langford is a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the School of Advanced Warfighting. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors Company Directors Course. He has also completed the Senior Executive Leadership program at the Australian National University as well as the Senior Leadership in National Security and the Senior Leadership in Government program from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Ian holds a bachelor’s degree in management, a Master of Arts, a Master of Defence Studies, a Master of Strategic Studies and a Doctor of Philosophy from Deakin University. He has been published dozens of times as an independent author, essayist and editor. In 2022, Ian retired from the Army as a Brigadier and has since formed his own advisory company, Burran Consultancy. He holds several Board positions, including a Listed Investment Company, and advises small and large firms across the private sector. He is also tenured as a full Professor at the University of New South Wales, and also the Executive Director of the Security and Defence Plus Alliance.

Major Steve Pilmore OAM RFD (Ret’d)

Steve Pilmore’s career includes 40 + years’ experience in the management of Australian Special Forces (Commandos) communications, personnel, and equipment. This brought with it wide experience in the provision of advice to planning groups as to the employment of communications personnel and equipment in both the conventional and special operations environments.

At various times Steve was Executive Officer of several Australian Special Forces units and for extended periods he administered command of some of the same units.

In his civilian employment he established long standing relationships with a range of Government departments including the regular provision of consulting and training assistance as required.

Steve has wide experience both in Australia and overseas in the areas of project management, management development and training, video and multi-media production and exhibition design.  In various roles he has been responsible for the assessment of risk in both military activities and business operational environments

He has extensive experience in working in large organisations and corporations but is at home as well working in a small outcome-focused team.  Steve project-managed consultancy training and exhibitions on behalf of Telstra and its clients in Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. Concurrently he was also responsible for concept and production on a national basis of taped and live multi-media productions for Telstra’s staff and customers.

In the 1999 Australian Queen’s Birthday Honours list he received the Medal of the Order of Australia for meritorious service to Australian Special Forces / Commandos and in November 2003 MAJ Pilmore received the Special Operations Commander’s Commendation also for specific service to Australian Special Forces.

Following retirement from the Australian Defence Force in November 2013 after nearly 47 years’ service he still serves as National Vice President of the Australian Commando Association and served as the Trust Executive Officer of the Commando Welfare Trust until 4th July 2022. He remains an Ambassador for the Trust and assists the current Executive Officer on a part time basis.

Steve is a former Melbourne High School Councilor, an Honorary Life Member and past President of the Melbourne High School Old Boys’ Association and a past Patron-in-Chief of the MHSOBA GM&B Patrons – the Melbourne High School Old Boys’ support coterie.

Sarah Cullens

In March 2020, Sarah founded Precision Public Affairs (PPA) – a boutique public affairs company based in the heart of Australia’s decision-making capital, Canberra.

PPA is a bipartisan and apolitical firm that provides our clients with a range of tailored strategies to achieve their organisational objectives including, Corporate Affairs, Bipartisan Government Relations and Public Policy, Parliamentary Protocol and Strategic Engagement, Market Access and Business Development Support.

Sarah’s expertise spans the Defence, Home Affairs, Energy, Industry, Trade, Innovation, Communications, and Health portfolios.

With ten years’ experience working at the highest level of the Australian Federal Government, including for two Prime Ministers and three Federal Ministers, Sarah has a proven understanding of the Australian regulatory environment, government policy, procedure and protocol, as well as an extensive network spanning the ministry, backbench and federal government departments. She is also a former Managing Director of Nexus Public Affairs.

In between her time on the Hill in the Australian Parliament, Sarah honed her corporate public affairs, marketing and media management skills in the Global Markets Division of Deutsche Bank and spent four years within News Corporation’s Corporate Affairs team in Sydney, working directly to the Australian Chairman, John Hartigan.

Sarah is known for her twice national award-winning program management and trusted rapport with clients and colleagues.

Sarah serves on the Australian Industry and Defence Network (AIDN) National Board and served as Vice President of the AIDN ACT Committee.

She also serves on the Board of the National Institute of Strategic Resilience. A proud Army wife, daughter, sister and granddaughter, Sarah also serves as an Ambassador for the Commando Welfare Trust, for whom she provides pro-bono government relations advice.