Operation Boss Lift – recognising our reservists

Deputy Commissioner Custodial Operations, Andy Beck, recently represented Queensland Corrective Services on the Australian Defence Force’s Operation Boss Lift – an opportunity for employers to see first-hand the benefits of reservist training for staff.

DC Beck joined 27 other senior executives, CEOs and company directors on the five-day operation in Malaysia to see first-hand reservists – including Brisbane Correctional Centre Custodial Correctional Officer Jason Gibney –  in action with Rifle Company Butterworth, a training facility for jungle warfare and International activities in Malaysia and South East Asia.

This is DC Beck’s blogpost on the operation:

Operation Boss Lift was a unique opportunity for Queensland Corrective Services to get a better understanding of the many benefits of supporting Defence reservists. The skills developed by reservists in their service to Australia are valuable and highly translatable to their work at QCS – including leadership, teamwork, and communication.

The exercise was facilitated by the ADF Defence Reserves Support Council, and began at Victoria Barracks, in Brisbane, where we were briefed on what to expect in coming days, before being transported to RAAF Amberley for an early flight to Malaysia the next morning.

After a 6:00am breakfast, we received the flight briefing and were loaded onto a C17 Globemaster III for the eight-hour flight to Johore Bauru in Malaysia.

The C17 is a mighty plane, capable of carrying a payload of 260,000kg with a cruising range of 5,200 nautical miles and a cruising speed of about 450 knots.

What it doesn’t have are any of the trappings of a commercial airliner. It is like flying at 8,500 metres in a very large, very noisy tin shed with no windows.

While bizarrely it did sport Wi-Fi, that is the beginning and end of the luxury. Thankfully I thought to pack noise-cancelling earphones, and while there was no in-flight entertainment, there was plenty of room to get up and walk around inside the cavernous fuselage.


There is a toilet on board – a thunder box at the front of the loading area, which I got to experience two hours into the flight. I was a little bit nervous when briefed that I had to put on a parachute before opening the door, but survived the experience.

On arrival in Malaysia, we were welcomed by  the defence attachés for Malaysia and the commanding officer of the Defence Reserves and taken to the hotel, where we were briefed by Company Commander Captain Adam Fairhurst.

Day three of the operation kicked off with a circuit and 5km run in the dark, accompanied by a few of the team and what sounded like a million barking dogs before being loaded onto a bus for the 30 minute trip to the army base. I’m not sure what the bus is usually used for, but it was equipped with a disco ball, somewhat making up for the austerity of the C17 the day before.

Once on base, we transferred to a truck and driven to a demonstration area for a presentation on the history of the Malay campaign and the battle of Gemas where the 2/30th Battalion of the Australian army 8th Division ambushed the advancing Japanese troops prior to the fall of Singapore where 80,000 soldiers were taken as prisoners of war.

We then had the opportunity to observe demonstrations of weapons and basic field craft, and provided with a ration pack for lunch. They even had a vegetarian option.


During the afternoon we received a presentation on combat firing techniques which included interesting information on the new, more flexible approach to combat skill development through the use of Socratic learning skills, including experiential learning, with a focus on accelerated learning and neural pathway development.

Day four saw us getting some hands-on experience with some live firing on the range and a range of demonstrations before observing a mock troop attack on enemy positions and dinner in the main camp with company soldiers who had been on a jungle survival exercise.

One the last day in Malaysia, the importance and value of Defence Reserves, both to the armed forces and their employers was reinforced. They play an important integrated role in the ADF. They are not a casual workforce – they are a highly flexible workforce.

As an employer of reservists and veterans, Queensland Corrective Services needs to consider how we can best support them, and better capitalise on the skills they have.

As I saw during Operation Boss Lift, reservists learn a number of valuable skills including flexibility, team work, discipline and an understanding of the importance of policy and procedures – all of which are hugely beneficial in our workplaces.

A highlight of the operation for me was the final dinner with the Exercise Boss Lift team and the reservists they employ.  I was hosted by Jason Gibney who currently works as a custodial officer at Brisbane Correctional Centre.

The final day of the operation was the eight-hour flight back to Amberley, which was topped off by fairly hairy tactical landing in the C17, which included a descent so rapid it triggered my dive watch to enter dive mode, and told me we were 2m under water when we landed – I think I’m taking it back. Operation Boss Lift was a valuable insight into the training received by reservists, and reinforced their value to us as a front line, forward thinking public safety agency.

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