Category Archives: Defence

Lest we forget

I attended the memorial service at the Bribie Island RSL yesterday to remember all those who have gone before me and was a little put out by the ceremony. The local school choir got up and gave us a rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine and the Priest thought it reasonable to mention Bob Dylan as well.  When the time came to sing the National Anthem, didgeridoos came across the speakers with the anthem tempo increased from the standard 4/4 to something like 6/8. No one could sing to it and the words were lost as people tried to keep up. There is proscribed music for the anthem and that definitely wasn’t it.

Lennon’s Imagine directly quotes the communist manifesto as he himself comments:

‘Imagine’, which says: ‘Imagine that there was no more religion, no more country, no more politics,’ is virtually the Communist manifesto, even though I’m not particularly a Communist and I do not belong to any movement.”[5] He told NME: “There is no real Communist state in the world; you must realize that. The Socialism I speak about … [is] not the way some daft Russian might do it, or the Chinese might do it. That might suit them. Us, we should have a nice …British Socialism.

Dillon just wrote and sang anti-war songs and become one of the main leaders on the Vietnam War protests and moratorium marches.  I have his music on my IPhone list and enjoy some of it but he is what he is and never supported the soldier, rather he denigrated them.

There’s a place for anti-war sentiment in the public debate, I just don’t think a November Memorial service in an RSL is it.   No one there would’ve been pro-war but to take the stand they did questions the service and sacrifice of many men and women who we were remembering on this holy of days. While we were dying in South Vietnam Lennon and Dylan were a focus for the protesters and the only people to benefit from that were the Communists.

In essence the Sub Branch politicised the service with an emphasis on the anti war movement and indigenous recognition. It made me think a young naive teacher with leftist leanings had grabbed hold of the ceremony and turned it into some sort of litany of protest of the evils of war and our treatment of our indigenous mates.

Not good.

Notwithstanding my sentiments on the conduct of the memorial service I managed to get back on subject and remembered my fallen mates and all those who remain forever young from the Boer War through to Afghanistan.

When I say ‘Lest we forget” I would caution certain Sub Branches that they don’t forget why they exist and not to confuse politics with sacrifice.

6RAR Cpl awarded VC

Corporal Daniel Keighran from 6RAR wins Victoria Cross for Afghanistan courage

Cpl Keighran VC pictured with the Governor General in Canberra this morning

AUSTRALIA’S newest Victoria Cross recipient is now a part-time soldier working in the mines of Western Australia.

6RAR Corporal Daniel Keighran received the nation’s highest military honour today for repeatedly drawing enemy fire during a 2010 battle in which one of his mates was killed.

He said his company faced at least 100 insurgents during the battle at Derapet, in Oruzgan province, Afghanistan.

“Training took over,” Corporal Keighran said. “There was a situation and that’s the way I reacted.”

The VC citation says Corporal Keighran’s actions were instrumental in ensuring Australian and Afghan troops involved were able to withdraw without further casualties.
“Corporal Keighran, with complete disregard for his own safety, broke cover on multiple occasions to draw intense and accurate enemy fire to identify enemy locations and direct return fire from Australian and Afghan fire support elements.

“During one of these occasions, when his patrol sustained a casualty, he again, on his own initiative and in an act of exceptional courage moved from his position of cover to deliberately draw fire away from the team who were treating the casualty.

“Corporal Keighran remained exposed and under heavy fire in order to direct suppressing fire and then assist in the clearance of the landing zone to enable evacuation of the casualty.

“These deliberate acts of exceptional courage to repeatedly expose himself to accurate and intense enemy fire, thereby placing himself in grave danger, ultimately enabled the identification and suppression of enemy firing positions.”

Well done that man.

 More… 

Unimog’s terrible record

THE same kind of military truck that overturned and injured 18 soldiers in Sydney was previously involved in two other roll-over incidents, the army says.

The article leads “truck has history of accidents

Oh my God, that’s terrible!

Hang on – we’ve had thousands of Unimogs for something like 30 years and they’ve only rolled three times.

There, that’s a lot better.

Who writes these stupid articles?

