Born into an Army family in Sydney in 1947, Peter Cosgrove had all the credentials for a successful military career. After secondary schooling at Waverley College, he entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1965 and went on to graduate in 1968 to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps.

His first service was with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) in Malaysia before joining the Australian Reinforcement Unit at Nui Dat in South Vietnam in August 1969. While in Vietnam he served with 9RAR and as a platoon commander at HQ 1st Australian Task Force.

In his subsequent service, Peter Cosgrove served with 5RAR and later as Adjutant 5/7RAR, and rose to hold the rank of Commanding Officer 1RAR between 1983 and 1985. He also commanded the 6th Brigade and the 1st Division at Enoggera in Brisbane.

General Cosgrove showed early the qualities needed to be an effective and respected commander and leader. He led the Methods of Instruction Team based at Ingleburn, NSW, and instructed in tactics at the Infantry Centre at Singleton, where he was also later Commandant and Director of Infantry.

He has been the Commandant of the Australian Defence Warfare Centre at RAAF Williamtown, and also of the Royal Military College Duntroon.

In 1978, Cosgrove attended the United States Marine Corps Staff College at Quantico, USA, and was the Australian exchange instructor at the British Army Staff College, Camberly from 1984-1986. He has also attended the Australian Joint Services Staff College and the Indian National Defence College.

The list of Peter Cosgrove's achievements is impressive, but his service in East Timor made him an instantly recognisable figure to most Australians. In 1999, as Commander of the Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, he assumed command of the International Forces in East Timor (INTERFET) until the force was withdrawn in February 2000.

On his return to Australia after this successful mission, he was appointed Chief of Army. In July 2002 General Cosgrove assumed the profile position of Chief of the Defence Force, a position he held until July 2005.

Speaker of renown

Today, Peter Cosgrove is a speaker of great renown. His international reputation and his experience in a range of world affairs make him a sought-after speaker.

His ability to inspire and lead people, especially in the face of danger, sets him apart from everyday life. But he still understands and embodies the common touch, the experience of life that we all share.

It is this special blend of the ordinary man and the extraordinary leader that makes Peter Cosgrove a fascinating speaker.

General Peter Cosgrove is a highly recognisable Australian and was awarded 2001 Australian of the Year. He is one of the elite group of Australia's Top Speakers.