With two daughters in London,

With two daughters in London, the bride has been pushing to go visit and this week she won her case. I think I’ve been subjected to a conspiracy of Gillett women and even though I’m an old soldier I didn’t see it coming. Next Tuesday she flies via Air Bruinei to London, bunks with the girls and conducts a recce for our trip next year. I expect a full reconnaisance report but of course won’t get it – she’s not staff trained and never studied Staff Writing in the Field Chapter 4: Recce Reports. The girls are all a tizz and are making grandiose plans about shackling Mother to the kitchen in the London bed-sit until she produces roast lamb dinners and spagbog suppers. I hope they let her out. Never mind, this frees me up to travel south to Wagga Wagga, NSW for the 38th anniversary reunion of 7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. I made a reservation at a motel in Wagga and in speaking to the receptionist suggested she speak to management about having counsellors booked to help the staff handle the trauma of hundreds of visiting Veterans. She laughed but later I thought, well maybe we aren’t a threat anymore. Recently I travelled to Yepoon, Queensland, and while there dropped in and had coffee (later rum) with an old friend from those days, “Doc’ Savage. In April 1970 my friend ‘Doc’, commanding an ambush patrol of 12 men, held back about fifty Viet Cong from midnight to dawn. Gratefull for help from Australian and US air and artillery support this doesn’t detract from the fact that the battle is fought on the ground and those guys soldiered magnificently for those six hours. When I visited ‘Doc’ mid afternoon, he was taking a nap! I guess we slow down. As an aside, when I surf the net, I often come across references to this little battle as War Gamers try and re-enact what we actuallly were obliged to do. I feel sorry for them – but not too much. In 1970 I commanded a patrol in a recce platoon. The eyes of the Battalion, we would be remote and miles from support. We could cut track anywhere, recognize the passage of enemy by the way the rain settled on the leaves and judge which way he went by the lie of the vegetation. Now, the most common form of communication between my wife and myself starts with, “Have you seen my reading glasses?. These thoughts, coupled with the unkindest cut of all, old friends refering to me as the ‘Grey Ghost’, brings home the truth of mortality. AT Wagga, after a couple of beers, will we care? Hell no! The battles will be bigger, better fought and all conclusive victories. The bar will be knee deep with shrapnel and hand grenade pins and if you don’t like this type of testosterone charged environment then stay away from Wagga. If any Wontok bloggers are in town then you’ll find me at the RSL (Ex-services Club) After the reunion I intend to travel south to Melbourne to visit old mates and cousins and then head north to Mt Buller where my eldest daughter and her chap are the staff nurses at the medical centre. At least I think they work there but all photos to date have a ski holday look about them. The astute reader/viewer will note one common thread in the photos – cold and definitely not what comes to mind when foreigners think of Australia. The zero temperatures reported at Wagga pose no risk as bars, dining halls and motel rooms have reverse cycle airconditioners but I dread the cold of Mt Buller. Maybe my kinder knows of a warm bar – I hope so. I’m not leaving for a week yet but as I travel I will post via any unattended computer I find.

