Col Parsons steps down at Linton

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 08:02 04/12/2013
Colonel Chris Parsons
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
PURPOSEFUL: Morale in the Defence Force will improve, says Linton Military Camp leader Colonel Chris Parsons.

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Colonel Chris Parsons is looking forward to a break after handing over the reins of Linton Military Camp to a new commander.

Colonel Parsons was passing command of 1 (NZ) Brigade, based at Linton, to Colonel Nick Gillard in a ceremony at the camp today. He held the post for two years.

Originally from the Far North, Colonel Parsons joined the army almost 25 years ago, signing up straight out of Kaitaia College, and began his officer training at Waiouru.

He spent a portion of his early career, in the mid-nineties, as a lieutenant and a captain at Linton before returning to take charge of the camp.

Before taking up the position, he was in charge of the New Zealand SAS.

Colonel Parsons came in as the 2nd Land Force Group at Linton was officially renamed 1 (NZ) Brigade, and took command over all operational units in the New Zealand Army, including those previously commanded by the 3rd Land Force Group in Burnham.

The change was a big one and meant a new operating model for the field army, he said.

"To bring them together and create a more coherent operating model has been a big positive and that's something I've been able to play a small part in.

"It was good being able to establish a brigade identity and a model where everyone can work together and get the best out of the army.

"Having a chance to work with the soldiers and see their talent and their dedication, last year we deployed over 1000 people on operations, this year has been a bit less than that. We've had a chance to see the guys perform and continue to develop in themselves, but also in conflict, and make a difference in the world.

"That's what gets me out of bed in the morning."

A difficult past few years for the camp saw a number of soldiers killed in action overseas.

It was "the hardest part of the job", he said.

Innovations in "digitising" the brigade with new communications technology to allow them to operate faster and in a more dispersed manner were among the exciting changes he had seen, with equipment now "much better" than when he first joined.

Of his legacy, he mentions that the attrition rate has dropped by 30 per cent in the past 12 months, and consultation for a cycleway between the camp and the city was under way with the Palmerston North City Council.

He wasn't sure where he was headed next, he hoped to do more training and maybe find work in operational command in Wellington.

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"Its been six years on the trot with hard operational command so I'm going to take a bit of time with the family now.

"With the army, you never know what's around the corner."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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