Distinguished service in a variety of challenging command and leadership positions has earned Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Michael van Balen the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Military Division of the 2015 Australia Day Honours List.
Rear Admiral van Balen was awarded the honour in recognition of his service as Commodore Support, Fleet Command; Director, Coalition Coordination Centre, United States Central Command; and Deputy Chief of Navy.
“It is both a great honour and very humbling to have been awarded the AO,” he said.
“It means a great deal to me, as it not only gives recognition to my efforts over the years, but most importantly, recognises those who have coached, mentored and assisted me along the way.”
The Deputy Chief said the award reflected substantially on those who had helped him in a number of challenging postings.
“Throughout my time in the Navy, I have had the privilege to serve with many outstanding people, all of whom greatly contributed to my development and achievements, both personally and professionally” Rear Admiral van Balen said.
“This award gives due recognition to the significance of those who have supported me through my career and I thank all of them unreservedly for their help over the years.”
He said all the positions he had served in were equally fulfilling.
“As I progressed through my career I thought that each new job presented the greatest challenge; that is why a career in the Navy is so interesting and rewarding,” he said.
“But rather than identifying one particular job as the most challenging, I would say the greatest challenge, throughout my career, has been in leading, managing and caring for Navy's people at the level they deserve.
“Navy's people are its greatest asset and properly led they can achieve anything; that is why, no matter what your rank or position, leading Navy's people presents the greatest challenge and biggest reward.”
Rear Admiral van Balen said the honour helped him to reflect on his service and his reasons for joining as a cadet midshipman in 1978.
“I joined the Navy because of the sense of adventure and the challenges which a life in the Navy portrayed,” he said.
“The Navy has certainly lived up to my expectations as across my career I have had the opportunity to do things, go places, face challenges and reap rewards that I might otherwise have only dreamt about.”
The honour follows the Commendation for Distinguished Service Rear Admiral van Balen was awarded in 2005, for his service in support of Operations FALCONER and CATALYST.