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?


  1. Blue Mawson says

    In times of trouble we adore, God and the Soldier not before. When trouble is gone and all is righted God is forgotten and the Soldier slighted,

    Rudyard Kipling

  2. Change is something we must all realise. In my experience, most change was bought about by necessity. Generally to make a workplace safer, more productive or simply a better place to work/serve. I believe I’m fortunate that I have not experienced that which is described in the Tom Lewis article. I joined the Army on the 5th of March 1969. I joined because a Magistrate suggested I should. It was either Army or, as he put it Pentridge. It was a huge change for me. I’m now 67, seen a lot and done a lot. That change, for me, was for the better. I cannot, in any way, see how the changes described can be of benefit to any serving member, of any branch of the Armed Services (operative word being armed). Stop this madness. Gender should not be a catalyst for change. Political correctness is an idioligy. Should idioligy determine policy? Read a book named ‘GOODBYE COBBER GOD BLESS YOU’ by John Hamilton. If military leaders need to undergo ‘awareness’ training then maybe it should be that they are made to remember who and what we are/were. In my day we WERE the best, we knew it and lived up to it. Think about the names on the walls at the Memorial.
    313335 Sgt L.A. North

  3. Great piece.

  4. Butch Mathew says

    Too bloody true & almost too late

  5. John Pritchard says

    As a former Defence member and Veteran of Vietnam sadly your comments are correct
    Today from Recruit Training to Discharge from Officer Factory to Discharge you are made very aware of gender, of the use of words that our former warriors used and now are in the No Go Zone, your life is controlled in all stages to the extent that funding foot war fighting skills is not available
    Today’s Defence Force is not my Defence Force

  6. Maurie Young says

    Women get favouritism when arrested by the Police and then again when they front court, so why should it be different when in the armed forces.
    I saw a female Sgt break down and cry after firing one round from an SLR; there would be no support coming from there. She went on to get a commission. Her Father was a Vietnam Veteran.

  7. Geoff Reeves says

    This article is spot on. I have been in the Army for 30 years and in that time the Army has gone so far left in an attempt to appease everyone. The ADF has forgotten it core role because every other day we a told to attend this lecture or do this on line course, so we can become better educated about the current issue in society at the time. Be it gender equality, sexual equality, domestic violence or some other issue. These may be important issues to society however by focusing to much time on them in defence we have become distracted for our core role. I don’t need to sit in a theatre for two hours and have someone tell me that I shouldn’t hit my wife. If someone is prone to domestic violence then just because someone in defence says don’t do it is not necessarily going to stop them. I was hoping some years back when we got a new CA and ForComd that the rubbish started by Morrison would be reversed but alas I was wrong. I has got worse. I feel my time in the green is close to finishing because I no longer have confidence in defence leadership.

  8. The PC industry within the ADF makes me quite angry, though it has been permeating our society for quite some time now. I am so proud to of served 20 years in a non PC era (1969 – 1989) when this BS didn’t exist yet teamwork and camaraderie did in bucket loads. As a tax payer I weep at where money is now being spent to uphold PC causes. In my current field I am told there is no such thing as female and make staff but we are all staff.. ?? Yet female staff need to duck for cover when a violent mental health patient is on the rampage??

  9. A very excellent article! I have asked myself why many times what motivates these MILITARY LEADERS TO SAY AND ACT ON THESE STUPID PC IDEAS? I THINK it must come down to the following!
    What ever the reason is? There is one thing they have done.

  10. Interesting reading words that I had ow my own… or at least nearly so. The last few Governments have seemingly (maybe deliberately?) set us up to be destroyed. … The youngest Free Nation on Earth doomed to die so young!

  11. Colin "Tiny" Russell says

    A number of years ago, close to my retirement I was a Recruit Training Instructor. I had the misfortune [my fault I guess] to actually raise my voice at one of the recruits and bring the victims parentage into question out on the drill square. This particular fellah had been demonstrating “dumb insolence” for a number of weeks and was affecting the morale of the rest of the Platoon. After the lesson I was taken to task by a newly promoted WO1 who was also a newly born again Christian. He had been hiding along the side of a building near the parade ground and was “running the pink” over my lesson with out my knowledge. Hey this often happened and usually with out prior knowledge of the Instructor. But in this particular case he informed me that my use of “that sort of language to Recruits would be reflected in my PR66 and would also go against me when it came time to consider further promotion” This was 1992 and even at that time decisions along the lines of over use of PC were creeping into the service and affecting retention of career soldiers – The only thing that seems to be different now is that its rolling at 100%

  12. Started back in the 80s. A utter load of ” you know what” PC in the DOD you sign the dotted line to serve your country not have your country serve you. We now no longer have a Defence Force we have a group of government employees serving their own agenda.

