Retired infantry officer. Conservative by nature and politics; Happily married and father and grandfather of eight. Loves V8 powered Range Rovers, Golden Retrievers, good books and technology and think there should be open season on Greenies. Born in the mid forties and overdue for servicing but most parts still work.

Saigon and the Rex Hotel

After my lucky escape in Vung Tau we rode the hydrofoil to Saigon and booked at the Oscar Hotel for the night before going on to Nha Trang the next day. That night I figured we should go and have a beer at the Rex Hotel. Famous during the war as a residence for Generals and journalists, it is a part of the folk-law of the Vietnam war. Being Infantry I never got there but had heard how the assembled multitude would admire the infantry’s ongoing pyrotechnic side show as we swapped red for green tracer and added in the odd napalm ‘appocalypse’ mixed with the Puff the Magic Dragon ‘spiralling red light show’ as millions of rounds sought out enemy troops. Ah. The vision splendid of pyrotechnics in war I hope the bastards appreciated all the effort we went to to liven up their Happy Hours after a hard week in their airconditioned offices. Suzan Weber in Demillle’s Up Country talks on some of the history of the hotel.
She smiled then said, “About the hotel – it was once owned by a wealthy Vietnamese couple who bought it from a French company. During the American involvement here, it housed mostly American military” “So I’ve heard” “Yes. Then when the Communists came to power in 1975, it was taken over by the government. It remained a hotel, but it mostly housed North Vietnamese party officials, Russian, and Communists from other countries” “Nothing but the best for the winners” “Well, I understand it became a pigsty. But sometime in the mid-1980s the government sold an interest in it to an international company, who managed to get rid of the communist guests. It was completely renovated and became an international hotel” From Up Country by Nelson Demille pp98-99
rex1.jpg A couple of Tiger beers followed by a couple of Black Label scotches soothed the soul as Stu and I sat and talked about things in general. The Rex was as far removed from my war as Brisbane is and thus didn’t conjure up many recollections, but alcohol loosens the mind and some surprising events resurfaced from repressed memories. Over by the crown and elephants a Philipino Quartet played and I was reminded of a time when I was last in Vietnam and suffering from malaria and a kind nurse offered to push me down in my wheelchair to a visiting Philipino show near the hospital at Vung Tau. There were lightly clad, pretty Philipino girls doing a song and dance routine that quickly degenerated into a ‘simulated sex with the microphone stand’ routine and then went straight on to a ‘real and naked sex with passing soldiers’ routine. Military Policemen found God and converted from being athiest bastards to followers of religion of the type quoted by Protestants and Methodists and stopped the show, while my chaperone giggled, squealed and quickly wheeled me out of the theatre. “Your’e not well enough for anything like that yet Kevin, your’e not even strong enough to walk” All my protestations about it being a horizontal sport made no impact on the determination of the Lieutenant to deliver me safe and sound back to my hospital bed. I lived to fight another day but I always felt the last chapter of that story never got written.

Aussie Infantry score

this just in from Defence Media Iraq incident involving Australian Security Detachment Australian soldiers from the Security Detachment responded to an incident yesterday where shots were fired at a man after he was observed acting suspiciously in the vicinity of the Australian Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Prior to the shooting, the man was driving a suspicious looking vehicle. The vehicle stopped near the Security Detachment Flats and the man alighted and, despite being given repeated warnings, the driver continued to act in a suspicious manner and failed to comply with directions. At approximately 12.20pm, shots were fired at the man. The man was injured and assisted from the scene by Iraqi authorities. His condition is unknown. The Australian Defence Force is currently investigating the incident. No further information is available at this time. Update The guy has died and the Air Commodore Evans is sad.
Sadly, we’ve learned just recently from unconfirmed reports from Iraqi sources that he’s passed away,”
There is going to be an investigation as well.
“We are trying to confirm that and the investigation, of course, will cover that most carefully.”
The guy gave all indications he was leaving a bombed up vehicle near the digger’s accomodation, was told in Arabic to behave himself and when he still looked iffy someone topped him. Seems reasonable to me yet the commander is ‘sad’ and we’re having an investigation. Funny way to run a war.

ATSIC refuses to play dead

I recall Weird Whitlam gutting the Army for having the temerity to fight his Communist mates and am saddened by the fact that us professional soldiers didn’t do something to stop the rot. It occurs to me that we could have tried to sell our Tanks, artillery pieces, APCs and M16 rifles to help fund a legal battle against the Government. This comes to mind as I read an article in today’s Australian that reports ATSIC is planning to sell their assetts to fight their long overdue demise. True. Believe me.
ATSIC commissioners plan to sell some of the agency’s $8 million in property and assets ? including a $3 million collection of indigenous art ? to fund a legal battle with the Howard Government.
Like the Tanks, artillery pieces, APCs and M16 rifles of the 70s, I’m of the opinion that anything ATSIC owns is actually a part of the National assett base and thus belongs to the taxpayer, not some miscreant grabbing for money and power out West. Can’t we just send in the removalists and bury this beast. ATSIC is dead and the corpse is starting to stink.

