Leader of NT Opposition Denis
Leader of NT Opposition Denis Burke gets offside with Gen Cosgrove by appearing to condone marijuana use in the military. Mr Burke had said recreational marijuana use by civilians had never bothered him. He had noticed while he was the leader of Second Cavalry Regiment that “there are many people that will not drink alcohol, but will have the occasional smoke”. “Now, you know, that’s for them to decide,” he said. Wrong! Drug use on duty is a command responsibility. One thing Burke should have learnt while he ‘commanded’ the 2nd Cavalry Regiment was that any sort of drug use is incompatible with maneuvering 14 tonne APCs. I have no axe to grind about smoking marijuana unless it’s in the military. Commanders have a chance of controlling grog as it’s hard to smuggle a carton of XXXX Lager into the field but not so with a small cache of marijuana. What a soldier does on leave is generally his problem so long as he stays within the law but the thought of marijuana in the field is terrifying. The guy smoking a joint is a danger to his mates if he then fires a machine gun or rocket or drives a vehicle, particularly a tank. Logistics stops the hard core drinker but not so the mary jane user. Tank drivers are always of concern to infantrymen. The later, who tend to sleep on the ground and like to lie very close to it while in action have always had to be very aware of tank drivers. If there is action Infantrymen have the dual survival role of dodging enemy bullets and friendly tank tracks as when tanks are under fire they tend to make alarming direction changes. Denis Burke is being irresponsible by playing down marijuana use in the Army and should take a hard line on any drug use while on duty. The commander of Robertson Barracks has a problem on his hand that has now been exacerbated by the local Leader of the Opposition. Trying to secure the votes of local users by appearing to be ‘with it’ should attract adverse comments from military leaders who are continually fighting a battle against a society and media that says it’s OK to use drugs. Before some readers start thinking drugs are a huge problem based on the statistics of the Robertson Barracks raid, keep in mind the subjects of the raid were targeted – the MPs knew from other sources who the problem children were. The nearly 50% strike rate reflect the quality of intelligence rather than indicating half of the military are on drugs. UPDATE: Cosgrove denies ‘goose’ comment. In todays Australian Gen Cosgrove denies calling Burke a Goose. Goose, not a Goose, It doesn’t change my thoughts on drugs in the Military.