  13. John Eddington says

    Having retired from the ADF after 49 years I agree fully with the comments. Sure there are units that can operate well with a mix of male and female but the PC rubbish that is being forced upon an organisation which sole task is to defend Australia and her interests and where necessary kill our enemies. In it’s basic form the ADF is structured and trained to kill and put their service personnel lives at risk for the sake of our nation. Too many of our Military leaders are soft and more concerned about their self promotion and having a nice cosy posting in Canmerra.

  14. David Buck says

    Spot on!

  15. What an eye opener and absolutely correct. The ADF has been emasculated by Political Correctness. Should we ever need to go to war, or even defend Australia, our forces will be useless. Gender based equality, Muslim representatives, LGBTQI recognition and acceptance, are just some of the stupid moronic decisions that create division and have been accepted by the Military hierarchy. Stupid beyond belief.🤬👎😡

  16. Bill Cochrane says

    Looks like the warfighters will no longer be able to refer to ourselves as “The Warrior Tribe any more if this nonsense continues.

  17. Ray Godfrey says

    I can only but agree with your comments
    The ADF is rapidly becoming a disaster zone led by PC orientated leaders who are only interested in appeasing their political masters.
    I have many friends some still serving who have family in the services and almost to a man they believe some of the PC orders that have come out of Canberra in the last two years have been insane ie the wearing of battle masks that “encourage violence”, making sailors in Singapore return to the ship by midnight and not being allowed to go ashore on leave alone and just this week banning sailors from marching to the Anzac Dawn Service in case they slip over in the dark.
    One can only assume that the CO who gave that order has never been at sea in a combat situation or exercise when ‘Darken Ship’ is in force.
    Navy divers have been threaten with disciplinary action over the wearing of their motto HDND ( hard dick navy divers) in case it offends other sailors. like the masks it has been a part of, not only, RAN divers unofficial motto for decades but most other diving branches through out the world.
    Unfortunately with the current PC climate I doubt that any of the ADF leaders would have the gumption to reverse this morale dropping trend

  18. Peter May says

    The malaise outlined in this article was inevitable. The First Principles Review (‘One Defence’) set the downfall in motion when the Service Chiefs were removed from the Defence Committee. The Defence Committee is described as ‘the primary decision-making committee in the Department’ but since this review the Committee is Chaired by a Civilian (The Secretary) and comprises two ADF members and four civilian members.
    The First Principles Review Team was Chaired by a civilian and contained two business leaders, two retired politicians and one retired General. Lets also not forget that the Chair of the Review, David Peever, has since had to resign from the Chair of Cricket Australia after the Longstaff Report (prompted by the ball tampering scandal) into CA culture found that CA’s culture was controlling and arrogant.
    Is anyone really surprised that the management of Defence is more akin to a software company than a fighting force?
    The only real solution is to redress the balance and put war fighters back in command.

  19. Peter Kelly says

    See the enemy , kill the enemy , [or give him a bouquet of flowers]?

  20. Well said Tom. The uniform leaders hate the politicians but fall over backwards being seen to be in favour of nonsensical ideas- career progression insurance. In addition too busy doing risk assessments and not taking risk. Like the politicians too busy self serving and using the PR organisation to rationalise stupid decisions and cover mistakes that are obvious to blid Freddy.

  21. Terry Brooks says

    I remember being told, “get your legs together when you come to attention. You’re not sheilas…you won’t lose your dacks..” I guess now the old drill PO’s will have to hear, “I say, chaps and ladies, oops… I’m sorry, this includes you other genders too ….I don’t want to offend anyone who doesn’t want to be a chap or lady…. I mean, if you can just place one footsie with the other. I mean, you know, um…that’s what coming to attention means… oh, and when we get the come-to-attention piece of our drill training out of the way, we can move on to the standing-at-ease drill. So, those with the ear phones in their ears, if you didn’t quite hear the request to come to attention, we can do it again if you’re ready now….there’s no hurry…don’t cry Timmy…”.

