Category Archives: Defence

Politically incorrect Diggers

Some Diggers are in trouble for using intemperate, politically incorrect language on a private Facebook page. The Chief of Army. General Morrison is very angry as are lots of precious souls, Army haters, Multiculturists and fellow travellers.

The site refers to Muslims as “ragheads”, suggests immigrants are not welcome, and one post says “all women are filthy, lying whores”.

I can only suggest that the diggers see the Facebook page as their private space. In my days it was the diggers boozer and one could feel free to say whatever you liked so long as the other guys generally agreed. When they didn’t, when one got out of line, he was hauled back in. Sometimes with physical force.

NCOs and officers weren’t allowed in there, let alone Generals, and that is right and correct. They need there own space and having been a member of all the messes in my time I know it more than most.

Language was often offensive, obscene, misogynistic, racial and disrespectful. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, often insulting but seldom malicious.

Which is what you will encounter in pretty well any group of young men socializing after work. Been drinking with young tradesman lately, with bushies in a country pub, with miners…truck drivers… ?

Clearly a lot of commentators haven’t. They seem to be so hugely offended by these posts I wonder whether they shouldn’t get out more and meet some people outside their own immediate circle. I see no big problem with the comments about “ragheads’ and “boat people” but the “filthy lying whores” quote is a bit off.

Maybe the digger had been treated poorly of late by a girl and he was lashing out. I think he thought he was lashing out in a private domain, like the Diggers boozer of old, and in effect he was until someone forced entry to the site. It might astound the genteel types but a lot of young men talk like that when they are amongst their mates – So do a lot of older men.

My reading of the matter is that the Facebook page is a private forum. It was never intended for the general public to read it and I’m sure the General wasn’t invited.

So, do they have any privacy? When I think I’m alone I can sometime say things that I wouldn’t want others to hear and I’ve certainly said things to others when I was in the Army that would horrify those genteel types who never get out. Most likely aimed at them and their politically correct ways.

I presume the incident received prominence because it involves soldiers but they are only a reflection of society generally so maybe we should all take a chill pill and concentrate on hating murderers, rapists, pedophiles and the like.

Chris Uhlman interviews General Morrison COA. Link here

Mike Kelly – soldier extraordinaire…….not

Besides running this site I’m also Webmaster for my regimental site and this morning I had occasion to post a letter from Neil Weekes, AM, MC, to Dr. Mike Kelly,AM, ALP Mp for Eden Monaro. I have written on this turkey before and to get a feel for the man and what we ex-military think of him, and conversely, what he thinks of us, you should read both posts.

He is on record as saying …..”my career in many war zones came at great threat to my life in countless situations…..I was forced to fight with my rifle in every way it is possible to use it, including butt stroke and bayonet….”

Considering he was, in my memory, a military lawyer, I thought this a bit rich.

The article quotes the Australian War Memorial, as stating the last bayonet charge by Australian forces was carried out in Vietnam by 5 Platoon 6RAR during Operation Bribie on February 17, 1967.

According to Wikipaedia however, a later bayonet attack by Australians was conducted in May 1968 at the Battle of Coral when a then Lieutenant Neil Weekes ordered his men to fix bayonets.

Even with the artillery and mortars concentrating on close defensive fire tasks, the assault was largely held at the perimeter, although they did succeed in over-running part of 3 Platoon, A Company. Commanded by Lieutenant Neil Weekes, the platoon had been hit heavily by indirect fire during the initial bombardment and had suffered several casualties. Concentrating on the gap created in the Australian perimeter, the North Vietnamese then assaulted with the support of 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine-guns. Ordering his men to fix bayonets, Weekes successfully reorganised the defences however, and called in close mortar fire to stabilise the position, resulting in heavy casualties among the assaulting force. He was later awarded the Military Cross for his leadership.[78][80]

Link – look under Second attack on FSB Coral, 16 May 1968

Nice bit of symmetry there, don’t you think? One wonders if Kelly knows of Neil’s history and if he does, does he cringe when he thinks of what he himself has claimed to have done. I doubt it.

In this article in the Townsville Bulletin he denies saying he was involved in a bayonet attack but “butt stroke and bayonet” clearly suggests to Infantrymen that he is claiming he was.

Another article in the Canberra Times entitled “Somalia to Eden-Monaro: How Mike Kelly fought a murderous warlord all the way to a firing squad’ only refers to Kelly being involved in the legalities of having a warlord executed. The article is, however, short on details of “butt stroking and bayoneting” unless that’s how the warlord was disposed.

Seems more like a puff piece by the Canberra Times aimed at getting Kelly elected.

He claims to be one of us yet deserts us when we need him – typical ALP.

Bastard!

