Australian Cold War Warriors – The Secret Aussie History of the Second Malaysian Confrontation (Counter Insurgency War)

The author, aged 19, Christmas 1977, RCB Malaysia

This is the personal account of Private Sean Arthur’s experience as a Rifleman at RCB in 5 Platoon, Bravo Company 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) in 1977.

It’s kind of strange to think that an important and significant part of your own personal military history is based upon a lie.

It’s not my personal lie, it’s way bigger than anything I could come up with myself. This lie encompasses 50 years and involves every single government that Australia has had in that time. Even more astounding is the fact that the lie was openly discussed in government and military circles at the very beginning and that the real information is pretty much available for anyone to read today. The lie is part of Australia’s strategic and political history and the only ones directly affected by it today are the nine thousand Australian servicemen who participated in the Second Malayan Emergency against communist insurgents from 1972 to 1989.

Ours was not an actual shooting war, but our involvement was essential to keeping the insurgency down to a manageable level. If we had not been there protecting essential military aircraft, personal and other military assets the chances were almost certain that the Butterworth Airbase in Northern Malaysia would have been an irresistible target for the insurgents. If the airbase had been attacked, even once, and lives or materiel destroyed it would have had an incalculable effect to the security of Australia. It would also have given new life to the defunct geopolitical “domino theory” of the 1960s. The domino theory was the deep-rooted concept that every country in Southeast Asia would topple towards communism unless the West involved themselves more significantly in that hemisphere militarily.

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Open Arms community and peer program expands nationally

SUPPORT for veterans and their families who may be struggling with mental health conditions or at risk of suicide, will be enhanced through the Community and Peer Program which is currently being rolled out across Australia.

VA121 open arms peer advisor group

The program, run by Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling (Open Arms), connects veterans and family members who may be struggling with their mental health, with peers who bring a lived experience of mental health issues and, importantly, of recovery.

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester joined existing and newly recruited members of the Open Arms Community and Peer Program in Canberra as part of their week-long induction training.

“The pilot program held in Townsville, had positive results with Open Arms peers breaking down barriers to care, improving relationships with key community groups, and reducing the stigma for veterans around mental health and seeking help,” Mr Chester said.

“Since the First World War, veterans and their families have understood the importance and value of mateship that is instilled during service, placing them in a unique position to support one another. This program harnesses that mateship and ensures veterans can talk to other veterans, and families to other military families, to assist each other with the support of mental health clinicians.

“This is another important part of the support system—improving the holistic mental health and wellbeing outcomes for veterans and their families. The national roll-out is a significant step forward in improving the lives of veterans and their families.”

Twenty-nine peers, in addition to the six peers from the Townsville pilot, are being trained as Mental Health Peer Workers and will be employed at 14 Open Arms locations nationally. Also in attendance for the induction training were representatives from key veteran-run organisations with a passion for supporting veterans’ mental health, including Swiss8, Red Six and Survive to Thrive Nation.

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“You train them to go to war, we train them to come home” – Founder/CEO Dane Christison

Adrian Sutter from Swiss8 said, “The biggest take-out for me from the workshop is they get it. Open Arms seem to understand the current veteran space. They get what is needed to break the barriers with veterans at the moment, and get people coming forward firstly and then getting them the help that they need, if they need it, or just provide someone to talk to. That they understand the space is the biggest thing I’m taking away.”

The Community and Peer Program will provide Open Arms with a skilled workforce of veterans from across all three Australian Defence Force services and family representatives, to augment clinical capability across Australia by mid-2020.

Open Arms (formerly VVCS) is Australia’s leading provider of high quality mental health, counselling and support services for Australian veterans and their families, as well as some reservists and peacekeepers. To find out more about the services offered, call 1800 011 046 or visit Open Arms.

1 December 2019

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au

Opinion – Veterans have poorer mental health than Australians overall. We could be serving them better

Veterans are at higher risk of mental illness than the rest of the Australian population. Many of them are seeking help, but the way care is provided to this group must consider their unique needs. Opinion by Nicole Sadler, University of Melbourne

A career in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), or the armed forces in any country, can be rewarding, but also demanding. Challenges include the rigorous training, frequent moves, and maintaining social connections.

Beyond this, military personnel may be exposed to trauma during combat, peace-keeping missions, border protection, disaster and humanitarian relief, and training accidents.

They may be confronted not only with threats to their own lives or safety, but also with the suffering or death of others, which can have a significant emotional and psychological impact.

So it’s not surprising we see higher rates of mental illness among veterans compared to the overall Australian population.

