Warrant Officer Dave Ashley was born in Bradford, England on 12 July 1959. He emigrated to Australia with his family in 1962 at the age of three. He grew up and attended school in the Melbourne suburbs of Oakleigh, Doveton and Ferntree Gully. After leaving school he worked in various labouring jobs in the timber and manufacturing Industries and loading trucks. He enlisted into the Australian Regular Army on 28 February 1979.
After completion of Recruit and Infantry Initial Employment Training, he was posted to the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment where he served until 1984 as a Rifleman and section commander in a rifle and Support Company. In 1985 and 1986, he served as a platoon sergeant in the 5th/7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. During this posting he also was attached the Regimental Drill Team for the Bi-Centennial Military Tattoo which toured Australia to celebrate Australia’s Bi-Centennial year.
In 1989 he was posted to the Royal Military College – Duntroon as an instructor in 3rd Class and as the Platoon Commander of Training Support Platoon. He was promoted to Warrant Officer Class Two in 1991 and posted to the Pilbara Regiment, a Regional Force Surveillance Unit in Western Australia in Port Hedland and later Newman. In 1994 he was posted to the 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment as a Company Sergeant Major. After this, he was posted to Headquarters Company, 6th Brigade and later, to 7th Command Support Unit.
Warrant Officer Ashley was promoted to Warrant Officer Class one in 1998 and assumed his first Regimental Sergeant Major’s appointment in the 8th/7th Battalion, The Royal Victoria Regiment based in rural Victoria. In 2000 he was posted again to the 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, and this time as the Regimental Sergeant Major. During this appointment, he deployed to East Timor with the Battalion in a peace keeping role. In 2002 he was Regimental Sergeant Major of the Regional Training Centre – Northern Territory before being posted as a career manager to the Soldier Career Management Agency.
He was appointed as the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 3rd Brigade where he served for 2005 and 2006. During this appointment he deployed to Timor Leste as the Regimental Sergeant Major of Joint Task Force 631. He was then appointed as the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 1st Division in 2007 and in 2008 was appointed Command Sergeant Major of Land Command. In July of 2009 he became the founding Command Sergeant Major of Forces Command. In 2011, he was deployed to Afghanistan on Operation Slipper as the Sergeant Major of Combined Team Uruzgan, a multi-national combined task force, tasked with Counter Insurgency operations in Uruzgan Province.
Warrant Officer Ashley was appointed Regimental Sergeant Major of the Australian Army on 4 October 2011.
Warrant Officer Ashley was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2003 Queens Birthday Honours List for services to the 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment and to Army training.
Warrant Officer Ashley is married to Jenny and they have two adult children. His hobbies include military history, gardening and his dogs. He is an avid Australian Rules football follower and barracks for North Melbourne.