Category Archives: Defence

Big Dog

All those old soldiers with bad backs caused by carrying 100lb packs should check the video on the right.

Long Tan veterans recognized

THE decision to upgrade honours to Vietnam veterans who fought at Long Tan was the culmination of “a long, hard struggle” for greater recognition, according to Bob Buick, who served as a sergeant in one of Australia’s most famous battles.

Forty-three years after the battle, in which 18 Australian soldiers died, the men of D Company 6 Royal Australian Regiment will receive the nation’s highest unit award — the Unit Citation for Gallantry — with the backing of the Honours and Awards Tribunal.

They have already been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation as were there earlier mates who fought in the battle of Kapyong in Korea but that is an American award so it’s reasonable to give them an Australian one.

Now stand by for the Kapyong vets to put their hands up and say “what about us?”

There still exists anomalies re bravery awards for this battle. Individual cases of bravery are still to be recognized and most probably never will.

Still something is better than nothing.

Just a small point, pedantic as it may be, D Company 6 Royal Australian Regiment should read as D Company 6th Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment The Australian’s version would suggest that we have at least 6 Regular Infantry Regiments which of course we don’t. You’d expect the journalists to at least be able to designate our Army units correctly. Wouldn’t you?

Women in the front line

women

Pic from News.com.au

Mate, says my mate Jack, can you imagine having women in our bunkers? Don’t put the hexy stove there – it should go in the corner here and for God’s sake clean up your mess…tidy up your spent rounds…No! try the hexy stove in the other corner….God you stink – at least try and keep yourself clean..and…and

Jack, of course is joking, but Combet isn’t as he pushes the subject and I can only begin to imagine those behind him pushing as well. Women libbers, gender equality at any price ideologues and other assorted left wing ‘divorced from reality’ nutters.

I wrote on this very subject four years ago. Obviously I had more time on my hands then but the comments are an interesting overview of the debate.

The subject is cyclic, comes up every few years and so is service in Infantry. The Roman Centurion carried similar weights to what I carried in Vietnam and the soldiers in Afghanistan, and I’ve met a lot recently, are still struggling with a 100 lb plus pack. If their mate is wounded they then have to carry him and his gear in a ‘fireman’s carry’ as well for short distances so treble that for short bursts.

But then it isn’t all physical, although that fact alone would stop most women successfully finishing infantry and special ops courses. It’s the whole physcological and social considerations that make me wary.

Bob Baldwin who is Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Personnel and the Assisting Shadow Minister for Defence said psychological aspects of battle made the frontline unsuitable for women.

“The coalition believes in the equality of opportunity for women in the defence force,” he told reporters today.

“The coalition, however, doesn’t agree with the placement of women into forces such as the SAS, clearance divers, commandos or frontline combat engineers.”

Fair enough too!

But Labor MP Yvette D’Ath said the issue of serving on the frontline should be “irrespective” of gender.

“I’m very strong on equality and basis on who can do the job,” she told reporters.

“If you can pass the course, you can meet all the criteria, you should be allowed to perform that job irrespective of what that job is.”

Which totally ignores the social and physcological aspects of women in combat.

My local Priest nails it in letters to The Australian today;

AS well as being dangerous and impractical in many cases, the push to put women on the front lines would erode something valuable in our civilised society. It would diminish the dignity and special status of women as life-givers and nurturers (“Now is the time for our women as well”, Editorial, 10/9).

Women wielding machine-guns and bayonets as the aggressors in war seems to defy the natural law. While I’m all for equal pay and equal opportunities in education and the professions, sending women to the front lines in the name of equality diminishes rather than enhances their status.

While nobody is forcing them to go now, it would be a different matter in the event of conscription or a ballot if we faced a major war. Young women and the hard-boiled feminists who claim to have their interests at heart in supporting this move should consider such implications carefully.