The rates of suicide are also concerning, particularly among younger veterans. Between 2001 and 2016, 373 Australian veterans took their lives. Male veterans under 30 had a suicide rate more than twice the national average for men the same age. These figures have led to considerable community concern, including calls for a royal commission into veteran suicide.

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Opinion: ABC races to a conclusion

Exuding the moral and legal authority of the High Court, the ABC Investigations Unit has relentlessly pursued Australian special forces it has accused of war crimes in Afghanistan. It appears to have adopted a methodology known in the military as “situating the appreciation” – determining a desired outcome, then working backwards to justify that outcome.

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The Australian Editorial – When scrutiny becomes enemy of the state

Media’s Right to Know Campaign. When the Government hides the truth from you what are they covering up?

The front pages of every major newspaper were censored this morning as part of Australia’s Right to Know campaign which is calling for greater protections for journalists and access to information.

The coalition of more than a dozen of the nation’s media companies and organisations is campaigning for change to six critical areas of law that has allowed a ‘veil of secrecy’. 

The media coalition has asked the government for the right to contest warrants, exemptions from poorly crafted laws that make journalistic practice an offense, protection for public sector whistle-blowers, fewer secret documents and reform in the Freedom of Information regime. The two fundamental rights are the : RIGHT to KNOW and RIGHT to CONTEST

Here are extracts from the Australian Newspaper Editorial of 22nd October 2019

If you think journalists are the people who control information, you’re in for a big surprise. Never before has the state collected more data on citizens, employed more message merchants to shape the news agenda or constructed a mighty firewall to stop information about its activities reaching the public.

In a democracy, our job is not to be a mere vehicle for the executive or bureaucracy, to use our platforms to carry official statements to a micromanaged populace. That’s what life is like in China and, as controversial as it may sound to some, that’s not the liberal, open, free country Australians want to live in.

We are in the disclosure business. Not because we are gossips, dobbers or scolds but because the task of scrutiny is necessary to make sure the state itself is not above the law.

That line — the law — is changing, often due to difficult and dangerous circumstances. But also because in a territorial game the scrutinised, as a class, always want to do their work on their own terms. Their lives are much easier if they never have to explain why taxpayer money gets wasted, they want to spy on citizens or people are locked up without cause. Ignorance has never been a solid basis for citizenship or a method to get the best out of elected governments. And their bureaucracies  Politicians and officials, whether by accident or design, have constructed a “trust us” apparatus.

But the enemy is not journalism per se. The enemy they’ve constructed is any scrutiny at all — not only do they want to keep our eyes off their actions and inactions, they ultimately don’t want you to know what they are doing.

As a news organisation we do not think we can do as we please: there are constraints of defamation, sub judice and privacy. Yet secrecy is increasingly being declared in matters that do not pose security risks but, rather, the acute embarrassment of the stuff-up or bad idea.

We want to change laws that give the custodians of state power — ministers, the heads of defence forces, security agencies and departments — the ability to do as they please and evade scrutiny. The public wants to know what’s being done in its name and expects us to step up.

Trust in institutions, including media, is falling; part of that is due to poor performance, press infighting and competition, and “gaslighting” by those who want us to stop asking questions. Our work is out in the open, around-the-clock, subject to 360-degree review by critics and competitors. Readers expect us to get to the truth

But what about the state? You can’t sack it. But you can make power better and accountable. That is the essence of our democracy. The news media plays its role when it single-mindedly pursues the truth. We want laws that promote transparency and limit the state’s tools of secrecy and control.

We trust an informed people, not governments, as the ultimate guardians of our freedoms.

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Aerial threat: why drone hacking could be bad news for the military

Unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly called drones, are now a fundamental part of defence force capability, from intelligence gathering to unmanned engagement in military operations. But what happens if our own technology is turned against us?

Drones are now being used in a host of applications, including agriculturemediaparcel delivery, and defence.

However, as with all IT technology, manufacturers and users may leave the digital doors unlocked. This potentially leaves opportunities for cyber-criminals and perhaps even cyber-warfare.

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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.

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Opinion – First and Furtherest

Heroes flew under radar Catalina crews were the unsung heroes of the Pacific War.

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Opinion Ross Eastgate – Tim Fischer on course for his biggest victory

FORMER national serviceman and deputy prime minister Tim Fischer has been reported as being “gravely ill” in Albury hospital.

Mr Fischer, who as a 1RAR platoon commander fought in the Battle of Coral in Vietnam in May 1968, has made no secret of his decade-long battle with various cancers. His latest, possibly terminal battle is with acute myeloid leukaemia. He has previously battled bladder and prostate cancers and melanoma.

Tim Fischer claimed he was exposed in Vietnam to the defoliant Agent Orange, as were many of his mates.

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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.

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