RAF Women sexually harrassed

A report from England publsihed in today’s Australian suggests a huge proportion of Airforce women are sexually harrassed. I take all such reports with a grain of salt as the first question is – What defines sexuall harrassment? In my day, everything up to hearing the words NO was OK and it was known colloqually as trying to score but I get the feeling that under today’s rules a good morning smile can be upgraded to a leer with associated mental undressing with little proof required.
ALMOST half the women serving in Britain’s Royal Air Force had suffered from sexual harassment, it was reported today.
More than 1000 of the 2500 women surveyed internally by the RAF had been victims of sexual harassment over the past 12 months, reports in the Independent on Sunday and the Sunday Mirror said.
I simply don’t believe it. Maybe ten percent of this is harrassment and inapropriate behaviour. It’s been my experience that most men are reasonble when dealing with the lifelong pursuit of the pleasures of Venus and know NO when they hear it. Life goes on. Men try and women mostly accept their approach. Some blokes come on too strong but mostly they end up accepting failure and try elsewhere. My Corps, Infantry, have a perfect record on this type of behaviour. It could be due to a total lack of women in the work place but I’d like to think it’s because we are gentlemen of the old school. It’s life’s major game-play and someone suggests fifty percent of this is harrassment or inapropriate. No way!

Frigate aground at Christmas Island

This just in from Defence Media. ballarat.jpg HMAS Ballarat
At approximately 4pm Sydney time, the Australian Navy’s ANZAC Class Frigate HMAS Ballarat ran aground at Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. The ship was engaged in Operation Relex II, a border protection activity, at the time. No one was injured. The full extent of the damage is still being assessed but there is known to be damage to the ship’s rudder and propeller. The ship’s hull was not holed. Navy will conduct an investigation into the circumstances of the grounding as soon as possible. Navy will not be able to decide whether the ship will be able to proceed under her own power for repairs until the full extent of the damage is known. No further information is available at this time.
It’s never a good career move to navigate one of our navy frigates onto rocks. Update 24 Jan From this mornings Australian
Locals reported that several ships had run aground in the cove over the years as the seabed level changes dramatically near the jetty.
and from Defence Media
Since grounding on Christmas Island on Saturday 22 January, HMAS Ballarat has undergone a number of trials to assess the impact of the damage to her propellers and possibly the steering gear. These trials, conducted in consultation with Navy engineers and the ship’s builder, will determine whether the ship will be able to undertake the passage to Fremantle under her own power or whether she will have to be towed. The trials should be completed, and a decision made on whether a tow is required, by late evening Monday 24 January (AEST). The frigate HMAS Canberra sailed from Fleet Base West, near Fremantle, late on Sunday 23 January and is now enroute to Christmas Island. This ship will either escort or tow HMAS Ballarat to Fremantle, depending on the outcome of the trials. She should arrive off Christmas Island late on Wednesday 26 January. An investigation team of two Navy officers will arrive in Christmas Island today to begin preparations for the Navy Board of Inquiry that will convene as soon as possible once the ship arrives in the mainland. The ANZAC-class frigate HMAS Arunta will sail from Fleet Base West mid-morning today to take over duties in Operation RELEX II, on which HMAS Ballarat was employed.

Specialist Graner

I feel uneasy about Graner and his trial. Not to suggest he isn’t guilty of the crimes as charged. After all a jury has found him guilty but it just seems a bit surreal to me . My first concern is the lack of rank on the man’s uniform. Living and operating at the bottom of the military food chain should prevent him taking unilateral actions as he appears to have done. Where were his commanders when all of this was going on? What were the Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains, Majors, Colonels and Star ranks doing while Graner was having his way with the prisoners? My second concern is the length of sentence. With a good lawyer, a murderer can get less. Ten years for being stupid seems a bit harsh to me. Western Armies, Australia’s included, dish out harder treatment to their own soldiers during training so forgive me if I think it’s all a bit much.

Blog Roll

Ever felt so moved that a burning desire to send your Member or local Senator a message bubbles to the surface? As a service to my readers, and in fact for myself, often so moved, I have included contact lists for the Senate and the House of Reps on the left side bar. Go on, you know you always wanted to do it – send a message!

