Doing the Right Thing VI


31 December 2020

LAND 400 and Conflict of Interest

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Image: ADM

LAND 400 would have to be one of the Australian Army’s most successful defence procurement projects. Well done to all those who contributed (and are still contributing) to it.  The issue of conflict of interest was raised in 2017 when it was revealed that Rheinmetall had been masking payments to 1 Armd Regt by forwarding them through the 1AR Assn (see below).  Twenty five thousand dollars was transferred in this way, completely contrary to Defence regulations governing conflict of interest involving a company tendering for a Defence contract.  The 1AR Assn answered queries about this by stating that ‘we are not governed by Defence regulations, but by Consumer Affairs Victoria’.

The Defence Inspector General conducted an investigation and found loopholes in relevant regulations.  These have since been amended.  The point is that an offence has been committed if an act contributes to even the ‘perception’ of a conflict of interest.  This was undoubtedly the case here.

There is no public information available as to the make up of ‘Rheinmettal Defence Australia’ management staff.  If they included former members of the ADF who had recently left positions directly related to LAND 400, would this create a perception of a conflict of interest?

Some countries have particular laws designed to prevent such situation.  A conflict of interest could arise, for example, if someone applied for employment at a company which he is assessing for the award of a tender.  Another law prevents such a person taking up any such an appointment within a set time period after resigning from his ‘official’ position.

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The Ethics of ‘Masking’ Payments through the 1AR Assn. 

It was announced during my recent travels [2018] that Rheinmetall has been awarded the LAND 400 contract to provide the replacement for the ASLAV recon vehicle in the three ACRs.  This raises the ethical issues highlighted in the previous blog posts copied below.

28 December 2017

Priorities; Urgency; and Importance

The telephone can be the enemy of effective time management.  Time and all other resources are, of course, allocated to ensure that important matters are appropriately dealt with.  When someone calls on the telephone, they expect their call to be (i) answered and furthermore, (ii) their concern addressed immediately.  By default … this becomes an urgent matter.  If dealt with straightaway, however, it might well absorb resources required to deal with an important matter.  Of course, if something is both urgent and important, it must be allocated appropriate priority.

I referred yesterday to Assn Governance (urgent) and RAAC Issues (important).  It is possible, of course, for either category to include matters which are both urgent and important.

The following has the potential to be included in this category.

The financial ledger sent to Assn members recently, included the information below:

“Misc – Donation made to association from a company, it is masked by coming through us and then directed to 1 Armd Regt Regimental Funds          …..  $5,000.00”

One has to wonder if this is the first ‘donation’ which been channelled through the Assn to avoid (presumably) any suggestion of conflict of interest (ie. as might arise if the company was a defence contractor or potential contractor).  The possibility arises that other payments have been made via the Assn and that other RAAC Units are also beneficiaries.  Furthermore, if ‘secret’ payments are being made to units, it has to be assumed that other payments might have been made to individuals.

There is a major project in the pipeline which affects all ARA RAAC units.  Companies are vying for selection.  The overall cost is in the order of $5b.

It is both urgent and important that an assurance be given that any equipment to be operated by the RAAC is chosen on its merits and the decision is not, in any way, influenced by payments “masked by coming through” the Assn.

Donations?

Continuing on from 28 December …. the Assn’s 14/15 Financial Statement (included in the Minutes of the 2015 AGM) includes the following reference under the heading, Expenditure:

 “Donations (to 1AR from Rheinmetall Sim) $10,000”

I believe that $5000 may also have been donated on this basis in FY13/14.

So it appears that Rheinmetall may have donated at least $20,000 to 1AR (regimental funds presumably) through the 1AR Assn

Why would any commercial company do this, ie. what benefit would it expect to gain? One has to assume that the funds are being paid to the Assn because to pay direct to 1AR

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30 December 2020

Looking After Each Other

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One of the ‘Pending’ goals at Part 7 of the Intro (above) is:

“The Purposes of the 1AR Assn would include efforts to care for those less fortunate (in addition to simply promoting ‘camaraderie’) and this goal would be enacted by the C’tee.  (The desirability of the goal has been acknowledged, but is yet to be articulated in practical terms.)”

The background?

During the ‘dark’ period in the history of the 1AR Assn, providing any form of welfare support was rejected.  Indeed, formal agreement was reached with the RAAC Corporation to the effect that the Assn (like other members of the Corporation) had insufficient resources to provide such support.  It was stated that should the C’tee become aware of a member in need, they’d be referred to the RSL.  Added to this … it was made known that all that the members of the Assn were interested in was, ‘having a few beers and telling a few stories’.

Interestingly, Purposes four and five (out of ten) of the 1AR Assn, as set out in the Report to members included in yesterday’s Blog, are stated as:

  • promote and advance or otherwise assist the welfare and well-being of members, their dependents and next of kin and any other persons as the Management Committee, branch or branches shall approve; and
  • provide all possible assistance to members in a practical and advisory capacity.

Without any specific measures being introduced, I think ‘Pending’ is still the appropriate category for this Goal. 

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29 December 2020

Accountability to Members

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The following is an extract from the Blog Intro, Part 4 (above):

“It has subsequently been discovered that considerable irregularities occurred in the conduct of the AGM: in particular, there were enormous discrepancies with proxy voting; the numbers of votes stated in the AGM Minutes were 30% more than figures given at the meeting to those attending; membership records were inaccurate and wrongly disallowed at least one member from voting; a person addressed the meeting, described as a “financial Affiliate Member”, but there is no provision for affiliate members in the Constitution; another ‘member’ addressed the meeting, but there is no mention of him in the list of those attending; and the financial statement was not only not certified by the C’tee as being true and correct, but also it failed to encompass the whole FY and did not disclose reasons for the expenditure of funds.

All irregularities with respect to the Constitution were brought to the attention of the C’tee, however, no response was received.  Six weeks after his election, the Treasurer resigned, stating that when dealing with members’ monies on a daily basis it has to be within the rules, be open, be accountable and be transparent and most of all be honest and be sure there is some form of trail to follow”.  (There had been three previous Treasurers in the past 12 months.)”

The circumstances above relate to the 1AR Assn’s dark period some years ago.  Some members publicly demanded adherence to regulatory requirements and accountability on the part of the C’tee.  While these members were widely lambasted by others for their supposed lack of loyalty to the Assn, it is pleasing to see that progress has been made. 

A link to the current Financial Statement is provided below.  Not only does it comply with Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) requirements, but also it’s provided to members in advance of the AGM so that members can examine it in good time (something that the ‘concerned’ members’ group had sought).

Interestingly, if they look closely, there are some matters of detail that members might like to raise with the C’tee.

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28 December 2020

Defence Challenges in 2021

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An Australian Army M1 Abrams Tank moves into position before sunrise at Shoalwater Bay during Exercise Diamond Strike 2018.

Image: Defence

The following articles (extracts below) provide a snapshot of some of the issues to be confronted in the year ahead ….

If the tradition still holds, arriving on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s desk this week will be a report setting out the Australian intelligence community’s best guesses (they will call them ‘judgements’) as to big strategic developments that could go horribly wrong in 2021.

We will probably never see that report, so in its place here are my best judgements (you can call them ‘guesses’) as to the likely prospects for peace, conflict and the in-between stage now called the ‘grey zone’, where aggressors advance their interests covertly.

The strategic shocks to come in 2021 | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

As the document put it, this “new strategic policy framework to ensure Australia is able – and is understood as willing – to deploy military power to shape our environment, deter actions against our interests and, when required, respond with military force”.

This language of “willingness” is unprecedented in recent memory, uncertain in its application and raises the possibility of squandering the very defensive advantages the government wishes to achieve.

A high-risk, low-reward defence posture (lowyinstitute.org)

Overall, the narrative of the infographics we examined seems designed to strengthen the perception that Indonesia has international support for its sovereignty over West Papua and to quash hope of outside assistance with independence for the region. While the accounts we examined attracted only a relatively small amount of interaction, information campaigns on West Papuan issues have been persistent, and this is likely to be only a small part of operations designed to spread pro-Indonesia narratives.

Australia, UK and UN dragged into information operations targeting West Papua | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

The Australian government’s 2020 cyber security strategy is overwhelmingly focused on increasing the cybersecurity efforts of the defence organisation and law enforcement agencies. The mounting crisis in the United States from the hacking of software company SolarWinds indicates that this is not enough.https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australia-must-do-more-to-prepare-for-a-solarwinds-style-supply-chain-attack/embed/#?secret=UBcuFbVh1L

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27 December 2020

The RAAC Today

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I’ve been very critical about the errors in current Defence publications re the RAAC (as I have with some other sites which continue to depict the pre ACR Corps and superseded equipment); however, it seems to me that they’ve done a good job re the following recruiting videos.

I was once selected to join the 3MD army recruiting team, but ended up being posted elsewhere.  I wonder if I would’ve been able to avoid the ‘other’ sides to life in the RAAC as depicted here.

https://www.defencejobs.gov.au/jobs/army/armoured-officer

https://www.defencejobs.gov.au/jobs/army/armoured-vehicle-crew

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26 December 2020

Defence Strategy

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An article about Australia’s deterrence posture by Mike Scrafton (see below) can be found here:https://johnmenadue.com/the-deceit-of-deterrence-a-bankrupt-strategic-justification-for-defence-expenditure/

My response was:

“Is this really a “deceit” imposed on the Australian public by its Government?

Can someone take just one of the three strategic priorities set out on the 2020 Defence Strategic Update & 2020 Force Structure Plan, dissect it in terms of its apparent ‘failings’, and reach conclusions about overall defence policy?

The three designated priorities are to:

shape Australia’s strategic environment;

deter actions against Australia’s interests; and

respond with credible military force, when required.

It is, of course, the last which dictates the equipment allocation, force structure and readiness posture of the ADF …. this being a consequence of contingency plans which have been developed in response to the identified ‘threat’.

Seems to me that before we can criticise the components of a ‘credible military force’, we have to analyse the threat and its consequent force structure.”

Mike Scrafton was a Deputy Secretary in the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, senior Defence executive, CEO of a state statutory body, and chief of staff and ministerial adviser to the minister for defence.

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25 December 2020

What’s Important.

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Vung Tau, 1966 (AWM)

The following article: ‘The Christmas Story. It is not about tinsel’ by Tony Doherty, can be found here:  https://johnmenadue.com/christmas-reflection/

My response was as follows:

“Wonderful post Tony. My cousin’s husband grew up in a poor area of the UK, emigrated here, learnt to fly a helicopter and built a career resupplying the WA oil rigs.  At Christmas he has a tin of tuna and a couple of biscuits.

He can’t reconcile the lavishness of Christmas lunches with the fact that so many go without a decent meal (let alone the excesses of Christmas). If you had a message to pass to him (now in a terminal aged care facility), it would be much appreciated. Many thanks.
PS. I know the cartoon, but for the life of me … I haven’t been able to find it.”

I don’t think that more needs to be said on this day.  Merry Christmas to all those who read this Blog … might it be that between us all, we can make a few things better next year, than they were in 2020.

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24 December 2020

Where Does Responsibility Lie?

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First Pass.

In 2007, as a result of research for a book, I made both Defence and the Government aware of alleged war crimes in Vietnam.  They already knew, however, as the Government was providing educational material to schools which stated that Australian soldiers in Vietnam killed enemy soldiers who were wounded and unable to defend themselves.  A book detailing one murder was endorsed by a senior Army officer as being a great narrative of Australian military exploits. 

I asked for investigations to be conducted into these murders.  The Government declined.  I asked if training could be revised, so that the Australian people could be confident that no such things could happen again.  I was assured by the Minister, that this would be done.

It is clear that those who took no action when these matters were brought to their attention are responsible for what might have happened later.  They may have ensured appropriate training was prescribed, but if they did not ensure that this was regularly validated … they are still culpable.

What does this mean?  It means that they did not fulfill their responsibilities.  If you are aware of something that needs to be done and are about to vacate your position … what do you do?  You set down procedures that must be followed and overseen by your successor.  Is this asking too much?  Not at all … if a Minister or staff member takes their responsibilities seriously.  Of course, they might only occupy their positions for the salary and ‘perks’ that they provide and they might not give a ‘….’ about their responsibilities.

A submission detailing the above (with copies of letters to the Minister at the time) has been provided to the Afghanistan Inquiry.

Second Pass

Subsequent events have shown that no-one in either Defence of Government bears responsibility for what is alleged to have happened in Afghanistan.    How can this be?

Who has responsibility for the training that troops undertook prior to deployment?  The Government endorses the CDF, the CDF endorses the CA, the CA endorses GOCs Forces Command and Training Command. 

The Minister accepts the word of the CDF; the CDF accepts the word of the CA; the CA accepts the word of his GOCs.  So, on we go … the result being that no-one is responsible! Is this as it should be?

My former office manager (a retired Army colonel) once yelled out from his office in an angry voice to say: “Who’s responsible for THIS (which he was waving in his hand)?”  I replied to say that if it was ‘good’ it was the work of my team; if it was ‘bad’ it was my responsibility.  He said; “It’s great!”. (My team appreciated what is sometimes referred to as ‘leadership’.)  So … where does this leave us?

There is something called ‘self-respect’.  Some people think it to be of importance, others aren’t even aware of it.  There is no line of responsibility from top to bottom, unless those involved believe in the concept of ‘self-respect’. If they don’t care about it … why accept any responsibility for the conduct of those for whose actions they’re responsible?

The answer seems clear.

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10 December 2020

8/13 VMR Association News

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I found the information in the newsletter below, very interesting.

(8/13 were disbanded some time ago; an ‘8/13th Squadron’ is part of 4/19 PWLH)

See: https://www.813vmr.org/blog

It is great to see that, despite everything, the Armoured Corps spirit lives on and those past and their deeds, are not forgotten.  Positive notes to end on.

THIS WILL BE THE LAST BLOG POST UNTIL 24 DECEMBER —– FAMILY VISITS AWAIT.

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9 December 2020

RAAC Operational Capability

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Image: Defence

The latest issue of The Defender magazine has two interesting articles:

“Army is planning on raising a heavy armoured brigade for intensity peer to peer warfare operations as part of the 2028 Order of Battle”; and

“1 Armd Regt has been issued a fleet of new Hawkei PMV-L to trial as Combat reconnaissance Vehicles”.

I haven’t read the articles and I don’t know the accuracy of the source, however, on the surface … this would seem to be great news!

It is in keeping with two of the ‘goals’ set out in Part 7 of the Intro above, ie.

There would be two tank squadrons in the Plan Beersheba ‘Ready’ brigade (to facilitate the formation of an adequate number of battlegroups).

All RAAC ARES units would be equipped with a suitable crew operated vehicle (such as Hawkei) and have roles which are in keeping with the conduct of mobile warfare.

One can’t be sure why 1 Armd Regt is trialing Hawkei as a CRV, but with two CRV Boxer squadrons in the ACR … it’s unlikely to be their own use.

Of course, the reason for arguing for two tank squadrons in the ‘Ready’ Brigade is because of the need for sufficient tanks to form battle groups.  The reasoning here has been presented in previous Blog posts.

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7 December 2020

The RAAC ARES

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The following article was posted in The Cove by Dustin Gold: ‘Looking around: The future of the Army Reserves‘: https://cove.army.gov.au/article/looking-around-the-future-the-army-reserves

My response was:

“A case well argued.

It seems to me that Defence has two choices.  The Reserve forces can either be an ADF supplement or an ADF backup.

A supplementary role would see Reserves fulfilling individual specialist support roles, as well civil support such as that provided for the Invictus Games.  An example of the former is that of a doctor I know who has recently been deployed to Iraq.

A backup role would see the Reserves maintaining operational and tactical skills, in order to be able to reinforce the ADF on active service deployments.  The point here is that these skills take a long time to develop and this can only happen if appropriate equipment is available.

Maybe there’s a hybrid answer; ie. operational skills are prioritised according to importance re ADF capability and the time required for training. 

The problem is, unless a decision is made … the opportunity for the reserves to capable of providing an ADF backup role rapidly diminishes, as the capability gap increases.”

