Military culture exposed.

Just when the Defence Force Ombudsman states that the Department of Defence has improved the way that it handles grievances, reflecting a new level of maturity in the ADF, we read of “Gilly from Timor” an artillery officer, who sent an open e-mail detailing his impressions and movements whilst (and presumably – still) on active duty in the Australian Army in Timor.

He describes his infantry comrades as “dumber than I thought”. He says of his RAAF colleagues that they are “jack pricks.”

Responses from fellow enlisted people to Gilly, reveal a similar culture of disproportional, base responses. These have been swift and blunt with comments such as:

“It’s good to see another fine product from ADFA is getting his moment in the sun. I hope those blokes from 1RAR who were such a hindrance to you appreciate the fine, three year taxpayer funded holiday you went on in Canberra made you the tactical genius you appear to be.”

“What a cock – if he doesn’t hang over this, I will tongue my own a..e.”

“This bloke should be broken like a shotgun and horsef…ed.”

The ADF is spending tens of thousands of dollars on recruiting young people into their ranks. They advertise heavily in magazines that attract a young demographic. However, I doubt even the most immature teenager would not see the culture displayed by the four ADF members above for what it is – Puerile.

I firmly believe the Services offer a fantastic range of career opportunities for young Australians, and every ADF member needs to convince others to join us.” – Director General Defence Force Recruiting Brigadier Simon Gould.

Obviously the Brigadier is just another aca-fucking-demic from Canberra.


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36 Responses to “Military culture exposed.”

  1. Graham Bell Says:

    That email (as reported) sounds no worse that similar things I heard coming out of the mouths of military officers and Australia’s coporate buffoons.

    That “Gilly” may have done us all a favour …. though not his own career! ….. by drawing the attention of everyone to the many failings of the Australian Defence Force. Who knows? We may yet end up with a modern efficient military force capable of defending us against aggression and dealing swiftly with all manner of natural disasters.

  2. Suki Says:

    Graham I just had to sigh when I read the e-mail and the responses to it.

    I agree with your assessment of Gilly’s career. Is he a CAPT? What’s the ROSO for a CAPT and what will you bet that his will be shortened considerably OR he’ll be sent to East Arhem land to follow up on the good work of MAJ Les Hiddins of Bush Tucker Man fame…

  3. pre-dawn leftist Says:

    Graham is right – compare this with what happens in almost any corporate environment, any sporting team or in any parliament in this country and its no worse in any way. The only unusual thing here is that this became news because it involves the military.

    From experience, these kinds of comments about other branches of your own service, or the other services are common, generally intended in a light hearted vein and are part of the spirit of rivalry that exists within the services. They dont weaken it in any way. These guys aren’t a professional tiddlywinks team – they exist to give the Government the option and capacity to exert lethal force in the service of national policy objectives (whether or not we agree with those objectives is beside the point). This means being trained and equipped to apply controlled violence on the battlefield, and to put it mildly, implies a certain robustness of spirit and mindset.

    I’m just disappointed that most of the people of Australia only seem to hear about things that go wrong, or embarrasing stuff-ups and dont get to see how well served they are by their military. They are losing out as a result. Australian servicemen inevitably show the character of the society from which they are drawn, and reflect great credit upon that society when deployed in foreign countries.

    If the originator of the email is a product of ADFA & RMC (and in Army if he went to ADFA he will have been to RMC Duntroon as well to earn his commission) his ROSO is 5 years (every year spent in training plus one additional year). If he is a CAPT, he graduated from RMC at least 2 years ago. This indiscretion is very unlikely to earn him a shortening of his ROSO – more likely a reprimand or a censure, which will sit on his record for a defined period and possibly hold up his next promotion, or posting to a desired overseas exchange for a while.

  4. Graham Bell Says:

    Yes. You mentioned Les Hiddens (“Bush Tucker Man”) who used to be at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville:
    He was thoroughly disliked by all the wardroom warriors, mess commandos and garrison gossipers BECAUSE he was talented, capable, inquisitive, innovative, hard-working, successful and because he showed real leadership.

