Opinion – When Australia Punched Above its Weight


ONE hundred years ago in Paris, the victorious allies were negotiating a treaty to formalise the armistice declared on November 11, 1918. The Little Digger, PM Billy Hughes defended our diggers’ sacrifice.


PM Billy Hughes with Aussie Diggers

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Opinion – A pox on ADF’s PC stance

It’s now considered too dangerous for bodies of uniformed personnel to march at dawn service.
Australians gather each Anzac Day dawn to commemorate those who fell, not to express concern about those who might now merely stumble.

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Sabotage at its Best

Enough is enough. Today, we are seeing new rules of engagement being developed to appease a few and which are highly questionable. The very base of our proud military is being exposed to a new rule of “them and us” with some receiving special treatment. Do the experts really believe this will enhance team cohesion and spirit? And what of sense of purpose, individual and collective pride and battle discipline?

Thus my scribbles scrawled in haste and anger this very morning. I make no apologies for any of my comments.

George Mansford 

                 Sabotage at its Best

The military brass of the space age is at it again
Besotted by political correctness and seeking more fame
Bowing to Canberra Masters who know naught of bloody war
Changing the rules and not knowing what for

Who cares about extra risk to pilots and crew?
The bridge must be destroyed even if we lose a few
However, if women are gathering firewood in the area as well
To attack or abort is the decision for pilots to make and later tell

Orders are orders and the air crews think they know what to do
Ground fire is heavy and casualties more than few 
Is that a woman with firewood as the attack is about to begin?
A split second decision determines if they lose or win

No doubt, ruses from past wars will always be the go
Add to the list, lots of firewood carriers running to and fro
Our sky warriors, obeying such orders will suffer loss and pain
Then the fools who made the rules will each receive more medals again

When will this the madness stop which erodes purpose and spirit
Why blunt a very sharp sword with stupidity that seem to have no limit
Team spirit will dim and sense of purpose with pride will surely wither
Unless we rid ourselves of political correctness and Blimps who grovel and dither

George Mansford  2019

Opinion – A Defence Force slowly dying

The Australian Defence Force is shooting itself in the foot over political correctness. But venturing opinions on PC is reminiscent of complaining in the old Soviet Union. It’s a glance over each shoulder before saying a word – to see if the Thought Police are listening; a ‘career-limiting move’.

The recent announcements by both Air Force and Navy that they will consider ‘gender’ in offensive operations is merely the latest bit of virtue-signalling foolishness. Announcements such as ‘The Royal Australian Navy Deputy Fleet Commander has ordered that “all operations and exercises” be conducted with consideration of a “gender perspective”’ are ridiculous. For it’s obvious to anyone with the slightest bit of knowledge of military operations that there is always consideration of the target before offensive operations commence.

I spent a while some years ago in Baghdad being shot at by various groups who hated us. We had large pieces of artillery linked up to radar which saw the rockets the second they launched. Did we indiscriminately fire back? We did not. We conducted an assessment – in a moment – of the target area where the enemy had launched from. If it was, as it often was, a primary school playground, or a hospital roof, we did not fire back. It was ever thus. Did the British use their nuclear weapons in the Falklands War? These recent announcements are merely a way to show how much in tune with the screaming minority ADF ‘leaders’ can be. But it’s not helping the armed forces – it’s damaging them.

Anyone who’s served for years in the forces knows what it used to be like. Opinions were forthright, sometimes with salty language. But one of the best aspects was that it was a big family – and family fights are common. But it was shoulder to shoulder against the enemy. Serving in a combat zone with the ADF then made you realise how good they were: united with the best in Aussie ingenuity and mateship. That cohesion is disappearing.

Political correctness is setting one member against another. A small coterie have determined to use PC agendas to advance their careers, a habit becoming all too common. One male general decided to wear women’s high heels so he could experience walking a woman’s mile.

Their argument has often been that to meet recruiting targets the forces has to be ‘fully inclusive’ of the community. This is rubbish. Armed forces always have attracted a small part of the communities they represent: people who can cope with the physical and mental demands of deployment to harsh environments, where they will be subject to fierce mental and physical needs. You simply take anyone who can do the job.

