Category Archives: Defence

ASLAV

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Where were these cool toys when I was serving. Damn. That looks efficient. Better than the shoe box APC I had to put up with.

A squadron of 25 new state-of-the-art Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) are to be formally delivered to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Darwin today providing Army with a major boost in land capability. Defence Minister Robert Hill said the new ASLAVs are equipped with the Army’s premiere night-fighting equipment, the latest target locating system and fire control measures, which incorporate advanced thermal imager technology.

Senator Hill said the new ASLAVs would make a significant contribution to 1st Brigade’s ability to be a readily deployed combat capable force able to meet a wide range of possible threats and tasks.

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Here is a shot of the earlier model ASLAV on patrol in IRAQ with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment

More>> here if your interested

Selective Memory

Alan Ramsey makes serious accusations based on a conversation with a now deceased Army Padre. He quotes Gerry Cudmore, padre to 1RAR in 1965, as saying troops had told him of US troops tossing VC suspects out of choppers and handing over female VC to South Vietnam soldiers for death by gang rape.

Professor Bunyip solicits my opinion whilst accusing me of being AWOL. Oh – the shame of it! Well not really…I have been AWOL before.

I wasn’t there on the 1RAR tour and therefore can’t comment on the accuracy of Ramsey’s memory but I can say this. Either I spent 13 months in a war zone medically unfit for operational service with my eyes and ears not functioning or rampant rape and murder didn’t happen.

I think the latter.

My Lai happened, Lt Calley was bad. Other attrocities would have happened but not as a rule and certainly not by Australians. Millions of men at war with associated standing down of norms of society would certainly have produced some bad apples but for Ramsey to write his article around heresay smacks of just another anti-war rant.

Ramsey says;

I knew him as Padre Gerry Cudmore, then 32, army chaplain with the first Australian combat troops sent to Vietnam 39 years ago. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Menzies government’s formal announcement it was taking us – by deceit and connivance with Washington – into war again, a travesty to be repeated by the Howard Government 38 years later.

Clearly, this man will always have a negative view on any conservative approach to solving world problems but for him to quote an honourable man such as Gerry Cudmore only after Gerry is not in a position to vouch for his words smacks of opportunism.

It makes me wonder whether he had any conversations later on about VC attrocities. 1500 people shot in the back of the neck at Hue. Thousands of village officials murdered by the VC after being forced to watch their daughters or wives being raped and then subjected to ‘bayonet masectomies’ as a warning to those who hoped for a democratic Vietnam.

I guess not and if he had, he would’ve forgotten – like he forgot Gerry’s name.

I served in 1RAR before the Vietnam war and remember Cudmore well. If he was aware of any serious allegations he would have brought it to the notice of authorities but if it was heresay he would simply have mused on the matter, maybe mentioning it in passing to a wide eyed, naive man with a recent degree from the journalist school of left wing mantra. Gerry had a sense of humour and after some association with us soldiers may well have developed our habit of telling ousiders anything to get rid of them.

Who knows?

At Wagga, over the ANZAC Day weekend, I had some time with friends from 1RAR days and had Ramsey said his peice before ANZAC Day he would’ve had some soldiers looking for explainations. But then we Vietnam Vets are fair game for left wing journalists. We are used to it and think so poorly of them that our time is better spent commemorating the honour of men like Gerry Cudmore.

ANZAC weakens

FRIENDLY rivalry is fine, but a distinct chill has come over Australia’s closest friendship, warns New Zealand opposition leader Don Brash.

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Picture is the entire NZ Infantry Regiment on a parade called to see who’s turn it was to defend New Zealand.

Our Kiwi cousins are feeling out of the defence loop and well they should. With Helen Clark thinking 1% of GDP being a reasonable amount to pay for an insurance policy she is now discovering that her no-claim bonuses are useless.

Since being elected in 1999, the Clark Government has closed down the air force’s combat wing and reduced the navy to a two-frigate fleet. Clark refused to join the US-led invasion of Iraq, and Washington expressed its displeasure through some unusually sharp diplomatic comments about New Zealand’s attitude, and by pointedly refusing to include New Zealand in talks on the Australia-US free trade deal. Since then, Clark has committed both troops and money to reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Can you imagine Australia closing down the RAAF? No way. Even if times are bad, to close down a complete system means you have no national inventory should a need arise. You can’t say ‘Oops we have a war coming up – lets start an Airforce. Stupid – which is why no other country has ever done it.

