Who are we?
The Sir Richard Williams Foundation is an independent research organisation whose purpose is to promote the development and effective implementation of national security and defence policies as they impact on Australia’s ability to generate air power appropriate to its unique geopolitical environment and values.
The Foundation aims to strengthen Australia’s national security by advocating the need for forward-looking policies which take full advantage of the potential for air power to shape and influence regional security; and by promoting constructive debate regarding the implementation of such policies.
Our origins and early development
After years of discussion, in 2008 a group of retired Air Force officers decided that there was a need for an organisation to support development of Air Force. Possible solutions covered the range from “CAF Grey Beards Advisory Committee” to “Independent Think Tank”. After several formal and informal exploratory meetings, the decision was taken to form a RAAF Association Think Tank to be called the Sir Richard Williams Foundation. The first formal meeting of the Foundation was conducted on 14 October 2008 at the Air Power Development Center with Dr Alan Stephens as Chair. During the meeting Dr Stephens suggested, and the Committee agreed, that AIRMSHL Errol McCormack AO (Retd) take the Chair.
Through 2009 the Committee developed the structure required to support the Foundation and decided that product of the Foundation would be “Papers” on topical issues. Workshops were to be used to support development of the papers. “Workshops” soon developed into “Seminars” as a means of gaining company sponsorship. The first seminar, ISR, was held at ADC on 19 April 2011.
At a meeting on 14 December 2010 the Committee decided that the Foundation should be independent from the RAAF Association. Thus, on 03 December 2012 the Sir Richard Williams Foundation Incorporated was registered in the ACT as a charity.
Since then the Foundation has continued to develop and expand in scope and range of activities. The Foundation is now recognised in the Department of Defence as an influential component of operational development of air power in the ADF.
Air Marshal Errol McCormack AO (Retd)
Errol McCormack joined the RAAF as an aircrew cadet in March 1962 after completing an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner.
On graduation he was assigned fast jet and completed tours in South East Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Borneo) on the F-86 Sabre, Vietnam on the Canberra bomber, US on the F-111A and US on the RF-4C Reconnaissance Phantom.
As a senior officer he completed two tours in Operational Requirements, two tours at staff college (RAAF and Joint), one tour in Operational/Air Command and two tours in diplomatic posts (Air Attache Washington and Commander IADS, Malaysia/Singapore).
He has commanded at squadron, wing and Air Force levels.
Errol McCormack retired from the RAAF as Chief of Air Force in May 2001. Since then he has sat on local company boards and consulted for many local and foreign companies dealing with Defence. In Oct19 he divested himself of all commercial commitments and now conducts pro bono activities only.
Who is Sir Richard Williams?
Sir Richard Williams
The Foundation is named after Sir Richard Williams. In World War I Sir Richard Williams was the Australian Army's outstanding air combat commander. In 1921 he became the first chief of the newly-formed Royal Australian Air Force. Williams is widely acknowledged as Australia's pre-eminent military airman.
For more about Sir Richard Williams, Brian Weston and Alan Stephens, wrote a three part series of articles in 2019 published in On Target - a regular column in the Australian Defence Business Review.
Brian Weston 'On Target: Who was Richard Williams?' in Australian Defence Business Review, March-April 2019 p. 82
Brian Weston 'On Target: The Birth of an Australian Air Force – Part 2' in Australian Defence Business Review, May-June 2019 p 82
Dr Alan Stephens 'On Target: Richard Williams and the Defence of Australia' July-August 2019
This column written for the ADBR July-August 2019 an edition that was not published
Image Acknowledgement - This photo of Sir Richard Williams was donated to the Williams Foundation from the Wall family private collection. The photo can be found on the front cover of Sir Richard Williams'autobiography 'These are the Facts' , published by The Australian War Memorial and the Australian Government Publishing Service, 1977