Opinion – Soldiers, justice suffer as war probes drag on

THE investigation into alleged war crimes by Australian special forces soldiers in Afghanistan has taken an interminable time with no conclusion in sight.



RCB Update 4/2019 – Action Changes Things

Facts from the Aust and Malaysian Governments’ records prove that RCB’s operational deployment (1970-1989) to protect the RAAF assets at Air Base Butterworth against the communist terrorists threat during Malaysia’s Counter Insurgency War (1968-1989) was warlike.



This is an Update on activities reported in Update 2/2019

Legal Conference

Arising from the telephone conference meeting with our barrister it was decided that as there will likely be a new Minister after the election we need to put our case to that person afresh before taking the legal path. This is because the courts would not take kindly to suing somebody who has previously had nothing to do with the decisions against us. To that end our legal team is preparing a brief for the incoming Minister.

National Media Exposure

In the meantime we are continuing our preparations with a national media organisation to expose our claim to the Australian people. No action will commence until we have a decision on the legal advice

Defence Force Retirement & Death Benefit – Commutation issue – A Summary

We continue to monitor it because it is a good example of the power of national media to influence the Government and we can learn valuable lessons from this inquiry.  The timing for the independent inquiry is to be decided after the commencement of the 46th Parliament. The so called independent body is to be the Commonwealth Ombudsman: this decision has been criticised as not being independent of Government.

That Moment of Truth – The Meetings – Update 1/2019

In that Update we reported:

“A week after our return to Brisbane we sent an RCB Brief of the matter to the Minister and Ted Chitham wrote him a personal letter appealing to his decency in decision making and the need to act. We are still waiting for a response for continuation of the unfinished meeting or a decision.”

Today (15th May 2019) the RCBRG received a letter from the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral David Johnston AO, RAN in which he thanked us for our correspondence: Letter of 5th December 2018 to Minister Chester, Letter of 21st February 2019 to Minister Chester, Emails of 26th February 2019 to Minister Payne and Sen Fawcett, and Letter of 22nd March 2019 to Minister Chester; and counters our claims with reasons that are challengeable. Again he repeats this sentence: “In the absence of compelling new evidence the Department of Defence does not intend to examine this matter further.”

Faced with this continuing avoidance to meet with us (refer to the 26thNovember 2018 meeting fiasco) no wonder that we persist with our claim to obtain justice through other channels

Thanks all for your support, suggestions, comments and donations: they are greatly appreciated. I can assure you all of the outstanding dedication of the RCBRG that remains resolute in its determination to pursue our claim.

Prior Planning, Persistence, Patience and Perseverance Prevents Poor Performance

Robert Cross
RCB Service 1973, 1974/75, 1982
RCB Group Leader
Date: 17/05/2019

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Anzac Day 2019: Vietnam War through a young Digger’s eyes

THEY are the images of war never before made public: candid snaps of young men behind enemy lines, ­captured by one of their own… raw, intimate and devastating.

These photographs, taken by Vietnam War veteran Allan Beer, himself just 20 years old when he was conscripted into national service, offer a rare behind-the-scenes look at conflict told through a young man’s eyes.

They tell of mateship and youthful optimism, of sons and brothers doing their best. These are not the elite soldiers of today.

Just barely into their adult years, a ragtag group of six men pose outside a Vietnam War camp.

They’re snapped aboard a chopper flying low, taking a break atop a roadside convoy and shirtless watching a naval ship pass by.

There are cheeky shoeshine boys sneaking a cigarette and live performances for a sea of soldiers in green.

The pictures, detailing a group of Australian troop’s moments before their first operation, today made public for the first time will be celebrated at a special exhibition at Howard Smith Wharves as part of an Anzac Day service.

The commemoration coincides with Mr Beer’s 50th anniversary of service and the collection includes photographs of the artist himself, snapped by a friend, looking every bit of his youth, crouched beside a rifle and some ammunition.

Another photo captures him as he wades through mud and water, clutching a gun, while on patrol.

The 70-year-old said that from a young age he was passionate about photography, and carried a camera in his pack that would later capture roughly 300 photos during his time in Vietnam.

“It puts me back there, (the photos) because you can write a book about something, but one photograph can explain a lot to you – more than the written word can,” he said.

“It really captures the moment, and a lot of photos accidentally capture a mood and it’s a bit of a magical thing when you take photos that do that.”

Mr Beer said that he could ­remember every moment behind each picture he captured – and that he ­particularly remembers two ­mischievous Vietnamese shoeshiners.

“These little kids, they were opportunists of course, making a living and they were cheeky little kids, I think that photograph really captured them well,” he said.