Except New Zealand.

Except Helen Clark.

However, I stopped feeling sorry for them when they voted her in. Sure they have been with us though thick and thin but often cousins mature at a different rate – swing left – dance by yourself.

Sure – go all warm and fuzzy, give all your money to social services and beach access to the Maoris but don’t whinge when the more mature people in the family don’t invite you to our parties, or don’t tell you what is going on.

And if you don’t want US nuclear powered and (maybe) nuclear armed ships to darken your ports then they can come to Sydney to spend their R & R money.

Nuclear free port, nuclear free suburb – what a joke. Even in the bad old ‘Cold War’ days no Russian Officers, that I was aware of, kept a list of left-wing , nuclear free city and state institutions so they could check that they weren’t being targeted.

Yes, it is only an opposition leader doing what he should, but the problem has been around for years and the longer New Zealand is out of the loop the less use and help they are to us and the world.

They don’t contribute any more and we don’t care anymore.

Hueys retires

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The seemingly ubiquotous UH 1H is about to be retired due to the Tiger chopper coming into service in the next month or two. Chief bastard points this out and asks for any pictures of the gunships in action. The Tiger, pictured below will be a great addition to the ADF’s inventory but it’s just not the same. Looks mean alongside the lines of the old Huey.

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I have lots of photos of Huey ‘slicks’ (troop carriers) but none of huey gunships in action. There is a very good reason for this. If gunships were around it was because we were in trouble and they were shooting at bad guys that were shooting at us. Not a ‘kodak’ moment.

For 40 years the Huey has been a part of the defence scene around the world and will be sadly missed, although I hope defence keeps a couple flying, if only to send shivers down the spines of Vietnam Vets at reunions.

The line from Redgum’s ‘I was only Nineteen’ when he asks ….why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet? is only a line to most but to me and most of my peers it is real. If ever a sound triggered memories it is the wop, wop, wop of choppers – it does it for me everytime.

I was watching my rugby coach son’s football team play last year when a chopper flew overhead. I involuntarily shivered like a dog shaking off water. The spectator alongside picked it in one when he asked

“Vietnam Vet?”

I laughingly answered in the positive but felt a bit embarrassed to be caught out.

Thanks Huey for all the rides, for all the ordnance fired in the interests of my longevity and for the sound of your blades, the tips of which broke the sound barrier, making that distinctive, memorable, memory triggering sound.

Top Guns or bus drivers

This weeks defence beat up starts with By Cameron Stewart and Michael McKinnon with a by-line in the Australian stating Air force ‘powerless’ to pay pilots enough.

When I joined the Army I did so for a career of adventure and never considered remuneration as a motivator. I was coincidently paid well (40k in my last appointment in 1986) but the job was the draw. The adventure, the adrenilin surges, the travel, the power and responsibility of command and the smug satisfaction of doing a difficult job well in the face of the media still berating us for having the temerity to kill communists, and even then, looking for ways to make us look bad.

When Hawke was in power he authorised $30k advances to RAAF pilots to encourage them to stay instead of flying Qantas. I, and my collegues, suggested at the time that the $30k bonus underlined the government and medias lack of understanding of the professional serviceman. All the RAAFies wanted was air hours. Let them fly their bloody F18s and they would stay.

You see, my civilian readers, there is nothing quite as exciting as pushing mach2 in pursuit of another pilot and winning. (Not to mention the excitement of losing!) Although being fired on by machine guns and then attacking and defeating the bad guys has some element of exitement we’re talking about pilots today.

The pay of RAAF pilots continues to lag behind that of their commercial counterparts, with junior RAAF pilots earning about $56,000 a year, rising to $95,500 a year for senior pilots with 10 years’ experience. By contrast, a senior Qantas pilot might earn $190,000 to $220,000, aviation sources said.

There is a trade off here. If you want to be a bus driver and ferry drunk passengers to Brittain on their ‘rights of passage’ tours in a plane that is so boringly safe that it can fly itself then go do it. If your life’s goals are monetary based with the holiday home at the Gold Coast, a Ferrari in the garage and a million or two in rollover then Qantas is your go. ( Stay with me you Jet Jockies – don’t be seduced)

On the other hand, if you have some sense of adventure; if you want to test yourself, push yourself and have others try and keep up; if you don’t care about money once you and your family are secure and you can pay the good school fees then join the RAAF.

