Mark Dodd reports creates fury

Mark Dodd who never misses a chance to denigrate our military provides info in the form of a beat up about battle field security of prisoners in Afghanistan
SUSPECTED Taliban militants arrested by Australian special forces in Afghanistan have been detained in “dog pens” in actions that have left Australian Muslim groups outraged and prompted a protest from the Afghan ambassador in Canberra.
As a matter of interest I wonder how the local Muslim groups become aware of the situation. I can just imagine Mark phoning the local Muslim organizations saying “I have a FOI report and you should be outraged…could you give me an outraged statement please? Mark continues
The use of dog pens appears to contravene the Geneva Convention covering the treatment of prisoners of war.
No it doesn’t.
Article 25 of the Convention states: Prisoners of war must be quartered in conditions as favourable as those enjoyed by the detaining power.
Article 25 is talking about the long term incarceration of POWs once they have been removed from the battle field. When initially captured, prisoners are secured in any way possible, ie with ropes, handcuffs or ziplocks and a rifle at their head until they can be evacuated rearward. The soldiers have to keep a constant armed vigil over them and if they can be confined in some cage then all the best for the sleep patterns of the soldiers.
But there are cultural sensitivities at play over the use of dog pens. Islamic decrees warn Muslims against contact with dogs, which are regarded as unclean.
Cultural sensitivities at play! We are talking about the Taliban here. I can’t believe that they have the temerity to call dogs unclean. UPDATE: Mark Dodd phoned taking umbrage at my opening line and quiet reasonably so, I might add. I had gained an opinion of a certain alacrity on Mark’s part to publish articles that put the ADF in a negative light but as he explained, he often publishes what he is given by defence. That being the case, and with further reading of his work beyond that which had previously caught my eye, I must agree and will not be so cavalier with the ‘ever ready to denigrate the ADF’ line. I will however maintain the right to an opinion when I feel my old regiment is under attack and not recognized for it’s sterling service. My point on Article 25 of the Geneva Convention referring to conditions after the PWs have been removed from the battle zone has not been answered though and I can only suggest the lawyer offering the opinon to Mark look at it a little closer. There has been more than one occassion in the past where I have been involved in guarding PWs in the field where we have simply had to make do with what we had available – with the guy mostly static, on the ground, blindfolded, with their arms tied behind their back and a rifleman dedicated to keeping them that way. PW cages or prisons are generally not the responsibility of Infantry.

So what?

FOR seven minutes there was silence on the Indonesian island except the sounds of two men dying and a priest singing Amazing Grace. A Irish Catholic priest, officiating at an execution in Indonesia, says the men took seven minutes to die after having been shot. The execution squad of 12 had only three weapons armed with live rounds and the rest with blanks. I’m not sure why authorities insist on this ‘some rifles load with blanks’ line. I presume it is to help the poor guys doing the executing – ie maybe my rifle had a blank and thus I didn’t kill him’ but if a soldier doesn’t know the difference between firing a blank or a live round he shouldn’t be in the game. I’m not big into executions but if you are going to do it then let’s not stuff around. Have 9 out of a dozen rifles loaded with live rounds and the rest with blanks. In fact this makes so much sense I am beginning to doubt the Priest’s story. Nowhere in the article does it say the men were executed one at time and I can’t believe that the authorities expected three rounds to do the job on two people – that would mean one of those to be executed was only targeted by one rifleman. Thus, they would have been executed separately in which case each guy would have taken three rounds in the chest. That’s enough. Looks like a beat-up to me but either way I don’t care. Some of the hundreds killed by the soon to be executed Bali Bomber Barbarians would have taken a lot longer to die that 7 minutes.

America’s Hero Ships, coming soon to a conflict near you

The US Navy is commissioning a series of Hero Ships named after heros and incidences from the war against terror. One, the USS New York has recycled steel from the WTC Towers incorporated in her hull Hero Ship “We’re very proud that the twisted steel from the World Trade Center towers will soon be used to forge an even strong national defense,” said New York Gov. George Pataki. “The USS New York will soon be defending freedom and combating terrorism around the globe, while also ensuring that the world never forgets the evil attacks of September 11, 2001 and the courage and strength New Yorkers showed in response to terror.” I like the symmetry and can only hope one of the ships gets to give some payback. More at the USS New York website.