He said the photos had been sitting in a box all these years, but would be exhibited for the first time, as he believes younger people are showing a greater interest of what life was like in the Vietnam War.

“I really wish I had of taken more, but of course, there was ­always something going on; there was never a dull moment really,” he said.

“It was all a bit of an adventure; we are all pretty young and it was a bit of an unreal situation.”

Mr Beer told The Courier-Mail that he was lucky to have the opportunity to capture candid shots in a surreal environment.

“A lot of the shots depended on where I was at the time, hanging out on the side of a helicopter – a lot of people never get to experience that, so when they see the photo it is a ‘wow’ moment,” he said.

Sophie Chirgwin, The Courier-Mail April 25, 2019


Vale – Brave Warrior – Ron Perkins 3RAR, Korea, AATTV and Vietnam

It is easy to write of an old soldier such as Ron Perkins who demonstrated strong qualities of life including leadership and love of country. Ron left the army after a very distinguished career including operational service in both Korea and Vietnam.

Even in retirement, supported and encouraged by his ever wonderful and devoted wife, June, he was very much involved in pursuing the interests of fellow veterans. Always to the fore was welfare, promoting pride and camaraderie.  No easy task, given that the aging veterans were scattered over vast distances.

As a soldier of the Third Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, his baptism of fire was in the early days of the Korean War. The many bloody encounters included the historic Battle of Kapyong where his battalion, despite incredible odds, defied the might of an advancing communist army. For this outstanding and seemingly impossible delaying action, the battalion was awarded the most prestigious United States Presidential Unit Citation.

Years later, he was among those few, selected for service in Vietnam with a recently formed unit, the Australian Army Training Team. (AATTV)  Given that this unit received many awards during operations, the term ‘Training’ became very much a misnomer. AATTV was awarded two foreign unit citations, thus Ron became one of a very few at that time to be wearing three foreign unit citations along with his impressive array of other military awards.

Join me as I picture him and his mates, mostly young, and perhaps distant from the front line, camped on reverse slopes, and around a small campfire. There would be laughing, joking and often singing of their favourite songs which included “The wild colonial boy” and another where in loud voice, they claimed they were all illegitimate and preferred vice and sin to fighting for their country. Such was their wry humour.

Then in the morning, these warriors from the land down under, went forward, exposed to winter’s freezing icy winds and snow or summers hot and relentless heat. Always they were heavily laden with weapons, equipment and a blackened tea billy used by the sub unit, dangling from someone’s haversack. Many of them were wearing American boots, combat smocks and balaclavas they had “borrowed” from their American allies. They tramped along unnamed narrow dirt roads toward the fog of war and the unknowns of their tomorrow; always with a sense of purpose and trust in each other as well as confidence in their leaders. Always evident from the commanding officer to the most junior soldier was the immense pride in their unit. They knew who they were and what they were about to do.  

Ron was part of all of this and clearly showed his love of country and a firm belief in our precious way of life.  His pride and affection for his old units never faltered throughout his life.  Years ago, I became aware that when the time came, he would want to bid farewell to each and all of his surviving old comrades on Planet Earth who would still be answering “Present” at roll call and thus this note. 

Have no doubt that he is now part of the growing ghost column which follows behind today’s youngsters who serve in the battalion, who march proudly with their unit’s Colours held high. As he passes the cheering crowds, the Spirit of one of Australia’s best, Ron Perkins, marching with old comrades one more, and will salute his beloved wife and family watching from afar.

Ron’s military history is recorded in this interview in 2003 

                   Vale Brave Warrior

Go seek glory with your deeds from a distant past 
Rest with old comrades at long, long last 
Feel the glowing, peaceful warmth of the campfire 
Singing, laughing and then restful sleep; gone forever any ire 

Those fields of war now washed clean of blood, sweat and tears
Yet still the faint cry ‘‘Duty First’’ can be heard each and every year While on Planet Earth, a new generation firmly holds the sacred flame
Brave deeds stitched on sacred cloth, proudly carried high, again and again  

George Mansford April 2019

Opinion – Who defines an extremist?

Last week The Bulletin received an email to senior army officers suggesting soldiers caught making hand gestures or symbols associated with racial hatred or white supremacists groups may have their service terminated.

The message in the email prohibited personnel from making such gestures or associating with organisations “contrary to army values”.A spokesman said the ADF didn’t condone behaviours or symbols linked to extremist ideologies. “Any ADF member found to be associated with extremist ideologies can expect to be investigated and will potentially face adverse administrative action,” the spokesman said.