If you’re a RAAF pilot reading this and don’t understand what I’m staying, then get out.

You see, flying fighters is not just about the mechanics of flying. From the Infantry perspective, it’s about flying at night, in bad weather, below 1000, with Sams coming up at you and not deviating until you’ve dropped your ordnance on the bad guys, thus saving the arse of the good guys.

Nowhere do Stewart or McKinno identify the author of the report or it’s status. For all we know, it could have been written by a whinging malcontent and by all accounts, most probably was. If it’s unidentified it’s meaningless but they take the effort to find a negative report and then pay good money under the Freedom of Information laws to get a copy, and in my opinion, achieve very little. What is their point. Are they suggesting that 25 year old boggies get 200K plus a year or are they just hammering the ‘Defence is bad’ mantra.

The RAAF says the report was overly pessimistic because it did not foresee the downturn in the aviation market following the Ansett collapse. But experts say demand for commercial pilots is rising again. The report, called the Pilot Sustainability Project, says RAAF pilots are now flying less and this “may well be contributing to a lack of professional satisfaction”.

You bet it is!

As an aside – if a guy spends ten years flying F18s and then resigns to fly 767s and two years after he started with Qantas the balloon goes up. Then within a month he’s going to be heard muttering. Mmm, lets see – little grey plane, mach 2, upside down at 40,000 feet – how do I do it again? I trust the ex RAAF Qantas pilots realize they are a part of the Nations defence inventory.

You go read – if you get their point then leave a comment. Check here as well. The authors managed to sell the Australian two articles based on one report

I don’t know what their point is exactly, but I will say – It’s not about the money, honey, it’s about the game.

Still not a hero.

I’m bemused by the Australian’s Steve Barrett as he continues his campaign to cannonise a criminal who happens to have served in the Army once and in doing so demonizes the Army.

He calls Keogh, sentenced to three years for armed robbery, a hero and castigizes the Army. He quotes Keogh’s parents;

The Keoghs say they never heard a word from the army throughout all their son’s service, not even a call when he was awarded a medal or became the only soldier since Vietnam to be promoted in the field.

Oh, my God, how insensative of the Army. Fancy the Colonel not phoning every one of the 800 parents, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends or whoever the soldier had listed as his Next of Kin and telling them their one and only had been awarded a medal, or promoted. The medal Keogh was awarded was the Australian Active service medal along with some 5,000 plus other diggers.

Oh, my God, how stupid are some people. I wonder does the BHP CEO phone every mother etc of people they promote? Get real. Did the Editor of the Australian phone up Steve Barrett’s mum and dad or wife when he got promoted to the ‘Put shit on the Army’ desk? I think not

Matt told Judge Greg Hosking how he had tried to get help for Keogh and Jozwiak from a senior military police officer in the battalion, only to be told there was nothing that could be done because they were no longer soldiers.

The senior military police officer in the battalion is not an officer, he’s a sergeant and he’s not military police, hes regimental police and thats a totally different kettle of fish and he’s flat out helping the RSM maintain discipline in the unit. He has little time to help people who were once in the unit.

Did the journalist ever think to talk to the Army to verify the stories these guys were handing the Judge.

Once again, he’s not a hero. He went to Timor and did his job just like all the other thousands of diggers except the rest of them aren’t doing time for firing a pistol at shopkeepers during armed robberies.

Hero?

Jail for Timor hero.

In NSW an East Timor vet is convicted of armed robbery (that included firing the weapon) and makes much of his time in Timor in an attempt to justify his fall from grace.

The veteran, Brett Keogh reportedly suffers flashbacks and nightmares, has trouble sleeping and contracted malaria in Timor.

His Dad says;

… his son never asked for help. “It’s a macho thing. He’s over there leading a platoon – who’s going to admit to having problems when they get back?”

Lieutenants lead platoons. According to Triple J Brett Keogh was a corporal.

Described as “gregarious and fun-loving” before going to East Timor, the young soldier “came back that paranoid he always thought someone was going to kill him”, Keogh’s father, Brian, told The Australian yesterday

Paranoid. Mmmm. Maybe he was paranoid because he was kicked out of the Army ….. after being discharged for testing positive to drugs… and graduated to injecting himself with amphetamines. Maybe amphetamines leads to paranoia, I don’t know, but to blame all his sins on his service is weak and brings disrepute on those soldiers who served well and continue to serve their country in the military or civy street.

