Claims Defence lied to Riverina veterans refuted

The Department of Defence has hit back at claims it lied to former soldiers across the Riverina.

It comes after army veteran Bob Bak said the government had incorrectly labelled the military service of almost 9000 men during an overseas operation.

But, reports containing details the operation at RAAF Butterworth Air Base between 1970 and 1989, have since revealed this was inaccurate.

As a result, veterans say they have been stripped of a deserved “war-like service” recognition and its associated entitlements. They have since called for a public inquiry into the matter.

Despite these claims, the Department of Defence last week said Australian Defence Force service at Butterworth had been examined across several independent reviews, that found it to be peace-time service.

“Defence has responded to a number of claims for reclassification of Rifle Company Butterworth service,” a statement read.

“These claims were investigated through extensive research of available records … and found personnel were not engaged in duty relating to warlike operations.”

A department spokesperson said the role of the company was to provide a ground presence, to conduct training and to assist, if required, in the protection of assets.

“Unless authorised, (the company) was not to be involved in local civil disturbances or … security operations outside (base),” the spokesperson said.

ENDS

 RCB Review Group’s comments on Defence’s rebuttal above and previous rebuttals

Our rebuttal of Defence statements made by the then Minister Stuart Robert and his staff at the House of Representatives Petition Committee in 2014 can be seen here

The Government did not respond to that document

Following that, two letters were sent to PM Turnbull seeking his personal intervention and if declined then to appoint an independent (of Government)  inquiry. Neither was  given.

We re-presented  all of the entire evidence  discovered after 2011 to the Defence Department for their consideration. We challenged their response that there was no new evidence since 2011.   Another deception

In our submissions we asked to meet with the Ministers’ officers to discuss  the new evidence supporting our claim. We are still waiting.

Now that the MPs are this week back in their electorates it is a good time to visit them. We expect that the Defence Department will have prepared a letter for the MPs to respond to the letters we sent to  all the MPs and Senators.  Send us a copy of their letter please so we can guide your reply.
Robert Cross

OPINION – New Minister has a Job to Do

TOWNSVILLE should be a priority destination for recently appointed Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael McCormack.

McCormack represents the NSW seat Riverina for the National Party, with his electorate office in Wagga Wagga. Wagga is perhaps best known as the location of the army’s recruit training battalion at Kapooka, also known as Home of the Soldier.

Since McCormack is now also Minister for Defence Personnel he is ideally placed with local RAAF and army personnel to understand the issues faced by itinerant defence families.
He should bring to his dual portfolios some sympathy for the plight of those serving and those who have left the service for whatever reason.

While the affable Dan Tehan made the right noises, many veterans remain disappointed with his inaction on issues such as the ADF’s flawed mefloquine and tafenoquine antimalarial drug trials. This is a major issue for those affected.

Townsville has a significant concentration of veterans suffering the adverse consequences of mefloquine and tafenoquine poisoning yet DVA seemingly on ADF advice insists there is no problem.

To be fair to Tehan, any minister depends on the advice of specialists in the ministries they head.
The same applies to ministerial staff who often believe their prime function is to protect the reputation of their minister and the Government rather than offer frank and fearless advice on behalf of affected constituents.
When that advice is flawed or biased then a minister’s advice is equally biased and flawed.

McCormack could make an early mark by listening to people like Townsville-based veterans John Caligari and Ray Martin who continue to fight for the soldiers they once led, understanding command is a lifelong responsibility.

He should also talk with the wives and partners who struggle to understand why someone they love can return so damaged from operational service and who are then expected to pick up the pieces to keep their relationships and families intact.

McCormack could also make a mark by insisting faceless bureaucrats explain why awards should be granted to those who feel their service has gone unrecognised rather than accept their flawed advice as to why they should not.

Yes Minister

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Former soldier Bob Bak calls for ‘true’ service recognition

The Wagga  Daily Advertiser reports that one of Wagga’s former soldiers says he and more than 9000 other infantrymen were lied to.

When Bob Bak was sent to Malaysia with the Australian Army Rifle Company in 1971 and again in 1976, he was told the purpose of the operation was for training.

Mr Bak said soldiers and airmen stationed at RAAF Butterworth Air Base between 1970 and 1989 were sent for “strategic protection”, with troops ordered to keep the base and its assets secure.

The operation came at a time when the success of communist terrorism in Vietnam was a global concern. The Australian government, in response, said it would commit troops to Malaysia, as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve Land Forces.

Despite being publicly labelled a “peacetime” deployment, Mr Bak said a number of military documents found the government had been “well aware of the seriousness of the threat”.

According to the Rifle Company Butterworth Review Group, this means personnel deployed to the base during this time were serving in war-like conditions.

“Documents clearly outline a cover-up of these tasks as training,” Mr Bak said. “(But) we were at a constant state of readiness. We were given operational rules of engagement to apply when necessary … that put us in danger.”

For this reason, Mr Bak said the group was demanding recognition of war-like service and pushing for the launch of a public inquiry into the alleged cover-up.

Without the appropriate recognition of service, he said every defence member involved in that operation had been denied significant associated benefits and entitlements, like the Service Pension.

The Daily Advertiser understands the criteria for war-like service requires there to be an “existing enemy threat; an incurred danger, resulting from being present during declared rules of engagement and the carriage of live ammunition; and an expectation of casualties”.

“We were told to carry live ammunition during during security patrols,” Mr Bak said.

