Majors now running Defence Policy

Well it’s all settled then. We have the Shadow minister for defence saying defence policy should be dictated by a Major. I guess smaller incursions than Iraq, say Fiji, could be stage managed by the Sergeant’s Mess on that basis.

Peter Tinley has been reported in Saturday’s press as saying Iraq is a moral blunder and to lend more weight to his opinion the article identifies him as a ex SAS Major and war hero – both sound qualifications for a considered opinion however I just can’t get it out of my mind that there is some political overture involved.

Peter has retired from the Military and has set up a sandstone business in Fremantle, Australis Pavestone and Blue Gum Leadership, a .leadership Consultancy He is moving into the corporate world and lectures and submits articles to various institutions in West Australia including the Curtin Business School and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority.

Nothing wrong with any of that and front page Weekend Australia isnt going to hurt his aspirations. Good or bad, publicity is publicity.

I may be old fashioned but I’m of the opinion that ex officers should not go public about finer points of intelligence planning and if they critisize the government of the day they should do so quoting their political aspirations rather than their military qualifications. I might add that a Major doesn’t really have much sway in war zones and I’ve generally found they are too close to the action to have objective opinions about the war overall albeit very in-tune with their immediate responsibility.

But that’s just the opinion of an ex major and would hardly rate against opinions of editors with a mission to increase circulation.

Peter’s not quiet so angry in this Army News article that announces his being made a Member of the Order of Australia for his role in the planning and coordination of the Op Falconer. Happy to accept awards from the same people who he now says ‘cynically used the ADF and duped the public’ – maybe he has a double standard issue.

“It was a cynical use of the Australian Defence Force by the Government,” the ex-SAS operations officer told The Weekend Australian yesterday.

“This war duped the Australian Defence Force and the Australian people in terms of thinking it was in some way legitimate.

Old friend and retired Army Officer, Karl Hartman nails the issue with his letter in todays Australian.

I BELIEVE it is worthwhile asking the chief of the defence force how many SAS majors he has on his staff giving him strategic advice. The answer would be “not many”. You would think that after 25 years, Tinley would have learnt to keep his mouth shut.

Oh, and the term ‘Hero’, at least within miltary circles, is not normally used when discussing recipients of the Order of Australia. These awards are made for exemplorary service and hard and dilgent work in planning or management; not actions in the face of the enemy. Maybe the journalist based the use of Hero on this paragraph

Part of his command was 1 SAS Squadron, which was awarded a US Meritorious Unit citation for its “sustained gallantry”, contributing to a comprehensive success for coalition forces in Iraq.

Part of his command was 1 SAS Sqn‘ says he wasn’t the OC of 1 Sqn and as Majors only command at Squadron level, and considering what else was reported, then he was a part of the Special Forces planning staff and had no command function as such.

I have not pursued any insider information and thus don’t know exactly waht Peter’s appointment was in Iraq but in reading the article the terms ‘Hero‘ and ‘Part of his command was 1 SAS Sqn’ are misleading.

Still, half the front page of the Weekend Australian is good publicity.


  • Hey Kev
    I’m an ex-major.
    Maybe I should include that when I make some comments.
    I’m good lookin’ too!
    Does that make me more believable?

  • Only if your anti-Coalition,Cav.

  • Greetings,

    Sorry lads – you don’t know left from right.

    To get accurate info one needs to listen to ABC NewsRadio. This morning at about 0530 EST on the Gold Coast (FM 95.7), I heard the announcer gleefully reporting General Tinley’s anti-government views.

  • Dear Kev et al,

    Tinley has more credibility than others. he was right in the middle of the unfolding and preplanned invasion of a country and a premptive invasion based on falsehoods and “spin”.

    If he and others had the moral courage at that time to voice their concern about the intention to invade Iraq it might have saved many lives both US and Iraqi.The involvement has ben a “disasterr” – Blair’s views.

    Bush is off to the Middle east – cannot go to iraq because it is too dangerous. What a bloody joke. he is the joke. The US electroate finally worked it out in the November elections. MKnay republicans are sick of the policy disaster coming from Bush, Cheney and others.Thank God every day that Rummy got the bowler hat.

    Are you still persisting with the view that there were WMD’s, that knocking over Saddam was good for the country. The results speak for themselves – low level sectarian civil war and the ascendancy of Iran.