Father Tim Norris
St Kevin’s Parish, Geebung, Qld

In Vietnam I did a forty day patrol; that is forty days without stopping in a safe base like Nui Dat. Think about that – in the dry season there was insufficient water to wash so no showers, no body wash for forty days!. Gave up on wearing socks and jocks (can’t carry or resupply) and a bout of dysentery didn’t help. Defecating and urinating publicly without any privacy. Blood and bits of enemy flesh on my filthy uniform, skin diseased and abraded from thorns and the prickly heat making every step painful. And then there’s the enemy.

Do you want your daughter there? I don’t and Yvette D’Ath would have vomited if she ever got downwind of me.

You see, us conservative chaps think women and kids need protecting and they are harder to protect when they’re close by and how the hell are they going to nurture the next generation if they’re in the combat zone.

As Father Tim says;

…sending women to the front lines in the name of equality diminishes rather than enhances their status.

I’m happy for girls to do most things military but I want them protected from the filth, terror and mind boggling physical and physcological aspects of infantry service.

I’ve been there but I see no combat infantry service in the CVs of people advocating that women should be able to join me.

Keep the home fires burning sweetheart and hopefully I’ll be back soon.

Bloody Hetero Matelots

sailors

Pic courtesy of the ABC

Sailors are in trouble for being sailors.

FEDERAL Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick has defended the navy against suggestions it cultivates demeaning attitudes towards women.

Ms Broderick’s comments followed revelations sailors aboard the HMAS Success offered financial rewards to crew members who slept with female sailors.

Revelations! Wow this must be serious

Yesterday, the navy confirmed four crew members from the Success were sent home from Singapore in May as a result of the allegations.

The sailors had reportedly compiled a book, titled The Ledger, detailing financial rewards for male crewmen who slept with female sailors.

Sailors who slept with female officers or lesbians stood to gain more money, according to the reports. The book was apparently discovered by crew and the captain was alerted.

Yesterday the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Crane, said the navy would not tolerate the sort of behaviour the four were alleged to have engaged in.

Chief of Navy! How the hell did he get involved. Admittedly it’s a bit tacky but that’s it. It should have been handled in house and the media should have had the manners to leave it alone.

Now the PM is involved

Reports of a sex betting ring on board a Navy ship are disturbing, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says.

I agree – it’s almost as disturbing as public figures frequenting strip clubs and drinking too much to remember the event next day. At least there is no report of the sailors paying the ladies for their services unlike that on offer at the venue Rudd visited.

You WILL be Multicultural

THE Australian Defence Force will target Arabs, Africans, Asians and other ethnic recruits in an ambitious attempt to overturn a century of Anglo-Celtic domination in the ranks.

Strange that – A century of Anglo-Celtic domination in the ranks of a Anglo-Celtic nation.

Are the ADF just fishing in new waters or should we believe Cameron Stewart’s interpretation that they are hell bent on turning themselves into a multicultural force at the behest of our current political masters.

Surely, the former.

The far-reaching new strategy has the potential to reshape the face of the nation’s military, which has lagged embarrassingly behind the rest of the country in reflecting ethnic diversity.

Why is this defined as embarrassing to the military? Why wouldn’t Australian born men or women be more inclined to be patriotic and believe that defending Australia is important. Their fathers and grandfathers defended the country; they are a part of the traditions and history of the military.

A family from overseas, whether from the Middle East or Asia have none of this background. They show signs of coming here as a result of a ‘best place for social security’ search and let’s face it, until they prove else wise I wouldn’t trust them with a weapon. Some of them support the terrorists with certain groups even advocating Sharia law be introduced. I’m sure they’re not interesting in defending the life we lead here in Australia.

Give them a generation or two and things might change but in the meantime I don’t think enlisting is high on their ‘To do list’.

If successful, it will pose a direct challenge to the flame-keepers of the Anzac legend, who have traditionally portrayed the Aussie Digger almost exclusively as a white, male Anglo-Saxon.

Only because it’s true.

I get the feeling Cameron Stewart has a problem with Anglo-Celtic males. He’s the guy regularly rattling on about how terrible ‘Men only’ clubs are and now he’s embarrassed by the fact that the ADF is manned by native born Australians.