Sam at Yobbo makes a

Sam at Yobbo makes a point about US soldiers using trickery to achieve their aim. He thinks its reasonable but Tim Dunlop argues its immoral. In the original article from the Washington Post Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: “If you want your family released, turn yourself in.” Such tactics are justified, he said, because, “It’s an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info.” They would have been released in due course, he added later. Sam’s comment – Tim, with all due respect, neither of us have ever fought in a war is relevant. Unless you have been there and done it, it is unwise to comment so adamantly about these matters. An old Army expression talks about Johnny on the Spot being the best man to make the decisions. This rule says to the armchair generals and inexperienced commentators “if you don’t know the whole story – shut up! The tactic worked. On Friday, Hogg said, the lieutenant general appeared at the front gate of the U.S. base and surrendered. Good tactics. No one was hurt, particularly the soldiers taking the risks, and the bad guy was captured. Aims met, move on. On a similar thread, Orpheus, writing from Iraq and quoted at Chief Wiggles has something to say on the subject of reporting from the war zone. Orpheus quotes an article from the London Times and states The only words for the journalist’s work are willful deception, misrepresentation of information, and deliberate intellectual sabotage. In the article in question, the journalist goes on about the poor Iraqi prisoners being held in tents where the temperature exceded 120 degrees. Orpheus replies; Spoken of are prisoners who are held in tents with temperatures reaching “up to 122 degrees” with no relief. There’s a reason why it’s 122 degrees inside the tent, and that’s because the outside ambient temperature is 131, and there are precisely the same temperatures in my tent, and every soldier’s tent in this country. I know well what it is to wake up in the morning lying in a pool of sweat that the taut material of my cot cannot absorb. There are soldiers even now who don’t have tents to provide shade, who are rationed two MREs a day, who preciously horde their allotment of water, trying to figure out how keep enough water in their bodies when anything they drink immediately sweats out. For well over two months at the camp here, latrines consisted of ditches with wooden planks and tubes half-buried in the sand for urinals. Which goes to prove anybody can pen words to make the soldier look bad. In previous wars the soldiers have not had to put up with journalists questioning every move made in a sub-unit, say a platoon or rifle company. In war soldiers are obliged to do things that normal society would consider an afront to polite behaviour but folks, that is the nature of war and if some rules are bent to maintain the aim then so be it. If it gets hot at your favourite coffee joint you can seek airconditioning; the soldier can’t and where you rationalize the soldier’s poor behaviour from the cooler corner of the coffee shop with the biggest risk you face being an inexperienced cappucino maker; the soldier is being fired at, he is fearful of his life, he misses his wife/mother/girlfriend/mates at the pub. He is working under these conditions all day from sunup to sundown and at nights it gets worse. A word to journalists and commentators – get off the soldiers back. If you have a bitch then direct it at the politicians.

I must be IT challenged

I must be IT challenged as I can’t get archives up and running. Blogger ignores my help desk query. I’m desperate, so desperate that I’m prepared to forego decades of being a tight arse. I’ll pay. email me (link top right) and solve my problem.

Militants are ready to give

Militants are ready to give up arms They also want to forward allegations of alleged government corruption to investigating officers of the intervention force. “We want the intervention forces to come and observe this,” said Mr Rasta. “We want to make a lasting peace for Solomon Islands.” Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza has said if any evidence of wrongdoing was found against him, he was prepared to face the courts. Meanwhile the Royal Australian Navy bolsters it’s strength. Four new ships, Oh OK – boats, will join HMAS Manoora Arrival of Australian patrol boat HMAS Whyalla overnight, the first of the four new ships, came as the force prepared to set-up bases outside Honiara to continue the mission to restore law and order in the troubled nation. A spokeswoman for the intervention force said the arrival of the Whyalla “adds considerably” to the capability of the intervention force, which would be joined by three more Australian navy craft later this week. Mine hunter HMAS Hawkesbury will be tasked as a patrol boat, while landing craft HMAS Wewak and HMAS Labuan will be used to transport stores and equipment. The ADF is stretched too thin. I trust PNG doesn’t fall into the abyss until after the Solomon Islands matter is stabalized.

This from a Wontok in

This from a Wontok in Texas explains it all so simply. Life is easier for me now – I have seen the light! The division of the human family into its two distinct branches, liberals and conservatives, occurred some 20,000 years ago. Until then all humans coexisted as members of small bands of nomadic hunter/gatherers. A thousand generations ago, in the pivotal event of societal evolution, beer was invented. This epochal innovation was both the foundation of modern civilization and the occasion of the great bifurcation of humanity into its two distinct subgroups. Continue reading “How It All Began

Morally questionable – tactically sound.