Jim Moylan nails it

Paul Kelly talks to General Jim Moylan about his recently released book detailing his time as chief of operations to the US commander of the multinational force in Iraq, George Casey, which included planning the second battle for Fallujah in November 2004 and the successful general election the following January.
THE most highly placed Australian to serve in Iraq has offered a lethal critique of the Australian way of war in its diplomatic, strategic and military dimensions, challenging the orthodoxy of the Howard and Rudd governments. Putting it bluntly, (General) Molan, who retired a fortnight ago, says Australia is not prepared “to fight a war involving sustained combat”. As a professional, he is embarrassed. The conclusion from his book is that Australia has been too successful in winning political dividends from extremely limited military commitments. Sooner or later, he believes, our luck will expire.
As an ex professional, I am also embarrassed, as are many of my Army mates, but it takes a General to state the case to have people listen. The benefits we gain from being a part of the coalition against terrorism is tangible – we gain access to intelligence that helps us secure our citizens; we gain security from the very fact that the terrorist are being confronted in their homelands and thus have difficulty attacking ours and yet this is largely achieved by the efforts and casualties of the Yanks, Canadians and Brits. Thanks to Howard and his military rebuild we have the capability to deploy a larger force – maybe a Battle Group, and pick up the responsibility of a province in Afghanistan but I don’t absolve Howard from this criticism. I am on record as saying he achieved a lot of recognition for little commitment and whereas it’s true our special forces guys from the West and 4RAR have done us proud, special forces don’t win wars by themselves. Cue the Royal Australian Regiment, battalions of highly trained, well equipped and motivated young Aussies whose role is clear and unambiguous…to seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him, to seize and hold ground and to repel attack, by day or night, regardless of season, weather or terrain. It is the battalions of Infantry and Marines from the US, Britain and Canada that are doing the hard yards, who are taking the casualties and who will eventually decide the outcome of war and if we intend to take a seat at the final conference when we have beaten the bastards then we need to recommit. Patrick Walters also quotes the General in an article headed “A nation at war, but kept clear of combat”
“We in Australia luxuriate in what I describe as wars of choice within wars; we choose the wars we will fight in, we choose the timing of our participation, we choose the geographical areas of our participation (and so control the level of likely combat), we choose the kind of operations we will conduct and we choose when we come home,” he says. As Molan tells Inquirer, Americans do not have that luxury in Iraq or Afghanistan. Australia may not have that luxury in the years ahead.
Chances of that happening under Rudd, Smith and Fitzgibbon – nil, zip, nada, no chance and Buckleys but one lives in hope that we might just do something other than seek seats on committees, demand NATO commit more troops and pontificate about how high we value our defence relationship with the Yanks and yet still refuse to commit sufficient ground troops to make a difference. Sigh!

Digger killed in Taliban clash

AUSTRALIAN troops are believed to have been involved in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan, resulting in casualties including the death of a soldier. The Australian Defence Force will hold a media briefing at 7.30am (AEST) today to provide details on the incident believed to involve casualties from a Taliban attack. UPDATE An Australian special forces commando has been killed and four others have been wounded in a firefight with Taliban militants near the Australian base in the southern Oruzgan Province. Twenty-seven-year-old Lance Corporal Jason Marks was killed last night (Afghan time) during an attack on a Taliban position 25 kilometres south of the Australian base at Tarin Kowt. Lance Corporal Marks was a father of two who was born in Broken Hill in the far west of New South Wales and was raised in Yeppoon in Queensland. Source ABC News The report continues;
Defence Force head Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston said Lance Corporal Marks was part of a Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) platoon which was leading a company-level “deliberate assault” at the time of the firefight. He said they were attacked while they were out in the open and preparing for their own assault on the Taliban.
Likely translation. The guys were involved in a Company Attack and were caught moving to or from the FUP