Joel Fitzgibbon resigns

It’s one thing to neglect to mention all his gifts, free tickets and accommodation given him by the Chinese and his brother but this is worse.

The resignation comes after it was revealed ministerial staff in the defence portfolio instructed a general to attend meetings with his brother at which defence health contracting was discussed.

The General and Doctor, Paul Alexander is the head of Defence Health. We had last served together in a Regiment in the West where we got into the habit of having a Guiness on any Friday afternoon we were in Barracks. I only saw him again at this last ANZAC Day reunion and learned of his appointment.

And then this.

He is a true professional and it worries me that Generals are being forced into compromising ‘conflict of interest’ scenarios by the current mob in power. One would think a Minister of the Crown would know that this type of meeting simply isn’t on but apparently not.

I wont miss him and I’m sure the ADF wont either.

And then this;

But then Major-General Paul Alexander, who is in charge of defence health services, told a parliamentary committee that staff members of Defence Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon and defence staff told him to attend the meetings attended by Mark Fitzgibbon.

General Alexander said he was at a meeting with officials of US health insurer Humana on August 27 last year.

Mark Fitzgibbon was at the meeting and appeared to “sponsor” Humana officials, General Alexander said.

Can we start asking questions about Snowdon’s part in the story after all, it appears his staff had input to demanding a General attend a meeting with another Minister’s brother. Don’t tell me Snowdon doesn’t know the brother and what company he represented in that meeting and he must be aware of Alexander’s appointment.

Poor show all round.

ADF Savings

Whenever the ALP get into power, shortly thereafter we have historically had a Defence shake up that promises cuts, savings and a better bang for the buck and points out in letters writ large how inefficient the system was under the terrible conservatives.

The result of all these shake ups, in my 45 years experience with the Army, has always been a loss of troops and general conditions, although they have been good to us in the salary department.

It is an ideological given that officers must bear the brunt of conditions lost under ALP regimes. In the prehistoric times, under Whitlam, one of his left wing advisors pointed out that officers retiring after 20 years service to the country were entitled to one rank above their retirement rank as a thank you for long service to the crown.

I always suspected that he was also told that said officers received upgraded superannuation as well, which definitely wasn’t the case. Edicts flashed from Canberra that the practice was to cease and did.

That was purely ideologically driven, no ifs or buts, and set the stage for the treatment of those who would aspire to higher rank.

If you think Officers don’t like dining with the soldiers then I can tell you the soldiers don’t like dining with the officers either. Who can relax sitting alongside the Colonel, or worse, the General, and how can officers discuss a sensitive issue over lunch in the presence of the troops?

It’s very possible that Patrick Walters has it all wrong when he talks of this ‘rationalizing mess facilities’ plan.

The planned shake-up could include rationalising mess facilities, requiring officers to eat with other ranks, as well as rethinking travel policies and reducing senior executive entitlements.

I’m reasonably confident that what they are talking about is having a central kitchen with the traditional Officers, Sergeants and Soldiers dining rooms separate but a part of the main complex. This will save money and it has been a long standing program in the military. To say it is an ALP plan, offered with the “forcing officers to dine with their subordinates – that’ll teach ‘em to get uppity” line is simply disingenuous and ideological drivel.

The Defence Department has appointed one of its own senior officials, Margot McCarthy, to head up the strategic reform program with the rank of deputy secretary.

Dr McCarthy, who holds a DPhil in English literature from Oxford University, previously worked in the office of Defence secretary Nick Warner.

I’m not sure if Dr McCarthy’s ‘English teacher’ CV bodes well for the reform but I can imagine the final report will be very well written.

ANZAC Day

anzacday07b

Graphic from the Australian War Memorial site

Amongst other interest I run a site for my Vietnam Alma Mater 7RAR, and of late I have redesigned it, mainly due to an increase in interest by the new generation of ‘Protectors of the Realm’. 7RAR currently has troops on operations in Afghanistan and the reality is, if they are not on patrol they can surf the net. Whereas us dinosaurs got some mail weeks after it was posted, and then only if the Posties deemed to let it through; and then only if we weren’t on patrol and then it could more weeks, these guys, members of the instant gratification technological age have immediate comms and I envy them.