Dustin is an Army Reserve Captain within 9 Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery. He is currently undertaking a Reserve Forces Foreign Exchange with the District of Columbia National Guard whilst posted to Washington DC in his civilian role with the Australian Public Service. As an Army Officer, Dustin has completed multiple periods of full time service, including deployments on border security operations and Defence Assistance to the Civil Community.

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6 December 2020

50th Anniversary Reunion: C Sqn, 1 Armd Regt

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A National Commemoration is being held by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for the 50th Anniversary of Operation Overlord.  The main battle of this Operation was fought on 7 June 1971 and hence the Commemoration will be on 7 June 2021.  C Sqn is holding a 50th Reunion for all those who served during 1971 in conjunction with the DVA Ceremony, which will be at the Vietnam Memorial in Canberra.  A dinner is to be held the night before and prior to that wreaths will be laid in honour of Phil Barwick and Andy Anderson (who were wounded in the Operation immediately after Overlord) at the Last Post Ceremony at the AWM.

There are currently about 100 registered to attend the dinner.  Should any reader wish to attend, although not in C Sqn 1971 but with another connection, you’d be welcome to do so.  Email me at cameronshome@bigpond.com.  Info below.

Timetable

 6 June 2021 (Sunday).

2.00pm            Vietnam Requiem Concert (hosted by the AWM’s Musical Artist in  Residence, Chris Latham, at the Llewellyn Hall, ANU).

4.55pm.           Last Post Ceremony commences at the AWM. (In honour of Cpl David John Dubber, RAAF; KIA 7th June 1971.)  Wreaths laid in honour of Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick

5.25pm.           Ceremony concludes

6.30pm.           C Squadron Meet and Greet (bar/lounge area of the Mercure Hotel, Ainslie).

7.30pm.           Dinner is served. ($60pp)

9.30pm.           Dinner concludes (those who so desire, adjourn to the bar)

7 June 2021 (Monday)

10.30am.  National commemoration commences (Vietnam Memorial, ANZAC Pde, Canberra).

11.30am.  Commemoration concludes.

12 noon.  ‘Snacks’ at Mercure Hotel (drinks at own expense, food cost to be advised).

Note: DVA will provide a shuttle bus from the Mercure to the Ceremony and back

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5 December 2020

Vietnam Requiem

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Flowers of War – Diggers’ Requiem: Image-City News Canberra.

Last night I attended a rehearsal performance of the Vietnam Requiem:

http://theflowersofwar.org/calendar/2021/6/6/vietnam-requiem

It was just incredible and the full concert should be simply amazing.  It was to be performed only once on 6 June 2021, prior to the National Commemoration for Operation Overlord, but COVID has meant that the venue will be limited to 50% capacity and an earlier performance on will be held on 5 June.

John Shumann did a new rendition of ‘I was only 19‘ and Little Patti has lost none of her vocal talent. They are both simply delightful people.

Act 1 of the Requiem comprises twelve songs that were popular at the time of Vietnam; while ACT 2 is made up of twelve Movements which relate to specific phases/aspects of the War, ‘illustrated’ by a photographic backing.  The three Movements performed during the Rehearsal were very compelling and wonderfully performed.

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4 December 2020

The RAAC ARES

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The following article is published in The Cove by Eamon Hale (below):

Light Cavalry in the RAAC: A marriage between regular and reserve | The Cove (army.gov.au)

My response was:

“Well written Eamon. 

I have argued previously for vehicles (not necessarily AFVs) which could enable mobile warfare reconnaissance skills to be developed and maintained to be allocated to the RAAC ARES.

As you know it’s the skills that take the time to instil at all levels.  Whether or not this is important, depends on the role of the ARES within the ADF.  It’s hard to imagine that mobile warfare skills are not required at this time in terms of Defence contingency plans.  This is evidenced by the funding granted to procure the Boxer CRV. 

BUT … no-one is prepared to state and justify the actual role of the ARES in time of defence emergency.  Maybe it’s thought the such a time will not come again. Even the 2020 Defence Reserves Association conference completely side-stepped this fundamental issue.

I hope that the fundamental role of the ARES will be defined, then the wisdom of your proposals will undoubtedly come into play!”

Eamon Hale joined the Army Reserve in 2004, as an M113A1 crewman. He transferred to the Regular Army in 2007, being posted to numerous units with the RAAC and Army. He has deployed on operation to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as exchange to Canada, and training officer cadets  in PNG. 
In mid-2017, Eamon left the regular Army and returned to the Army reserve. 
In 2020, he commenced a continuous full-time service contract attached to 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, with whom he deployed again to Afghanistan as a Force Protection Node Commander and PMV Section Commander. 

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3 December 2020

In the Shadows 3

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Following on from 1 December … the following email sequence is self-explanatory”

1.  Hi Charlie,

I see now that not only was your phone not ‘lost’, but also you have barred me from phoning you.  You really don’t have to lie.

Is it not a travesty that we can’t be open about our communications and discussions with others? 

I could, for example, publish the emails between you and me.

Maybe one or other of those cc’d will have the ‘balls’ to phone me and say why it was that the open and transparent arrangements that you and I had established, were simply ‘overturned’ without any notice to me (or considerations of those on whose behalf we were working).

Once again, I ask if you or Noel or Pedro could phone me (if any of you have the guts to do so).

Cheers, Bruce

2. G’day Bruce

What are you trying to do here.   The matters between you and Charlie are not of my concern or interest.  I have absolutely nothing to do with the social events you are all worked up about.

I was not involved in any of this and absolutely have no interest.   I do not even know Charlie.

What is the purpose of me phoning you?

Are you calling me out as gutless, if so I believe we should sort that out face to face, not via email or phone.

Why am I even a CC addressee on this crap?

Pedro

3.  G’day Pedro,

I like to be open and transparent in all matters I’m involved in.

The person who nominated himself to be a 3 Cav representative (with the backing of the 3 Cav Assn President) for a combined function on the eve of the Overlord Commemoration won’t explain why there was a sudden decision not to proceed according to our planning, but to conduct a separate 3 Cav function. 

I simply ask why I wasn’t given the courtesy of being told when it was decided that ‘if the Commemoration goes ahead, we’ll have our own function’.  This would have been very helpful to know in term of the organisation.

It’s my belief that Mr McLaughlin wanted to attend a social event, but not one with other groups; as a result, he contacted Mr Dearling and they agreed to proceed independently. 

I know that Mr McLaughlin informed you of the arrangements and I presumed that you might have been part of the discussion between him and Mr Dearling. You have said that this was not the case. 

Thank you … that’s all I was wanting to know. 

PS. Don’t you think it ‘unusual’ that Mr Dearling won’t discuss the matter and has blocked my calls … if you’re working in partnership with someone, there’s an expectation that both are honest with each other.  I guess if one is to get “worked up” about something, it’s as good a reason as any.

Bruce

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2 December 2020

The Retrospective Victoria Cross.

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The following letter to the Editor, ‘Canberra Times’ stands by itself:

“It was wonderful to see the gallantry of ‘Teddy’ Sheean recognised at last.  But it’s been a longer road that it should ever have been. 

There were a number of letters earlier this year about the Government’s decision to overturn the independent Tribunal’s decision that he should be awarded the VC.  This decision was surprising, as no-one doubted the bravery and self-sacrifice demonstrated (which is why the independent Tribunal recommended that the award be made retrospectively).

It subsequently became known that the PM accepted the advice of our Chief of Defence Force that the Queen might be put in a difficult position if the award was to be recommended.  Apparently, the NZ Government put forward an equivalent proposal some time ago, only for it to be rejected.  It was also thought that a retrospective award would open the floodgates for other claims and that two classes of award would be created.

Many were of the view that courage and sacrifice on behalf of our nation was being ditched in favour of political nicety.  Public opinion subsequently compelled the PM to appoint Dr Brendan Nelson to examine the matter; the outcome of which led to the recent award and ceremony at Government House.  It seems that the Government’s decision to withdraw the Meritorious Unit Citation to the SASR might also be overturned by public opinion.

There’s undoubtedly a message here … let’s hope that it is recognised and acted upon.”

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1 December 2020

In the Shadows 3

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The following sequence of emails is self-explanatory (though the matters addressed are less so). It is all very tiresome, but apathy doesn’t appeal to everyone.

1. To: ‘Secretary’ 1AR Assn
Cc: ‘Peter Rosemond’; ‘Noel McLaughlin’
Subject: Consultation

Dear Secretary, 

I’ve copied you some of the ‘Updates’ which detail the activities for the C Sqn Reunion.  I note that you’ve opted not to copy me into associated matters that you’re involved with.

When you send the following [proposed] message to members of the Assn, maybe you’d like to say that the names of those attending the C Sqn reunion will be advised by myself when they ‘register’ early next year. But maybe that would be too late and those who are not members of the Assn would miss out ….

“Those members of C Squadron wishing to attend the National Service of Remembrance at the National Vietnam Memorial, or any formal ceremonies at the AWM should register with Pedro Rosemond as soon as possible as numbers at the AWM have been considerably restricted due to COVID-19.”

How do you think that we might resolve this matter for the benefit of ALL C Sqn veterans?  I could, of course, provide the names of all those who have indicated their intention to attend the dinner. That would cover everyone, whether or not an Assn member.

PS.  You’ll be interested to know that I’ve spoken to the AWM re the LPC and wreath laying and have initiated a request for a DVA grant for two wreaths (Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick).

2. From: Peter Rosemond
To: ‘Bruce Cameron’ <cameronshome@bigpond.com>; ‘Secretary’ <secretary@paratus.org.au>
Subject: RE: Consultation

G’day Men

Thanks for the copy of this message.

I have no intent to become engaged in a competition of any kind, especially over this topic.

I have assisted the 1st Armoured Regiment Association and the RAAC Corporation with these Vietnam 50th Anniversary Events simply from an experience perspective.   Along with many others who have also provided support and assistance to make sure the events are conducted to the highest standard possible and I compliment DVA Staff on their energy and competence in doing these things.

DVA initially conducted these 50th Anniversary Events within the budget of the Centenary of WW1.   After the Bin Ba Commemoration there were not to be any more as there was no dedicated funding.   This took a concerted effort and loads of work from us to bring about the remainder of the 50th Anniversary Events being commemorated by DVA.   It was shocking to me that the DVA heads could not see that stopping 50th Anniversary Commemoration half way through the experiences of the Vietnam Veterans would be devastating to the Veteran who were involved in major Operations such as Hammersley 70, Overlord 71 and the end of War 72.   They got the point, achieved the funding and so the events are unfolding as they should.

This is the work of the RAAC Corporation, of which I am simply a member of the Advisory Board and as such have no place to broadcast what we are doing, which I would not do in any case as I prefer t just contribute to the effort of the organisation of which I am a member.

Back to the issue of who is compiling lists.   Bruce, if you have a list of confirmed attendees, please provide a numbers to me and DVA at the meeting you attend this week.   That is all that is required.   I do not need to know names of who is attending or what events they choose to participate in.   DVA require the proposed attendance so that they can arrange appropriate resources to support the event.

Note of Caution:   We are not clear of Covid 19 and if all the policy makers are paying attention to what is happening in the Norther Hemisphere, as Winter approaches and the climate cools, we may experience a similar challenge as Winter Approaches here in the Southern Hemisphere next year.   God help us and we can all prey that is not the case.

3. From: Bruce Cameron
To: ”Peter Rosemond’
Cc: ‘Noel McLaughlin’; ‘Secretary’; Peter Scott; Tony Cox; John Scales
Subject: Consultation

G’day Pedro,

There are 108 ‘definite’ attendees for the C Sqn dinner on 6 June 2021 and 12 ‘probables’.   So 120, however, I expect this number to fall as we enter 2021 by 25%.

Ninety C Sqn attendees, therefore.  George Hulse advises that the mini-team guys will be attending the dinner also … but it is probably best for this number to be advised to DVA by the sappers themselves.

Good to know the RAAC Corporation Advisory Board has been so busy in terms of its “concerted efforts and loads of work”.  You’ll appreciate that the Commemoration is the initiative of Peter Scott, CO 3 RAR in 1971.  He and the battalion function organiser, Tony Cox, have met with DVA on a number of occasions.  DVA have always been very supportive.  They could not confirm the event until the FY budget was approved, but we knew that the intention was always there.  Peter Scott has organised a commemorative coin and pre-paid envelope, which have been approved.

There were 254 from all Corps in the sqn, 25% of whom are deceased.  Of the remainder, 90% have been able to be contacted and informed about the commemoration.  We will consult with them before deciding on those to lay wreaths and to act as the designated Sqn VIP.

Interestingly, the cut-off date for DVA grant requests for the Commemoration has passed.  DVA were very helpful in advising how a grant could be requested by a non-incorporated association/person.  We have requested DVA funding for printing (dinner name tags, menu etc) as well as two wreaths for laying at the AWM Last Post Ceremony.   These will be in honour of two sqn members who DOW.  Those to lay the wreaths will be decided by their mates.  The AWM advise 200 attendees now, but 2000 (I think) if COVID restrictions are lifted.  Fingers crossed. We will be making a booking with the AWM for a small wreath laying party for 6 June 2021, just in case COVID is still with us.

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30 November 2020

In the Shadows II

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The following a copy of a post of mine in response to a post on the 3 Cav Forum which alleged that I had appointed myself with respect to organisation of the Overlord Commemoration …. when I had no right to do so.

(This really is very tiresome!)

“I don’t regard myself as self-appointed.  DVA invited me to provide advice and I’ve been doing this for some time.  The whole commemoration was the idea of the former CO 3 RAR and I’ve been working with him to bring it to fruition.  3RAR activities, like those of C Sqn, are being organised by an individual, not the 3RAR Assn. 

The former CO’s idea was to commemorate the Battle of Long Khanh.  My tank troop and later that of the late Warren Hind were instrumental in the success of the Battle.  Given this involvement, I felt that I had a responsibility to do what I could to assist.  [DVA decided to expand the commemoration to the whole of Operation Overlord, though the Battle of Long Khanh will still appear in the official title of the Commemoration.]

I set about contacting all former sqn members about a year ago [actually 18 month ago].  It was decided to invite all those who served during 1971, not just during Operation Overlord.  Ninety per cent of those still alive have been contacted.  Of the 254, almost 20 per cent are deceased.  The 254 include all corps who served with the sqn.  I think all will be particularly pleased with the Commemorative coin being produced by the Mint (I just hope that they’ve got the driver’s beret pulled down on the right side).  I have kept the 1AR Assn and RAAC Corporation informed of what I’ve been doing and the consequent planning.  I can send you details if you wish.

In terms of others I invited to the coming planning meeting … they were the sqn 2IC at the time (now the most senior surviving member) and a representative of D&E platoon (which lost five KIA in the 84 Section incident).  I established that 3 Cav would be represented by the RAAC Corporation (as will the 1AR Assn).  I’ll report on the outcome of the meeting.  You might be right … there might be too many cooks.  (I had to join the AACC Facebook group to track down the C Sqn cooks.)

PS.  C Sqn will be laying wreaths at the AWM with respect to Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick (both DOW).  The Kiwis who rescued them from their tank are also attending.  See Vietnam War bravery overlooked because of ‘medal quotas’ finally recognised 50 years on – ABC News .  The following was included in the June Update this year:

“I couldn’t let the 49th Anniversary of our attack on the base and training facility for 3 Battalion, 33 NVA Regt (and other units) to go past without saying how honoured I was to have served with you all.  Although it was 3 and 5 Troop involved in name, as always, it was a Squadron effort.  As you’re all aware, while the National Commemoration on this day next year will be for Operation Overlord, our reunion is for all those who served in, and in support of, C Sqn throughout 1971.”

At all times I’ve tried to do the right thing and to keep everyone informed.  I don’t feel in any way, that I’m guilty of some foul deed or misrepresentation.

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29 November 2020

In the Shadows

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It’s great to take a break from the Brereton Report, but no less joyful (unfortunately).

I’ve been accused of trying to usurp the 3 Cav Assn in terms of a function to be held in conjunction with the National Commemoration for Operation Overlord.