Banda Aceh

HMAS Kanimbla arrived off Banda Aceh at about 18:00 EST according to a media release from the Defence Department. kanimbla.gif HMAS Kanimbla As is the custom with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships names are re-used thus the current Kanimbla is the second RAN ship to sail under that name. The history of the first Kanimbla is here This ship, also a Landing Ship spent a considerable part of WW2 in the Pacific taking part in landings in PNG and the Philipines. The current Kanimbla comes with proud traditions. In a media release Senator Hill said;
…it was anticipated that within a few hours of anchoring, Army landing craft – LCM8s – would commence the task of transporting equipment to the Banda Aceh shore. “Until now our focus has been the provision of life-essential needs of the Tsunami survivors such as food, water and medical support. The arrival of the Engineering detachment on board the Kanimbla means that we can now start providing reconstruction solutions for the longer term,” Senator Hill said. “Once on the ground the engineers will commence a busy schedule of clearing debris, repairing port facilities and constructing camps for displaced people who have lost their homes.
lcm8.gif An Australian LCM 8 The Kanimbla, with two LCM8s can move a lot of equipment on-shore including heavy plant for debris clearing and road re-construction. Just what the Indonesians need. I’m not sure if it’s what they want, though.
INDONESIAN Vice-President Jusuf Kalla yesterday called on foreign military forces to leave Aceh by March 26 or even earlier if emergency relief work was under control.
This article from News.com doesn’t look like a welcoming mat to me. It sounds like ‘Give us all your goodies and piss off’. The Vice President of Indonesia Jusuf Kalla wants us out.
Deadline … foreign troops providing aid to tsunami victims have been told they must be out within three months / Reuters “Three months are enough. In fact, the sooner the better,” Mr Kalla said, according to the state Antara news agency.
Why is it I feel slightly miffed.
Mr Kalla, who is in overall charge of Jakarta’s tsunami relief operation, said Aceh would need foreign medical workers and engineers instead of military assistance. “Foreign troops are no longer needed,” he said.
Doesn’t want our helicopters and LCMs. Doesn’t want our engineers rebuilding homes, roads and infrastructure. Doesn’t want our young men and woman working their butts off for his traumatised people because they wear a uniform. Maybe he would rather some UN bureacrats – little would be done but it would look good and the UN are pretty well on the side of radical moslems anyway. Jusuf (My God is better than yours) Kalla is under pressure from Moslems in the Indon Parliament to get us out before we corrupt their people with freedom of worship. God forbid, but it’s not what we are about and because that is what they are all about they will never believe us. Pity. The people will suffer

Deep Impact

Nasa mission has a mission underway that will travel to a comet and release an impactor on July 4, creating a crater on the surface of the comet. Scientists believe the exposed materials may give clues to the formation of our solar system. I like the thought of NASA having the practised capacity to impact anything on a comet as in…comet on collision with earth…send up a spacecraft with an ‘impactor’…drop impactor in path of comet…wait for impact then detonate nuclear device inside impactor thus putting comet off course or disintegrating it all over space into little bits. Sounds like a good plot for a movie. What’s that you say? It’s already been done. A case of life imitating art – an unpleasant thought. (Can’t think of the name of the movie but the hero died) South Africa’s Independent Media Centre obviously has a ‘Tim Dunlop’ type journo writing for them as in this article, on the same subject, believe it or not, they miss the point altogether and then confuse it with ‘black hole’ class spin.
Nasa is presently drilling a hole into the core of an Astroid, and packing it with millions of Tons of TnT, to explode on the 4th of July. There is no public concensus. There should be.
and
This explosion could and will according, to NASA, possibly throw the Earth “a little ” out of orbit.
That bloody bastard Bush is at it again. I’ll have to shackle myself to the bar on this years 4 July celebrations. Don’t want to fall off my barstool when the Earth tilts a ‘little’.

Mark is marked

Might I suggest that the true cause of Mark Latham’s Pancreatitis is one of the knife wounds in his back actually damaged his pancreas. I’ve just heard that Julia Gillard is rushing back to Australia from her holidays in Vietnam. For a moment I wondered why I didn’t run into her as we were obviously in the country at the same time but then I didn’t spend any time at the local People’s Commissariat. Mark is quoted on the ABC as if there was no discussion about his leadership. (Somehow the word ‘leadership’ seems inadequate in this context but it’s all I can think of at the moment.) In the ‘leadership’ battle that Mark isn’t having and the rest of Australia is, I’m personally going for Julia Gillard. The further left the ALP venture, the further away they will be from the treasury benches. Go Jules. Darlene Taylor has some comments as well. A little irreverent but telling none the less. I read somewhere (can’t remember) that if Beasley got the nod now it would at least give him three years to practice his next ‘I’m sorry, we lost’ speech. I notice the left wing blogs, at least the ones I link to, are not interested in the ‘Leadership’ debate. Strange – it’s the lead on the last ABC newscast I heard. The blogs are too busy discussing terrorists getting out of goal, redefining torture as any words or body language used in the presence of a terrorist and US bashing.
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