That’s where the differences end. They patrol as we did, they loose friends, wounded or dead as we did and the weights they carry, particularly their patrol order, look much heavier than what we dealt with. They also have to deal with a lackluster ally as we did.

On the 7RAR site there is an interview with a Lieutenant and he is discussing training Afghani troops who think they don’t need it. One of the guys says he fought against the Russians so what can this young man teach him. The Lieutenant counters by saying, in an understated Aussie Infantry type of way, that the old man’s tactics are unsound.

It brought back memories of a South Vietnamese Captain who pointed out that he had been soldiering longer than I had been alive. Maybe…maybe, but I also knew that the captain had never spent any more than one night in the field in all that time so I didn’t feel inferior in any way. I must have spent, at the very least, more than 200 days dossing on the ground in the jungle in that year.

7RAR have earned the right to be a part of tomorrows commemorations and if they do have time to stop they will be thinking of their wounded and of Corporal Mathew Hopkins who was Killed in Action on the 16 Mar 09

Corporal Mathew Hopkins was tragically killed in an engagement with insurgents while serving with the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force (MRTF) in Afghanistan.

A valued member of the Darwin-based 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Corporal Hopkins was conducting a patrol near Kakarak when he and his team were engaged by a group of around 20 Taliban.

He was evacuated by a Coalition helicopter to the nearby medical facility in Tarin Kowt as soon as the security situation allowed. Despite all efforts, he died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Corporal Hopkins was 21 years old, and was married with a young son.

Coincidentally, the two 7RAR soldiers KIA before Mathew in the sad chronology of death, died as a result of a mine detonation. Neither Alan Talbot or ‘General’ Paton knew what hit them but we did. The incident happened on the 1st of February, 1971. Alan died immediately and while I had hope for ‘General”, he succumbed to massive trauma five days later. I managed the Dustoff and the memories stay written indelibly in the dark corners of my mind.

The bad news guys is just that – the memories don’t fade.

The names are different, that’s all.

Lest we Forget.

Visit the Battalion website, look around and maybe leave a comment for the young ones in danger’s way in Afghanistan.

Missing Vietnam RAAF Bomber found

canberra
A Canberra bomber with 2 Sqn RAAF in South Vietnam

THE remains of an RAAF Canberra bomber flown by Australia’s last two MIAs have been found in Vietnam.

canberracrewThe wreckage was found in a remote mountainous region near the Viet-Lao border but no human remains have been located so far, Defence Science and Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon said in a statement.

Flying Officer Michael Herbert (left) and Pilot Officer Robert Carver went missing in November, 1970.

More
Additional reading;
2 Sqn Association site and Airwarvietnam info on 2 Sqn.

Taliban causing civilian casualties

Governor of Oruzgan, Assadullah Hamdam, says three men and a woman were killed when SAS troops went after the Taliban killers of a special forces soldier.

Short answer. Tell the Taliban not to hide behind woman and children.

Long answer. It is extremely unfortunate and no Aussie soldier would wish for it to happen but until we can manage to stop the Taliban involving civilians then it will happen; again and again.

The Governor had urged Australian troops to be more cautious when targeting Taliban fighters, Sky said, including consulting with villagers.

That’ll work!

“Excuse me Mr Villager, we want your authority to go into the village and capture a Taliban terrorist”.

“Sure thing”, he replies. “Just give us time to arrange for his escape”.

Or worse;

“Sure thing, just give us and the Taliban time to set up an ambush”

The ADF are investigating the incident, and rightly so, but the problem is an old one and won’t go away in a hurray. So long as we review our battle procedures and Rules of Engagement to ensure we are not unduly risking civilian lives then we have done all we can. Other than that we can only continue to attack the Taliban and work to eventually isolate them from the civilian population sufficiently enough to destroy them.

The last thing anyone should do is think poorly of the SAS. They have a very difficult job to do and are doing it magnificently, notwithstanding civilian casualties.

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