Who defines “extremist ideologies”? 


Military death logos and symbols get the chop

Gun-toting grim reapers and cartoon phantoms are among more than 20 images the military has scrapped under its new ban on soldiers’ use of death-style logos.

Examples of the banned imagery that had been used by sub-units on items such as patches and T-shirts was revealed in an answer to questions on notice from a Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Senate Standing Committee hearing.

The questions were on which logos were banned, what had been used to replace them, how much was the cost of replacement and which units had been affected.

Defence said no unit logos, emblems or badges had been removed but that some imagery associated with sub-units had been scrapped.

Defence provided examples of logos that had been scrapped but declined to provide the full list. Among the examples that also appeared to fall under the ban was some memorabilia in the form of a Spartan helmet and a shield.

Defence declined to provide a detailed costing of any buyback of stock featuring the banned ­imagery, but it did reveal that in one case, $2490 of non-public moneys derived from unit canteen sales was allocated to Delta Company of 4/3 Royal NSW Regiment’s soldiers club to help them with a new sub-unit logo.

The most common imagery scrapped appeared to be the grim reaper and Spartan-style logos. Among those affected were a sub-unit of 1st Brigade, which lost its gun-toting, grinning black reaper on a red background.

One sub-unit from 3rd Brigade had to replace its armed phantom cartoon character. A grim reaper from 3 Squadron, 2 Cavalry was also canned.

A sub-unit of the army’s 6th Brigade was forced to remove an armed phantom and concerns appear to have been raised about a gold Spartan helmet that looked to be part of unit memorabilia.

Soldiers from 7th brigade had to remove a skull imposed over crossed rifles; a mortar platoon scrapped a ram’s skull with the caption “Death Down Range” and 5 Aviation Regiment lost a skull wearing a bandana imposed over a hammer and spanner.

A 6th Aviation regiment sub-unit lost a Viking image with the caption Berserkers and one from HQ 2nd Division had spartan imagery featuring a spartan helmet removed.

The Royal Military College Australia’s army recruit training centre had a masked Phantom head dropped. The Combined Arms Training Centre lost its “grim reaper rising from a World War I tank” and a punisher badge showing a skull.

Questions about the unit logs had been asked by Liberal senator James McGrath and independent senator Fraser Anning at the hearing in February.

The ban had been introduced in April last year by then chief of army, now Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Angus Campbell. General Campbell, in ordering the ban, said that such symbols were at odds with army values. “Such symbology is never presented as ill-intentioned and plays to much of modern culture,’’ he said. “But it is always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the inculcation of a hubris and general disregard for the most serious responsibility of our profession, the legitimate and discriminate taking of life.”

Officers were ordered to take immediate action to remove symbols within their command.

Medal of Gallantry recipient Justin Huggett, a former soldier, panned the decision in a social media post directed at General Campbell.

In the post Mr Huggett, decorated for action against the Taliban in Afghanistan, said the decision denigrated the morale of the enlisted and combat power.

RORY CALLINAN The Australian APRIL 3, 2019


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Army presented new Banner on its Birthday

Celebrations for the Australian Army’s 118th birthday commenced on 1 March with Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Dan Keighran VC presenting the Australian Army with a new Army Banner on behalf of the nation.

CAPTIONThe new Army Banner is paraded for the first time at the Australian War Memorial during the Army’s 118th birthday celebrations, Canberra. Photo by Corporal Kyle Genner.

The Banner, consecrated at the Royal Military College – Duntroon Chapel on 20 February 2019, was accepted on behalf of all ranks of the Australian Army by Regimental Sergeant Major – Army Warrant Officer Grant McFarlane.

Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr said the Army’s birthday was a day to recognise and remember all that the Army’s soldiers had achieved and endured over the past 118 years.

“We also acknowledge how these accomplishments put us in good stead to prepare for the contemporary environment – to be ready now and to become future ready,” Lieutenant General Burr said.

Army’s birthday celebrations included the presentation of the Theatre Honour Iraq which acknowledged the achievements of Australian soldiers during operations in Iraq.

“This title will be adorned on the new Army Banner and we pride ourselves on the Army values of courage, initiative, respect and teamwork,” Lieutenant General Burr said.

“Today we celebrate these values and the high ethical standards to which we hold ourselves accountable.

“Our people are our Army – they lead, inspire and make a difference.”

The retiring Army Banner, replaced because of its deteriorating condition, was presented in 2001 as a gift from the nation to commemorate the Centenary of the Australian Army.

It will be laid up at the Blamey Barracks Chapel, Army Recruit Training Centre, Kapooka, NSW.