Major General Adam Findlay AM joins GAI as Industry Fellow

Major General Adam Findlay AM flying from Erbil to Mosul in Northern Iraq
Major General Adam Findlay AM

In a coup for Griffith Asia Institute (GAI), one of the country’s most senior army officers has been appointed an Industry Fellow (Honorary).

Since 2017, Major General Adam Findlay AM has served as Special Operations Commander in the Australian Army, a role focused on reforms of the country’s special forces.

Director of GAI, Professor Caitlin Byrne said his appointment was an incredible opportunity for the Institute and the wider university community.

Professor Caitlin Byrne, Director Griffith Asia Institute

“We are thrilled to have someone of Adam’s calibre join our team and contribute to our agenda,” she said.

“He brings depth of experience, knowledge and extensive networks that span the nations of Asia and the Pacific – gained over a successful defence career.”

Major General Findlay has served in Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and Iraq and holds a PhD in military history from the University of NSW.

His strong ties with Asia offer unique and compelling insights.

“Most of my career I have spent in South East Asia in one guise or another,” he said.

“I have served in East Timor, I’m routinely in Papua New Guinea, but particularly in my role as Special Operations Commander I have very strong ties with the SE Asian special forces command fraternity.

“I regularly meet with my counterparts in Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Philippines so that’s all the ASEAN countries.

“I work with my special forces counterparts in SE Asia in counter terrorism and most recently with the rise of ISIS in the southern Philippines I have worked with their special forces to help deal with a significant threat in their country.”

View of Mosul in Northern Iraq, taken by Major General Adam Findlay AM.

“The reason we were in the middle east for so long was about countering a variety of terrorist organisations, including Al Qaeda and ISIS, and most of my missions in the middle east focused on countering terrorism”

“The war in the middle east pulled in a lot of SE Asian fighters, including Australians to the middle east to fight for ISIS, and now we are watching them come back into the region and of course that’s a dangerous thing.“

After 36 years in the army, Findlay will soon transition from military life and is keen to offer analysis and commentary on Australia’s growing role in the rapidly evolving national, regional and international geo-strategic dynamics of the Indo-Pacific.

He says the decision to join Griffith in an honorary capacity was a natural progression and while he considered several other institutions, the University and Griffith Asia Institute offered a unique proposition.

“There’s a very positive vibe about Griffith and I am very attracted to that. It has a youthful exuberance.

“I think the university has enormous potential.”

Major General Adam Findlay AM

Findlay exits special operations command as the Brereton Inquiry into the pre-2015 actions of special forces in Afghanistan comes to a close.

He says he’s proud of the work he’s done in recent years to successfully transform an organisation which has been the subject of intense high-level scrutiny and continued media attention.

“I am very proud that after three years my reforms have refocussed and reinvigorated the organisation and I would like to publish on how this type of organisational cultural transformation can be achieved.

“I am very interested in the study of effective organisational leadership and transformation.

“My immediate priorities are publishing two books, one on the first Anglo-Afghan War based on my PhD and the other a book on leadership and cultural change based on the work I have been undertaking as the Commander of Australia’s Special Forces.”

“I would like to produce articles and commentary on Australia’s emerging strategic environment and the evolving national security issues in the Indo-Pacific.

“In addition, I also led the Coalition Special Forces in Iraq in 2016/17 for the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS — I may also write about that and continue to do project work for Defence as well.”