Morally questionable – tactically sound. Display the pictures of Uday and Queday’s dead bodies or the poor Iraqi’s will never, never tell about WMDs. Until they see the photos they will always be terrified that the animals will come back to kill and torture them. So the US displayed the photos and was this predictable or not; DUBAI (Reuters) – Televised images of the bodies of Saddam Hussein’s sons shocked many Arabs on Friday, who said it was un-Islamic to exhibit corpses, however much the brothers were loathed. It must be un-Islamic to show images of Islamic corpses only. Displaying Images of non-Islamic corpses is obviously OK. American soldiers dead on a concrete floor, their bodies manhandled by grinning Iraqis, broadcast repeatedly on Al Jazeera Television. American soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. Images of dead Israelis after suicide bombings, lovingly lingered over on Arab web sites and in Arab newspapers and magazines. Palestinian “collaborators” forced to “confess” on camera, then executed, their bodies strung up in a public square. Jihad videotapes showing Russian soldiers being decapitated while still alive. Daniel Pearl. And of course Reuters reports this stunningly two-faced hypocritical garbage with no context whatsoever. The post at LGF solicited 96 comments from angry people and do you blame them? Go read some of them.

A fine week of sport

A fine week of sport nears its end as NZ and Australia do battle where it matters – on the sporting field. Early this week NZ beat us at Netball. What the hell is Netball, foreign readers might ask. It’s a womens sport not unlike basketball except a rule exists, primarily aimed, it would seem to me, at ruining the girls knee joints. The rule dissallows more than one step to be taken after catching the ball. To do this in full flight is a sight to terrify ‘medical bill paying’ parents. I was down in NZ some years ago and while there Australia beat the Kiwis at netball. They went into mourning with people crying on TV and headlines surrounded in black. Our cousins take their sport seriously. The real battles though, are fought on the football field. Last night the Kangaroos walloped the Kiwis with five unanswered tries (touchdowns). Way to go guys. However, tonight is THE test. Rugby Union (the game they play in heaven) is the real core of the Kiwi/Aussie relationship. No quarter asked and none given; every Bledisloe Cup match is undeclared war and games are national events with feelings running very high. If we loose tonight, tomorrow I’ll be unreconcilable, not so much from the loss but from from knowing I will have to endure weeks of “we beat you” statements from the other side of the ditch. I’ll also be $10.00 lighter as I have a standing bet with an ex Kiwi mate. Many years ago we bet $10 on a game and the All Blacks won. I thought it would be fitting to pay him with a NZ ten dollar note. It turned out more than fitting as the currency exchange rate favoured Australia and he ended up with $6.60 purchasing power. Since then it’s been…”$10 on the game?” “Yep! But make it Australian dollars please! Outside of the potential of Buddha saying for the gazillionth time…”Go you good thing”, it promises to be a great game. Update: Bugger!