    Worse yet, not long ago, he helped a group of Viet-Nam War veterans in their negotiations with local Aborigines and the Queensland government for the co-use of a remote abandoned cattle property as a bush retreat so as to help some of the more unfortunate ones recover from that war and its aftermath. Earlier, another cattle property, one that would have been an excellent retreat, had been flogged off by an ex-service organization which had held it in trust (??) for the benefit of war veterans! Les Hiddens’ reward for this unpaid community work with less-fortunate fellow veterans was vilification from aforementioned scoundrels and other ex-military whingers. So much for Honour.

    Pre-Dawn Leftist:
    Agree with much of what you said. The harsh reality is that in military operations “a certain robustness of spirit and mindset” is indeed necessary; the contrary leads only to getting slightly annihilated yourself; not quite the happiest of outcomes. What I despise is the inability to unload this spirit and mindset – at the same time as weapons are unloaded – on return to camp from operations ….. and it is this inability that leads to bullying, blockhead stupidity and inefficiency ….. whereas what is needed is a rapid and rational adaption to a different situation where a different spirit and mindset is absolutely essential.

    This “Gilly” should be simply told just once to wake up to himself and soldier on. Nothing more. What will happen though, is that the mongrel-dog pack will, as usual, gang up on him and make life hell for him; they always prefer to attack one of their own rather than attack an armed and aggressive enemy, that’s all..

  5. weezil Says:

    If anyone signs on to military service thinking they are getting a job, they’re certified fools from the get-go. No real job (outside of police work) includes taking a bullet as part of the position description.

    What has me truly frightened is that Howard’s NoWorkChoices is going to undercut minimum wages to such a degree that young, unskilled people, unable to get jobs which pay enough to keep a roof over one’s head (and those of their family), will become an underclass of cannon fodder, just as has happened in the USA.

    You don’t often find the children of well-educated, well-paid Americans signing up for the US military. Those kids go to uni. The children of families which have inter-generational welfare dependency are the meat for the US military’s grist mill. If minimum wages in the US were actually high enough for a person to live on, the all-volunteer US military would be pressing hard to re-implement conscription.

  6. Graham Bell Says:

    How true!

    My own military service arose out of what I, and many others, perceived was the imminent outbreak of a full-on war with Indonesia. It was certainly not for a “job”; I had already come from one highly-paid position and was on my way to an even better paid one; even then, we thought that anyone who joined up simply for a “job” was nothing but a fool …. although some postings were decidedly more comfortable and less hazardous than others ….

    You have indeed pointed to the unavoidable fate of many young Australians who will have no choice at all but to become cannon-fodder for their government; perhaps even to kill their own people.

    In case nobody has noticed over the past several months, Australia also seems to be setting itself up to enter a highly-competitive global market …… the supply of expendible “military contractors”. So soon young Australians will have the opportunity to die or be maimed simply to enrich whoever ordered them to into the field ….. a real “Die-For-The-Dole” scheme if ever there was one. At least the French Foreign Legion are open and forthright up front and France has cared for its Foreign Legion veterans.

    That’s not the worst of it though. Where do you reckon the next open-cut mine for the s*x-slave industry will be? “Lady, if you want to feed your husband and your kids and keep a roof over their heads, you had better be on that ‘plane and keep your f*** mouth shut!”. How’s that for a Work Choice?

    And the ghosts of the original ANZACs look down …………….

  7. pre-dawn leftist Says:


    From the inside, I can tell you the ADF not a normal job, but ultimately a job is exactly what it is. I can guarantee you, much as the vast majority of us really do love it, and hold it very close to our hearts and souls, if they weren’t paying us, we wouldnt be here.

    Most people probably have no idea how dedicated, professional, and serious about their work military members are – this goes for people at all levels, from the most recently arrived FNG (F***ing New Guy) in your section, all the way up to the Chief of Defence Force. Excellence and commitment are bred into us from day 1 in training and every day on the job. Thats why the media attention to episodes like this pisses us off – they cant be bothered most of the time, but give them a hint of something not going completely smoothly and the high-and-mighty, wise -after-the-event press are into us like lightning. Meanwhile Howard and co get an almost free ride, despite sucking up to George, AWB and other scandals, trying to turn our neighbours into our very own gulag, Workchoices, and their persistent and ongoing attempts to nobble our democracy and stay in power no matter what.

    We aren’t in the ADF because we want to die or kill other people (we dont let people with those particular ambitions in), but we have accepted those possibilities as part of our responsibility as service personnel. Peoples’ motivation for joining in the first place is never sinmple, always multidimensional and as varied as the individuals themselves are.