Sailors to be compensated

Remember the Sailors aboard HMAS Success who where relieved of duty and flown home from Singapore for alleged sexual misconduct?

If not, read this before you go on.

More over the fold

Osama bin Laden

A great day for civilzation.

THE body of al-Qai’da leader Osama bin Laden has been buried at sea after he was tracked down and killed by the United States in a daring raid on his hiding place in Pakistan, a US official said.

No shrines in the ocean for terrorists to worship at – good move.

Well done those men!

More here

ANZAC Day bitterness

I know ANZAC Day is over but reading The Drum I am moved to comment once more on the day. The Punch, being The Punch, has dug up a conscientious objector to denigrate all that is service to the country. I am ambivalent about these people and don’t despise or denigrate them but I do think they should be starved of oxygen and allowed to wither in their bitter memories without being heard.

One of the comments left there struck a chord. Have a read of Mr Happy.

I have never marched and as a Vietnam vet ( 3RAR 1971) I say: what a huge relief that Anzac Day has come and gone. That highly stylized ritual massaged by well fed Anglo Celtic politicians, invoking Homeric images of the bronzed Anzac warrior, delivered with the sincerity and well rehearsed solemnity of undertakers presiding over a long dead corpse. The alleged ‘sacredness’ of the commemoration never fails to obscure the alternative narrative: In 1788 British settlers became the original ‘Fringe Dwellers’ with guns. Fanning out , they destroyed an advanced and diverse indigenous society. Later , they morphed into ‘Australians’ , and volunteered – sometimes with embarrassing alacrity – in a variety of imperial ventures or were complicit in the destruction of other people’s societies. Eg The Sudan, Boer War, Chinese Boxer Rebellion, invasion of Ottoman Turkey and, towards the end of WW1, even managed to squeeze in an invasion of the fledgling Soviet Republics. Then of course Korea, Vietnam, and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan .

When this narrative supplants the state sponsored ‘dead corpse’ of Anzac Day, then, and only then will contemporary Australia achieve a measure of cultural sophistication, and embrace a more historically authentic story to commemorate service and sacrifice.

I replied;

Wow! I bet you’re a lot of fun at a party – maybe it’s a good thing you don’t join us on ANZAC Day. While we commemorate lost comrades and celebrate living ones you would be harping on the side about us invoking Homeric images of the bronzed Anzac warrior.

I bet you were a hoot in your platoon. I don’t even know who your NCO was but I do feel sorry for him.

Well written, bitter words that say more about you than those of us who served and choose to remember.

Those who choose not to march and those who prefer not to remember at all, are used by the anti-military mob to suggest ANZAC Day is pointless or losing it’s significance. As in “My uncle never ever marched”

It does nothing of the sort – it simply reflects that some are bitter, some are indifferent and some are still troubled by things they’ve seen and done.

The majority, however choose to participate and I don’t think you should denigrate us for doing so. We served, we are proud that we did and if later in life you became bitter about it or earlier in life chose to avoid service for ideological or whatever reasons, then fine.

If you despise ANZAC Day and what it represents so much then don’t talk about it. If we offend your sensibilities to such an extent that you think we shouldn’t have tried to stop Imperial Germany, Hitler, The Japs and assorted communists from taking over the world then retreat to your bitter bunker and stay silent while others secure your life style.

Even though you have served and are obviously educated you still can’t work out that to achieve your measure of cultural sophistication you need soldiers to first secure the civilization.

ANZAC Day in Albany

I am in Albany WA visiting my 92 year old mother but as ANZAC Day coincides with my visit I am also here to attend Dawn Service at the home of my fathers.

My Great Grandfather, born in 1844 to a British soldier and wife serving in what was then Van Dieman’s Land, brought the family here in the 1890s. Three of his sons went to the Boer War with two serving in the Permanent Coastal Artillery Battery in the Forts overlooking the town. One of these, Sydney Frederick Gillett, was my paternal Grandfather. These forts were developed earlier in the 1800s to counter French and Russian threats to the British Empire. French presence in those earlier days of settlement lives on in all the French named geographical points around the South West Coast of WA.

Don’t know what happened to the Russians – most probably had a revolution on board and forgot to leave any names on the map.

In 1959 I also attended the Forts at Albany. The West Australian Education dept hadn’t caught up with us pure Baby Boomers, those of us born in 1946, so all 1st Year High School kids of that year attended school in pubic buildings around town. Some went to churches, some to halls and some to the Forts. My first year lessons at high school were conducted under the watchful eyes of Grandfather and Great Uncle as they stared down from old military photos hanging in the Military Institute Hall.

In 1939 my father enlisted in the RANR and often came through his home port as he went to and fro to Asia and back protecting troop ships and convoys whilst a sailor on board HMAS Sydney and later, on board Mine Sweepers.