The email below indicates how I went about checking with the 3 Cav Assn re any intentions for a function on 6 June 2021 and, if not, to extend an invite to 3 Cav members to attend our tank squadron dinner.

Hi Dallas,

I’m currently doing some pre-planning and your advice would be appreciated.

If DVA funding enables a National Commemoration for Operation Overlord to be conducted, will you be organising a 3 Cav get-together?

If not, would you be interested in inviting those who participated in Operation Overlord etc,  to join C Sqn for our dinner on 6 June 2021? 

There’s no commitment associated with your answer … it will simply help in my planning (I’m already aware of a number of 3 Cav pers who would be attending the Commemoration, should it be held).  I don’t want to make this difficult, simply trying to anticipate arrangements with the function venue we’re dealing with (which can all be cancelled if DVA finding is not approved).

Many thanks, Bruce

Dallas (the President) indicated that it was unlikely that 3 Cav would organise a specific function, so I went ahead and extended the invite.  Charlie Dearling offered to act as co-ordinator for 3 Cav, as he was one of those who accepted the invite. Discussion on this forum took place so that everyone knew what was planned, including re the right signs for the 3 Cav and 84 Section table signs (which have been pre-prepared).

Unbeknown to me, as this time, Charlie and Noel Mclaughlin (Chairman, RAAC Corporation) were planning to conduct a 3 Cav event. Days ago, Charlie advised me that: “The Association was waiting to see if the event was to go ahead, and now that it appears certain, are starting to look at preparations. We decided that an informal ‘meet and greet’ on Sunday 6 Jun will better suit our members ….”.

I’ve subsequently read (in an email forwarded to me) that “Charlie Dearling – in conjunction with Dallas Burrage of 3 Cav Regt (Vietnam) Association – is organising an informal dinner on the night of 6 June 2021 in the Ainslie area for 3 Cav veterans”.

It was interesting to see that Charlie commented that: “Suppose I better think about an email to a certain party…….”.

I wonder who that might have been and why he and Noel couldn’t have been open and transparent in the first place.  I spent eight months trying to keep everyone informed.  I sent copies of updates to the RAAC Corporation and Sec 1AR Assn.  Why couldn’t someone have sent an email to me to say that if the National Commemoration goes ahead, we’re planning a 3 Cav function. 

This would have meant that time wouldn’t have been wasted in preparing table signs, nor negotiating with the venue for additional space.  Of course, I would also have been able to advise where the 3RAR companies have booked for their company dinners.  I’ve left a message on Charlie’s phone … I hope, should he ring me, that the next post might explain how things came to this point.

The following email to the Secretary of the 1AR Assn is more of the same:

Dear Secretary, 

I’ve copied you some of the ‘Updates’ which detail the activities for the C Sqn Reunion.  I note that you’ve opted not to copy me into associated matters that you’re involved with.

When you send the following message to members of the Assn, maybe you’d like to say that the names of those attending the C Sqn reunion will be advised by myself when they ‘register’ early next year. But maybe that would be too late and those who are not members of the Assn would miss out. 

“Those members of C Squadron wishing to attend the National Service of Remembrance at the National Vietnam Memorial, or any formal ceremonies at the AWM should register with Pedro Rosemond as soon as possible as numbers at the AWM have been considerably restricted due to COVID-19.”

How do you think that we might resolve this matter for the benefit of ALL C Sqn veterans?  I could, of course, provide the names of all those who have indicated their intention to attend the dinner. That would cover everyone, whether or not an Assn member.

PS.  You’ll be interested to know that I’ve spoken to the AWM re the LPC and wreath laying and have initiated a request for a DVA grant for two wreaths (Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick).

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28 November 2020

Brereton Report 11

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letter to the Canberra Times ….

Dear Editor:

I agree with John Simmons (‘Many rotten apples’, Letters, 26 November), the problem predates Afghanistan.  When allegations from Vietnam were brought to the Government’s attention, they shirked their responsibility and declined to investigate them; giving assurances that training had been revised and the same thing couldn’t happen again.

I drew the Minister’s attention to Government material provided for school children doing modern history which stated Australian soldiers were guilty of “killing the badly wounded [and] shooting enemy who had surrendered or who were clearly no threat”. I also pointed to an interview published by DVA in which it was alleged that “the Geneva Convention was thrown out the window … if something moves, you shoot the bastard, irrespective of what it is, or who it is…”.  My request for investigations fell on deaf ears. 

I asked the Minister in 2008, “Do you agree that one of the fundamental tenets that Australian schoolchildren should be taught is that: Although the horror of the reality of war is worse than anything thot can be imagined, Australian people and their Government condemn the abuse of military power in any form whatsoever— proof of this is provided by the thoroughness by which each and every alleged atrocity is investigated”.

Rather than SAS officers letting down their men, I feel that the Government has let down the ADF.  If investigations into the above allegations had been conducted, and training revised and validated, what is alleged to have happened in Afghanistan, might not have occurred.

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27 November 2020

Brereton Report 10

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The ‘Don’t tar all our soldiers with the same brush’ by Jon Blackwell (see below) was published here: https://johnmenadue.com/jon-blackwell-soldiers-in-afghanistan-and-elsewhere/

My response is copied below:

“Great article.  I agree … it is a Government, on behalf of the Australian people, that sends its nation’s soldiers to war.  But, it is the same Government who is responsible for ensuring that training is appropriate, not only to confront the battlefield challenges, but also, the moral challenges that are to be faced.  The Government was complicit in turning a ‘blind eye’ to matters associated with breaches of Rules of Engagement (ROE) in Vietnam.  Advice was requested from the responsible Minister that military training had been structured to ensure that the moral failings which occurred in Vietnam could never happen again. This assurance was given.  It proved ill-founded.

The following examples from Vietnam emphasise the differing perspectives that applied:

The Rules of Engagement (ROE) were that we had to positively identify enemy before we engaged.  In essence, this meant that they had to be carrying weapons.  One night we were in an ambush.  Using a first-generation night vision device, the sentry saw four legs … two followed by another two.  Upper bodies were obscured.  Whoever they were, they were breaking the curfew. This did not mean they were enemy, however.  After ‘standing to’, I counted down over the radio and all tanks switched on their searchlights.  There was no need to give the order to fire.  Illuminated was the biggest buck deer anyone had ever seen.  The four legs were explained.”

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One book I read was ‘Contact Wait Out!: A Vietnam Diary’ by Bruce Ravenscroft.  The author describes an ambush he was involved in.  A number of enemy were killed and one wounded (who could be heard to be in pain).  The ambush commander radioed his HQ and explained the situation.  He was told not to bring back any prisoners.  All members of the ambush party stood up and “emptied their magazines into the enemy soldier”.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  My surprise was compounded by the fact that the Foreword of the book, which described it as “a valuable addition to the documents about the war from an Australian’s perspective”, was written by a serving senior Army officer.”

Jon Blackwell has managed hospital and health services in the Pilbara and South Australia and was the CEO of the Central Coast Area Health Service from 1997-2003. He was subsequently CEO of Workcover NSW from 2003-2009.

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26 November 2020

Brereton Report 9

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One of those to whom I sent a copy of my call for greater Government accountability was Andrew Hastie.  The following is an SBS report from yesterday:

Mr Hastie, who chairs a parliamentary committee on intelligence and security, wants to create a committee with powers to compel defence chiefs and bureaucrats.

“If we are serious about increased accountability and transparency, then we need proper parliamentary scrutiny of the Department of Defence and the Australian Defence Force,” he said.

“Without it, our parliament cannot exercise proper civilian oversight of our military.”

This goes some of the way, but it doesn’t acknowledge that the reason for oversight is that it is Government that is responsible.  Government policy is that which determines the state of readiness of the ADF, as well as its structure, equipment, and nature of training.

Recently, Don Spinks (Repatriation Commissioner) circulated an Open Letter from the Minister and Secretary of DVA.  I contacted him to say:

“Thanks for forwarding the Open Letter.  After reading it, I rang the Safe Zone number. I was concerned that there did not seem to be anyone looking into the failure of the Government to investigate war crimes from Vietnam, the results of which might have prevented what’s now being investigated.  I was advised to go the Defence Ombudsman.

I’ve copied below my submission the Afghanistan Inquiry.

Is there anyway, in which DVA can look at its own responsibility, having ignored matters brought to the Department’s attention re Vietnam, for what happened in Afghanistan?”

He, to his great credit and that of his Office, responded to say (in part):

I have forwarded your concern to DVA for review and comment, I will advise once I have RX feedback.

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25 November 2020

Brereton Report 8

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Image: Andrew Hastie

This matter has taken up much time recently.  I’m annoyed with myself for not having more persistent regarding the Vietnam matters I alerted the Government to, but the Minister assured me that training had been revised and such things could never happen again.

The following article was published recently: https://johnmenadue.com/sas-officers-failed-their-men-and-australia/

My response was:

“It can also be argued that Governments have failed the Australian Defence Force.  Twelve years ago, our school children were being told in educational material provided by the then Government that Australian soldiers committed the very same war crimes in Vietnam, as are alleged to have occurred in Afghanistan. 

It is a Government, on behalf of the Australian people, that sends its nation’s soldiers to war.  It is the same Government who is responsible for ensuring that training is appropriate, not only to confront the battlefield challenges, but also, the moral challenges that are to be faced.  The Government has turned a ‘blind eye’ to breaches of ROE in Vietnam.  The responsible action would have been to investigate, identify systemic weaknesses and institute and validate training to ensure such things couldn’t occur again. I asked if the Minister could give such an assurance to the Australian people.  This assurance was given.  It proved ill-founded.

I’ve copied below a letter to the Minister of Veterans Affairs in April 2008 [see earlier blog]. 

The last question was: “Do you agree that one of the fundamental tenets that Australian schoolchildren should be taught is that: Although the horror of the reality of war is worse than anything that can be imagined, Australian people and their Government condemn the abuse of military power in any form whatsoever—proof of this is provided by the thoroughness by which each and every alleged atrocity is investigated”?  I received no response to this or the earlier questions I asked.”

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24 November 2020

Brereton Report 7

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Image: ABC

The following was included in the latest Army newspaper:

“Message from the Chief of Army

As individual, we demonstrate integrity by being accountable for our actions. We are also accountable to call out the behaviour of others when it is not in accordance with our values.

We report accurately and honestly. If something isn’t right, we say so.

As teams, we demonstrate the integrity of our actions by auditing, checking and testing. As an Army we demonstrate integrity by investigating when our actions and words are not aligned with what is right. We self-identify and self-correct.

Acting with integrity, every day, strengthens trust in our teams, with other organisations and with the Australian people.

We strive to be a trusted national institution where every member of its team always acts ethically and with integrity.

– CA Lt-Gen Rick Burr

INTEGRITY – is the consistency of character to align my thoughts, words and actions to do what is right.”

I’ve sent the following email to the CA …

Dear Sir,

I’ve copied below my submission to the Afghanistan inquiry [published on the Blog below].  I see that in the Army Newspaper, you say:

“As individual, we demonstrate integrity by being accountable for our actions. We are also accountable to call out the behaviour of others when it is not in accordance with our values.

We report accurately and honestly. If something isn’t right, we say so.”

BUT what happens when someone does the ‘right thing’ … and those that they’ve reported to, ignore their responsibilities and no change occurs? 

The ‘ice age’ continues … that’s what happens!  I can’t believe that reports made about incidents simply ‘go through to the keeper’.  I’m very tempted to write a piece for the media to show how ‘corrupt’ the reporting system is.

Yours sincerely, Bruce Cameron

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23 November 2020

The Brereton Report 6

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Following on ….

War Crimes and Government Inaction: A Conspiracy of Silence: Part 2

The Second Account (2007)

Still doing research for my book, I came across material that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs had provided for use by the education system, as part of schools’ modern history curriculum.  The references stated that war crimes had been committed by Australian soldiers in Vietnam.  I wrote to the Minister for Defence asking for assurance that the incidents referred to, had all been investigated.  My letter was forwarded to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.  More than six months later, I received a response from DVA to say that my request for an investigation “had been denied”.

I wrote back to the Minister, asking a number of questions regarding DVA’s statement to schoolchildren that war crimes were committed in Vietnam, for inclusion in my book. This letter is attached (G2).  No such information was received.

The Third Account (2008)

My research took me to DVA’s oral history archive where I was able to listen to veterans recounting their experience.  One interviewee, however, made allegations about war crimes which I knew to be untrue.  I contacted DVA and advised that the allegations were false.  I was informed that the interview had been recorded in good faith and couldn’t be removed as this would affect the integrity of the archive.  I gathered evidence, sought legal opinion, and wrote to the Minister, asking that the interview be withdrawn as it was false, misleading and defamatory.  (Letter attached, G3).   Finally, the oral history was removed from the archive.

Conclusion

It is a Government, on behalf of the Australian people, that sends its nation’s soldiers to war.  It is the same Government who is responsible for ensuring that training is appropriate, not only to confront the battlefield challenges, but also, the moral challenges that are to be faced.  The accounts above demonstrate that Government has been complicit in turning a ‘blind eye’ to matters associated with breaches of ROE.  Advice was requested that military training had been structured to ensure that moral challenges faced in Vietnam could be appropriately addressed in the future. This assurance was given.  It proved ill-founded.

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22 November 2020

Brereton Report 5

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Following on …. the first part of my short ‘paper’ identifying Government culpability, is copied below.

War Crimes and Government Inaction: A Conspiracy of Silence: Part 1

I have just heard the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs say that there were obvious failings within the military and it has to lift its game (or words to that effect).  He made no mention of any responsibility on the part of the Government. I believe that the Government has in the past, and continues today, to shirk its accountability for what has happened in Afghanistan.

The following narrative relates to three accounts of different incidents of unlawful killing by Australian soldiers in Vietnam.  On each occasion, as soon as I became aware of the circumstances, I requested that an investigation be conducted.  I further sought assurance that measures had been introduced so that Australians could have confidence that such things could not happen again.  In the background to all this, DVA provided material for school children which stated that Australians committed war crimes in Vietnam.  Government knew about war crimes, but had it investigated them?

Background.

I was a tank troop leader in Vietnam in 1971.  The Rules of Engagement (ROE) were that we had to positively identify enemy before we engaged.  In essence, this meant that they had to be carrying weapons.  One night we were in an ambush.  Using a first-generation night vision device, the sentry saw four legs … two followed by another two.  Upper bodies were obscured.  Whoever they were, they were breaking the curfew. This did not mean they were enemy, however.  After ‘standing to’, I counted down over the radio and all tanks switched on their searchlights.  There was no need to give the order to fire.  Illuminated was the biggest buck deer anyone had ever seen.  The four legs were explained.

I was conscious of examples such as this in terms of the adherence to ROE, when I wrote a book about Australian tank operations in Vietnam:  https://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/books/canister-on-fire-australian-tank-operations-in-vietnam/

The First Account (2005).

During research for my book, I tried to read as widely as possible.  One book I read was ‘Contact Wait Out!: A Vietnam Diary’ by Bruce Ravenscroft. (https://regimental-books.com.au/product/contact-wait-out-a-vietnam-diary/)  The author describes an ambush he was involved in.  A number of enemy were killed and one wounded (who could be heard to be in pain).  The ambush commander radioed his HQ and explained the situation.  He was told not to bring back any prisoners.  All members of the ambush party stood up and “emptied their magazines into the enemy soldier”.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  My surprise was compounded by the fact that the Foreword of the book, which described it as “a valuable addition to the documents about the war from an Australian’s perspective”, was written by a serving Army brigadier (who went on to be a major general).

What to do?  Being aware that there is no statute of limitations as far as murder is concerned, I rang the Defence whistle-blower telephone number.  This isn’t something for ‘us’ I was told, go to the police.  This isn’t something for ‘us’ I was told, go to Defence.   I wrote to the Minister of Defence.  The Army History Unit conducted a search of records and concluded that the incident had never happened.  As far as I’m aware, the author of the book was never interviewed.  Once the incident became known to be a fabrication, he rang me and stated emphatically that every word was completely true “right down to the last copper jacketed bullet!”.