    One thing that really gives us the shits though is people who seem to think we are patsys or fools for choosing to be in the ADF as a career.
    Get over yourselves guys, and dont be so patronising. We aren’t the Yanks (yet, thank Christ), we dont have conscription and we all chose to be in the ADF because we wanted to be. Its actually not that simple to get in, and we dont take just anyone.

  8. Graham Bell Says:

    Pre-dawn Leftist:
    Good on you.

    Thanks for bringing up the matter of homicidal psychopaths being kept OUT of the ADF. The other side of the coin is that a lot of good, keen Australians who don’t conform exactly to some fool or another’s little whimsy have also been excluded by a very silly recruiting system. I will cheerfully dong anyone who mentions the ADF’s “high standards”. There is only one standard for potential recruits ….. “Is this person likely to defend the people of Australia to the best of her/his ability?”; any other “standard” is nothing but a nocturnal misuse of one’s hands!

    Agree with you about the manifest stupidity, crawling and ignorance of some in the news media.

    Agree too about ADF members taking their duties seriously and acting professionally (I’ve seen the alternative…..and it is not good) but what they do is a career, or perhaps, in some cases, even a vocation but can it ever be a job? The Feral Government and its pals seem to be hell-bent on turning service into just a job.

  9. Suki Says:

    Pre-dawn Leftist.

    For as long as the defence budget spends many millions of taxpayer dollars, the ADF and those in it will be under scrutiny. Scrutiny does not necessarily need to be negative. It can have a genuine public concern element.

    Take the F-111, more than 30 years of service. Surely you cannot be happy with the age of this asset which needs a nanna nap every time it actually can get off the ground and make it back.
    The media is picking up on the replacement aircraft and questioning its usefulness. These discussions need to be had as Australia is hoping to buy 100 at $100 million each.

    I am pleased that the ADF works for you. However, being in the ADF can also do harm.
    I’m about harm minimisation.

  10. pre-dawn leftist Says:


    I agree scrutiny is warranted, and necessary, so is accountability. There is no shortage of either within the ADF (you’d be amazed what we put ourselves through to ensure that what we do is ethical and passes the “Front Page Of The Australian Test”), and our reporting to parliament (both House of Reps and Senate Estimates – worse than a murder trial I’m told) ensures formal external scrutiny also – well it used to.

    What is galling is that so many commentators in the press and elsewhere frequently do not bother to ensure their facts are correct before airing their views. Frequently they cant even get simple things like Unit names and peoples’ ranks correct. This does nothing for their credibility.

    I’m very familiar with the F111, having grown up at Amberley where they are based and it is a fine aircraft, which despite its age is still the most capable aircraft of its type (long range strike) in our region. This fact alone illustrates what a poor choice the F35 (the Governments favoured replacement) really is, and why, if we wish to retain this kind of capability (and other countries in our region will soon have it so we probably should), we should be looking at the F22 (this is now entering service with the USAF – the F35 wont be operational until 2012, and nobody is sure of the cost, or the final capability it will deliver).

    Harm minimization is a subject close to my heart and I spent a large part of my career doing exactly that – saying any more risks giving too much away. Military operations are inherently bad things for many people, physically and mentally and we expend a lot of effort sending our people home as good as they came. Unfortunately, it just isn’t always possible. Misbehaviour is a separete issue, and it occurs in our organisation just as it does in any other. I have to say though that in my 20 odd years of service, I have seen much worse behaviour from University students and football teams (and yes, some of that included me).

    Graham, I spent 4 years in ADF recruiting and was very familiar with the issues. The function has now been outsourced, so what I say must be tempered with that in mind. The issue with selection processes is that we are not recruiting shop assistants for Woolies. We are going to train these people to apply lethal force in difficult and stressful circumstances. The standards that we apply have nothing to do with “whimsy” but are about their capacity to absorb training and their ability to withstand the rigours of that training, and later operational service. This is not a joke, and is never treated as such. Unfortunately, just because someone wants to do something, it does not mean they can, or should. I believe many of the problems now being reported on in recruiting are related to the processes within the contracted organisation and the profit incentives they are driven by – this is my opinion only.