Five Diggers KIA

Another two diggers killed giving us a total load of five for the day. The first three, from a Brisbane based unit (6 RAR?) were shot down while relaxing in base at the end of the day by a man dressed in the Afghanistan Army uniform.

Three soldiers from the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment were killed at a forward patrol base in Oruzgan province yesterday by a rogue Afghan soldier who fled the scene. A hunt is underway for the gunman, who opened fire on the Diggers from close range.

The repost has it wrong. They are not from 3RAR. Later in the report it states;

The first soldier was a 40-year-old Lance Corporal posted to the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment Queensland Mounted Infantry. He was on his second tour to Afghanistan and had previously deployed to Iraq.
The second soldier was a 23-year-old Private posted to the 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment.

The third soldier was a 21-year-old Sapper posted to the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment.

All three soldiers were based at Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane.

The second two, listed as special forces, were killed when the chopper they were riding in crashed on landing.

Defence in trouble again

The ADFA Skype scandal has been good for the ALP. Every time they feel they being treated shabbily by the media they release yet another report into us awful, politically incorrect military types in an attempt to divert attention away from their stuffups. The latest is basically a litany of offences against the Emily List ‘feminize the military’ ideals.

Former senior military investigator Andrew Johnston told The Australian that the Skype scandal, if proven to have taken place, would represent just “the tip of the iceberg”, and the practice went back to the 1990s, when recordings were made using video cameras hidden in shoeboxes

Andrew Johnston was a Warrant Officer Class 1 in the ADF Investigation Service and his comment is conjecture and quoted because it suits the authors intention of making it appear the ADF has a real problem. It also sits well with those who want to feminize a warrior society.

The commission found evidence of a small number of women, potentially in single figures, who had been filmed in this way, but that as many as one in four servicewomen had suffered other sexual abuse or harassment within the past five years.

Oh my God! As many as ten woman out of a strength of 80,000 have been filmed ‘in this way’in the ADF!

But, and it’s a big BUT, as many as one in four have been sexually abused or harassed. I have no time for rape,’groping’ or verbal abuse but I sometimes think that some of these figures represent ‘unwelcomed’ approaches, as in asking for a date more than once and being slow to work out it aint going to happen; swearing in the presence of women; or having a nude pinup in your locker.

Very few groups within the community have such a preponderance of young, fit people at their physical sexual peak as does the military and doing what comes natural is…natural.

I would like to see the Human Rights Commission’s definitions of what constitutes abuse or harassment before I start worrying about the ADF’s sexual problems.

I am, for example, more worried about the ALP’s cutting defence expenditure to such an extent that regiments can no longer train their officers and soldiers to be battle ready. And yes, the ALP statement that line regiments would not be impacted on is like all of the ALP’s defence attitudes – bullshit!

Just looking for a Fair Go

I received a letter from the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation(DFRDB) informing me I have a CPI increase of .01% for the six months Sep 11 to Mar 12. This gives me an increase of $1.12 per fortnight. I thought of taking my Bride out to dinner to celebrate but the Power bill that is forecast to increase by up to 7.6% % is due and the rates notice is around the corner with a 4.9% increase although the Mayor had promised to keep the increase below the 3.6% inflation rise.

What’s that – 3.6% inflation? How is that related to .01% CPI rise?

I note Pensioners get an increase of $6.70 (6 times my increase)for the same period based on the total pension that is about two thirds of my income.

Why is this so? The money I receive is literally a return on my paying superannuation to the government for 25 years. If I hadn’t paid super, and in retirement relied on the public purse, it appears I would be better off.

I’m not one for conspiracy theories but sometimes it is hard to rid myself of the thought that the current mob in power simply don’t like us old Diggers. Maybe my earlier career choice of killing communists has actually come back to bite me – I know several members in both the House of Reps and the Senate would wish that I just fade away.

But Fade Away doesn’t feature in the role of infantry so it ain’t going to happen.

I’m not the only one concerned about this apparent anomaly. The website Fair Go is dedicated to the ex serviceman’s fight against disinterested politicians.

