Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith is leaving the Army after 17 years of service and will head back to university to undertake business studies.

Corporal Roberts-Smith, Australia's most decorated modern solider who also received a Medal for Gallantry for extreme heroism under fire, will continue to serve in the Army Reserve, the Australian Defence Force says.

He will begin studying part-time for a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Queensland next year, with a view to a future corporate career.

Corporal Roberts-Smith says he has achieved his goals in the military and it is "the right time" for him to pursue a long-held desire to further his education.

"It has been a great honour to serve my country for the last 17 years," he said in a statement.

"I have been extremely privileged to serve alongside some of the best men and woman in Australia.

"My time within the Special Air Service Regiment has been the highlight of my military career and I will always look back on my service without regret, and proud to be able to count myself among their number.

"Having been fortunate enough to achieve my goals within Defence, I have decided that now is the right time to pursue other opportunities including further education, which is something I have always been keen to do."

He thanked his wife, Emma, and daughters Eve and Elizabeth, saying that "none of the experiences I have had would have been possible without their support".

He said he looked forward to continuing to serve in the Army Reserve, and working with various Defence Force charities.

Having enlisted in the Australian Army in 1996, Corporal Roberts-Smith was chosen for the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in 2003 and over the next decade deployed to South-East Asia, Fiji, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia in 2011 for his role in assaulting enemy machine gun positions in Afghanistan while the rest of his squad was pinned down.

One of only three Australian recipients of the award, Corporal Roberts-Smith donated his medal to the Australian War Memorial.

The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, paid tribute to Corporal Roberts-Smith, saying he showed a selfless dedication to his various missions.

"As Australia's most decorated modern soldier, Corporal Roberts-Smith has become one of the most recognisable figures in Australia today," he said.

"He was thrust into the spotlight when he was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia ... and has matured into a first-class ambassador for our nation and the Australian Defence Force.

"Ben is an exemplary soldier who has demonstrated extreme devotion to duty and most conspicuous gallantry in the face of great danger."

The SASR commanding officer, "Lieutenant Colonel G", says Corporal Roberts-Smith made "a significant contribution" to the unit since 2003.

"For almost a decade he has faithfully served his country and the SASR in a period of continuous and unprecedented operational tempo," he said. 

"His awards for valour in Afghanistan are testament to his fierce determination and his absolute commitment to the profession of arms, in keeping with the SASR Ethos that all Regimental members uphold."

The Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, thanked Corporal Roberts-Smith for his service, describing him as "a significant part of Army’s contemporary history".

"Ben represents the best of the Australian soldier and has been a wonderful ambassador for the Australian Army," he said.

"He will always be part of the Army family."

 

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