    As to how we are used and viewed by this Government – dont get me started – my nickname gives away a lot about where I stand. I suspect most of us are sick and tired of Howard (who has never served) turning up with his camp followers every time we are about to go somewhere. Nelson – well, he’s a pretty-boy joke.

  11. Graham Bell Says:

    Suki and PreDawnLeftist:
    Before I get on-topic: I was saddened by news of the the Iraqi minister’s bodyguards being shot by Australian troops. News reports here make me think it was a tragic accident in a complex and very dangerous situation; this is Iraq mid-2006 – not Viet-Nam, not Somalia, not Timor Leste – things are different; saying how I might have reacted in that situation is probably not relevant. The government’s spin on the incident so far seems plausible for a change. As usual, a low-ranking scapegoat will be found and sacrificed. Trouble is, accident or not, people throughout all of Greater Araby will see this as killing for fun by the troops loyal to Bush; (I’m not sure, did eyewitnesses refer to Australian troops as “Americans”?). I do fear that this incident will signal the start of attacks on Australian people and interests by all and sundry …. and that, in turn, will further entrench Howard and his accomplices.

    Accountability. I’m glad some officers feel that facing parliamentary committees is worse than a murder trial; it means they are forced to spend the taxpayers’ money wisely. 🙂 .
    I have a feeling, without a shred of solid evidence to back it up, that within Defence and ADF is possibly a tightly-organized nest of corrupt officers, vermin who don’t give a damn who dies just so long as they get their kickbacks …. sorry, I cannot find any other rational explanations – even gross stupidity – for so many appallingly big and bad military procurement decisions (chuck me in with all the conspiracy theorists if you like, I don’t care).

    Harm Minimization: The more harm minimization the better. That’s one of the things that distinguishes the ADF from many other military forces. (I myself have been under “friendly fire” a few times and it’s not something you can ever get used to!) Carried to excess though, putting harm minimization above all else can lead to a lack of the determination needed to ensure operational success, even victory, and the paradox is that sometimes taking well-considered risks can lead to lower or even no casualties. But the consideration of risks has to come from a careful and thorough analysis of the actual situation, not from the vanity of a commander who gets peeved if anyone offers awkward advice.

    Recruiting: While I can understand the need to screen out obvious simpletons and those manifestly unfit, the rest of the ADF’s recruiting seems to be more in keeping with a gay fantasy than with the enlistment of people who will stop bad people coming into Australia and killing me. What’s more, ADF is too timid or too naive to do follow-up on those who are rejected: who do they talk to, what do they say, what damage do they do to the ADF’s reputation? Also, if ADF’s standards are so terrific then why do more than half of Australia’s veterans fail to get more than just menial jobs after discharge? And No!, the excuse of a lack of jobs calling for the killing of people has been thoroughly discredited. [Veterans’ Affairs is a failure as the ADF’s “After Sales Service”].

  12. Suki Says:

    Recruiting is not just about considering the physical and mental attributes of the people needed in the military, it’s also about the psycho-social dynamic of the ADF that recruitment policies can impact on.

    Some years ago, the ADF extended the age at enlistment for new recruits to 50 years. This is not for all categories, but does apply to general entry. This effectively means that a 49 year old can enlist as a private in the Army. The effects of this change may include alienation from Unit cohesion as this soldier’s peers are usually the age of his children’s generation, not his. Questions relating to how much can the Army ask of a more mature soldier in terms of keeping up their fitness levels. How much will be invested in this soldier’s career as they very quickly approach Compulsory Retirement Age of 55?

    Having read Tony Hindmarsh’s paper, the problem of recruiting will continue to get more and more critical. I wonder at what point the ADF would just be too small to sustain. Currently the authorised personnel number is about 54,000.
    Does a defence force get unworkable at say half or a quarter of that population?

  13. Graham Bell Says:

    Thanks for the paper by Tony Hindmarsh (though I wasn’t quite expecting 3/4 of a Mb and 88 pages – I’m a very slow reader :-))

    You are so right about the need to look beyond physical fitness and mental capabilility alone.

    In a perfect world, the ADF could be reduced to around 12 000 to cover all training, research, ceremonial and humanitarian duties.

    Alas, this is the harsh cruel real world and the ADF is way, way below its minimum effective size already …. we won’t have to do anything about that though, we have enemies enough to show us the utter self-destructive folly of having allowed this to happen. Still, we can always do what we’ve always done so exceptionally well …. find someone to blame – of whom we shall have a glut..

