Book Review: “Trust and Leadership,” reviewed by Col Acton Kilby

This book review of Trust and Leadership comes from Colonel Acton Kilby, currently serving with the USA UNC HQ South Korea as the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff.

Trust and Leadership offers an insightful collection of Australian thoughts and observations regarding mission command in the Australian Army. Following a historical timeline, the chapters deliver a broad examination of Australia’s experiences with mission command while offering lessons that could easily apply to any military reader from any nation.

Dr. Glenn’s introductory chapter sets a useful context regarding mission command and assists in shaping the Australian “context” for the chapters that follow. Chapters follow a historical timeline commencing with observations from the First World War and ending with a review of the Australian Army’s approach and considerations within the context of today’s security environment. Each chapter delivers a unique narrative regarding a specific conflict and circumstance, providing an examination of the role and application of mission command in each period. They are useful exposures of the Australian interpretation of mission command highlighting the organizational and cultural factors which have influenced its application. The book delivers lessons in “how” aspects of Australian culture have shaped their Army’s approach. In addition, it may assist an outside observer in better understanding “why” they do things in the manner they do.

An Australian soldier is mid-run on the cover of Trust and Leadership (out Nov 2020 from the UNG Press)
Cover design by Corey Parson

The book gathers a tremendous collection of narratives that furnish the reader with a well-structured view into the Australian Army’s development, adaptation, and approach to mission command over the past 100 years. While no single author offers a solution or a definitive description of Australian mission command, all chapters highlight the experiences, incidents, events, and circumstances that have influenced why and shaped how the Australian Army approaches command today.

Brigadier Noble’s chapter is a thoughtful and appropriate conclusion to the book. Highlighting the recent experiences of the Australian Army, he focuses upon discussion of mission command, reflecting upon his Army’s challenges in developing a common understanding of what is meant by mission command. This final chapter highlights a consistent theme identifiable throughout the book: how well we understand and trust each other, and how effective we are in turning intent into coherent, timely action is what ultimately matters when approaching mission command.

There is no question that Trust and Leadership should be a recommended read for Australian audiences as well as those close partners who will continue to work with the Australian Army on operations. However, Trust and Leadership is an equally valuable reference for any student of the military art in any nation that seeks to have a better understanding of command and the culture that shapes it.

Colonel Acton Kilby joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1979 as an Infantry Officer. He has commanded from Platoon to Brigade level and deployed operationally to all continents. He has filled staff appointments from the operational to National Strategic level and served with all Five-Eyes Nations on exchange, operationally or most recently as Canada’s Defence Attaché to Australia and New Zealand. Col Kilby is currently serving with the USA UNC HQ South Korea as the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff.

Col Kilby is a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, the Army Command and Staff College, the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College and the National Strategic Studies Programme. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Military Arts and Science and a master’s degree in strategic studies. He is an avid outdoor sportsman and loves fishing. He is married with three adult children.

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About Jillian Murphy

Jillian Murphy served as the Assistant Managing Editor of the UNG Press from 2017 to 2021. She is a writer and editor who specializes in kid lit, copyediting, and lame puns. Murphy is a UNG alumna, class of 2016.

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