Soldiers to be charged over raid

AN OFFICER in line for a medal is among a group of Australian soldiers who will face manslaughter and negligence charges over the deaths of five Afghan children in a bungled raid last year.
The soldiers, mostly from the 1st Commando Regiment, are facing an unprecedented court martial over the raid, codenamed Operation Pakula, near the village of Surkh Morghab in February 2009.
Well, thats it then. Soldiers can no longer go into battle for their country without worrying about legal charges. It could force them to be reluctant to return fire when they are in contact. That could add to our casualty count.
The soldiers were targeting an insurgent leader who was not found at an initial compound. A crucial part of the prosecution argument will rest on the decision to move to a second compound, and whether the intelligence was sufficient for it to be approached with the same level of stealth and tactics.
In the field, particularly in Afghanistan with no clear and recognisable enemy, all places needed to be approached with […]stealth and tactics. The interpretation of Intelligence in the field is often at odds with the opinions of staff officers in safe rear echelon compounds – particularly when you are being fired on. It goes like this: I’m being fired on from a second compound…f**k intelligence ….return fire…still being fired on…throw grenade….still being fired on…throw another grenade…thank God! Not being fired on anymore! Yes, it’s terrible that civilians died but the Taliban do that. They fire on Coalition soldiers from within a group of civilians and then use the resultant civilian casualties to wind up left wing armchair warriors. What are the Coalition soldiers to do in these circumstances? Take casualties, maybe die, because there might be civilians in the compound? The report suggests the Commando weren’t fully trained. Well, if true, that’s another problem but that can’t be sheeted home to the soldiers themselves. I have to back the Diggers on this one.

Mixed week

What a week! Tuesday I went down to Sydney to hand out swags to the homeless at Homeless Connect as part of my duties as a Director on the Street Swags board. If you don’t know about them you should – go visit their website My lasting impression of the homeless I met at the Sydney Town Hall is that they were mostly mentally impaired. Years ago, they lived in institutions called Mental Asylums but that term become politically incorrect. As a result they were mostly closed and the inmates transferred to hospitals. The bean counters who run hospitals said, in unison, “these people aren’t sick, we can’t help them and they are taking up too many beds. We can rotate paying physically sick people through at a far greater rate giving us a far greater income, so they need to to go”. And they kicked them out. From mental patients to the worlds condemnation of Israel isn’t too far a stretch. Those who always condemn Israel no matter what she does, claims the blockade is illegal. More reasoned commentators argue that Israel has a point. Whatever the case, from my perspective, if I was head honcho in Tel Aviv and had endured thousands of rockets fired at my citizens I would reserve the right to blockade supplies to minimize weapons entering Gaza no matter what the world said. Western media are still referring to the people in the convoy as peace activists and ignoring all evidence to the contrary. Abraham Rabinovich from Jerusalem files a report in today’s Australian indicating how the Turkish PM was involved in the planning of the operation and how the Terrorists aboard the IHH vessel Mavi Marmara had a clear mission “to expose Israel’s true face to the world”.
The mission given the group, according to Malam, was to prevent the Israelis from seizing control of the ship before it reached Gaza. The militants used small, hand-held saws to cut metal bars from the ship’s railings and to shape knives. They also gathered knives from the ship’s cafeterias and armed themselves with fire axes.
We know IHH has terrorist links and we know how terrorist act. Israel was sucker punched but it was surely reasonable to think it was a peaceful protest and that their troops weren’t in danger. After all, everyone said that was the case. It could be said that a man named Abraham Rabinovich has a conflict of interest when commenting on the matter but when the only opposite point of view has a base premise of denying Israel’s right to exist, let alone defend herself, then he should be heard. For another view that accepts Israel’s right to exist go here Back home, by the end of the week, Kevin Rudd was having a bad time of it as he negotiated with the Mining mob. Well, Kevin says negotiating but the mining mob reported Kevin’s idea of negotiating was “If you want to change the tax you will have to change the government” Bad call Kevin because a lot of people are now thinking “Yep! thats a good idea” Maybe a case exists for Mining to pay more tax but one of those reasons shouldn’t be to simply get the ALP out of a fiscal hole. Can the tax be fixed? asks Dennis Shanahan; Cabinet cracks emerge on tax says Matthew Franklin; Gerry Harvey says Rudd couldn’t sell a fridge let alone a mining tax, and John Singleton says I’ll sell anything but Kevin Rudd My week started bad with having to move my lazy arse to Sydney and actually do something worthwhile and then the loss of two diggers always hurts. However it finished on a high note with plenty of signs that the punters are starting to get Rudd’s measure and it’s very small indeed. ‘Av’ a good weekend and I for one, look forward to the Weekend Australian’s continuing litany of ALP stuff ups.

Charlie Gutsache still in service

“Defence has contracted SAAB Bofors Dynamics for the supply of the M3 84mm Carl Gustaf anti-armour support weapon,” Mr Combet said.
“These new weapons provide an increased direct fire support capability and will be employed by the Infantry, Special Forces and RAAF Airfield Defence Guards. Soldiers will appreciate the weight savings afforded by the M3 Carl Gustaf anti-armour weapon”.
Many years ago, last century, in the mid 60s, I was attending an Anti Tank course at the old Infantry Centre at Ingleburn, NSW and being instructed in the handling, maintenance and firing of the 106mm Recoilless Rifle. Near the end of the course, the Senior Instructor, Major Name Forgotten called us together and told us we were the chosen few. The Army were looking at the Carl Gustaf anti tank weapon (M1, I presume) and had literally borrowed one from the Swedish Ambassador. Along with the weapon came two rounds; a High Explosive Ant-Tank (HEAT) round and a flare (from memory of 200,000 candlepower) We were to fire these rounds with high ranking officers witnessing the event as a pre-cursor to actually conducting a user trial. I was elated, I drew one of the straws but elation turned to dismay when I then drew the flare! “I’m an infantryman, not a light technician”, I muttered to my mates, who couldn’t care less. I toyed with the idea of using it aggressively as in a 200,000 candlepower missile aimed directly at a target would light up my life and ruin the enemy’s day. At least he wouldn’t be able too see clearly for a while! The Sergeant was onto me though and I did what any smart soldier would do in the circumstances and fired the star shell into the heavens. Better blind obedience than stoppage of leave, particularly when I was in love with one of the Railway Hotel ladies and Friday night was leave night! From day one we called it the Charlie Gutsache and noted with cynicism, some years later, that even after a successful user-trial we couldn’t use the weapon in South Vietnam because the Swedes were against the war. Now, I note, that major Western armies are all buying it – yanks included. I wonder if the flare round ever got to be used aggressively – hope so!

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


Pic from

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


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.
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