    I am, perhaps, less concerned about marked disparity in the ages of service personnel as I am about the quality of leadership, training, morale, tactics and equipment. There have been some very successful forces, units and ships where there were marked disparities in ages, backgrounds and training ….. not without problems, of course, but successful nonetheless. It can be done ….. but not with the one-size-fits-all approach.

  14. Suki Says:

    Are you saying the ADF is aready too small?

    I was thinking that perhaps there is some sort of formula for a country to work out how big its military should be, say- population, land mass and GDP, = military size.

    How does Australia come to the 54,000 personnel figure?

  15. Graham Bell Says:

    Much and all as I would like to see a world without war, it’s not going to happen just yet ……

    ….. And until it does, we simply do not have the numbers to fight our way out of a paper bag – the high level of training and commitment of individual members of ADF and some very pretty war-toys notwithstanding. We have relied far too long and far too much, for instance, on Great-And-Powerful-Friends, on the presumed and very temporary superiority of a few weapons systems, on distance and on trying to protect ourselves with only 1:250~300 of the population actually doing the protecting. It was a great party while it lasted and now for the hangover ……

    What it comes down to is this: WHEN the current war turns into a general war, Australia will last about three weeks less than did Poland at the outbreak of the Second World War. (Despite the myth, at that time, Poland did have a large army and excellent commanders). Opportunities for us ordinary citizens to become refugees are not quite as good as our chances of winning lotto.

    The situation is not hopeless but anyone who feels like staying alive had better start taking an interest in what’s happening with our defences, no matter how distasteful or unfamiliar that may be (although saying that is probably unnecessary just here).

    There is no simple formula for determining the size of our armed forces, its dispoition, its level of training, its weapons and equipment, the percentage of GDP needed to keep it going, and so on that is needed to dissuade potential enemies from attacking us and then enslaving or annihilating us. Understanding what factors are involved does require a little effort, that’s all; there’s nothing mysterious about it; (though some “gate-keepers” try to give that impression).

    My own wild guess for a peacetime “size” of the ADF is ……. that with excellent military leadership, very FRUGAL and CANNY defence spending, without too much upsetting of the social fabric and with regional and United Nations deployments from time to time BUT without any hare-brained political grandstanding on the other side of the world …… around 160 000 ~ 180 000, most with 7 to 24 months training; we can afford that. In a general war, it would be everyone in.

  16. James Says:

    I think the caution here is that a military that is scaled and paced to provide adequate service for peacetime operations will be horribly outclassed when attempting to ‘scale up’ for full wartime activities. I liken it to an insurance policy. I really hope my car never gets stolen, indeed I don’t expect anyone will ever steal it. Nevertheless I will continue to pay a hefty annual premium. Just in case.

  17. weezil Says:

    James, what is the realistic possibility that anyone would ever invade Australia?

    I guess someday the East Timorese might have megalomaniacal tendencies, but we might have an early warning when a cigar chomping Xanana is rolling into Jakarta on the leader of his fleet of M1-A1 Abrams jet-powered tanks bought from unscrupulous American arms dealers (read: all of them) with Timor’s natural gas billions…

  18. pre-dawn leftist Says:

    Weezil, funny image but my fear is that perhaps if we get rid of the capacity to adequately defend ourselves, we might just find out who does want to invade us.

  19. Graham Bell Says:

    Agree …. but taking your analogy of insurance …. you had better be 110% certain that the premiums you pay will actually get you real cover when the crunch comes. That is a really big problem. We are paying gigantic premiums and yet we’ve got a semi-dud insurance policy …. and that is definitely not the fault at all of the people who will be the first ones to feel the brunt of an enemy attack. How can we get better defence for a lot less loot?

    The problems of very rapid scaling up have been obvious to all since the ‘sixtoes when the dunderheads running the Australian Regular Army showed that they were incapable of running a chook raffle let alone National Service (regardless of how manifestly unjust that National Service conscription was in the first place). This is one of the reasons I have, since the time I was a young digger, pushed for the introduction of a modernized and autonomous Australian Instructional Corps; a permanent organization that would not drain resources from regular units and would not be constrained by a lot of the red-tape so beloved by our military leaders (??). Naturally, any such innovative and practical ideas were well and truly hated by our overpaid Colonel Blimps. When an army has to be mobilized to fight a war, the last thing it needs is the bother of dealing with a huge influx of new recruits as well as dealing with the enemy …… but that’s what Canberra wants …. and it is we civilians who will suffer for such stupidity.