Remembering Blackhawk Disaster

Today, June 12, marks the 16th anniversary of the Blackhawk disaster in Townsville’s High Range Training Area that killed 18 Australian soldiers, 15 from SASR and three from the 5th Avn Regiment. This incident was the worst air disaster in the Special Air Service Regiments’s history.

Accidentally killed in an aircraft crash (S70A Blackhawk);

12 June 1996

1 Squadron (Special Air Service Regiment)

(Members of the Royal Australian Corps of Infantry)

Captain Timothy J. STEVENS
Sergeant Hugh W. ELLIS
Corporal Michael BIRD
Corporal Andrew CONSTANTINIDIS
Corporal Darren R. OLDHAM
Corporal Brett S. TOMBS
Lance Corporal Gordon A. CALLOW
Lance Corporal Glen O. HAGAN
Lance Corporal David J. JOHNSTONE
Trooper Jonathon G. CHURCH
Trooper David FROST
Trooper Timothy J. McDONALD

152 Signal Squadron (Special Air Service Regiment)
(Members of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals)

Corporal Mihran “Avi” AVEDISSIAN
Corporal Darren J. SMITH
Signalman Hendrik “Rick” PEETERS

5th Aviation Regiment

Capt KJ Hales
Capt JB Berrigan
Cpl MC Baker

Townsville Bulletin remembers

The Hon Ian McLachlan AO MP, then Minister for Defence released this statement on the investigation into the crash in the House in March, 1997.

Lest We Forget.

ANZAC Day

From 04:30 to 20:30 makes it a long day and I start to feel my age, particularly when I’m required to walk any distance. I couldn’t lead my Battalion association in Brisbane because the old legs won’t last the distance at marching pace and as it took me so long to move anywhere I actually missed viewing the march as well.

Daughter chauffeured during the day and Son and his sons escorted me down to the reunion pub. The family pitch in to make it all possible and for one day of the year I stop being independent.

At the Dawn Service at the National Memorial Walk, the Catafalque Party were actually an armed patrol, dressed in patrol order and when the party dismounted they moved in patrol formation checking their arcs and covering each other as they moved through the hundreds of trees – each tree representing a soldier of the Regiment who had died on active service. They moved until they became ghostly apparitions and then finally invisible in the pre-dawn light and they had this old soldier’s undivided attention.

I am the typical Army Officer, albeit long retired, and would be expected to insist on the maintenance of long held traditions. The Catafalque Party has always been soldiers dressed in ceremonial Uniforms drilling as dictated to by the Army Drill Manual. The drill movements are difficult but significant, particularly the ‘Rest on the Arms Reverse’ as the linked DVA site mentions;

The origin of the tradition of resting on reversed arms is lost in time, however, it was used by a Commonwealth soldier at the execution of Charles I in 1649 (the soldier was, however, duly punished for his symbolic gesture towards the King’s death) and it is recorded that at the funeral for Marlborough, in 1722, the troops carried out a formal reverse arms drill, which was especially invented for the service, as a unique sign of respect to the great soldier.

The ‘modern trend’ of sticking rifles upside down into the ground as a temporary memorial to a fallen soldier (with a helmet or a hat over the butt) originated with the introduction of tanks. When a soldier fell during an advance his mate would pick up the rifle and stick it into the ground, by the bayonet, as a marker to indicate to the tanks that a wounded or dead soldier lay there; this way the armoured vehicle would not accidentally run over the body.

But as I watched spellbound, I thought what better guard than a new generation of professional soldiers in patrol formation – ready to fight.

The Party came from the Rear Details of the local battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. Rear Details is Army talk for those left behind in Australia while the rest of the Battalion serves in Afghanistan.

They were thinking of their mates and I was thinking of mine – a generational divide is joined by young men who would rather be overseas but who accept their lot and pay homage to soldiers that have gone before them.

Damn! They look young and fit. No problems with their legs – yet.

I met a lot of Afghanistan vets during the day and if anyone thinks they don’t want to be there they are deluding themselves. All the conversations of the ‘yet to go’ mob were about their chances of getting overseas before the Politicians pull the pin and the conversations of the ‘already been there” were their chances of getting back. Of the later group the most common expressed opinion was that they fully believed they had made a difference to the people of Afghanistan.