I was still concerned that the account had been ‘endorsed’ by a senior officer (and, therefore, seemingly part of a wider culture within Army).  I wrote the Minister again and asked if he could guarantee that appropriate training was in place to ensure any such breach of ROE would never be accepted again.  The Minister responded to say that this was the case.

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21 November 2020

Brereton Report 4

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In earlier posts, I’ve copied information I’ve sent to the media about the Afghanistan report.  I haven’t had any responses … so time to go for the jugular!  The email below is the cover to my submission to the leader of the Opposition.

I’ve been advised it’s been copied to the Shadow Minister for Defence, as well as Mr Albanese’s policy working group.

We can only hope that lessons from the past are acknowledged.

Dear Mr Albanese,

I believe that the attached material shows partial culpability on the part of the Government which has not been acknowledged.

I further believe that, unless there is such acknowledgement, that the status quo won’t change.

I offer the attached for your consideration.

I don’t seek any personal publicity; however, if there is a need for someone to stand behind this issue, then I’m prepared to do so.

Best wishes,  Bruce Cameron

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The above is the Blog post as I drafted it.  I wrote to Mr Albanese because I thought that he could ask questions in Parliament which would force the Government to recognise their culpability and responsibility (rather than simply hanging the Army out to dry) … BUT, I’ve just realised that Alan Griffin (the Minister to whom I wrote to in 2007/8) was Labor.  So Albo is unlikely to light much a fire under the current Govt.  Hence, I’ve copied the material to Andrew Hastie and Jacqui Lambie; but I think it’ll take an investigative journalist to really make the case for principled and lasting change.

I’ll post the short ‘paper’ I sent, tomorrow

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20 November 2020

The Seniority of Regiments in the RAAC

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Following on from 5 November …. the seniority for the first four RAAC regiments is currently listed as:

1st Armoured Regiment 

2nd Cavalry Regiment 

1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers

2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (QMI)

This was correct when 2/14 LHR (QMI) was an ARES unit, but it is now ARA.

The basis for seniority is set out in Australian Military Regulations AMR):

“Units of the Army take precedence as follows:

(a) the units of the Permanent Forces have precedence over the units of the Reserves;

(b) the units have precedence according to the order of their numerical succession;

(c) if units are not included in a numerical succession, the units have precedence according to the order in which the Commands to which they belong are specified in the instrument appointing Commands.”

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2007C00747

The RSM Ceremonial advises that:

(i) AMR “were cancelled in April 2015; however, the precedence originated from these regulations still stand …”;

(ii) 2/14 LHR (QMI) fully transitioned to an ARA regiment in 2005, however, “there is no evidence that the RAAC Corps Council requested a change to the order [of seniority] of the RAAC units to the Chief of Army”.

(iii) “The Corp could have made an adjustment to the accepted order. It did not do this at the time nor was it requested”.

 (iv)  “The HOC RAAC has no intention in requesting the order change …”.

The conclusion … the order is wrong, but the RAAC has not bothered to ask for it to be changed.

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19 November 2020

The Brereton Report III

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Image: ABC

Following on from the earlier posts, I have given the following response to two media articles which have widespread readership (see below).  I have deliberately not stated what the reply was that I received from the Minister.  I hope that this ‘drip feed’ might draw attention to the deliberate policy of Governments past, ie. to ignore all such matters and refuse to investigate and respond as needed.  It can well be argued that if the Government had responded as it should have in the past, what is being reported on now might well have never happened.

“The Government has continually shirked its responsibility and must be held to account.

I can prove this, for example … sometime ago, I wrote to the then Minister of Defence. I pointed out that educational material, provided by DVA to Australian schoolchildren, includes reference to an unspecified number of incidents of Australian soldiers: “killing the badly wounded [and] shooting enemy who had surrendered or who were clearly no threat”. I also drew attention to an interview published by DVA in which it is alleged that “the Geneva Convention was thrown out the window [by Australian soldiers in Vietnam] … if something moves , you shoot the bastard, irrespective of what it is, or who it is…whether innocents were killed, maimed, whatever, we just didn’t give a xxxx”.

I expressed the view that the material raised a number of questions: (i) were the alleged incidents investigated; if not, why not?; (ii) if found to be true, what action was taken to bring those responsible to justice and to ensure that the same thing could not happen again? I highlighted the fact that, without this information, schoolchildren may believe that such actions were condoned by the Australian Government. I asked the Minister if he would ensure that all allegations had been investigated and amend the educational material to reflect this.

I look forward to all relevant matters leading up to this situation, being made known (to which I will contribute)”.

PS. Having just listened to General Campbell’s press conference, I have also provided the above to the ABC’s defence correspondent and their Canberra based political correspondent https://johnmenadue.com/george-orwell-are-you-listening-truth-warping-about-afghanistan-war-crimes/embed/#?secret=fLc8UtuII9https://johnmenadue.com/war-crimes-and-the-asymmetry-myth/embed/#?secret=0ml9wgZcrT

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18 November 2020

The Coming Brereton Report II

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Image: ASPI

Following on from 16 November, I’ve copied another letter below, to show how responsibility must be accepted on the part of Government and those in command for not acting prior the circumstances which have arisen recently.. I look forward to all relevant matters leading up to this situation, being made known (to which I will contribute).

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The Hon Alan Griffin, MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

House of Representatives,

Parliament House

CANBERRA  ACT 2600

                                                      cc.        Maj Gen David Morrison, AM,

                                                                  Chairman, Army History Committee.

Dear Minister,

ALLEGATIONS OF ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY AUSTRALIANS IN VIETNAM

On 6 October 2007 I wrote to the then Minister of Defence.  I pointed out that educational material, provided by DVA to Australian schoolchildren, includes reference to an unspecified number of incidents of Australian soldiers: “killing the badly wounded [and] shooting enemy who had surrendered or who were clearly no threat”.  I also drew attention to an interview published by DVA in which it is alleged that “the Geneva Convention was thrown out the window [by Australian soldiers in Vietnam]…if something moves , you shoot the bastard, irrespective of what it is, or who it is…whether innocents were killed, maimed, whatever, we just didn’t give a xxxx”.

I expressed the view that the material raised a number of questions: (i) were the alleged incidents investigated; if not, why not?; (ii) if found to be true, what action was taken to bring those responsible to justice and to ensure that the same thing could not happen again?  I highlighted the fact that, without this information, schoolchildren may believe that such actions were condoned by the Australian Government.  I asked the Minister if he would ensure that all allegations had been investigated and amend the educational material to reflect this.

My letter was forwarded to the then Minister of Veterans’ Affairs on 15 November 2007 (responsibility for the matter having been judged to lie within your portfolio).  Today, more than six months after the date of my letter, I received a response from the Director, Advising and Public Law Legal Services, DVA

In informing me that my request to have these allegations investigated had been denied, Mr Harrison stated that “Information for teachers on the Australian Defence Force protocols and procedures in wartime is not included [in DVA’s educational resource material] as this is not part of the curriculum”.  I take this to mean that DVA considers that Australia’s education curriculum in some way prevents schoolchildren being informed that while atrocities sometimes occur in war, those alleged to have been committed by Australian soldiers in Vietnam have been thoroughly investigated by the Australian Government. 

I will ask the Minister for Education to consider DVA’s position on this matter; for the moment, however…I am currently writing a book about Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.  I would like to ask you the following questions (so that the responses of the Australian Government may be included in the book for the benefit of all Australians): 

  1. How many incidents (please state if an estimate) form the basis of advice to Australian schoolchildren that Australian soldiers in Vietnam killed badly wounded enemy soldiers?
  2. How many incidents (please state if an estimate) form the basis of advice to Australian schoolchildren that Australian soldiers in Vietnam shot enemy who had surrendered or who were clearly no threat?
  3. Do any of the incidents at paras 1 and 2 include that described in ‘Contact : Wait Out’?  The alleged murder of a wounded enemy soldier contained in this book was investigated by the Minister of Defence in 2005.  The incident was found to have been a complete fabrication by the author.  (Material has been provided to DVA separately which shows conclusively that the interview referred to in the opening paragraph is another fake memoir.)
  4. Apart from the incident in ‘Contact ; Wait Out’, how many atrocities, among those which form the basis of DVA’s advice to schoolchildren, have been investigated, as far as DVA is aware?
  5. Apart from the incident in ‘Contact : Wait Out’…of those allegations which have been investigated, how many have been found to be true, as far as DVA is aware?
  6. If DVA is aware of alleged atrocities which have not been investigated, has DVA brought those matters to the attention of the relevant authorities?
  7. Do you agree that one of the fundamental tenets that Australian schoolchildren should be taught is that: Although the horror of the reality of war is worse than anything that can be imagined, Australian people and their Government condemn the abuse of military power in any form whatsoever—proof of this is provided by the thoroughness by which each and every alleged atrocity is investigated.

Yours sincerely,

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17 November 2020

The RAAC Looking Good!

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A recent Blog post bemoaned the lack of ‘accurate’ public relations material re the RAAC.

With the 50th Anniversary of 2 Cav Regt coming up on Cambrai Day, I went looking for information as to what might be happening.

I struck Gold!

The above Association website includes a recent address by the CO 2 Cav Regt.  He is to be congratulated as a truly great ambassador, not only for 2 Cav Regt, but the Army as a whole.

Seems to me that the RAAC is in good shape.

What a pity it is that more information such as that provided here, is not readily available.

I encourage everyone to watch this video.  It is 12 mins long and can be found at the following website (under CO 2 Cav Regt).  Copy and paste in the top https address bar.

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16 November 2020

The Tank Capability of the Future

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The following is an article submitted for publication in the Army’s ‘The Cove’.

“For just over a century, the tank has been the key symbol of land power. Today, tanks no longer enjoy the same level of battlefield supremacy that they used to. So, what’s next? Do they still have a role to play? If so, how do they need to evolve and what will the next generation look like in terms of features and capabilities?”.  Nicholas Drummond, https://uklandpower.com/2020/04/05/where-does-the-tank-go-from-here/ 

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The2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan’ stated that: “Defence will develop options for a system to replace the current tank capability when it reaches its end of life. This new system will integrate with reconnaissance and infantry fighting vehicles to ensure the land force retains a decisive land combat capability into the future.” (https://www.defence.gov.au/strategicupdate-2020/)

The fact that Defence has committed to developing options to replace the Abrams, indicates that the tank capability is recognised in terms of its importance for the ADF (and its contingency plans). This is exactly the foresight that’s to be expected of our Defence staff.  The US is examining the same circumstances (and has been for many years).  The Abrams tank is adequate today and can be improved to meet the needs of tomorrow.  But what about the day after and the day after that?  What will the replacement for the Abrams tank capability look like?

The answer has to start with the role that the tank fulfills on the battlefield.  Is it possible that future wars will not involve infantry?  There will be all sorts of autonomous machines, but will any be able to take the place of a soldier?  The answer is certainly ‘no’ in the timeframe under consideration.  It follows that there will be a need to provide direct fire support, aka the tank capability, as part of a combined arms force underpinning land operations. The fact that the next ‘tank’ may not be anything like the Abrams, is without dispute. 

What does such a direct fire capability need to provide?  The answer is, as it has ‘always’ been: lethality, survivability, and mobility, under all extremes of climate and terrain. This is self-evident.  What is unknown is the way in which advances in technology will influence the solution.  There are developments in mobility such as hovercraft and hydrogen fuel cells, however, this is not the breakthrough science.

Direct fire support can be provided by a manned vehicle, a robotic vehicle, or an optionally manned vehicle.  The US Army is considering the last concept.  One imagines that this is because it is too soon to bank everything on robotics alone.

Many arguments have been advanced that, whether crewed or optionally crewed, the weight of a direct fire support capability has to be reduced to enable it to be deployable in all contingencies.  This is especially so in terms of ADF planning.  How can this be achieved, while maintaining requisite protection levels?

Volume under armour is the biggest impost on the weight of an AFV.  Reducing the size of the crew by incorporating an autoloader was the answer at one time, but the lethality of anti-armour weapons is now so advanced, that this is no longer enough.  The current Russian T-14 Armata MBT is one solution.  The crew is within a ‘cocoon’ in the hull of vehicle, below the external gun and autoloader. Considerable weight is saved without having to protect crew members in their own turret. 

As well as the provision of an Active Protection System (APS) for certain vehicles, the Strategic Update (above) also made reference to: “A future program to develop a directed energy weapon system able to be integrated onto ADF protected and armoured vehicles, and capable of defeating armoured vehicles up to and including main battle tanks.”

Such a weapon is suggestive of a laser, but is unlikely in terms of defeating AFVs in the foreseeable future.  Another possibility is a ‘rail gun’.  Neither of these technological breakthroughs, however, will resolve the main challenge facing the replacement tank capability.

The APS, however, might be part of the solution. Such systems have been demonstrated to be capable of defeating attack by ATGM and RPGs. But what about kinetic energy penetrators?  Can an APS counter these, thereby enabling the weight of armour to be significantly reduced?

A recent press release suggested that this is feasible: “Elbit Systems’ Iron Fist active protection system (APS) has successfully engaged a 120 mm armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) projectile under test conditions”. If this was to be substantiated, it would really be revolutionary.  https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/iav-2020-elbits-iron-fist-engages-kinetic-energy-round  (Elbit is an Israeli company with links to the RAAC.)   BUT…what about attack from above?  It’s been proposed that low cost drones could be employed en mass to attack AFVs from above.  Will an APS be able to counter this?

If protection is able to be increased and weight reduced … will this be sufficient for a direct fire capability to be deployed on the future battlefield? It has been suggested that a new grouping of complementary force capabilities will be needed in the future, i.e. traditional organisational structures will no longer be adequate.

Conclusion

The challenge is how to provide a future direct fire support capability which is lethal, survivable, and mobile.  There are numerous options as far as mobility/engine power are concerned, as there are in terms of firepower.  The crux of the design challenge is to decrease weight, while increasing protection against both ground and air attack. The role of APS (especially against `top attack) is crucial; as is the need to structure future operational groupings in such a way that direct fire support can be provided in a readily deployable ‘all arms’ context.

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5 November 2020

 The Coming Brereton Report

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The following letter is more than twelve years old. I have been striving to correct false allegations for much longer than that and hope to be able to present material to the on-going process to (i) show how some veterans seek to sensationalise their experiences; and (ii) how the Government has endeavoured to ‘minimise’ their responsibility in terms of addressing such matters.

BTW.  The interview referred to below (re an RAAC unit) was withdrawn from DVA’s website


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                                                                                                       April 2008

The Hon Alan Griffin, MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Dear Minister,

Notice of a False, Misleading and Defamatory DVA Publication 

It is understood that 12,000 people per month, access DVA’s Australians at War Film Archive.  The majority of these are students, teachers, historians and researchers from both Australia and overseas. 

The transcript of interview number XXXX is published on DVA’s website.  It alleges that the Army unit the interviewee served with in Vietnam was responsible for appalling abuses of human rights and breaches of the Geneva Convention.  The attached statements demonstrate conclusively, that the allegations are false. 

It is apparent that the interviewee is not only sensationalising his experiences in a self-serving manner (eg. he falsely claims to have been wounded in action), but is also acting maliciously (eg. he insults the bravery and sacrifices of those who served in the unit and defames a number of people).  DVA were asked to amend the interview to remove such false, misleading and defamatory remarks, but the Department advised that this was possible only to a limited extent (which turned out to represent the worse examples of defamatory material) because of the effect that this would have on the integrity of the Archive.

The interview is also used a means of conveying a threat of assault against an individual.  Emphasising the seriousness of the threat, the interviewee details a plan to murder the person concerned while both were in Vietnam.  He also boasts of the grievous bodily harm he inflicted on his next door neighbour.  The ACT Attorney-General had to intervene to ensure the safety of the person threatened, an ACT citizen, and his family. 

Would you please consider that attached material with a view to instructing DVA to withdraw the interview from publication.  The Department have previously declined to do this, citing the fact that it was published in ‘good faith’.  There is now overwhelming evidence to show that there has been an abuse of trust.  Part of a legal opinion as to DVA’s obligations in regard to this matter is attached. 

