Category Archives: Defence and Security

The Ticking Time Bombs of Nuclear Australia

Seventy years ago, in late 1950, a British Admiralty survey party was broiling in the summer heat of the Monte Bello Islands off the coast of Western Australia to report on their suitability as a test site for Britain’s first … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | 2 Comments

And the third Khaki Shultzie goes to…

Recently the Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, won the inaugural Khaki Shulztie. The award is named after Sergeant Shultz (“I know nuuuthing!”) from the TV show Hogan’s Heroes. The award recognised General Campbell’s ignorance about Afghanistan in … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | 5 Comments

Of warriors, bad apples and blood lust

Talk of “warrior culture” in the wake of the Brereton report rings hollow. Sir Galahad never burnt villages or killed children. But “bad apples” has a ring of truth, especially if applied to the estimated 2% in any army who … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security, Politics | 8 Comments

Do the laws of armed conflict apply in guerrilla war?

Australia’s first special forces, fighting in the jungles of Borneo in WWII, fought in a war where neither side adhered to the international rules of armed conflict.

Posted in Defence and Security | 2 Comments

What responsibility does ADF’s top brass have for war crimes in Afghanistan?

As much as clothes, language has fashions.  This month’s in-vogue expression is “walking back” – a metaphor for resiling from a position previously taken. And in these changing times, there is a lot of walking back about.

Posted in Defence and Security, Top 5 | Tagged | 15 Comments

Wilful blindness of the Anzac myth and our military death toll

A recent spike in the statistics has seen the number of suicides by Australia’s Afghanistan veterans pass 500. This is an appalling toll which raises many deep questions for all of us.

Posted in Defence and Security | 4 Comments

The Anzac legend has blinded Australia to its war atrocities. It’s time for a reckoning (The Conversation Dec 7, 2020)

For years, Australians have faced a steady stream of investigative media reports about atrocities allegedly committed by the country’s most elite soldiers in Afghanistan.

Posted in Defence and Security | 5 Comments

Memorial Wars and our hypocrisy

The commemoration of war must force us to remember the people – the victors and victims, men and women, patriots and pacifists, soldiers and civilians. It must connect, confront and complicate, rather than celebrate, petrify and simplify.” Dr Sam Edwards … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | 5 Comments

ASPI resorts to bullying to deter strategic debate on China

Peter Jennings, Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), has launched an ad hominem attack belittling those who take a contrary approach to Australia-China relations rather than advocating for war preparations. But it is his poor grasp of … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security, Politics | 28 Comments

Overwhelming support for war powers reform (Australians for War Power Reform Dec 2, 2020)

83.3% of Australians want Parliament to decide whether our troops are sent into armed conflict abroad, according to a nationwide Roy Morgan opinion poll released recently.

Posted in Defence and Security | 4 Comments

Returning, six years later, to the scene of my torture by SAS

As we walked on the military base in the dark early hours of Monday morning, with a full moon setting a stunning scene across Port Phillip Bay, it was hard to imagine that I was risking torture again. This was … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | Tagged | 14 Comments

In hunting for Chinese spies we hang on for dear life to Anglo-Saxon allies

Like so many members of the security establishment Director of ASIO Duncan  Lewis adopted the time-honoured tactic of implicitly saying to the public  ‘trust us because we know things you don’t know and which we can’t tell you’.

Posted in Defence and Security, Top 5 | 23 Comments

“Mind-boggling” waste revealed in the record rise in weapons spending (MWM Nov 30, 2020)

Australian governments and their defence leaders, with help from lobbyists, choose immensely complex, overpriced and overmanned weaponry. Wasteful spending has to end, writes Brian Toohey.

Posted in Defence and Security, Politics | 9 Comments

Wars, just like Bruce Springsteen, are ‘born in the USA’

‘Defence’ for Australia has usually involved being shanghaied – often willingly – into other nations’ inappropriate, politically motivated wars. Our alliances are increasingly dysfunctional and inappropriate in our region.

