Grant Dibden — For God and Country

Grant Dibden’s passion for the military is only matched by his passion for sharing his faith.

1 May 2020

A unique military career

A young Grant Dibden standing in Australian Army uniform. There is a backyard with grass, trees and a fence behind him.

Grant’s exceptional military career spanned an impressive 41 years, starting at Duntroon in 1979 and culminating with his promotion to the rank of Colonel in 2002. Finally leaving the Army in February 2020.

Throughout his career, Grant held a number of positions. As a Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded the 7th Combat Service Support Battalion and led the deployment of a Battalion Support Group to East Timor in January 2000.

As a Colonel, Grant headed up the Force Support Group where he led Australia’s logistic planning for our deployment to the Solomon Islands in 2003.

In 2007, Grant transitioned from the regular Army to a role of Chaplain for the Army Reserve at the rank of Captain. This move saw him combine his passion for the military with his passion for his Christian faith and culminated in his appointment as the Senior Chaplain of 2nd Division in 2018 and 2019.

In a rare move, in November 2019 Grant again joined the regular Army for one final deployment as he was nominated and accepted a posting as the Coordinating Chaplain for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in the Middle East Region, where he served for 2 months over the 2019 Christmas period.

“Over a 41 year career there are so many highlights. I enjoyed being a Commanding Officer and coordinating the deployment of men and women to East Timor and the Solomon Islands to serve those nations, and deploying there briefly myself was very rewarding,” Grant said.

“Also my recent deployment to the Middle East over Christmas was definitely a highlight, a fine way to call time on my military career.”

Leaving the military to pursue a new calling

Grant left the full-time military at the end of 2004. “I left the regular Army because I was called to take on a new challenge. God was with me throughout my military career and in 2005 it was time to take my life in the next direction He had planned for me,” Grant said.

He took on the role of Deputy National Director then National Director for the Navigators Australia, an international Christian organisation that works in over 100 countries around the world to help people live out their Christian faith in their everyday lives. In this role, he also oversaw work in Tonga and India and had a few other roles for the Asia Pacific region. Further, for a number of years, Grant was the Board Chair of Everyman’s Welfare Service.

It wasn’t until February this year (2020) that Grant ended all forms of military service, after 41 years, to take on the role of Anglican Bishop to the Defence Force.

“After I returned to the ADF for one final posting to the Middle East in 2019 I felt God calling me to be the Anglican Bishop to the Defence Force. For this role I can’t be an active member of the Defence Force so it was finally time to call time on my military service.”

Being a Christian in the military

Grant spoke further on how his faith served him in the military, “I was a Christian when I joined the Army and it has always impacted my military life. I have tried to live as a Christian — putting others first, serving them, being loving, kind, generous, patient and good to them. Needless to say I don’t always live up to those ideals, and when I fall short I seek God’s forgiveness and help to be better next time.”

“The values of the Defence Force are very aligned with Christian values — professionalism, loyalty, integrity, courage, initiative and teamwork, honour, duty and respect. If I live as Christian I will be doing all those things. Who would have thought being a good Christian helps your career because you do what the Defence Force values!”

Grant Dibden in official Army uniform, standing at a pulpit in a church, surrounded by priests and a congregation.

Ongoing connection to the military

As the Anglican Bishop of the Defence Force, a key role of Grant’s is to serve the Anglican Chaplains who serve all service men and women. “I will visit each once every year in their locations, speak to them via phone and see them at least one more time at our annual Anglican Chaplain gathering.”

“I also contribute to religious policy for the Defence Force and recruit chaplains from the Anglican Church to work in the ADF as well as helping to transition chaplains back into the church when they leave the military.” 

Additionally, Grant will help to personally serve and support some of the senior officers and other staff in HQ ADF.

Transition from the military

Grant left the full-time military in 2004 and began serving in the Army Reserve which made his transition a little easier, “I was so busy and still engaged with the military that I did not find transition very difficult. I also continued to stay in touch with mates from the military which helped.”

When asked whether there was anything he thought could assist people to transition Grant had an interesting suggestion, “When people leave they could be given a pass to allow them back on base and enable them to go to the mess and use the gym. I think that could help people ease back into civilian life.”

Grant says he uses the skills he learnt from the military all the time, “Defence gave me a lot leadership training which I constantly use. They helped me to have a good work ethic and a ‘can do’ attitude. They also gave me good management skills which I regulary use as well.”

In his spare time, Grant also loves to catch up with his children, grandchildren and friends. He’s a big sports fan, but due to various sports related injuries over time, he now tries to go to the gym to keep fit. Grant is also a fan of crime, spy and history series’ and movies.

In terms of his plans for the next 15 years, Grant says he hopes to still be living for Jesus and seeking to bring God’s love to people wherever he goes and teaching them to do the same.

When asked if he had anything he wanted to say to Australia’s veteran community he simply stated “Thank you for your service to our nation.”