Elizabeth Cosson

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Elizabeth Cosson
Nickname(s) Liz
Born 1958 (age 58–59)
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1979–2010
Rank Major General
Commands held National Operations
Battles/wars East Timor
Awards Member of the Order of Australia
Conspicuous Service Cross

Major General Elizabeth Cosson AM, CSC (born 1958) is a public servant and retired Australian Army officer. Cosson was appointed Head Defence Support Operations and promoted to major general in 2007, becoming the first woman to reach such a rank in the Australian Army. In December 2010, she took the position of General Manager of the Executive Division of the Department of Veterans Affairs.[1] As of 2012, Cosson is Deputy Secretary of the Business Services Group, Department of Immigration and Border Protection.[2]

Military career[edit]

Cosson joined the Australian Army in 1979 as an officer cadet, and was commissioned in the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps. During the early part of her career she held a number of appointments as a supply and administrative officer.[3]

In 1991 she was appointed to a position at the Royal Australian Air Force Logistics Command where she was responsible for the logistics support to army aviation aircraft. For her work in improving the availability of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter fleet and supporting the fleet deployment to Cambodia, she received a commendation from the Air Officer Commanding Logistics.[3]

In 1995 Cosson served in a number of appointments within Land Command, including a regimental appointment with the 11th Brigade and a logistics staff officer appointment at Headquarters Land Command. During this appointment her responsibilities included logistics planning in support of the 1999 operations in East Timor. In November 1999 she deployed as the Chief of Staff of the Peace Monitoring Group, Bougainville.[3]

She was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in the 2001 Australia Day Honours "for outstanding achievement as the Chief of Staff, Peace Monitoring Group, Bougainville, and in logistic planning and management of the Combat Force as the Staff Officer Grade One Logistics, Land Headquarters".[4]

On her return from Bougainville she served with Defence Corporate Services before being seconded to the Joint Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade in the House of Representatives. In 2002, Cosson commenced a three-year appointment in strategic logistics planning and was responsible for logistics policy and for developing concepts to improve logistics information systems.[3]

In December 2005 she became the first woman to be promoted to the rank of brigadier in the Australian Army.[citation needed]

She served in the Corporate Services and Infrastructure Group of the Defence Department as the Director General Regions and Bases.[5] In this position she was responsible for the management of integrated service delivery to Defence bases across Australia.

In March 2007 she assumed the role of Head Defence Support Operations in an acting capacity. In November 2007, the role was confirmed and she became the first woman to be promoted to the rank of major general in the Australian Army. She is the second female to be promoted to two-star rank in the Australian Defence Force, the first being Air Vice Marshal Julie Hammer, who retired in 2005. Cosson, as head of National Operations within the Defence Support Group, became responsible for the management of 80 ADF bases and garrisons across the country.[6] At that time, although about 13% of the ADF were women, there were only four at the one-star level: Commodore Robyn Walker, Commodore Vicki McConachie, Brigadier Lyn McDade and Air Commodore Margaret Staib.[7]

Cosson was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2011 Australia Day Honours List as a result of her "exceptional service" in the positions of Director General Regions and Bases, and as Head Defence Support Operations.[8] In December 2010 it was announced that she had been appointed General Manager of the Executive Division of the Department of Veterans Affairs.[1]

Kovco affair[edit]

Cosson was appointed in April 2006 to investigate the circumstances surrounding the repatriation of the body of Jacob Kovco. On 15 May 2006, following a meeting with the Victorian Coroner, she left a CD-ROM containing a draft copy of her confidential report in a public computer in the Qantas Club lounge of Melbourne Airport.[9] Parts of the report were subsequently broadcast by Derryn Hinch.[10] This incident was the subject of a Defence Department inquiry.[11]


Cosson is a graduate of the Army Command and Staff College at Fort Queenscliff (1994) and the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (2005). She holds a Graduate Diploma in Management Studies, a Bachelor of Social Sciences and a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Cosson is married to Brigadier James Baker,[3] who is also currently serving in the Australian Army.[12]


  1. ^ a b New General Manager – Executive Division, Vetaffairs, Vol 26, No.4, December 2010, pg.2, Department of Veterans Affairs. Accessed 7 April 2011.
  2. ^ Singh, Shivani (2010). Who's Who in Australia 2014. Melbourne, Australia: Crown Content. ISBN 1-74095-172-7. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Brigadier Elizabeth Cosson, CSC, Biography, 27 April 2006. Media Release on Australian Department of Defence website.
    Major General Elizabeth Cosson, CSC Archived 16 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine., Biography, Defence Leaders, Media Release on Australian Department of Defence website. Both accessed 28 August 2009.
  4. ^ Conspicuous Service Cross, Australian honours site.
  5. ^ Brendan Nicholson and Misha Schubert Hand-picked officer devastated by bungle, The Age, 19 May 2006
  6. ^ Mark Dodd, First female two-star general named, The Australian, 12 November 2007
  7. ^ David McLennan, Historic Promotion Despite Kovco Bungle, The Canberra Times, 12 November 2007
  8. ^ 2011 Australia Day Honours List – Member (AM) in the Military Division of the Order of Australia
  9. ^ Patrick Walters, Bungle brigadier taking it very hard, The Australian, 19 May 2006
  10. ^ Rachel Carbonell, Defence admits losing report, Lateline, 17 May 2006
  11. ^ Patrick Walters, Nelson sets limits for Kovco team, The Australian, 19 May 2006
  12. ^ Brigadier James Baker, Biography on Department of Defence website. Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]