It concludes that: “It is one thing to publish the truth even where that truth is less than complimentary.  It is an entirely different thing to publish lies.  Despite Mr Harrison’s [Principal Legal Officer, DVA] assertions, there can be no integrity in an archive where lies and misinformation are permitted to flourish.  This interview is so contaminated by lies, misinformation and defamatory material that it could not be redeemed by ‘cutting and pasting’.  It is singularly without merit and should be removed from publication”. 

It has been suggested to DVA that guidelines should be developed to set out what constitutes acceptable material for publication; the idea being that if a user of the Archive came across something which contravenes these guidelines, then it could be brought to DVA’s attention.  The Department have stated that this is not possible, as it might inhibit an interviewee’s freedom of speech.  In effect, the DVA are saying that the publication of false, misleading and defamatory material is acceptable and that the ‘disclaimer’ attached to interviews, absolves the Government of any responsibility in these matters.  As a Minister looking at this matter ‘afresh’, your further consideration of this suggestion is requested.

I should also point out that the attachments below [statements providing evidence refuting the claims made] were made available to DVA, with a draft of this letter, almost three months ago.  (This followed three months correspondence with the Department prior to that.)  It was hoped that the matter might be able to be addressed without the need for publicity which could damage the credibility of the Australians at War Film Archive as a whole.  It appears, however, that resolution in this way is not possible.  Quick attention on the part of your Office would be appreciated, so that the time limitations for appeal to the Commonwealth Ombudsman will not be exceeded (should this course have to be adopted).

Yours sincerely ….

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14 November 2020

The Tank Today and in the Future

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The significance of the following article ‘Fighting to Win – The importance of the tank to the ADF in the 21st Century” by Brigadier Chris Mills and Lieutenant Colonel Leo Purdy on 12 September 2018, has been discussed previously on the Blog.  It was republished in Australian Defence Magazine soon after: https://www.australiandefence.com.au/land/fighting-to-win-the-importance-of-the-tank-to-the-adf-in-the-21st-century

The following are some of the comments ADM readers made:

“If the M1 tank is to have credible role in future warfare, they should have an active protection system made standard.  I have seen videos on how easy it is these days to disable an M1 with a portable missile launcher.”

The US Army seems to recognise the benefit of APS.

I am not disagreeing that the M-1 should be fitted with APS but as with all Vehicles, Ships & Aircraft the best Defence is to kill the Launch Platform before it fires and that is the importance of combined Arms.

Only thing I would add to this excellent piece is that the loss of tanks in Iraq and Syria at the hands of ISIL (particularly Turkish Leopard 2 and Iraqi M1s) was due to poor doctrine with respect to the use of the tank, a complete absence of situational awareness, and a lack of infantry support. Tank opponents sometimes point to these losses as proof that tanks are no longer relevant but like anything, it comes down to how they are used.

A cynic like me would say that too much of the ADF equipment program is built on the maxim of ‘we have, therefore we replace’.  I think that the changes we are seeing now means that Plan Beersheba is already obsolete and the ADF could be well served by a good look at what we need and what are nice to have’s. I do not mean ANOTHER white paper!

To suggest we get rid of Tanks because we will struggle to land them on a Beach is absolute rubbish.

If the army really want to stay with the mbt concept but at a usable weight, something like the new Type 10 from Japan. It varies between 40t minimum to 48t with bolt on added modular armour. The reason Japan developed the Type 10 was because the previous Type 90 was too heavy to use in most of Japan.

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There are a number of points here which relate to previous Blog posts: the role of APS (especially re top attack); the weight of the Abrams and the need for a lighter direct fire weapons system to facilitate its deployability in the future; and the need to structure our operational units in such a way that direct fire support can be provided in a deployable ‘all arms’ context.

I believe the above to be the crucial issues, how they’re achieved is not really relevant.  There are numerous options as far as mobility/power are concerned (eg. hovercraft/hydrogen fuel cell); as there are for firepower (eg. rail gun).  The crux of the design challenge is to decrease the weight, while increasing the protection.

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13 November 2020

Half Cocked at the Keyboard.

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Image: AWM

The following article was published on 11 November 2020: ‘Armistice Day: Old Bones, Young Soldiers, Long Wars’. https://johnmenadue.com/armistice-day-old-bones-young-soldiers-long-wars/

This is the sort of thing that I scan out of interest.  Suddenly, my hair stood on end: the author was stating that Australian soldiers had no moral courage.  This was just too much, a ‘cheap shot’; on Remembrance Day of all times. My response was going to be very forceful.  I found a good quote re moral courage by Michael Josephson.

 “But there’s another form of courage [to physical courage] that’s just as important; it’s called moral courage. It’s the kind of courage C. S. Lewis referred to when he said, “courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” The testing point is the place where living our lives according to moral principles may require us to put our comfort, possessions, relationships, and careers at risk.

For most of us, the need for physical courage is rare. But our moral courage is tested almost every day. Being honest at the risk of disapproval, lost income or a maimed career; being accountable when owning up to a mistake can get us in trouble, making tough decisions and demands with our kids at the cost of their affection, being fair when we have the power to be otherwise, and following the rules while others get away with whatever they can – these things take moral courage, the inner strength to do what’s right even when it costs more than we want to pay.

The sad fact is that people with moral courage rarely get medals. Instead, they risk ridicule, rejection and retaliation. Yet this sort of courage is the best marker of true character and a life your children can be proud of.”

How dare anyone accuse Australian soldiers of lacking moral courage!  My head of steam was just building up when I noticed something in the article.

The comment I sent to the author explains:

“Douglas, Thank you for your piece.  The following might give you a laugh.  I almost made myself look a fool (some will say not for the first time).  Instead of correctly reading “… if the moral courage of the governments equalled the immortal military courage of their soldiers.’ True then; true now”; I read: ‘if the moral courage of the governments equalled the immoral military courage of their soldiers.’ True then; true now.”

I got part way through an earnest response, when I realised my mistake …”.

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12 November 2020

How We Lose Sight of How Things Were.

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A Dutch Army Centurion Mk5/2 with its driver’s hood protection which is used in cold climate condition, mostly during training drill in winter.

The image above was part of a post on the Centurion Tank Appreciation Society’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/134672933274865

[This is a great site; run here in Australia by Adrian Clayton, a dedicated Centurion owner and enthusiast.]

Some of the comments were:

“The most useless bit of kit ever. Used to mist up, leak like a sieve, obstruct side vision, and as Lawson says, very claustrophobic. Oh, and it limited the turret traverse or got wiped out by it.”

“they were a part of CES, but were never issued (sat unused in Troop Stores, under the grotty cam nets).”

My post in response was:

“I think the name is ‘Drivers’ Long March Hood’. I guess the tank designers appreciated that in action drivers would be closed down, but there might be occasions in which they could be faced with a long approach ‘march’ to the battlefront. If this was in inclement conditions, the health and welfare of the driver might become important (not that it wasn’t on all other occasions). I’m constantly amazed at how much thought those responsible at the time, put into every nook and cranny of the design. I know I found the grenade holders in the turret useful in Vietnam (though I would not have anticipated this beforehand).”

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11 November 2020

HAWKEI for RAAC ARES

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Following on from 4 November, the following was the response from Major Thomas Basan to my comments:

Image: Motoring

Bruce, that’s a great question about the provision of HAWKEI to the reserves. I’ve served as BM 13 Bde and so have a good understanding of your concern. I think ARES RAAC are prime candidates for ‘fighting’ versions of HAWKEI.

I think we must couple HAWKEI with BUSHMASTER and to a lesser degree the armoured trucks to create a combat system. Together the vehicles can easily cope with domestic security, rear area security and stability tasks, which are the core tasks that shape the ADF. However, I’m of a view that everything must be driven by operational plans.

Up to now, we’ve been guided by what are essentially ‘good ideas’, ‘parochial views’ and ‘what we’ve got’; not what we need. As the ADF shifts to a more integrated force and the ‘drums of war’ grow louder I think you’ll see more modern equipment provided to the reserves. However, without solid operational plans it’s difficult to use logic and reason to inform capability choices and to ‘train as we’ll fight’.

If you read my training article, at https://cove.army.gov.au/article/new-approach-collective-training-lessons-drawn-sport-and-music you’ll get an idea of how ‘mission profiles’ can help to define what you need.”

I read the training article above (a very long one) and responded to the above as follows:

Thomas, I read your training article above and noted that in the Conclusion you stated: “Significantly, collective training is not an end in itself, but a means of meeting the needs of an operational plan…”.  It seems to me that this is self-obvious.  What is more relevant is that there appears to be a need to improve the direction and guidance being provided from top-down which links operational (contingency) plans and training objectives at unit level.  There does not have to be an existing direct threat to train and prepare for participation in a contingency plan.  Certain skills, such as armoured reconnaissance, are relevant to many contingencies and are unable to be developed at short notice.

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10 November 2020

The Future Battleground: Autonomous Vehicles

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Image: sadefence.com

Following on from 8 Nov 20 …. the link to the article below relates to the replacement of the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance helicopter:https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-eye-of-the-tiger-is-the-australian-army-preparing-for-the-right-conflict/embed/#?secret=ma5jp8WaMF

As mentioned in the earlier post, the UAV is set to play a major part on the future battlefield.

Previous posts have looked at how the weight of a future direct fire support vehicle can be reduced.  This is achievable using vehicle design and active protection systems (APSs) from the ground threat, but how feasible is it in terms of top attack?  It would seem that this is the crucial ‘next step’, as regards the battleground of the future, ie. to protect the AFV from attack by multiple low-cost UAVs

An extract from the above article is copied below:

“What’s most important is that the decision should reflect a land-warfare vision that includes large-scale use of armed autonomous systems in the air and on land. Adversaries will be taking advantage of the military power of such systems to complement—or even replace—crewed systems, and if our own defence organisation doesn’t, Australia will be at a disadvantage.

Such a system will demand investment in battlespace command and control that is resistant to countermeasures such as electronic warfare, cyberattack and kinetic attack. Such a capability needs to embrace the ‘small, cheap and many’ approach of ‘command clouds’ operating in the air, over land and even from space, using low-cost, small and easily deployable components. Very high altitude, long-endurance UAVs operating in near space can complement locally developed and launched small satellites and constellations of smart cubesats to provide tactical communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to swarms of lethal autonomous weapons. In such a scenario, an attack helicopter would hang back, managing the swarms via the command cloud, and avoid needlessly putting itself at risk over what will be an intensely contested battlespace.

Factoring in the role of autonomous systems is crucial to thinking about the future of army capability …”.

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9 November 2020

Cavalry Memorial (Tongala) Beersheba Day Ceremony 2020

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Image: VWMA

The following video is worthwhile watching:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/15ofN3IEjlDLPEo3zQAQwPHMPJ0dEUBqV/view?usp=sharing

Full credit to the 3 Cav (Vietnam) Assn for taking the initiative, applying for a DVA grant, and working with the Tongala community to create this Memorial.   Congratulations to them for maintaining contact and developing such dedication, commitment, and support on the part of all those involved across all ages.  The red and yellow roses look fantastic!

More background is provided here:

https://vwma.org.au/explore/memorials/2020

http://placesofpride.awm.gov.au/memorials/249941

http://centurion-mbt.tripod.com/cent-mbt10.htm

I was one of those who attended the opening of the Avenue of Honour to Armoured servicemen killed in the Vietnam War.  (Background to this below.)  Well done to the 3 Cav Assn to taking the concept further.  It’s sad that the 1AR Assn did not do likewise.  The late John Whitehorn would have been pleased if an Armoured Corps Memorial was to have resulted.

For 1AR Assn C’tee: a story about John Whitehorn (see below) and his commitment to 1 Armd Regt would be great to see in a future addition of ‘Paratus’.

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From RAACA (NSW) Armour newsletter 2006:                                                 

“Tongala Project – Avenue of Honour Centurion Tank”

REPORT THIS AD

‘In 2001 the Australian Light Horse/Armoured Memorial Committee was formed with a total of 4 people to build a Australian Light Horse memorial to honour the Lighthorsemen from the district that went off to war. In 2003 the Light Horse Memorial was built and dedicated.

After this dedication the committee agreed on building Avenue of Honour to the Armoured Servicemen killed in the Vietnam War.  This Avenue was unveiled in November 2004, by the Governor General of Australia, and the Chief of the Australian Army. Over 4000 people attended this event.

While the Avenue of Honour was in planning stages, John Whitehorn ex 1 Armoured Regiment soldier approached the committee on the idea of having a Centurion Tank placed in Tongala to be dedicated to his two mates, Jimmy Kerr and Mick Hannaford and to all those who served with the Centurion tanks.  John at that present time had throat cancer which was progressing, John knew he wouldn’t be around for the dedication (John passed away in June 2005) but did agree to leave funds aside for the project.

It was also John’s wish to have both Armoured and Cavalry represented together in the Avenue of Honour. The committee at present time is in the planning stages for the event with the unveiling set aside for November 2008. At present ARN 169120 Centurion Tank has been purchased by Michael Thompson and is in Tongala. Michael has put in $15,000 of his own money to purchase and transport it to Tongala.’

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8 November 2020

The Future of the Battlefield and its AFVs

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Image: ADM

The following article is from the ASPI publication ‘The Strategist’

ttps://www.aspistrategist.org.au/cheap-drones-versus-expensive-tanks-a-battlefield-game-changer/

The article included a link to the recent use of armed drones:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU9AeU-gAP8&feature=youtu.be

In my view, this footage has to be one of the most profound influences on the future battlefield.

“[It] has generated debate on whether expensive and technologically sophisticated armored vehicles can survive in future battles against masses of cheap ‘suicide drones’. Is the tank, which first emerged on the battlefields of the Western Front in 1917, now approaching the twilight years of its military utility?”

“With Australia’s purchase of new armoured vehicles under the LAND 400 program underway, the likelihood of large numbers of low-cost drones operating over the future battlespace should be a concern for defence planners.

The article also updated the costs re LAND 400 Phase 3:

In Phase 2 of LAND 400, the Defence Department is acquiring 211 Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles to replace the army’s light armoured vehicles (the ASLAVs). In Phase 3, it will buy 450 infantry fighting vehicles and up to 17 manoeuvre support vehicles to replace the obsolete M113 armoured personnel carriers.

South Korea’s Hanwha Defense Australia’s AS-21 ‘Redback’ and Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s ‘Lynx’ are competing in Phase 3. A decision is due by 2022. The budget range is now $18.1 billion to $27.1 billion for 450 vehicles, or about $50 million each.

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7 November 2020

RAAC Matters: Free and Open Discussion

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One of the goals at Part 7 (above) is:

No-one on RAAC or related personal social media would use personal insults, derogatory language, or intimidation, in an attempt to stifle free and open discussion.

Following on from 5 November 2020, in which I queried the current order of seniority of RAAC regiments, the comments below (albeit only a very few of the 73 made) have appeared on the RAAC Facebook page:

Rob Vonk

Oh what a can of   worms, are we going to suffer casualties from all this crap, all black hats so as long as we can look back at our forebears and remain proud, if you ain’t a black hat you ain’t pardon the pun.

Bruce just let go!!!! It doesn’t matter any more, we are now a CORP that works in a Combat TEAM. Doesn’t matter who what where or with we are BLACK HATS and proudly do our job regardless of our unit origins.

How much shit will my last post attract???

I didn’t know Rob Vonk, but it appears that he was an RAAC WO in recent years.  His ‘profile’ is at: https://au.linkedin.com/in/rob-vonk-206a9933  I responded:

I’m not sure if this post in response to yours above is classed in your terms as “shit” or not, but can you explain what opposition you have to the history and contribution of our RAAC forebears being clearly defined?

That led to the following:

none whatsoever but why dwell on ancient history as we as a Corp have to move forward to develop our fighting skill in a new way of conducting warfare. I am proud of my past units history, 1AR, 2Cav, 4Cav, 3/4Cav, 1/15 RNSWL, SOA, 1 Topo Svy Sqn, 6ESR to name a few, forgot OBG4 all served as a Black Hat.