“It was also carried by nominated members during training outside the base to protect from wild animals and belligerents … We had orders to shoot.”

He said a recorded “direct army order” called on all senior personnel to refer to all matters as “training-related”, despite orders later revealing the deployment of the Rifle Company Butterworth was for the “security and protection of Australian Defence Force assets and service families living on and near the base”.

Mr Bak said he and other service veterans were tired of being ignored by the government and were calling for further submissions to add to the group’s petition.

The Department of Defence was contacted for comment but failed to respond before deadline.

15th February 2018

ALP – Banking Royal Commission Must Include CSC In Terms of Reference

Amanda Rishworth

Labor has written to Treasurer, Scott Morrison and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Michael McCormack backing calls by ex-service organisation to include the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) into the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into the misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

READ MORE

RCB Review Group Letter to all Federal MPs and Senators

The RCB Review Group Leader Robert Cross’s  letter was sent by email on 2nd February, asking for a read receipt. In addition to that acknowledgement some have replied with written acknowledgements stating that they had referred the matter to the responsible Minister or Shadow Minister. Some others have declined to consider it.

Along with our many supporters who sent letters to their local MP we look forward to the response to our request: We seek your support in recommending this matter to your Party for an independent public enquiry and look forward to your acknowledgement and agreement: If not agreement then the reasons for that decision please.

READ THE LETTER

RCB REVIEW GROUP LETTER TO ALL FEDERAL POLITICIANS FINAL

The Review Group will be recording all responses and will table the results to all on our web and facebook sites.

 

Operation “Exposure” Join the Action – Become our Supporter

Join the  action by becoming our supporter and encouraging your family and friends to do the same. Even if you’re already a member of the RCB facebook we do want you to register on the RCB website here.

To be successful in our quest for rightful recognition of RCB service we need to expose the truth of that deployment to all Australians.

Veterans and those Serving Cannot Accept Green MP Bandts ‘Coward’ Slight on Senator Molan

The anger across the Australian Defence Community, and the public generally, at the Greens ‘coward’ slight aimed at now Senator Major General Jim Molan, AO, DSC (Retd) is palpable.

 Mr Adam Bandt MP words are in themselves cowardly. By throwing aspersions at the character and actions of a long-standing military servant of the nation who has not only been renowned for his integrity but who has been at the absolute forefront of protecting Australian values, not to mention its borders, is a disgrace of the highest order.

The ex-service community as a whole of which the Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) is a part, considers the Greens MP’s comments spineless in the extreme, made worse by the senior leadership of the Greens, led by Senator De Natalie, effectively supporting Mr Bandt’s denigrating words and attempts to justify them.

Not only were the comments unbecoming of a member of the Federal Parliament, by inference they directly targeted the whole veteran community and those currently serving, many of whom are presently away from their families serving in harm’s way and with distinction across the globe.

Such service appears to mean little to Greens members of Federal Parliament. By direct contrast, the vast majority of the Australian people strongly support the dedication of the men and women involved and acknowledge the exceptional service they give to their country.

DFWA seeks to represent the issues of the members of the veteran community and those presently serving. Such disgusting smears made by the Greens, individuals who have never served in harm’s way, nor sought to understand the challenges the men and women of the ADF face, must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Generals down to the sailors, soldiers and the men and women of the air force regularly face life and death situations. This warrants more than a modicum of understanding, not craven attacks on them or their integrity in Parliament.

Members of the ADF serve at the direction of the legally elected Government. They do it with courage, backed by a tradition of honour in representing their nation in difficult circumstances. They do not deserve unwarranted attacks in Parliament by those who should know better.

While it must be acknowledged that Mr Bandt MP has now offered two apologies to Senator Molan, the first clearly inadequate and insincere, the Australian Defence Community must continue to have suspicions about the motives of the Green members of Parliament.

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National President: Kel Ryan (0418) 759 120  www.dfwa.org.au
Executive Director: Alf Jaugietis (0438) 282 284

DFWA – Voice of the Defence Community

RARA endorses RCB service claim as warlike

In a letter to the PM in January 2016, the RARA National President Michael von Berg MC OAM endorsed the RCB’s claim for warlike service. ” ….it is our contention that the facts surrounding the reasons for the RCB deployment has been a subterfuge to overcome the Labor Government’s dilemma to apply its electoral mandate to return all overseas troops and yet retain a strategic presence at Butterworth. This was achieved by deception to disguise the deployment for training purposes to the Australian public”

Read the full text.
20160121 RARC letter to the PM

RCB Website Live

Welcome to the RCB’s website

It is the communications control centre for the RCB Review Group’s management of Operation “Exposure” which aims to have the Government declare RCB service as warlike or failing that to appoint an independent (of Government) public inquiry into the rightful recognition of the nature of RCB military service.

The Reference menu provides the time-line of and access to all our submissions with evidence, the Government’s  replies and our responses to them. Check it out here

We encourage your support by direct engagement in having your say direct to us and to Federal MPs/Senator on all matters associated with RCB service. If you have additional evidence to that already revealed here then please tell us.

Rifle Company Butterworth – Warning Order “OPERATION EXPOSURE”

 

 

 

 

 

Following Governments’ failure to agree to RCB Review Group’s legitimate claim for recognition of their service 1970-1989 as warlike,  the  Group  intends to take further action to secure an independent judicial enquiry.

All RCB  persons who served at that time are encouraged to support the RCB Review Group

Core History Paper – A case for recognition during the SME V3