    Weezil and PreDawnLeftist:
    Two points -i- Invasion isn’t the only way to conquer a country. -ii- You can have a strong, effective and respected military force that is actually anti-militarist.

  20. weezil Says:

    Graham said: “How can we get better defence for a lot less loot?”

    Buy off-the-shelf hardware and mind ‘feature creep.’ Leave out capabilities that Australia has almost no chance of ever using (like M1A1 tanks which won’t fit any landing craft we have). Stop buying American as a priority and start buying the best bit for the gig.

    Graham also said: “You can have a strong, effective and respected military force that is actually anti-militarist.”

    Not just possible. Shall I tell you about the fan letter I wrote to Cosgrove (then in charge of INTERFET) when gave a Timorese boy a 2-way radio instead of a gun?

  21. pre-dawn leftist Says:


    I dont know how long its been since you served, and I’ll temper my remarks with that it mind. The fact is that the Army already has a training structure such as that which you mentioned – its called Training Command. It is the organisation which is responsible for such establishments as the Army Recruit Training Centre (which you’ll probably fondly remember as 1 RTB), RMC Duntroon, as well as specialist schools responsible for special to Corps training in most Corps. Training Command is responsible for all individual and Special to Corps training across the Army. As you would expect, units do conduct collective training, and training in things which are unique to that unit. The Command does not “drain resources away from the rest of the Army” – its part of it. Military training is not something that can be outsourced – nobody else does it. Instructors in Training Command units are drawn from operational units as part of the normal triennial posting cycle. In this way, trainees learn what is current doctrine, but also what is currently practiced in the units. This maintains both consistency across units in basic skills, but also ensures fresh ideas filter throughout the organisation. The RAAF and Navy have similar structures, although as they are more platform focussed than Army, they complete more individual training within their units.

    Saying that our military commanders are “overpaid Colonel Blimps” is a cheap shot which ignores the reality of how well led our soldiers really are, and insults the many fine Officers and Soldiers who work at senior levels. Peter Cosgrove is not unique, or even unusual. As to red tape, well, if the Government and the people want accountability (and they must have it), its going to take some amount of paperwork (or more accurately these days, keyboard work). Sorry, but you cant have your cake and eat it too. In my experience, the military is a lot more efficient than lots of civilian organisations I have had contact with.

    As to having a respected military force which is anti-militarist – I’m not sure what you’re all getting at, all I’ll say is that the successes which the ADF has enjoyed in the past have been the result of a training system which focusses on warfighting operations, not “peacekeeping” or some other vague notion. We do this because it works – it ensures our people are prepared for a worst case scenario, and do not need to be retrained if something really bad happens. I doubt the wisdom of wholesale changes to this philosophy.

    These days, conflicts are “come as you are” affairs – we dont have the luxury of extended periods of preparation time, so we have to be ready all the time, and that includes equipment which may be regarded by some as “inappropriate for current needs”.

  22. Graham Bell Says:

    So someone “gave a Timorese boy a 2-way radio instead of a gun”. That shows somebody knew the difference between succeeding and merely killing lots of people. Armies have the authority to use controlled violence …. and there are times (such as in the case you mentioned) when that means having the power to inflict violence but not using it at all nor even threatening to use it …. such an attitude would be beyond the comprehension of a militarist gun-nut or any meathead who deludes himself that winning can only be measured by the number of things destroyed and people killed.

    Thanks for taking the time to write your comment. These responses are at random (and no offence to you intended)..

    All wars and deployments are “come as you are”, that’s the way the world is and you have to prepare as best you can with what you can – but that is no excuse for buying equipment that’s not up to scratch no matter where and how it is used; the needs of your people on the ground must take priority over the needs of equipment sellers and their pals inside Defence and ADF.

    Training must cover all sorts of situations from nuclear attack to natural disasters to fighting a war against a very aggressive and far superior enemy; if there isn’t enough training time and resources then the luxuries and ornaments will have to be slashed until there is enough training time and resources.