Kovko’s last chapter

AFTER eight weeks of hearings, at a cost of more than $1 million, that have exposed the most painful and private secrets of Private Jake Kovco’s life, the inquest into his death yesterday vindicated the 2006 military inquiry verdict that he died while”skylarking”. The military inquest sorted out all the problems associated with Kovco’s repatriation to Australia and the ADF have put in place measures to ensure it performs better should a similar incidence happen again. Although there would not have been any experience base left after more than thirty years without fatalities the ADF should have foreseen and been prepared for the obvious. In all my time in the army I never came across an original problem. Somewhere in the files there was always a paper or SOP laying down procedure and no doubt with over 500 bodies repatriated from Vietnam a similar answer would have existed. The lessons learned, or rather relearned, have already been turned into procedure so all this latest inquest has done is to bring into the open things that should’ve been left unsaid. The widow does not need to have her husbands imperfections underlined and nor does the nation need to know he was somewhat cavalier with weapons. Lots of soldiers die in a war zone and not all of them from enemy action and often enough, in our long military history, soldiers have died by their own hand; either deliberately or accidentally. Drawn out public inquests, seemingly hunting down witches, prove little once second parties have been eliminated. Mrs Kovko needs to get on with her life remembering the best of her husband and forgetting the painful and private secrets raised as people sought a darker side to what already was a tragedy. We need to let the poor man rest in peace and to let his wife and kids live on in peace.

Haneef demands wider inquiry

The hide of the bastard! He may be innocent although that was never fully tested in a court; the AFP may have handled the case less than perfectly but he still has a very iffy family who like to blow up innocents and from my point of view that is sufficient reason to bar him from entry into Australia.
In an exclusive interview from India, Dr Haneef said the inquiry should be given powers to ensure all documents are released, and that witnesses, including Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty and former immigration minister Kevin Andrews – as well as investigators, prosecutors and bureaucrats – are compelled to give evidence and face cross-examination.
Well he would say that wouldn’t he? This is now going to be about compensation as he has a chance of sitting on easy money for the rest of his life.
Maurice Blackburn partner Rod Hodgson said he believed Dr Haneef had a strong claim for compensation. “He has had his reputation trashed, his career stalled, his liberty taken away, his life in Australia interrupted, his earnings reduced and his life turned upside down. “Those are all wrongs absolutely deserving of compensation.”
There’s still too many questions about Haneef for us to let him dictate the terms of enquiry.

Myths surround Islam – leader

The federal government is considering plans for a new-look advisory body to help combat public perceptions of an overly-religious image of Islam.
Dr Ameer Ali, of the Regional Islamic Council, said he agreed with comments by the Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Laurie Ferguson that the idea that all Muslims were religious was a “misconception”. “Islam has been portrayed as religion of violence, which is not true. Islam has been portrayed as a religion that promotes jihads … that’s not true,” Dr Ali told Sky News.
Misconception…Not true….fine. I don’t think any reasonable person would disagree with Dr Amir Ali. They are not all religious neither do all of them support jihad or violence but some of them do and therein lies the problem. Dr Ali says; “The Muslim problem is not a religious problem – it is educational, economic, humanitarian, social. It (the problem) needs a wider attack.” I agree the problem is educational – fix that and the other problems will dissolve. In the meantime Australian Muslim leaders need to be a bit more proactive. Heres an idea. The next time some radical idiot blows himself up taking innocents with him condemn the act. Call a press conference and denounce the violence. The next time a leader is reported as agreeing with jihad or condemning the west for taking action against the radicals call a press conference and tell Australians the person quoted doesn’t represent the vast majority of Muslims. Tell us that you have given his name and the names of his followers to the Australian Federal Police and that you have removed his power to represent Muslims. Tell us every day that first and foremost you are Australians and have no time for killers, murders or religious zealots.
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