    When will you realise that criticising a deceitful and morally bankrupt government is legtitmate in this democratic country. Howard is a liar and a sychophant.

    Good on you Tinley, Angus Houston and all those who have the courage to speak the truth even to their cost.

  • Peter,

    You really are not aware of how the military works so in my view, anything you say about Tinley has no credibilty.

    You are also over fond of emotive language……deceitful, morally bankrupt, lair and sychophant etc just indicate you hate conservatives. Nothing wrong with that of course but people who go so far as to hate never seem to offer alternatives or any practical answers…they just abuse those who are obliged to actually do things.

  • “Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors”

    – President Clinton 16 Dec 98

    “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.”
    – Al Gore 23 Sep 02

    “I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”
    – Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA) 9 Oct 02

    Perhaps Peter will tell us why the three men quoted above (and I can produce many more similar quotes from others) are not a joke but, President Bush is.

    Hopefully, Peter can also explain the following statement from Mr Philip Flood which appears on p 26 of his Report of the Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies. The report was submitted to the Prime Minister on 20 July 2004 ” …… is noteworthy that prior to the coalition’s military action against Iraq on 19 March 2003, the only government in the world that claimed Iraq was not working on, and did not have biological and chemical weapons or prohibited missile systems was the government of Saddam Hussein.”



  • “You are also over fond of emotive language”–Kev

    Don’t forget repetitive.

  • Dear gary,

    Repetitive – yes until the message gets through.

  • Repetitive, you say? Repetitive? Really? Perhaps Peter could outline his plan For dealing with Iran and North Korea then, seeing as how the coalition forces have apparently royally screwed Iraq.

    Peter Tinley could of course hand his honours and awards back to Government House and decry their issue under false pretences based on a lie. The chances of that occuring? About as much as Peter here making a cogent argument based on tactical and strategic understanding of modern counter insurgency warfare. Which is to say, two-fifths of fuck all.

  • Kev,

    You state that you “don’t know exactly waht Peter’s appointment was in Iraq” but the Army News article you link to clearly states that Tinley was “the Deputy Commander for the Special Forces Task Group in Iraq.” The use of the word “hero” is hardly Tinley’s fault but as you know journalists throw these words about like confetti. Any defence member would be embarrassed to be labelled as such.

    The quote from Karl Hartman is interesting. Just why should Tinley keep his mouth shut? As a private citizen he is as entitled as the next person to speak out. Is it because Tinley has chosen the “wrong” side of politics? Personally I don’t give a stuff what party he joins. I think if there were more quality ex-military people entering politics we would all be better off. They couldn’t do any worse than the current crop of duds and non-performers who infest both houses of parliament, none of whom, apart from Graham Edwards,have seen any operational service despite quite a few being of age for Vietnam.


  • Felix, I shoud’ve said I don’t know exactly what Tinley’s tasks were. Did his task require him to have full TS clearance on the matter of WMDs?
    Just because you are a planner doesn’t mean you are given access to everything…just what you ‘need to know’

    Karl Hartman’s point is reasonable. Tinley has spoken out of school. He has used classified info he was privy to as a Major and spun it to smooth his passage into Parliament. All long-serving ex officers have some info in their head that they could make political mileage from but it’s something we leave behind.

    Graham Edwards is a mate of mine (same Company in Vietnam) and we sit on opposing sides of the political divide but that doesn’t matter because he’s not a raving lefty.

    I agree that more quality ex servicemen woudn’t hurt the standards of parliament but from my reading to date I don’t think Tinley is such a person.

  • Dear kev,

    Agree with Felix that it is is not his fault that the word hero is used so loosely by Journos.

    I did not hear a word from Tinley suggesting that he defeated the Iraqi Army on his lonesome.

    He is entitled to his personal view of the involvement in this discredited war. He is not alone in his condemnation of the war. A number of US Army generals have finally spoken out after they left the service and express regret that they did not stand up to “desk heroes” like Rumsfeld and that old draft dodger Cheney.

    These fire breathing “heroes” are adept at deceit and spin at thee expense of the men who serve. At least Tinley was there even though he might not have been at the sharp end. Someone has to do the staff work and planning. The failure of good staff work and the casualties that result are there to be seen at Gallipoli, Fromelles, Pozieres and other battles in WW1. I could go on and give many more examples but I might bore you Kev.