    Training Command does seem to be quite an improvement over what was around in the bad old days but it is still a long way short of what is needed. For instance, the continued existance of separate training organizations for the Army, the Navy and the RAAF in this day and age!. You mentioned one of the serious weakpoints: instructors rotating from operational units – that’s great but the downside is that the training is still inbred; the fresh ideas you mention come from within the organization rather than outside. Sadly, fresh ideas from the wider world will only break through the bureaucratic defences of such a system when a ruthless enemy breaks through our defences and kills us civilians. Yes, no doubt all the latest professional books and journals and dvds are in the library ….. but are many of those awful smelly woggy migrants with funny accents AND with lots of battle experience employed to give ADF personnel the benefit of their extensive experience or, more likely, would their presence threaten the vanities of our tender wardroom-warriors and our precious garrison-gossipers.

    Sorry, military training IS something that can be outsourced. That it should not be outsourced is quite a different matter. You’ve overlooked the growing popularity, with some governments and corporations, of military contractors.

    Of course there are many outstanding and dedicated members of the ADF. However, given my own experiences, my cheap shot at cheap targets – overpaid Clonel Blimps – was well deserved; I expected your praise for it. The red tape I referred to has nothing to do with accountability and everything to do with stubborn resistance to long overdue change. You are right though about ADF being more efficient than some civilian organizations.

  23. pre-dawn leftist Says:


    I’m also right about everything else – sorry if you dont like it.

  24. Graham Bell Says:

    Not quite ….. for instance, just take a look at Clonel Blimp’s massive security blunder in the issuing of the Australian Defence Medal – nothing like making life terribly easy for potential enemies (he/she probably got promoted to Brigadier for that). Or. Why is your “After Sales Service” Dept. (Dept, of Veterans’ Affairs) employing private goons to go around harassing poor old ex-diggers as featured on prime-time TV a few nights ago?

    Whether I like or dislike an opinion is neither here nor there ….. what is important is whether what is said is worth listening to.

  25. pre-dawn leftist Says:


    I dont know what it is that you are referring to regarding the Australian Defence Medal – can you be more specific?

    I have no comment on the actions or behaviour of the Department of Veterans Affairs – Its not part of the Defence Department, and the ADF has no impact on its actions or any say in how it conducts itself – it does have a separate Minister after all.

    You’re clearly angry at the Army/Defence Department/Government about something, and I doubt anything I can say will change your mind.

  26. Suki Says:

    pre-dawn leftist,

    Whilst you are technically right, I would urge you to consider two things:

    The Department of Veteran’s Affairs has expanded its role to include peacekeepers,
    Many, many peacekeepers and veterans are also current serving members.

    This effectively negates the separation, as one person is legitimately within both structures.

    One of the girlchild’s friends will be a Timor peacekeeping veteran at age 19 as soon as he returns home!

  27. pre-dawn leftist Says:


    The reality is that whatever moral linkage you draw between the two, the ADF has no control over the DVA. Therefore to blame the misdeeds of one on the other is unhelpful as the ADF cant change anything the DVA has done. It may be a technicality, but the separation is not negated, because its a policy and organisational reality.

    I’m a peacekeeper a couple of times over myself – and proud to be.

  28. Graham Bell Says:

    PreDawnLeftist – and – Weezil:

    SBS TV “Dateline” rebroadcast today, Thursday, 1300K (1pm) and again at 1pm Monday: first item is Belarus and its military equipment recycling, remarketing and some very nebulous dealings with bad people. The program dealt mainly with the crooks and the “Axis of Evil” (is Belarus about to join them in American eyes?) but the program mentioned only obliquely the legitimate military equipment trade (immoral though that trade may be). Do we have a Military Attache at our Embassy in Minsk whose main duty is keeping an eye out for spectacular bargains that can be snapped up for immediate use by the ADF?

    Weezil, you said “Buy off-the-shelf hardware and mind feature creep. ” My oath! …. though bear in mind the very real need to be several jumps ahead of potential enemies by encouraging cutting-edge technology and even giving some support to wildcat experimental work (the source of America’s superiority in quite a few fields). Whoever was the armchair admiral who knocked back the Australian MetalStorm revolutionary weapons system – technology which, by the way, has even greater application export-earning industry!!! – he should be more usefully employed as a targrt for a field demonstration of that weapons system; the American’s love him because he handed them the ordnance equivalent of the Louisiana Purchase for free!!