One irony of the present PC situation is that traditionally the armed forces have been the place where everyone was treated equally. It didn’t make any difference whether you were Aboriginal, Greek or short. You were expected to soldier. When society allowed females to be recruited, then they were gone after with enthusiasm. Why not expand your recruiting base by 50 per cent? But Western society then went too far: it insists that there is no difference between females and males in demanding trades such as the infantry – when there clearly is.

Years ago, the Australian Defence Force Academy used to be one of the jewels in the Defence crown. It was everything you expected a university-level entrance to being a young officer to be. Squads of students marched everywhere, heads held high. No officer-instructor was safe from an ‘eyes right’ from the class and a salute from the squad leader. Even though the ranks held all sorts of multinational types: they’d all made the decision to serve their country.

Now, insiders report this university campus is more interested in recruiting students from China and the Middle East; from countries that do not share Australian values – ironically against the ‘inclusion’ mentality of PC. Uniformed staff report habits such as spitting on the formerly sacrosanct grounds, or in the military-manned pools, is now normal. Civilian students talk in overseas languages, walking on the grass in whatever shoddy clothes they like, whilst young officers wear uniform and march on the pavement.

The university has lost its way, coming to be disinterested in Defence and fascinated by the $32 billion international education market. The university is distancing itself from Defence in word and in deed. Where once the slogan was ‘The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy’, now it is ‘UNSW Canberra’.

Outside, the PC madness continues. Recent obsessions include making all toilets on defence bases ‘gender-free’. This actually costs money, with buildings altered and new signage installed. The money of course, comes at the expense of military hardware, operations, and training. As do gender reassignment operations, and breast enlarging and reducing. Muslim advisors are needed; when for a hundred years we never had such people. Then again, nor did we have the ridiculous situation where the 40-year veteran at general rank does the same compulsory ‘awareness’ training in relation to suicide, or that you really shouldn’t use a Defence credit card for a holiday to Vanuatu – as one soldier did – as the newest recruit.

We hear of bans on the wrong words, or badges, which might suggest that the business of Defence is to kill the enemy. I assume the RAAFs new C-27J ‘Spartan’ aircraft will have to change its name therefore, and the winged dagger of the SAS will be re-designed.

The expense of all of this foolishness is the destruction of unit cohesion, with the force splintering into groups, with many resentful of what some get at the expense of others. Time was when essential words in the ADF were ‘teamwork’ and ‘leadership’. Now, to get promotion, or cushy jobs, such concepts matter much less. And so the all-important morale, what Napoleon said was the equivalent in power as three is to one, is cast aside.

Most of the public are no fools. They see such attitudes are traitorous. Many see our country as being unable to fight if war comes: we will be too under-equipped, and too lacking in fierce warrior types. So when you want an aggressive focused leader like the American General Patton, or our own WWll Navy’s Harry Howden, or the Air Force’s Clive Caldwell, they will have been hounded out – and it will be too late to get them back.

Tom Lewis, Columnist Spectator Australia Magazine –
13 April 2019

Is the warrior class on the slippery slope to being politically incorrect term?

Opinion – Combat Gender Bender – A bridge too Far

Pilots edict a bridge too far. Apparently RAAF pilots have been told to think twice before bombing bridges being used by enemy troops in case it makes women walk further to fetch firewood.

The doctrine’s foreword by Air Commodore Stephen Edgeley, the RAAF’s Director-General Strategy and Planning, said embracing the “gender perspective” would enhance operational capability.

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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”? 

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Opinion – RCB Commutation Stop the veterans’ pension rip-off

“Veterans who have suffered years of underpayment from their Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme (DFRDB) deserve much better. Many have put their lives on the line in times of conflict, but while the government glorifies troops as it sends them to war, it too often treats veterans of those wars with contempt in the bureaucratic way it deals with their financial and medical needs.

The Citizens Electoral Council made this clear in its Australian Alert Service magazine on 27 February. So far both the Coalition government and Labor have dismissed the veterans’ genuine grievances—but now, under pressure, on 25 March the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced the government will commission an independent inquiry into the DFRDB.

