Category Archives: Defence and Security
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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’.
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.
‘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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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