Also from Craig Cook 

I am a bit lost that today’s Army choose an accepted order of its choosing and because our former members don’t accept it, they demand the current keepers accept what former members think is correct or want.

Fact is … I’m NOT demanding anything.  I’m simply asking if the change to the order of seniority was something which was forgotten when 2/14 QMI became an ARA unit.

Question is … does it matter if the order of seniority of RAAC regiments is correct or not? 

If it doesn’t, where does this lead?

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6 November 2020

RAAC Operational History: One Mystery Solved

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The photo above has created lots of interest.  I came across by accident among those I’d been sent for my book and posted it on the 3 Cav Vietnam Assn website … just for info.

The photo below was then posted.

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Incredibly, no detail was available about the incident in which it was penetrated by the RPG (nor what happened to the crew). The Assn is very motivated regarding matters associated with their history, however, and many members contributed.

It turns out that the APC was one of those hit by RPGs in Baria during the Tet Offensive.  Amazingly, it seems to have been repaired and returned to operations in just 10 days.   How was this done?

I’m aware of the techniques used to weld ‘plug’ RPG holes in Centurion turrets, but what about aluminium armour.  Is it possible that a panel could have been cut out and replaced? How long would it take to do this?

I’ve asked the Bluebells. 

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5 November 2020

Seniority of RAAC Units

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Following on from 29 October 2020 …

I had to write to the Minister to get both the dates on the Vietnam Theatre Honour on the 1 Armd Regt Standard corrected and the Coral-Balmoral Battle Honour emblazoned.  It appears that I’ll have to do the same re the seniority listing of RAAC units.

The seniority of RAAC units is currently listed as:

1st Armoured Regiment 

2nd Cavalry Regiment 

1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers

2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (QMI)

4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment 

12th/16th Hunter River Lancers

B Sqn 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment 

A Sqn 3rd/9th South Australian Mounted Rifles

A Sqn 10th Light Horse Regiment 

I believe this is wrong as 2/14 LHR (QMI) has transitioned from being an ARES unit to an ARA unit.

The importance of this is that ARA units should take precedence before ARES units.  The following refers (thanks to Bruce Scott): Australian Military Regulations, Part 3, Para 68 (2) of 2007:

“Units of the Army take precedence as follows:

(a) the units of the Permanent Forces have precedence over the units of the Reserves;

(b) the units have precedence according to the order of their numerical succession;

(c) if units are not included in a numerical succession, the units have precedence according to the order in which the Commands to which they belong are specified in the instrument appointing Commands.”

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2007C00747

The Corps RSM states that what is stipulated is what it is and the President of the 2/14 LHR (QMI) states they receive advice from those serving.  Discussion on the RAAC Facebook has revealed the basis of seniority above, but is unlikely to lead to any change. 

When I was trying to correct the error re the dates that 1 Armd Regt served in Vietnam on the Standard (I declare a vested interest, my tank troop was the last to serve on operations), it seemed to me that nobody wanted to cause a ‘fuss’, ie. they would not be looked on well if they were to do so (even if the historical facts were without doubt).

Why do we not place importance on historical accuracy?  What if the Life Guards’ Queen’s Cavalry Standard showed the wrong dates for Waterloo?  There would be outrage, and justly so.  (I mentioned this in my submission to the Minister.)  But not here in Australia … we don’t want to cause a ‘fuss’. 

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4 November 2020

RAAC ARES: Mounted Capability/Tactics Development

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The following article by Major Thomas Basan (see bel;ow), is on The Cove (Army’s PME website): HAWKEI IS COMING, WHAT CAN WE DO WITH IT?’ https://cove.army.gov.au/article/hawkei-coming-what-can-we-do-it

My response was:

“Well written Thomas … a very comprehensive analysis of capability and technology!

I have only one comment, intended to add value, not detract in any way from what you’ve said.

One of the roles, as you’ve said, that the Hawkei was developed for was reconnaissance.  You’ve pointed out that it is not suited for combat reconnaissance unless “sensor and targeting pods are fitted to an armed and jammer protected Hawkei”.  In which case “it would be a significant combat multiplier”.

You’ve further pointed out that “if the capability manager (Chief of Army) exploits the protection and mobility of Hawkei, coupled with the offensive use of the weapons on a RWS; we can create a light armoured fighting vehicle”.

The importance of battlefield reconnaissance is demonstrated with two reconnaissance squadrons in each armoured cavalry regiment and the commitment to the combat reconnaissance vehicle project (LAND 400 Phase 2).

Unfortunately, the Boxer has been deemed too expensive and sophisticated for allocation to RAAC ARES units.  As a consequence, they have been condemned to a dismounted cavalry scout role.

Successful reconnaissance depends as much on tactics skills, as it does on the capability of the vehicles/aircraft/UAVs involved.  These skills take ‘eons’ to perfect.  What great benefit could be obtained by allocating Hawkei to RAAC ARES units; to allow reconnaissance tactics to be developed.  Without any such initiative, the ARES will be unable to provide any ‘surge’ capacity for reconnaissance squadrons in time of Defence emergency.”

Major Thomas BASAN enlisted in January 1980. As a soldier and NCO, MAJ BASAN served in 2/4 RAR and SASR. On commissioning, MAJ BASAN commanded paratroopers in 3 RAR at platoon, specialist platoon and company. MAJ BASAN is a graduate of ACSC and ATSOC and has a master’s in systems engineering. In later years, MAJ BASAN served in Future Land Warfare, AHQ; Land Development Branch and the Australian Defence Test and Evaluation Organisation, CDG; Brigade Major, 13 Brigade and Preparedness, AHQ. He is currently employed within Land Capability Development, AHQ.

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3 November 2020

1AR Assn Newsletter: RAAC Communications

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The last edition of ‘Paratus’ can be found here: 

In it, the editor, Peter Lukeis, stated that:

“This edition of the Newsletter (No. 85) now named ‘Paratus’ will be number 16 for me or (4 years) along with the upkeep of our Website, as well as setting standards for Communications, which includes badging, letter heads, certificates, presentations etc., but it is now time for me to move on and hand over to the new broom, hopefully next generation.”

Being responsible for the production and publication of sixteen editions is an enormous contribution to the Association and its members.  I wonder how the Assn will acknowledge his commitment to this end?

The notice of departure from the position (above) was in the May 2020 edition.  Presumably no-one has been found to replace him, as August and November editions have not been published. 

One has to wonder about the importance that organisations today place on their public image.

As mentioned in a recent Blog post, the information provided by Defence re the RAAC is woefully out of date and totally misleading for anyone searching for relevant info.

The same seems to apply to public Facebook pages, both at Brigade and unit level.  It seems that all ‘current’ info is confined to private Facebook pages. 

Why was there no public recognition afforded to the significance of Beersheba Day?  Will Cambrai Day simply go unnoticed?

This to me, is a travesty.  At a time when there is the greatest need to debate Defence policy and preparedness, public media outlets seem to be collapsing.  I used to work in marketing … I know what I’d do.  But who would listen to me?

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2 November 2020

What’s to Become of the AWM Redevelopment? II

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Following yesterday’s Blog, the following comment was made in relation to what I had said:

“Hi Bruce – it’s not an either/or argument – we can have both – a magnificent site (which as you say is much more than the iconic building) and an expansion to enable expanded galleries. But it must be done properly and not put at risk the core commemorative strengths of the place – the iconic building and site. I know this can be done.

With regard to your question on how do you define heritage value – I realise you allude to this as being something esoteric, and perhaps suggest heritage means nothing should change – this is not the case – the National Heritage List and the AWM’s own Heritage Management Plan, Heritage Strategy and Heritage Register all describe the significant and irreplaceable attributes of the site – you can find all these key documents online – they were all done to ensure we recognise and retain what is so special about the place and to guide future development. They are well thought out documents – which consider the full range of issues associated with the place – developed with input from not only heritage professionals, but key stakeholders like you (and me) – they are worth a look.”

My response was as follows:

“Hi Stewart, The AWM Heritage Management Plan (HMP) is very comprehensive.  Presumably a listing has been compiled showing where the proposed redevelopment does not accord with the Plan’s recommendations.  It would be a pity for such a rationale to be lost sight of, because of ‘other’ issues.  For example, the extent or otherwise of public support.  If I wished, I could lobby veterans and have a petition signed in support of the project.  But all this is ‘smoke and mirrors’. 

Seems to me that the following provision of the HMP is the central issue (which is why images were included in the article above):

“Ensure that the ability to perceive the AWM main building ‘in the round’ within its landscape setting is not comprised by any new surrounding development or impact on significant views to the building”. 

The image of the current proposal would suggest an impact on a significant view of the building.  The HMP allows such variations if there is no alternative.  But the real issue would seem to be whether or not the impact is an adverse one.  The HMP is silent on this aspect and seems to seek to enshrine all significant views in perpetuity. Surely this was not the intent?”

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1 November 2020

What’s to Become of the AWM Redevelopment?

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The following article is relevant: http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/mcilroy-tom-former-veterans-minister-warns-of-war-memorial-heritage-risk/

My response was a follows:

“It is really no surprise that opposing positions have become so entrenched, the AWM being such an iconic institution.  I was almost going to say ‘iconic building’, but the AWM is much more than the its building … or is it?  My father was an army engineer involved in preparations for its opening on 11 November 1941.  There is no doubt that at that time, the focus was on the building itself and the human values that it represented in an architectural sense.  But the AWM has evolved. 

It is no longer ‘just’ a Memorial.  Visitors leave with a much greater understanding of the conflicts in which Australians have been involved, than if they were only to reflect on the sacrifices made while they were in the Hall of Memory.

Understanding of conflicts is important if we are to learn from them.  This is why it is no surprise that many of us argue for the AWM to provide a canvas for the Frontier Wars and the bravery of indigenous Australians in defending their people and land.

What are the main arguments?  There are two: (i) the money for the redevelopment could be put to better use in other ways; and (ii) the planned redevelopment will jeopardise the heritage value of the AWM.

Opportunity cost will always be an issue with any new project.  What is the best use of the money?  Everyone’s answer will depend on their personal values. Being a democracy, however, we’re ‘burdened’ with the fact that everyone has the right to express their views.  It is a matter for our elected Government to adjudicate.

Heritage value?  How do you define this?  Are we referring to the vista or ‘ambience’ created by the building, the building itself, or all three?  If the original building is not to be changed, then ‘heritage’ must relate to ambience and/or vista.

It would help the case of those arguing against the redevelopment, to explain their opposition in these terms.”

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31 October 2020

The Future for the Tank: Is Now the Time for the Funeral?

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The following article suggests that the ‘spirit’ of tank crews will live on: ‘Semper Tanks’: Marines hold on to tanker spirit as 100-year legacy ends

https://www.stripes.com/semper-tanks-marines-hold-on-to-tanker-spirit-as-100-year-legacy-ends-1.650085

Several quotes have been copied below.

It’s interesting that these underscore previous posts about the future of the tank, ie. the availability of protected direct fire support is vital and a lighter more agile force is needed.

The question is: how to achieve these opposing goals?  

A veteran of the Iraq war who spent over six months fighting in Fallujah, he said “tanks were an absolute necessity” there during Operation Phantom Fury and subsequent operations. Many Marine infantrymen would not have made it home without them, he and others say.

“When you need a tank, nothing else will suffice,” Valasek said. “I don’t know what direct fire asset is going to replace [tanks].”

The commandant envisions a lighter, more agile Marine Corps, largely designed to counter China, and has said the Army would continue to provide tanks and other heavy ground systems.

“I really fear the day that a future Marine finds himself in a bind and looks around because he needs a tank and there isn’t one there to help him,” he said.

Marines have voiced what Valasek calls “tanker optimism” that the service may one day backtrack — and that it’ll need Marines like them again when it does.

“Just because our equipment’s going away, our brotherhood’s not. It will never die,”

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30 October 2020

‘Formulating Defence Strategy’ II

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Image: ASPI

Following on from 28 Oct 21:

“The Minister’s commitment to the existing and planned force structure suggests the government has failed to recognise this critical point. Indeed, one of the more incongruous elements in its wafer thin Force Structure Plan was an upgrade to the Army’s 60-tonne main battle tanks, a like-for-like replacement whose strategic purpose was always in doubt – at least until one Prime Minister proposed that they spearhead an Australian invasion of Ukraine.” https://johnmenadue.com/part-2-australias-defence-strategy-built-in-resistance-to-change/

My response was:

“Please … in the interest of honest public commentary, explain the basis for the following statements:

(i)  Plans for an upgrade to the Abrams tanks which involve a like-for-like replacement;

(ii)  The fact that the strategic purpose of the Abrams tanks “was always in doubt”; and

(iii) Proposals that Abrams tanks spearhead an Australian invasion of Ukraine.

Unless you do so, the entire credibility of Part 2 (and the article as a whole) is called into question.”

Another comment was made by Cameron Leckie (bionote below):

Yesterday’s article suggested that “Australia faces the greatest threat to our independence since 1942.” Today’s article states that “the military threat to Australia is now greater than at any time since 1942.” It is concerning how the language is changed/twisted without actually explaining what the threat is.

What is the threat to our independence? What sort of military threat do we face? Is it a long range missile threat, conflict in the South China Sea, an invasion of Australia? These general ‘threats’ seem to be used as a tool to generate fear rather than an analytical assessment of the actual threat that China poses to Australia.

The military defines a threat as a capability plus intent. [My emphasis] Clearly China has, and increasingly so, the capability to militarily threaten Australia. It seems far from clear however that China has the intent to harm Australia, other than if we involve ourselves in actions that are seen by China to harm its national interest. Yesterday’s article listed a whole bunch of examples of ‘Chinese aggression,’ most of which were no threat at all to Australia.

China’s rise to the world’s largest/second largest economy has occurred without recourse to military conflict. This is not surprising from the home of Sun Tzu. Why, when it is clear that China is or will soon become the world’s largest economy, would it resort to military conflict now? That seems illogical.

Is the China threat actually just a case of projection?

Cameron Leckie served 24 years in the Australian Army retiring with the rank of Major. As member of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals he served in a number of regimental and training appointments, concluding his service as the Executive Officer of the 1st Signal Regiment. He deployed to East Timor (Operation WARDEN), the Solomon Islands (Operation ANODE) and Sumatra (Operation SUMATRA ASSIST). He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Southern Queensland.

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29 October 2020

The RAAC, as Portrayed by ‘Official’ Public Sources.

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Just imagine that you (or someone you knew) had heard about the RAAC and were interested in finding out more … possibly with an interest in enlisting.  You go onto “Google’ and enter RAAC.  The info copied below is what the Defence website tells you.  ‘Why oh why’ can’t Defence update their websites?  We all know that tank regiments and cavalry regiments no longer exist. 

But what about the seniority of RAAC units … it is my understanding that ARA units take precedence before ARES units.  It might be that regiments come before squadrons (which would explain the position of B Sqn 3/4 Cav Regt) … but why isn’t 2/14 LH Regt (QMI) listed after 2 Cav Regt?  Some years ago, I pointed out to DPR that their published info was out of date.  I was assured that it would be corrected. I’ve copied this to the Corps RSM.

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Royal Australian Armoured Corps

The role of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps is to locate, identify, destroy or capture the enemy, by day or night, in combination with other arms, using fire and manoeuvre.

The Royal Australian Armoured Corps (RAAC) is a combat arm with a range of capabilities that can be employed by the Army. RAAC units are able to participate in a range of operations including direct attack, reconnaissance and armoured mobility to infantry. Units of the RAAC are equipped with the Abrams M1A1 main battle tank (MBT) family of vehicles or the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) and Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle (PMV). 

The main types of Armoured Corps units are: 

The tank regiment – The tank regiment operates the Abrams main battle tank. The Regiment’s manning and equipment make it suitable for a variety of employments. The role of the tank, in coordination with other arms, is to close with and destroy the enemy using fire, manoeuvre and shock action. 

The cavalry regiments – The cavalry regiments operate the ASLAV and Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle. A cavalry unit’s personnel and equipment enable it to conduct a variety of tasks. The role of cavalry is to locate, dislocate, and disrupt the enemy through the conduct of offensive, defensive and security actions. 