Posted in Defence and Security | 2 Comments

Brereton’s comments which gave rise to the Chinese tweet on Australian Afghanistan war crimes

The Brereton report sheds light on the tweet posted by a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry of a digitally altered image depicting an Australian soldier holding a knife to a veiled Afghanistan child.But I have not seen any of  our … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | 29 Comments

The importance of the Brereton report on our alleged war crimes in Afghanistan

On 20 November, the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) General Angus Campbell finally presented the public with the redacted version of NSW Justice Major General Paul Brereton’s report into our alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

Posted in Defence and Security | 8 Comments

The unsustainable theory of ‘counter- insurgency warfare’ in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Australia’s disastrous military campaign in Afghanistan has been based on the so-called strategy of ‘counter-insurgency warfare’ – COIN in the military vernacular. Yet for decades, COIN demonstrably has been an intellectually unsustainable theory.

Posted in Defence and Security | 6 Comments

Australia’s unnecessary involvement in various wars

Our Prime Ministers and other senior Ministers must bear the greatest responsibility for atrocious decisions to involve us in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam. They have shown repeatedly that they are not up to the task.

Posted in Defence and Security | 6 Comments

Skewed responsibility: Australian war crimes in Afghanistan

The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry was always going to make for a gruesome read – and that was just the redacted version.

Posted in Defence and Security | 4 Comments

The Australian Army’s inauspicious birth. From the Boer War to the Afghanistan War.

With such intense focus on the army’s record in Afghanistan we might look more closely at its history. It had an inauspicious birth on the first of March 1902 in South Africa, three months before the end of the Boer … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security, Politics | 15 Comments

Lieutenant-General Burr, can you stand up. We can’t see you!

In Burr’s regiment were many of Justice Brereton’s bad boys. That so many of them were able to mask their incubating psychopathology reflects badly on the psychological assessment tools Burr’s people were administering.

Posted in Defence and Security | Tagged | 14 Comments

‘Power and pain’: an Australian citizens’ encounter with the SAS

Outside of Defence circles not many Australians would have had a close physical confrontation with members of the SAS. Four peace activists did in 2014 when their trespass on the Swan Island military base was dealt with by two enraged … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | Tagged | 2 Comments

Can we get out of Afghanistan?

The revelation of war crimes by Australian soldiers has brought our focus on to Afghanistan, why we are there and why the special forces did what some of them did there. If the US pulls out so will we but, … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security, Top 5 | 35 Comments

SAS officers failed their men and Australia

The Australian Defence Force is one of the most secretive forces in the world. If our experience with Afghanistan is any guide, such secrecy produces moral failure. And while the much-despised media long ago blew the whistle on the behaviour … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | 9 Comments

‘Here was their spirit’ – the corruption of the Australian War Memorial

Rather than embodying Charles Bean’s vision of a solemn temple of reflection honouring service and sacrifice – ‘Here is their spirit’- over time, the Australian War Memorial has morphed into a theme park of war souvenirs, half-truths and omissions.

Posted in Defence and Security | 17 Comments

The Brereton Report: the failure of political and military leadership

Our political leadership will never be the subjects of the Office of the Special Investigator or the Australian Federal Police, nor, therefore, will they ever be charged. Indeed, in their exaggerated innocence they will display only the inevitable hypocrisy of … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security, Top 5 | 35 Comments

Soldiers vs warriors: a distinction between Australian and US troops and Kerry Stokes!

What’s the difference between a soldier and a warrior? And in what environment is the distinction in danger of being lost? If Kerry Stokes wants to get involved he is entitled to – but, if he does, he should also … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security, Politics | 5 Comments

Building a wall of silence about possible attacks on Australia.

There are plans to protect civilian populations in the case of a military attack on Australian soil, but they’re “classified” – not reassuring when you live in close proximity to the Pine Gap military base, widely regarded as a likely … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | 3 Comments

Australian War Crimes and the Asymmetry Myth

There is a widespread “asymmetry myth” about the perpetration war crimes that will affect the reception of the forthcoming Brereton report on alleged Australian military war crimes and what Scott Morrison predicts will be “the difficulties” it creates.

Posted in Defence and Security | 3 Comments

Let’s face it, Australia goes to war far too easily (Canberra Times Nov 15, 2020)

The soon-to-be-released Brereton Report will shine a light on alleged war crimes committed by Australian forces in Afghanistan. It is expected that a culture of impunity within the special forces will be highlighted as a significant factor in perpetuating crimes … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security | Tagged | 9 Comments