  22. Clive Bond says

    The objective is to get women in the top ranks. They are assuming we will never be involved in a war where our country is in danger. Who is winning the domestic violence war?

  23. Trever Klaehn says

    Well this is so true when will the P C police wake up and stop destroying our country bring back the old Australian way of life those of us who grew up in the fifties sixties know what I am talking about.I am an exnavy veteran served in the seventies and loved the hard training and making long life friends. When ships come in for visits and talking to the young men and women in the Navy today i can see that the P C police is alive and well so sad. I have read the White Australia Policy and it is not racism all it is saying is if you come to Australia you take on our way of life and values its not rocket science they don’t like our way of life then go back where they come from and take their religion with them we are not the lucky country any more the politicians have sold Australia to the highest bidder.

  24. Ian Richards says

    The rot set in some time ago, unless we remove the PC cloud that confuses rational judgement we are doomed. We are an extremely small player in the real world of War. Keep perusing the same path and before any sensible decision can be made by The Defense Minister taking advise from Senior Military advisers. We probably will be speaking a different language. In conjunction all I can say is that my time in the service was where we were not shackled by such restrictive and unproductive constraints.

  25. Barry Long says

    A few years ago when Parliament went mad waving the ‘rainbow’ banner and welcoming the ‘other’ gender, I commented “now they have opened the gates, watch out!” Have you seen much difference? If not then you are wearing a blindfold mate.
    I left the Army in 1982 and noticed then that the ‘gender equality’ problem was well ingrained. When they agreed to pay for female breast enhancements and for a senior officer to wear a skirt and high heels – because he felt it was his real identity – then I feel that the ADF had really started on the slippery slope of no return.

  26. Jerry Lattin says

    It has crept in bit-by-stupid-bit. But every element of this institutional craziness has been rubber-stamped by a two-star or three-star officer. Bear that in mind, and remember where the buck stops.

  27. Dennis Simpson says

    Glad we left the ADF when we did Ted, we could never have put up with this crap!!

  28. Michael Shave says

    It is our own fault. I cannot remember any time when army officers were anything but self serving, and that includes platoon commanders, Company commanders, all of my battalion commanders and every other commander I ever met in twenty-two years service. No one twitched when the DFDA was introduced; at the dissolution of our mess system. Where was the officer outrage at the discontinuance of Directorates? Is there any such thing as an unbiased, truthful contact report; one that does not reflect the greatest credit on the writer? Whinge as much as we like. It is our own fault.

  29. Peter Dumbrille says

    And it’s Tommy this and Tommy that but he’s hero of his country when the guns begin to shoot.
    also, from R K.

  30. Peter Dumbrille says

    Sorry got it wrong. It is…It’s Tommy this and Tommy that, throw him out the brute, but he’s hero of the country when the guns begin to shoot

  31. Ray Godfrey says

    Things are only going to get worse if Shorten gets in.
    Notice he has taken a leaf out of the PALMER book of BS. Going to look after the Vets and widows AFTER he wins .
    Wong said the same thing several elections ago and we all know the outcome of that.

  32. Maurie Young says

    I assume the word “splita**e” is no long allowed? 🙂

  33. Stevan Coll says

    Concur with Tom Lewis’ opinion. After forty-odd years of service I have seen the demise. There are still good people, warriors even, of all genders and pursuasions but things have certainly got ridiculous. Reminds me of Rudyard Kipling’s prose in the poem ‘Tommy’, in part, ….” For it’s Tommy this an’ Tommy that, an’ chuck ‘im out, the brute! But it’s saviour of ‘is country when the guns begin to shoot……” Just sayin’. Stevan Coll, OAM, CPO, RAN (Rtd).

  34. People with envious eyes on Australia (and money) are using the age-old tactic of “If you can’t destroy a country from the outside, do it from the inside”. So far their plan seems to be succeeding rather well! My father – a Light Horse man – warned me of this before he died. As he always was throughout his long life, he was right again!

  35. What is there in my comment that needs moderation? Is this PC at work again?

  36. Robert Lange says

    To Winston Parry:

    Good one Bill. Morrison’s footsteps and hissy voice still echo in the halls of the Department of Defence

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