  29. Graham Bell Says:


    You made a good point about many of those still serving in the ADF also coming under DVA responsibility (such as it is).


    The internet is very very public and I would prefer not to discuss the aforementioned blunder here ….. but try looking yourself at the issue through the eyes of a (purely hypothetical of course) staff officer responsible for the planning of the occupation and pacification of Australia. Why it happened is obvious but it is still incredible that such a blunder could be allowed to happen.

    You are right about my being angry but it is not at the ADF as such nor at the many fine people who serve in it.. My anger is at thieving, swindling, dishonorable little grubs pretending to be officers. My anger is at crash-hot, well-trained, quite intelligent but rather naive bludgers and bullies who still infest the ADF because they wouldn’t be able to cut the mustard in civilian life.

    You are very wrong about not being able to change my mind; I’m always willing to listen ….. that’s one of the reasons I myself have been able to survive though some of my fellow war veterans in similar situations have given up the ghost.

    Veterans’ Affairs may not be an integral part of the ADF or Defence but it is inextricably tied to the ADF. The ADF has the ability to have a great deal of influence over the mismanagement of Veterans’ Affairs and its consequent damaging effects of the ADF. The trouble is, none of the moral cowards and blusterers, disguised as senior ADF officers, has had the guts to drag out the DVA senior bureaucrats by the short-and-curlies and speak to them in dulcet tones about how their mistreatment of veterans and their families is screwing up things for the ADF. It will NEVER happen because the ADF senior officers are those who have made their way to the top through a diseased corporate culture that always favours these who “don’t rock the boat” over those who win victories.

    In politics, the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio does indeed have a separate minister, but with the sole exception of Con Sciacca back in the Keating days, that slot has always been little better than a sinecure, a booby prize for those who don’t make it into Cabinet, so there has rarely been the leadership in it that is needed for it to do what it is supposed to do fairly, efficiently and at a far lower cost to the community, nor that needed to crack down on abuses and waste.

  30. Graham Bell Says:

    Did you spot it?

  31. weezil Says:

    MetalStorm is some hair-raising stuff. Good Aussie tech for export.

    Also recently developed here is multiplexing for fibre-optic data links. Simple as different colours of laser light and a prism to funnel them together down a single glass fibre. It’ll probably go offshore due to the Australian gubmint’s disinterest in setting up nationwide fibre networks, putting us about 20 years behind the US. After all, according to former Minister for Prevention Of Communications, Dick Alston, ‘broadband is only for porno and gamers’.

  32. Graham Bell Says:

    MetalStorm’s industrial applications leave it’s military applications for dead … and it could have made us all slightly richer …. but no, we can’t have all that funny new stuff getting in the way, can we?

    I like your “Minister for Prevention of Communications” 🙂 Wonder if we can get the Finns or the Norwegians to run that department for us? Whatever fee they charge would be far cheaper than leaving in the hands of Australian nong-nongs. If we can have schemes to have our soldiers and our defence sourced from off-shore, why not for our communications policies too?

    Just in aerospace, look at what we have lost or chucked away: the Victa Airtourer and it’s 4-seater resurrection, the Ligeti Stratos, the Eagle …. and next, the SCRAMjet. What “Clever Country”?

  33. cat =^..^= Says:

    i have been informed that he was sent home and disciplined, but I can’t imagine too much of his workspace is safe for him anymore.

  34. Suki Says:

    I fear you are right cat =^..^=, moreover, I fear you and I represent the minority that are concerned by that!

  35. weezil Says:

    I wonder if the poor beggar was actually ‘horsefed’.


    Won’t somebody think of the horses?

  36. Graham Bell Says:

    B*gger the horses …. oops that’s what he meant, didn’t he.

    Count me in, I do care what happens to him even if what he did was careless and unpopular ….. but it’s still a small minority.

    Cat =^..^= :
    As I said before, this “Gilly” should have been told to wake up to himself and soldier on; end of story; forget all about it and get the job done.

    That’s the trouble, the narrow-minded garrison-gossiper bully gang has won yet again. Mature experienced soldiers who either prevent or win wars and who protect us while we sleep are in the minority too and they can’t overcome a diseased corporate-culture either that has been exposed by the immature reactions within the ADF.

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