The first Dawn Service anywhere was conducted in Albany WA.

Where and when did the custom of Dawn Service begin?

Reverend White was serving as one of the padres of the earliest ANZAC’s to leave Australia with the First AIF in November 1914. The convoy was assembled in the Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sound at Albany WA, my homeport. Before embarkation, at four in the morning, he conducted a service for all the men of the battalion. When White returned to Australia in 1919, he was appointed relieving Rector of the St John’s Church in Albany.

It was a strange coincidence that the starting point of the AIF convoys should now become his parish.

No doubt it must have been the memory of his first Dawn Service those many years earlier and his experiences overseas, combined with the awesome cost of lives and injuries, which inspired him to honour permanently the valiant men (both living and the dead) who had joined the fight for the allied cause. “Albany”, he is later quoted to have said, “was the last sight of land these ANZAC troops saw when leaving Australian shores and some of them never returned. We should hold a service (here) at the first light of dawn each ANZAC Day to commemorate them.”

Thus on ANZAC Day 1923, 87 years ago this morning, he came to hold the first Commemorative Dawn Service.

extract from an address I gave at last years ANZAC Day service in Brisbane

Over all my years I have never attended a Dawn Service here at my home port.

Tomorrow that will be addressed.

I wish all veterans and all those who support us, a meaningful ANZAC Day and if you end up fighting battles again do it better and don’t make the same mistakes twice.

I remember all the friends of my fathers and myself whose souls we left on foreign shores – may they all rest in peace and may their widows and family be consoled by the value of their sacrifice.

Roxon sickened

A SENIOR Government frontbencher says she felt sick when she learnt of a sex scandal engulfing Defence.

Relations between Defence Minister Stephen Smith and the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) are tense following revelations an 18-year-old woman was filmed by webcams having sex with another student.

You need to toughen up Nicola. It’s one thing to back your colleague but quite another to get involved in hyperbowl

I can’t actually see how it’s a ADF scandal. The cadets have been at ADFA for all of ten weeks, are juveniles just coming to grips with hormone surges and are doing what every other similar aged kid is doing or trying to do – have sex.

What is a scandal is Smith’s refusal to support the Commandant of ADFA as he goes through his procedures. The girl in question was up for disciplinary hearings before she went public involving AWOL and alcohol. Smith suggests because this other matter came to the attention of the public, ADF discipline should be shelved.

Doesn’t work that way.

Having sex is not the issue either but the male cadet filming and broadcasting the act is. He simply should be dismissed from ADFA. Not so much for breaking the fraternising rule but for being a cad and bounder.

Gentlemen do not kiss and tell.

Likewise the girl should be removed. She has broken the frat rule, been AWOL and drunk and brought the ADF into disrepute.

In my day any one of these transgressions would result in dismissal.

Her case, and its a good one, is against the Cad and Bounder, not the ADF.

Once she is a civilian she should sue the bastard for all he’s worth.

Newsflash:Diggers use intemperate language

The politically correct movement existed in my day. In South Vietnam we were told to stop referring to our Vietnamese allies and enemy as ‘Noggies’. Being good soldiers we did what we were told and called them ‘Nigels’ when the brass were listening, and Noggies, slopes and anything else that came to mind when they weren’t.

In Afghanistan the diggers prove once again that the more things change the more they stay the same but in this case it is Ch7 with their ‘put down on diggers campaign’ that have dug up an obscure Digger or Diggers referring disparagingly to Taliban, Afghanistan locals and ALP politicians.

What got up my nose was that the Generals responded and Foreign Affairs minister Smith even apologised to his Afghanistan equivalent for the language used.

I received this email this morning from an old mate that lays out the ex service community’s feelings on the subject

The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds and the highest morale and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marines.

These words were spoken during World War 2 by the First Lady of America, Eleanor Roosevelt.

Can you imagine the boost in morale she gave her troops.

What a difference today. We have the Minister of Defence, every politically correct commentator and even members of the General Staff prepared to kick our soldiers, once again, in the guts for being soldiers. The Prime Minister has been prepared to turn a blind eye and let her underlings do the dirty work. Has one of these Generals ever had the opportunity to lead a platoon into battle, casuvac his casualties, write a letter to the next of kin of one of his soldiers? If so, he can then comment on the conduct and political incorrectness of his fighting soldiers. In the public eye this furor will be past history within a week or so. But the lack of support to our fighting men will linger forever.