It’s hard to get a

It’s hard to get a bottom line on the Middle East and Terrorism but we need to keep trying, if for no other purpose but to stem the flow of pointless caterwauling from the left about LIES, Niger yellow cake, Bush is dumb, Bush stole the election, WMDs don’t exist, Iraq is worse off, Quagmire, Vietnam, Guerilla War blah blah blah! It’s not just about Iraq, stupid. It’s the whole area. Look at it – from Bali to the eastern shores of the Mediterranian terrorists are creating mahem indicating, surely, that one single fix in Iraq is simplistic. The media’s emphasis on the trivia of day to day events in Iraq is disingenius at best. With the Taliban in Afghanistan neutered and largely routed (or rooted) the centre of the eastern reaches of the Bali- Mediterranian line is starting to stabilize. In the Middle East, with Iraq in the centre of a squabbling bunch of ego-based countries that deprive their people of the wherewithall to prosper and educate themselves, Iraq’s neighbours are now faced with the problem of a stable democracy in their midst. Iran is doing her best to stop the democratic process in Iraq with the Mullahs fighting what appears to be a loosing battle. Watch Iran – with Iraq stable and heading towards prosperity, the Iranians will clamour for more of the same. Saudi Arabia, to the south, has suddenly discovered how to pursue terrorism on its own soil. For many years, a joke, they have just found a cache of 20 tons of bomb making supplies. It’s no longer a joke. Soon, with a working democracy next door in Iraq, the House of Saud will have trouble keeping the peasants down. For years the Princes have raped the soil and spent their oil revenues on stables of Range Rovers; 100 million dollars expeditions to the pleasure spots of London but little for their people. They have paid lip service to fighting terrorism but now will have to face reality. Syria, to the north-west will be under similar pressures. Is Bush dumb? I don’t think so. I learned long ago to judge people on outcomes rather than presentation, and all I see is the world heading towards more democracy. Did he steal the election? I don’t think so. The US has laws, they were tested and Bush announced the winner. Gore won the popular vote by maybe 300,000 votes but thats not the point. More to the point maybe; Gore won 670 counties and Bush won 2,434. I’m not an expert on the US rules of law but this article explains the process fairly succinctly. WMDs don’t exist. Why then didn’t Saddam prove it – thats what the WMD issue was all about. Niger boring Yellow Cake. Get over it folks! The only time intelligence is 100% accurate is after the event. I know, I’ve played the game. If the Intel people were conned, they were conned – big deal. No one went to war based on boring old yellow cake. They went to war for a hundred reasons, most of which we’ll never know, but they all come under the heading of making the world a more secure place for our children. Quagmire, Vietnam, Guerilla War are just words the Left throw around to cloud the waters – and don’t think alot of this isn’t about the US elections in 2004. How long is too long before Iraq settles. Time unquantifiable – but every day, in some small way, Iraq becomes a better place to live. ‘Too long’ may prove to be ‘if it isn’t sorted’ by the elections. In a nutshell – plant the seeds of demoracy in a fertile field and slowly choke the weeds. Original thought – No! Like all of us, my opinions are based on reading and assessing the compilation of the thoughts of many. This article at Flipping Turtle was a primer for this post. I don’t think Bush is dumb but I do think he needs tell us, in words of one syllable, what his strategy is. STRATFOR, a US strategic assessment site has a piece entitled U.S. Strategy: Perception vs. Deception Their penultimate paragraph says it all. This is a much more complex war. That increases — not decreases — the need for strategic clarity among the public and the troops. The United States is not randomly in Iraq, and it is not there because Hussein was a butcher or because he might have had WMD. Those are good reasons, but not the real reason. The United States is in Iraq to force Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran to change their behavior toward al Qaeda and other Islamist groups. The United States already has overwhelmed the Saudis and is engaged in threatening Syria and Iran. This is visible to everyone who is watching. That is why the United States is in Iraq. It might or might not be good strategy, but it is a strategy that is much better than no strategy at all. Read more

This time 33 years ago

This time 33 years ago I was flying into Brisbane airport as a last leg of a 8,000 mile voyage from the jungles of Vietnam to the wedding alter at Brisbane. Today, my wife Joan has passed another milestone of tolerance and patience by having endured my presence and many absences over these years. It has often been said of marriage “You get less for murder and there is no time off for good behaviour” – but I’m happy and would do it again.

An article in the National

An article in the National Review Online by Denis Boyles delves deeper into the BBC/Kelly affair than I have. I picked up the link from Bargarz and will use it for amplication of my point earlier in the week. All through the war the BBC’s attitude was plainly anti-war and tended to insult those who couldn’t or woudn’t subscribe to their anti US/Bush stand. To quote Denis Boyles; The executives running the Corporation already had decided the war was unwise, unjustified, wrong, and they were determined to report it that way. According to the Guardian, as early as last March, the BBC was ordering journalists “to reflect significant opposition in the UK (and elsewhere) to the military conflict” in their dispatches. That had been important, because for the BBC, no matter who won the shooting match in the deserts of Iraq, the war itself must be seen as illegitimate, phony, bogus. Like many other news organizations and journalists who believed the same things, once the fighting ended, the BBC had begun their bizarre obsession with parsing sentences and phrases, angry, mindless players in a pointless game of gotcha. The thing that gets up my goat about the BBC and their mirror site, the ABC, is that they give voice to the opinions of just a few. While the people repeatedly elect the party of their choice; the tax funded media fronts for the left wing ignore them and talk only to the small minority of the population who share a hatred of the Howard/Bush/Blair view of the world. I believe the news should report facts as they happen with no left or right wing embellishment and that current affairs programmes should be balanced with guests/commentators from both sides of the political spectrum. I certainly didn’t vote for the ABC and resent them suggesting what I should think. Read more from Denis Boyles
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