Hero my arse. Good man gone bad maybe, but no hero.

More>>

More Surveilance

While Latham makes up his mind about missiles, illegal migrants, how much he is going to hate Bush and the US this week so he can change his opinion next week, the Government quietly get on with border security.

From Defence Media.

The Minister for Defence, Robert Hill, and the Minister for Justice and Customs, Chris Ellison, signed two land use agreements today with Torres Strait Islanders that will lead the way to improved border protection for northern Australia.

The Government are setting up a high frequency surface wave radar on two Torres Strait Islands that will help customs intercept immigration, quarantine and fisheries offenders; assist with search and rescue operations; and provide early storm warnings. Clearly their are pure defence considerations as well.

Spin offs include jobs and infrastructure that will help the locals.

While Labour go on about setting up a US style Coast Guard, the Government proves it is not necessary. Technology will help our RAN patrol boats to target specific incidences rather than have a multi billion dollar ‘single roll’ Coast guard.

I’ve blogged previously on Labour’s policy of Coast Guard vs the current Coast Watch and am still of the opinion that we should reinforce success by building up our Coast Watch rather than start a new service.

The radar’s two-to-three year trial begins in August. During this time it will provide 24-hour, wide-area surveillance of aircraft, ships and boats travelling in the Torres Strait. The $19 million initiative is jointly funded by Customs and Defence and demonstrates yet again the close working relationship of these agencies in the protection of Australia’s borders.

Another good move.

Abrams it is

According to todays Australian (no link)the ADF have chosen the Abrams battle tank over the Brit Chieftan and the Kraut Tiger III.

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The Abrams, at 68 tonnes, has been criticised for being more tank than the ADF needs and difficult to transport aboard our existing navy ships.

Lt Gen Leah earns my praise for this line.

I would like to thank those critics who took the time and effort to point out that the new tanks might be heavy, difficult to deploy and use fuel.

I hope you won’t find it strange to hear we had actually thought about that, and they’re not a problem or we have….strategies in place

I have to tell you, us infantrymen don’t care too much about how expensive it is to run or how dificult it is too move.

We just say ‘Request Tango (armoured) support’ (in a high pitched nervous voice)and leave those problems to the beancounters and logisticians.

When the tank arrives, we never discuss the cost of his trip to our position, we just say things like ‘could you go over there and wiggle your tracks on top of that bunker’, or ‘could you fire your main armourment at that group of bad guys?’

Never once have I heard an infantryman say’ Wow, $3,500 just to drive out here. And whats that you say – $850 per 120mm round. I’m sorry – you stay there and I’ll try and fix the problem with my $1.20 per 5.56mm Steyr rounds

To us, Bigger is better. Overkill, the main game. 68 tonnes is better for crushing slow enemy and pushing down his defences than 50 tonnes and the last time I looked 120mm smooth bore does more damage than a 105mm.

In addition, something weighing 68 tonnes is better to hide behind that a 50 tonne something.

Haven’t heard any infantrymen complain yet.

Blackhawk Down

Eight survive chopper crash in Queensland.

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PILOT error is suspected as the cause of a Black Hawk helicopter crash which left six soldiers injured and the $25 million aircraft destroyed near Amberley RAAF base southwest of Brisbane yesterday.

The army helicopter with eight on board was on a training exercise when it reportedly clipped trees and ploughed into a cow paddock at Mt Walker, 12km southwest of Amberley about 10.30am.

The press release condemns the Trainee Pilot who after recovering from the crash will most probably be a trainee landrover driver.

A trainee pilot, 23, and his instructor, 33, were at the controls with four other trainees and two loadmasters in the cabin.

It is not clear whether the instructor or his co-pilot had control of the helicopter at the time of the crash.

Update:

From Defence Media

Of the eight persons on board, six members suffered injuries. The current status of the injuries as of this morning is:

- One member suffered a spinal fracture and will undergo surgery over the weekend.
- One member suffered breaks to his wrist and knee and is recovering from surgery.
- Two members received minor injuries and are being held for observation at Amberley Base medical facilities.
- One member sustained minor injuries and is being held at Royal Brisbane Hospital for observation.
- One member sustained neck trauma similar to whiplash and is being held at Princess Alexandra Hospital.
- The other two members are being held for observation at Enoggera Army Base Hospital

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