A previous compulsory superannuation scheme, the Defence Force Retirement Benefits Scheme (DFRB) operated between 1948 and 1972 and had an option to take a commutation (an early lump sum) after 20 years of service. Veterans who chose this option accepted a reduced pension to repay the value of the commutation, with the repayment amount based on their life expectancy or actuarial age. For instance, if their life expectancy was 30 more years, their annual pension was reduced by the amount of their lump sum divided by 30 years. But many veterans are living well past that actuarial age and are still receiving the reduced pension, even though in many cases the original lump sum has been reimbursed multiple times. Additionally, the Notional Life Expectancy tables used to calculate the reduced pension were based on outdated 1962 figures. In effect they’re penalised for reaching a ripe old age. It just doesn’t pass the pub test!

Veterans were compulsorily transferred to the new DFRDB from its inception in 1972. 

After suffering years of reduced pensions, veterans are now demanding justice, including by petitioning the Parliament. Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester dismissed Principal Petitioner, Mr Ken Stone (Petition No. EN0745) in parliament on 18 February, saying “the Government does not support the view that pension recipients have been denied eligible benefits”.
Maybe Chester should have remembered he was dealing with veterans who, unlike him, have been to war, because they were not deterred.

In a letter to Lucy Wicks MP, Chair of the Standing Committee on Petitions, Mr Stone—a retired Wing Commander—didn’t mince his words: “From my detailed response to the Minister’s assertions, I am sure that you and your committee will see through the duplicitous and deceitful reply the Minister (or his minions) has provided to my Parliamentary Petition, that makes a sham of the Petition process.” 
Veteran Jim Nicholls explained to the CEC: “We are not seeking ‘the portion we commuted be restored’; this is about getting the pension restored to its rightful amount once the commutation has been repaid.”
The Labor Party’s position is no better, with MPs writing to veterans insisting that if they commuted funds decades ago, they should stay on a reduced pension indefinitely. They claim this was the “intention” of the DFRB commutation arrangement.
But Mr Stone has presented a document to the CEC which knocks Minister Chester’s and Labor’s claims on the head. The relevant document is the RAAF Personnel Information Handbook (4th Edition) dated October 1988. This handbook was issued to RAAF members new and old, and covered most aspects of RAAF life.
Under the heading “The Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme”, it states: “When you receive retired pay (i.e. pension) you will have the right to commute. This means that you are able to borrow an amount equal to several times your retired pay at the time of your discharge and repay that amount over your normal life expectancy.”
This clearly shows that the lump sum was a loan that was to be repaid by calculating a fixed repayment at discharge, based on life expectancy with no mention of CPI adjustments or whole-of-life repayment expectations. So, irrespective of what publications may have existed within the Department about it being a life-long repayment, this is what RAAF personnel were actually told in the 1980s.

The Australian government has exploited our defence personnel for too long. It is all too happy to send them into senseless and even illegal foreign wars at the whims of British and American geopolitical demands. The government funnels billions of dollars to profit arms companies—the Joint Strike Fighters alone are expected to cost taxpayers $17 billion. But when it comes to the welfare of the veterans who have been prepared to put their lives on the line for their nation, they are treated with contempt. The government’s policy betrays that its patriotism is self-serving and fake. This policy must end, and the government must stop ripping off veterans.”

Craig Isherwood‚ National Secretary
Citizens Electoral Council of Australia- Media Release Friday, 29 March 2019

Opinion – Now’s the time to fix benefits

The iniquities in military pensions and superannuation payments has been the subject of intense lobbying for some time by those affected. The response from governments of all persuasions has been rejection, justified with obtuse argument prepared by indifferent bureaucrats.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when two days before payments were due this week, Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester announced: “The Government will commission an independent inquiry into the administration of the DFRDB commutation arrangements.”

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Chester’s DFRDB initiative is too little, too late and smacks of political opportunism, if not desperation. Veterans understand nothing can be achieved six weeks before a federal election.

Darren, here’s a cunning plan.

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Ross Eastgate
28th March 2019

Opinion – Spinks walks behind giants

FORMER Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army Don Spinks AM has been appointed Australia’s next repatriation commissioner.

Spinks follows many distinguished predecessors and has big boots to fill. He also has the opportunity to bring a soldier’s perspective to the role. He needs to continue to display the determination which distinguished his career. 

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Opinion – Respecting National Sensitivities

The decision to move this year’s Villers-Bretonneux Anzac Day commemorations in northern France from dawn to mid morning caused outrage. PM Scott Morrison has since reversed this decision but was that the right thing to do?

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