The light cavalry regiments – The light cavalry regiments/units are Army Reserve units that can operate either in a mounted or dismounted role. The units are equipped with either the light cavalry patrol vehicle (LCPV) and the interim infantry mobility vehicle (IIMV) or the Bushmaster (PMV). Light cavalry conducts stability and enabling activities and augments cavalry regiments. Light cavalry tactics comprise security, stability and enabling activities including the operations of protection, counter-insurgency, evacuation and strategic response options and RFSU operations.

Within the Royal Australian Armoured Corps the following is the accepted order of precedence of regiments:

  • 1st Armoured Regiment 
  • 2nd Cavalry Regiment 
  • 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers 
  • 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) 
  • 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment 
  • 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers 
  • ‘B’ Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment 
  • ‘A’ Squadron, 3rd/9th Light Horse (South Australian Mounted Rifles) 
  • ‘A’ Squadron, 10th Light Horse

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28 October 2020

Formulating Defence Strategy

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The article ‘Sharp-edged but sophisticated diplomacy needs to underpin our defence strategy Part 1’ by Jon Stanford (below) can be found here: https://johnmenadue.com/sharp-edged-but-sophisticated-diplomacy-needs-to-underpin-our-defence-strategy-part-1/

My response is copied below:

“The government’s recent Defence Strategic Update suggests Australia faces the greatest threat to our independence since 1942. This demands a sophisticated diplomatic strategy, the development of a sound military strategy to deter an attack by a great power and careful analysis of how to design the right force structure to deliver it. This first article of three looks at the issues around diplomacy.”

At last!  The logical sequence of consideration has been ‘nailed’ in public commentary.  We start with the threat analysis.  This, in turn, provides an assessment of the warning times available.   Diplomatic and military strategy are developed in parallel.  Finally, the development of the relevant force structure, incorporating the assessment of lead times for the acquisition of equipment and training of personnel.  The end result of all this, is a determination of the level of preparedness needed by standing and reserve force components, the levels of stockpiling needed, and the development of contingency plans.

Why this is so difficult to understand is beyond me.  We have commentators criticising decisions regarding equipment, without any reference to the threat assessment which led to the force structure decision(s). I saw one influential person recently state that preparedness has to come first and strategy follows.  How can this be?  The threat is assessed, the strategy developed and the level of preparedness adjusted accordingly.  This is a continual process; not one confined to the publication of Defence White Papers.”

In a former life, Jon Stanford was a Division Head in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Currently, as a Director of Insight Economics, he is undertaking significant research on Australia’s future submarine project, generously supported by Gary Johnston, owner of the Submarines for Australia website.

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27 October 2020

Operation Overlord: 50th Commemoration

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Image: AWM

I have been invited to attend an initial planning meeting for the 50th Anniversary National Commemoration of Operation Overlord (the Battle of Long Khanh).

My response to DVA is copied below:

“Many thanks for your email.  I can confirm that I will attend.  I will be accompanied by Lt Col John Scales (Retd).  John was the 2IC C Sqn during Operation Overlord.  As the Sqn OC is deceased, John will be the senior representative of the tank squadron at the National Commemoration.

I have organised a dinner on the evening of 6 June for members of C Sqn, 1 Armd Regt and supporting units who served together during 1971.  So far, we have bookings for over 80 attendees and I expect at least 100.  Apart from the dinner, the ‘itinerary’ for the preceding day will include the Vietnam Requiem at the School of Music and the Last Post Ceremony at the AWM.

In relation to the dinner and Last Post Ceremony, I would like to apply for DVA grant funding (as per the entitlement below) to cover the cost of printing menus and name tags ($200) as well as wreaths ($300). I am not a member of an incorporated association, however.  Is it possible for a grant application to be made in conjunction with the National Commemoration arrangements?  (I believe, Tony Cox, the 3RAR organiser would like to make a similar application.)

On another matter, when my tank troop assaulted the enemy position during the Battle of Long Khanh, it comprised three tanks and an armoured recovery vehicle.  The ARV was crewed by RAEME personnel.  We were without infantry support and when contact was made with the enemy, our drill was to form a square and engage our respective arcs of responsibility.  The RAEME crew had exactly the same responsibilities as the tank crews.  It is acknowledged that RAEME members were part of the units to which they were attached, nevertheless, I wonder if it might be possible to ‘officially’ acknowledge RAEME participation in the Battle of Long Khanh (ie. in terms of overcoming the enemy, rather than ‘just’ providing repair support)?  Could the HOC RAEME have advice to offer here?

Finally, I’ve attached a PDF copy of Volume 2 of my book: https://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/books/canister-on-fire-australian-tank-operations-in-vietnam/   Chapter 28 describes Operation Overlord.  I’d be happy if DVA wished to make use of any material.  I can provide the maps/photos in high resolution TIF format.  (I’ve got them on a cd.)”

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26 October 2020

The AWM Redevelopment

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A letter to the PM signed by 70 ‘prominent’ Australians is published here:https://honesthistory.net.au/wp/stop-this-mad-indulgent-498m-project-at-the-war-memorial-open-letter-to-the-prime-minister-signed-by-over-70-australians/embed/#?secret=ykC49lfjse

My response is copied below:

“Those who signed the petition are undoubtedly ‘prominent Australians’.  How many had actually faced the enemy, however?  Only one … Mr Gower. His book, ‘Rounds Complete’ details his role as an arty forward observer and is worth reading in this respect. Maybe his signature should have influence, maybe not.  So how is it that 69 people who have not put their lives on the line for their country, consider that they have the right to dictate the manner in which the AWM depicts the history of those who have served their nation in War?

Of course, many of the signatories could be aware of the feelings of forebears, ie family members who have served their nation in War.

On what basis does the AWM credit the importance of the petition?  If it is only on self-professed ‘prominence’ … does it have any credence? What if another petition was to be organised seeking the views of those who have been prepared to give their lives on behalf of their nation.

If media and publicity is to be used to influence Government decisions re the commemorations of our nation’s history, is it too much to ask that the views of those who were actually involved in creating the history … be requested.”

Another comment was published as below:

Dear Bruce
With respect, as one who signed the petition, and, like most Australians, has strong family connections to war, this is about protecting that extraordinary site and building which does so much for commemoration. We all have a responsibility for that place. As the letter said “The Memorial must be supported to achieve its core functions, but this should (and can) occur without damage to its core commemorative strength – the iconic heritage building and site”.

My Response:  “It is to be expected that there will always be a range of differing viewpoints associated with a project like this. I’m not arguing against the position expressed in the letter, just trying to relate it to ‘due process’, ie. one in which the Prime Minister’s counsel acknowledges the importance of all stakeholders, even the ‘unprominent’.  

The response to this …

Thanks Bruce
I agree. We are all stakeholders in what happens at that place. In the 20 years I worked there I never saw anything like the controversy this project has caused. That is such a shame. It should never have gone that way. The process and design is so flawed. I only wish the much referenced veterans (and others), especially the ones who understand the extraordinary tangible and intangible qualities of the site, and know what we risk losing through this development, were more vocal.

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25 October 2020

RAAC Corporation: 3/4 Cav Regts Assn

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The Blog on 22 October included the following:

“The RAACA NSW simply said ‘No’ … no reason given by the President.  Seems to me that my efforts to hold the RAAC Corporation to account, have once again been a factor.  If I was to press for an explanation, I wouldn’t be surprised if the President’s response was simply it’s political”. This was the reason given by the 3/4 Cav Regts Assn for withdrawing my membership.”

I’ve been asked what happened re the 3/4 Cav Assn.  There is a long story, one which has been detailed in earlier Blog posts.  The following is a short version.

1st Armd Regt was awarded three battlehonours for Vietnam, but were only permitted to emblazon two on the Standard.  I had hoped that the RAAC Corporation might advocate in support of a submission that I had prepared to have the Coral-Balmoral battlehonour emblazoned.  The Chairman said that he wasn’t interested, so I wrote to the Minister myself.

The Minister responded to say that a review had been conducted and the restriction no longer applied.  (I had also asked that an error on the Standard be corrected and this was also approved.)

The new regulations meant that all the battlehonours awarded to 3 Cav Regt would now be able to be emblazoned on their Guidon.  I suggested on the 3/4 Cav Regts Facebook page that the Assn might like to advise the OC, B Sqn 3/4 Cav Regt (at the SOA) of this, so that the history of the ‘new’ battlehonours could be made known in advance (possibly vide troop projects).

The RAAC Corporation Chairman considered that I had impinged on what were the responsibilities of the Corporation. 

He spoke with the President, 3/4 Cav Regts Assn … my post was deleted and my membership cancelled. 

When I asked why, I was advised that the President had said that “it was political”.

Note. The badge above was that of 3 Cav Regt. It is that which the RAAC Corporation links on its website with the 3 and 4 Cav Regts Assn. I assume that this is because it is the badge worn by B Sqn 3/4 Cav Regt.

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24 October 2020

RAAC ARES: RAAC Corporation

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The following post is on 1/15RNSWL Facebook page:

“Some great work from 1/15 RNSWL’s paired Armoured Cavalry Regiment (ACR) – 2/14 LHR (QMI) as they start driver training on the new Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV).  Discussions continue on the employment of Cavalry Scouts within a Boxer Troop.” https://www.facebook.com/115Lancers/

For one incredulous moment, I thought that 1/15th personnel were participating in the training on Boxer.

I quickly realised, however, that it was only 2/14th who were training and 1/15th were left wondering if they might be considered for even a dismounted cavalry scout role.  (Please Sir … can I have some more?)

The latest edition of the 1/15 RNSWL journal can be seen here: https://www.lancers.org.au/site/Lancers_Despatch_Aug_2020.php

How great it is to see the acknowledgement being given to their role during the pandemic.

However, as per this Blog’s previous post regarding the Minister’s press release on Reserve Forces Day … it’s one thing for community assistance to be respected, but what about the Reserve’s role in terms of defending our Nation?  If it has one …

As stated at Part 5 in the Intro above, one of Armouredadvocates’ goals is to ensure that:

All RAAC ARES units would be equipped with a suitable crew operated vehicle (such as Hawkei) and have roles which are in keeping with the conduct of mobile warfare.

How sad it is the RAAC Corporation has become what it is. 

There has to be a balance … one which can only be achieved by consensus.  On the one hand the Corporation needs to represent the interests of its member associations which align with the view of Defence; on the other, it needs to represent the interests of its member associations which do not align with the Defence view. 

Sadly, ‘official’ agreement for the formation of the Corporation was premised on the fact that it would not advocate with respect to the latter. (The driving force behind the creation of the Corporation passed away before this rule was enshrined. It would never have been allowed, otherwise.)

Makes one wonder about the motto: ‘In Unity is Strength’. It’s hard to imagine any circumstances in which the strength provided by mass support, would ever be needed … if the positions to be advocated are only those which are already approved!

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23 October 2020

RAAC Corporation

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‘PROPOSAL BY THE UK TO SCRAP ITS MAIN BATTLE TANKS?‘ By Kyle Mizokami September 2, 2020.  This article has been published in the RAACA NSW’s latest journal, ‘Armour’. https://raacansw.org.au/Documents/Newsletters/Armour_October_2020.pdf

Interestingly, it was first published in the UK Journal ‘Popular Mechanics’ and has simply been reprinted in ‘Armour’.  (I wonder why the original publication was not credited?)

Readers of the Blog will know the examination which has been given in this publication, to the future of the tank and its design. I wonder where the RAACA NSW C’tee will go to from here in terms of informing their members and encouraging discussion.   I would provide some draft pieces for consideration. That is, if I hadn’t recently resigned my membership. 

Why was this?  I asked if the Assn could forward an application for a DVA grant ($300, for a wreath and printing costs) associated with the National Commemoration for Operation Overlord next year.  C Sqn 1 Armd Regt and 3 Cav Regt will be holding a reunion for those involved.  The purpose of the expenditure is specifically provided for by DVA, but the application has to be made by an Incorporated Assn. 

The RAACA NSW simply said ‘No’ … no reason given by the President.  Seems to me that my efforts to hold the RAAC Corporation to account, have once again been a factor.  If I was to press for an explanation, I wouldn’t be surprised if the President’s response was simply “it’s political”. This was the reason given by the 3/4 Cav Regts Assn for withdrawing my membership.

There will be many things which will become clear when my story is published.

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice, lying and greed.  If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the Earth.”  William Faulkner, 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature.

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22 October 2020

The Tank of the Future: Protected, but Lighter

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Image: Defence Update.com

There is wide agreement that a direct fire weapons system is required, but it must be lighter than current MBTs.  One way of achieving this is to reduce the size of the crew and place them in the hull, with an auto-loaded weapons system above.  But this will never be the complete answer.  Active protection systems (APSs) have been touted as the solution.

The Hensoldt Multi-Function Self Protection System for Vehicles (MUSS) has been in the news recently.  This is designed to defeat attack by ATGM and RPGs.  The operating principles are copied below.  There is no revolutionary scientific breakthrough here.  But what about kinetic energy penetrators?  Can an APS counter these, thereby enabling the weight of armour to be reduced?

A recent press release suggested that this had been done: “Elbit Systems’ Iron Fist active protection system (APS) has successfully engaged a 120 mm armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) projectile under test conditions”.  Now if this was to be substantiated, it would really be revolutionary.  Elbit is an Israeli company with links to the RAAC.  https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/iav-2020-elbits-iron-fist-engages-kinetic-energy-round

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The MUSS is designed to counter threats caused by ATGM (anti-tank guided-missiles) and laser guided ammunition in six steps:

1. The scenario is continuously monitored by the MUSS passive sensor heads. It recognizes threats with their emitting radiations through the warning sensors.

2. Based on the threat messages which include direction of attack and other parameters, this is then displayed to the vehicle crew.

3. The movement information of the vehicle and the head sensors is collected by the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and provided to the MUSS Central Electronics (MCE).

4. The appropriate type of countermeasures will be automatically selected. The countermeasures are initiated automatically or semi-automatically as selected by the vehicle crew.

5. The Jammer is able to disrupt the guidance of most of the jammable ATGMs which are currently in service. This function influences the missile in such a way that it does not reach its target, either hitting the ground or flying away.

6. A further countermeasure is the deployment of a special smoke grenade activated by the turnable smoke screen dispenser.

https://www.hensoldt.net/products/optronics/muss-multifunctional-self-protection-for-vehicles/

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21 October 2020

‘The Tank is Dead: Long Live the Tank’

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Image: pinterest.com

The above article was written by three members of Jane’s Military Publishing Company.  https://wavellroom.com/2020/10/01/a-critical-analysis-of-the-future-of-the-tank/

The bio notes for Jon Hawkes are copied at the end.  The authors address the topic under three main headings. Quotes from each of these areas are copied below.

Totality of the Battlefield

“What does this mean for the British Army and its tanks? Put very simply, a discussion around the enduring value of the tank for the British Army in any scenario neglects, or refuses, to address the fact that success in a conflict is the result of the totality of the battlefield. This means that the British Army, and the armed forces as a whole, must work together to ensure that they are able to present a cohesive and organized force that can influence the outcome. A myopic focus on the tank seems to ignore inconvenient truths, and usually rests rather heavily on the tiresome adage that begins “a tank is like a dinner jacket…”.

This aspect has been covered in previous blog posts, ie. oganisational flexibility is crucial for future combat scenarios.

Totality of Technology

“The purpose of a tank is to utilise its unique technologically enabled strengths of protection, firepower and mobility to deliver aggressive, mobile, shock action to exploit the enemy’s loss of initiative in response to the tank’s effects. Of these strengths, firepower has continued to improve and may see the adoption of 130 mm guns and integrated ATGMs, however mobility and protection are falling behind, leaving the tank vulnerable.” 

“Active Protection Systems (APS) have been hailed as a partial solution to this problem – they offer a credible and operationally proven hard counter to missiles and rockets, defeating them away from the vehicle and creating the option to either reduce the volume of armour or repurpose it to specifically face the threat of APFSDS projectiles.”

“Establishing ways to increase protection at reduced weight, whether physical or with disruptive technologies in the outer layers of the survivability onion, are critical to returning the tank to the apex position in the battlefield.”