These rough men and women take, occupy and hold ground from the enemy so we, the protected, live on in ignorant bliss. For every neice, nephew and second cousin, who cannot get a seat in the church, at the funeral of the next Australian Digger killed in action, tell one of the Polititians, Generals, Admirals or Field Marshalls there for the photo opportunity to move one pew backward in the Church, “You didn’t support him or his, mates when he was here, so move to the back row.”

To our men and women fighting for freedom, remember, you will always have the support from us, the ones like you who have met the dragon and spat in his eye. And another thing, which will never diminish is your honour and sense of Duty First. It will stay with you forever.

I. G. Atkinson

Sailors getting drunk on shore leave and trying to score and soldiers talking rough about the enemy (and that includes the ALP)….what is the world coming to?

Expensive shout

DIGGERS serving in Afghanistan will be forced to pay $5 a can if they want to have a beer on Christmas Day.

The Defence Department is laying on the cheer by allowing soldiers serving overseas two beers this Christmas – but it’s making them pay, the Northern Territory News reports.

One soldier calculates Defence is making a killing. “That works out to be $120 a carton of beer,” the soldier said.

Peter Mansell, the Darwin RSL president, said that he personally thought charging for two beers would be “bloody wrong”.

But he also said there was no beer when he was serving about 40 years ago.

“We were in the middle of the jungle doing what we had to do,” he said

The Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans has Peter Mansell serving with 7RAR in Vietnam in 1970 and whereas it could be true (providing he was a rifleman) that he was often “in the middle of the jungle” it is also true that when he came off patrol he was allowed to consume alcohol…..

…at 12 or 15c a can and although there was a legal limit of “2 cans per day perhaps” this generally translated as “enough to get drunk and forget your problems” if you weren’t warned for ambush or patrol duties the next day.

I know, I was there Peter. Maybe you should stop suggesting us Vietnam Vets had it tougher than the Afghan boys. Remember how the RSL, some WWII vets and a host of hippies treated us when we came home and don’t fall into the same trap by denigrating their service

In their defence, Defence says;

… it already does a lot for its soldiers.

It pointed out it provided accommodation, food and welfare services to its deployed troops “at no cost”.

What are they suggesting. That they are nice guys for sending diggers to war and not charging them for accommodation, food and welfare services?

Get real!

The Military Law debate continues

Chief of Army gets up me for commenting on the soldiers being charged for actions in Afhganistan. Well not me exactly but those of us commenting publically.

In an unclassified email to the military he says;

Many will have views about whether or not charges should have been brought. Many may hope that those who have been charged will be cleared. Some, armed with ill-informed opinions and good intentions, have made public comment in response to the media and public interest.

• We must not be party to the pressures being applied by individuals external to our organisation, or by the vocal individuals within our organisation. The Army is simply not above the law.

Full text here

General Gillespie mentions the petition I link to over on the right of this page and it may well be that it’s initiation was ill-formed and that it has no legal basis but I’m not a lawyer and in my humble opinion the petition indicates 20,000 plus votes of support for the diggers. It offers moral support and they may deduce from that the people are thinking of them.

The General is, of course correct but he is playing with the cards he has been dealt and it could be argued that the Howard government dealt him a disparate hand of cards. Removing military command from the legal chain was always going to initiate debate and I for one have always been uneasy giving power to people who understand the rule of law but have little experience in battle.

We do, after all, train our soldiers to deliberately kill others and this is contrary to civilian law.

Being a RAAF lawyer, Kathryn Cochrane might not have read General Gillespsies’ email as she argues for the troops to be charged by their commanders and not by a lawyer.

Troops expect to be charged by those in the military who have field experience and campaign medals; those who know first-hand how military operations are conducted. The troops expect to be charged by “command”; they may not like it but they will respect it.

Command only works through mutual trust. The troops do not expect to be charged by a lawyer – military or otherwise – who has never executed a military mission in a dangerous place, let alone faced live fire in the circumstances such as those of the three diggers. I agree with the troops.

So do I for what it’s worth.

But with lawyers seemingly breeding faster than soldiers I feel sorry for the current diggers as they ply their trade with a legal sword of Damocles hanging over their heads and careers. Officers plan for proportionality; they consider civilians and do their utmost to protect them but it is common knowledge amongst the profession that no plan survives contact with the enemy.

After all the planning, after all the training, when the digger is fired on he commences an “immediate-action” drill. If he sees civilian in that part of a second that leads up to returning fire then he can stop but if there is nothing visible to trigger a caution he is trained to return fire.

But the debate is now turning to who charges and who hears the case. The General is obviously correct and the Director of Military Prosecution is simply doing her job but that is only pertinent while we accept the current regulations as being the best available to maintain military discipline and the rule of law to the satisfaction of Government, the Military and the people.

There are some who suggest that isn’t the case and that can be only a positive in a democracy.

Let the debate run it’s course.

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