I spoke at length to a young recce Captain (I was recce myself so we had that in common) and he extolled the capabilities of the Afghanistan military. I was a little surprised but he was adamant. On the whole, they were good troops and hard when it mattered.

I believed him.

Talking to him it was plain that our defence force is in good hands and they are as good as we thought we were, if not better.

Smith simply doesn’t respect the ADF

I started the last post with this: I’ve always maintained that the ALP do not like the ADF. Readers took to me to task and one even abused me as he raced to justify Minister Smith’s latest foray into attacking Defence.

My opinion still stands and has been confirmed by this morning’s article in The Age by MAJGEN John Cantwell.

Some extracts:

I spent long hours over many sessions briefing the then minister, Joel Fitzgibbon. It was a painful process. Fitzgibbon was out of his depth. He simply didn’t get it. Not only could he not understand what we were trying to tell him, he didn’t put in the time to try to get across his brief.
He was an auto-electrician in a suit.

But at least Fitzgibbon occasionally expressed a desire to do the right thing by the service personnel who delivered our military capability.

Not so Smith. Reflecting on Smith’s visit to Afghanistan MAJGEN Cantwell recalls;

…the abiding impression I was left with was that he merely tolerated people like me and the troops I commanded. I cast around in my mind for the element that seemed to be missing in his dealings with the men and women of the ADF who I led. Then I had it: respect. Smith had no respect for those who chose to serve in uniform for their country. It was an uncomfortable insight.

He closes with this;

I sense that the judgment I formed in 2010 was on the money. There’s no respect, and it works both ways.

Read more

ADF vs the Defence Minister and the Media

I’ve always maintained that the ALP do not like the ADF. They hate the officer system and spend most of their time in the treasury benches initiating inquiries that all seem to recommend less money while demanding the same service. As in they are currently demanding a $20 billion savings over then next decade in the defence budget.

This current mob appears to have an agenda to denigrate the military in any way they can. I heard on the ABC today that one of Defence Minister Smith’s inquisitions have identified 757 cases of sexual misconduct some of which occurred in the 1950s. The 1950s FFS! Who can remember anything sexual from that far back. I’ve got another one for them. In the 70s whilst the battalion were practicing for a parade the RSM said I looked like a kangaroo dog rooting a marble.

I think a lot of the 757 cases will be at about that level.. I did hear old mate Duncan Lewis (now Secretary of Defence), interviewed and he did say some of the cases are serious. I”m sure they are but hey, it looks like we are talking about 60 years of misconduct – that ain’t all that bad. Maybe a standard week at University’s ‘O’ weeks

Jack Waterford at the Canberra Times says Diggers need just a little slack;

WAS EVER so much nonsense spoken as when politicians, journalists and feminist and ethnic icons vie with ancient generals, clergymen and academics to condemn the latest evidences that our soldiers, sailors and air persons are profane, cynical and somewhat racist and sexist young men and women?

Read more …

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, Defence has been lumbered with Smith as Minister. His opinion of the military and procedural knowledge of same has been clearly shown to be lacking. He sacked Kafer, the Commandant of ADFA despite there being no evidence that he had acted incompetently or had made an error of judgement in the Skype/sex ADFA video.

The Smith initiated inquisition found no evidence of incompetence and yet Smith has sat on that report for three months and only now does Kafer get to sit in the Commandants chair at ADFA.

Smith doesn’t give up easy though “I remain of the view that this was an error of judgment,” he says even after reading the report that categorically said that Kafer did not make an error of judgement.

and this;

Asked if Commodore Kafer had his full confidence, Mr Smith sidestepped the question, saying he had full confidence in Australian Defence Force chief David Hurley and other defence leaders

Tosser! I can promise him that the ADF do not have any confidence in their minister.

….and Smith was mentioned as a potential PM – what is it with these people?

UPDATE:

Back of the envelope quick calculations by reader Harry Buttle indicate that;

[the ADF] sexual assault figures comes out at 5.3 per month per 80,000 persons, or to put it another way means that as a group, on this particular crime over the last 60 years, the military is in fact more than 5 x more law abiding than society in general.

No sexual assault is acceptable, but this looks like another hatchet job.

Read more

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