How to increase protection at reduced weight is the critical issue addressed in previous blogs.

Totality of Society

“At present, the UK has a tank fleet that is too expensive to buy or maintain in sufficient quantities to make a difference against a peer/peer+ opponent such as Russia, is difficult to deploy anywhere quickly, and still fairly vulnerable to modern anti-tank weapons. Furthermore, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify the cost-efficiency of the tank within the UK’s limited budget, recruitment figures, and range of realistic or likely combat missions.”  This is a bit outside the scope of the Blog, ie. if the tank can be shown to needed to provide

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20 October 2020

‘Survive : The Case for Armour’

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The above article, by Giles Moon (see below), recently appeared on the UK Wavell Room website: https://wavellroom.com/2020/10/08/survive-the-case-for-armour/

Do the findings differ from those in previous posts on this Forum?  No.  The main issues are that tanks will still be needed and the ability to deploy to differing conflicts can be achieved through the right organisation.

What are tanks for? The core purpose of the tank is simple, and has remained essentially unchanged since they first “operat[ed]…in the van of the battle” one hundred years ago.  Tanks combine firepower, mobility, and survivability to dominate the close land battle. 

Despite the claims of the defence commentariat, the British Army still requires tanks if it is to be a force capable of fighting the majority of modern adversaries”

“While there may be merit in re-apportioning the defence budget to invest more heavily in areas such as cyber, eliminating key land capabilities entirely to buy more supporting technology would be akin to someone selling the engine from their car so they can afford better tyres”.

“… it is worth noting that [an] armoured brigade could be extremely potent if complemented by one or two Strike brigades of more mobile medium-armoured vehicles.  A medium-weight brigade would mitigate the major flaws of a heavy armoured formation (ie. strategic and operational level mobility) and give the UK a range of forces to deploy if the situation doesn’t demand heavy firepower.  Even so, Strike isn’t usable in all circumstances meaning an armoured brigade remains critical. “ 

Interestingly, it was proposed the Britain could hold tanks overseas to provide training rotations.  Sadly, Australia wasn’t mentioned.  Maybe this is something the RAAC Corporation will take up (?).

“With only two armoured regiments in the brigade and a sizeable stock of mothballed Challenger 2, Britain could store fleets of vehicles overseas in, for example, Canada, Germany, and Oman.  This would allow frequent training rotations in different conditions to keep crews and units trained.  If the armoured brigade were well funded, with enough ammunition and track miles to allow frequent training, then it should be simple to maintain readiness at a sufficient level for the brigade to be sent into combat with only a minimal pre-deployment work up.”

Major Giles Moon is a cavalry officer who has served in a variety of single service and joint roles. In 2018-19 he completed a full time MA at King’s College London as part of the British Army’s Academic External Placements programme. Having just completed ICSC(L), he is now serving on the staff in MOD main building.

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19 October 2020

‘Where does the tank go from here?’ III

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Continuing an analysis of the article below in UK Land Power: https://uklandpower.com/2020/04/05/where-does-the-tank-go-from-here/

As mentioned, there were many comments.  It was interesting to the extent of knowledge about AFV design and development, compared to the almost zero interest here (ie. Australia).

There were a number of areas about which comments were made:

1.  Deployability.  If forces were located in proximity to the threat nation, then ‘heavy’ tanks were seen to be relevant; if forces needed to be deployed to differing geographical locations, then the weight of tanks is a worry.

2. Russian T14 Amara.  Concern was expressed about the apparent weakness in the T-14 created by crew escape hatches in the floor. Obviously, this could weaken the hull in terms of mine attack, but there are many alternative ways to providing for crew exit without sacrificing the integrity of armour protection.

3. Calibre of Coax Weapons.  Interestingly, many comments related to the concept of increasing the calibre of a coax weapon in order to reduce the number of main armament rounds (and therefore save weight).  This is an age-old argument and doesn’t really impact future design concepts.

4. Vulnerability to Frontal Penetration. This was interesting.  Should it be accepted that future anti-armour weapons will be unable to penetrate the frontal armour of future tanks?  If so, should there be a focus on tactics aimed at attacking the enemy from the flank?

5.  Battle Group Organisation.  It was argued that complementary grouping of differing AFV capabilities was needed, rather than relying on, say, a heavy armoured brigade.

6.  Crew Size.  Could it be that only a single crewman is needed?  Or, rather than thinking of three (as per earlier posts) … could two suffice?  Thereby reducing weight considerably.

Conclusion.  Seems to me that a commander, gunner, and driver, in a protected shell within the hull, might be the way of the future.  Possibly a commander/gunner and driver could be viable, but a tactical commander for the tank troop would still be needed. This could be met by having a three man command variant. Obviously, decisions re calibre of main and secondary armaments are relevant; as are those relating to the structure and grouping of combat organisations.

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18 October 2020

LAND 400 Phase 3

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LAND 400 Phase 3 is a $10-15 billion Army program which will recapitalise Army’s Vietnam-era M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) force, with a combination of a tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and tracked APC.

https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/major-programs/land-400-phase-3-armoured-fighting-vehicles ;

https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/supplements/2-land—army-in-motion#book/13

“Rheinmetall Defence’s KF41 Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and Hanwha Defense’s AS21 Redback IFV have been shortlisted to compete against each other for the opportunity to provide Army with up to 450 tracked IFVs and 17 manoeuvre support vehicles.”

https://www.australiandefence.com.au/defence/land/the-reasons-behind-the-land-400-phase-3-decision

“LAND 400 Phase 3 – Mounted Close Combat Capability – acquisition of up to 450 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (the M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier replacement) and up to 17 Manoeuvre Support Vehicles.”

https://www.defence.gov.au/CASG/EquippingDefence/Land%20400.asp

The Australian Defence Magazine has reprinted Defence’s position that LAND 400 Phase 3 is intended to provide up to 450 IFVs; BUT Defence Connect (top) has stated very recently that a mix of IFVs and APCs is to be acquired.

Which is correct?  Has the basis of the project changed?  Rather than a mechanised infantry platoon comprising four IFVs, possibly it’s now to comprise two IFVs and two APCs.  This is a game changer if correct.

I’ve left a message with Defence Connect asking them to verify their article.

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17 October 2020

‘Where does the tank go from here?’ II

Continuing an analysis of the above article in UK Land Power: https://uklandpower.com/2020/04/05/where-does-the-tank-go-from-here/

We’ve decided that some form of direct fire support will be needed for the foreseeable future.  This can be provided for a manned vehicle, a robotic vehicle, or an optionally manned vehicle.  The US Army is considering the latter concept.  One imagines that this is because it is too soon to bank everything on robotics at this time.

As argued in the previous post, whether crewed or optionally crewed, the AFV’s weight has to be reduced.   How can this be achieved, while maintaining necessary protection levels?

Volume under armour is the biggest impost on the weight of an AFV (Armour School 101).  Reducing the size of the crew by incorporating an autoloader was the answer at one time, but the lethality of anti-armour weapons is now so advanced, that this is not enough.

One answer has already been fielded … by Russia.

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The Russian T-14 Armata MBT places the [reduced size] crew within an armoured cocoon in the hull of vehicle. This allows for a more compact and lighter turret served by an autoloader. This configuration saves 10-tonnes of weight as well as isolating the crew from the main gun ammunition.”  Clever.

The article has attracted many comments.  These will be examined next to see if there are any startling revelations.

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16 October 2020

ADF Ethics

The following article: ‘pr spin on our alleged war crimes and-rogue sas squad in afghanistan’ can be found here: https://johnmenadue.com/pr-spin-on-our-alleged-war-crimes-and-rogue-sas-squad-in-afghanistan/

My response was as follows:

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Hi Greg,

The book above recounts the story of the murder of a wounded Viet Cong soldier.  It has a Foreword by a serving senior officer stating how truthful an account it was and how proud Australians can be of those who serve on their behalf.  The circumstances were that an ambush has been initiated, an enemy soldier was wounded and calling out for help … the ambush commander reported this to his HQ and was told not to bring back any prisoners!  Those in the ambush then fired into the body of the wounded soldier.

Given that there is no ‘statute of limitations’ …

I rang the Defence ‘whistle-blower’ line and was informed that this was a police matter.  I rang the police and they were unable to investigate.  I wrote to the Minister.  An enquiry was conducted; it was a white wash and I said so.  Another was conducted.  The result was that the account given did not happen (although the author remained steadfast that it had, having been one of those involved!)

I wrote to the Minister again to ask if he could assure the Australian people that training was currently provided to the ADF to ensure that the obeyance of the Rules of Engagement in a conflict were understood by all military members.  I was told that this was the case.

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15 October 2020

‘Where does the tank go from here?’

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Artist’s impression of the KNDS Main Combat Ground System (MCGS) being co-developed by Nexter and Krauss Maffei Wegmann (Image: Marcel Adam)

The above article by Nicholas Drummond appeared 5 April 2020 on the UK Land Power site: https://uklandpower.com/2020/04/05/where-does-the-tank-go-from-here/  It deserves attention, as suggested by the following quote from the intro:

“For just over a century, the tank has been the key symbol of land power. Today, tanks no longer enjoy the same level of battlefield supremacy that they used to. So, what’s next? Do they still have a role to play? If so, how do they need to evolve and what will the next generation look like in terms of features and capabilities?”.

Do we still need tanks?  Previous blog posts have made the point that as long as we still have infantry, there will be a need for a direct fire capability to support the. Drummond agrees:

“For as long as we continue to conduct ground operations with the purpose of physically seizing and holding ground, it is reasonable to assume that we will need protected mobility to transport troops from A to B and protected firepower to support infantry in achieving their objectives and to neutralise other armoured vehicles.”

Moving on, the author considers the current state of the art as far as AFVs are concerned.  The role of the US in Kosovo is mentioned:

“It was too difficult to deploy M1 Abrams MBTS and M2 Bradley IFVs by air while HMMWV-equipped infantry units were too lightly protected and armed to counter the expected opposition. The mission underlined the need for a new kind of potent but rapidly deployable armoured force and precipitated the development of medium weight expeditionary brigades. The same expeditionary focus has now caused the US Marine Corps to question the validity of heavy tanks for use in the Pacific.”

How is it that the weight of an MBT can be reduced, while maintaining necessary protection levels?

To be continued

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14 October 2020

Ethics in Military Procurement

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Image: Defenceconnectc.com.au

The article “LobbyLand ‘Culture of cosiness’: colossal conflicts of interest in Defence spending blitz by Michelle Faye is at: https://johnmenadue.com/lobbyland-culture-of-cosiness-conflicts-of-interest-par-for-the-course-in-links-between-defence-industry-government-public-service/

My response was:

“Well written Michelle.

It’s relevant that a matter in the news today relates to a possible payment being made to an entity in breach of regulations, by channelling it though another entity so as to disguise the source.

There is evidence that, at least one company tendering for a multi-billion military contract, has done this.  In the incident that I’m aware of, supposedly there was a ‘loophole’.  The Inspector General of the ADF advises that Defence policy has been amended to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  An FOI application might provide info about this.

What is the significance here?  Military evaluations of future equipment options must be based solely on assessments of what is best for those using the equipment.  Of course, Government decisions might differ based on economic factors and the like.  This is the democratic process.

So … manufacturers (or their representatives) seeking to influence decisions re military procurement can target either the military personnel, or the Government officials (or both).

What is the consequence of any such ‘lobbying’?  Clearly, it is that Australian soldiers might not receive the equipment most suited for the operations in which they are likely to be engaged. 

Such practices have consequences for the lives of those deployed on behalf of our nation. Can there be any greater reason to ensure openness and transparency?  Sadly, it seems that not all of us share this view.”

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13 October 2020

CANADIAN ARMED FORCES: A NEW VISION FOR THE RESERVES | CANADIAN MILITARY JOURNAL

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Image: sldinfo.com

The article above has been posted in ‘The Cove’: http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/Vol20/No3/page6-eng.asp

My response was as follows:

“Wouldn’t this have been a great media release on 30 June 2020 ….

TO OUR RESERVE FORCES – AUSTRALIA SAYS THANK YOU

“Tomorrow is Reserve Forces Day.  I ask all Australians to join with me in applauding the selfless sacrifice of reservists, both former and present, in helping to ensure the defence of our nation.  The role of the Reserves is vital to our national security.  The dedication and professionalism with which they undertake their part-time service is an example to us all. 

The Government is committed to ensuring that the Defence budget is adequate to meet their needs now and in the future. In this way, the force structure of the ADF is able to be clearly defined.  Rather than a large standing army with Reserves limited to specialist civilian and simple military skills, we have a smaller regular army, with Reserves encompassing both specialist civilian and complex military skills.  It is our Reserve forces that provide, as they have in the past, the surge capacity in time of defence emergency (whether it be a military threat or natural disaster).”

The actual media release was very different; it solely referenced the recent bushfire and COVID-19 responses.  Of course, appreciation for this effort must be made; but is this the ‘only’ acknowledgement that should be made.  That suggested above clearly articulates the essential role of the Reserve as part of our national security, both now and in the future.  If it was to have one.

By comparison … this is what Canada’s Defence policy has clearly set out, ie. their intention to “fundamentally change the way the Reserve Force has been recruited, trained, equipped, and employed”.

The following quote suggests the conviction behind this policy: “In the CAF, it can be said that ‘…we share our men and women with their families’; it can also be said that ‘…we share our Reservists with their families and employers’.  It is vital to our success that we communicate with these stakeholders”.

Furthermore, Canada sets out a practical means of achieving this goal: “Reserve integration may eventually lead to an ‘adaptive’ or ‘alternative’ career path, with all CAF members able to have ‘portable’ terms of service to encompass the levels of commitment and time that they can provide to the institution”.

Canada’s goal is one that Australia must adopt:

“In particular, the development, support, and retention of a ready-capable, motivated, and relevant Reserve Force as a strategic and operational resource for Canada and the CAF is required, both now and well into the future.” (Replace Canada and CAF with Australian and ADF.)

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12 October 2020

Tank of the Future IV

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Image: UK Landpower.com

“Tanks are like dinner jackets. You don’t need them very often, but when you do, nothing else will do.”

The quote above stopped me dead. How very sensible!  How well put!

Who said this?

It turns out to have been Major General Kathryn Toohey, AM CSC.

She was giving an address at the RUSI Land Warfare Conference in London last year.

Who is Maj Gen Toohey?

She graduated from RMC as a signals officer in 1990 and in June 2019 was appointed Head Force Integration, within the office of the Vice Chief of Defence Force.  Her bio notes can be found here: https://www.defence.gov.au/VCDF/FID/

In a previous appointment, she was responsible for “proposing to government the best options for Australia’s future defence capability”.

Wait a minute … the quote above, “You don’t need them very often”.  Of course, frequency of need relates to the types of operations likely to be conducted.  If these were to involve attacking enemy defensive positions or conducting mobile warfare, then tanks will be needed and needed constantly.  In other types of operation, their need will not be so great … “but when needed, nothing else will do!”

Conclusion. It’s a good line, but could be better expressed.  My version:

Tanks are like dinner jackets. You don’t need them for every occasion, but when you do, nothing else will do”.

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11 October 2020

What Lessons Does Vietnam Hold for the Abrams Replacement?

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Image: twitter.com

I was interviewed (for the second time) yesterday by a Masters student at UNSW-ADFA. His thesis is: ‘Centurions with 1ATF in South Vietnam’.

I suggested that there will be little doubt about the contribution that tank direct fire support made in Vietnam.  Which is why the Centurions were replaced by the Leopards and they were replaced by the Abrams.

Will the successful employment of tanks by other nations in Afghanistan be sufficient to justify the replacement of the Abrams? 

Will the thesis ‘only’ serve to underscore history, or will it have a role in influencing the future force structure of the Australian Army.

Of course, there is every reason to add to history so that future decisions can draw on the lessons of the past.  But wouldn’t it be great if studies of past events could directly link with future decision making.

All the above boils down to: ‘What place will direct fire support have in military operations post 2035?’.

I was asked some interesting questions, eg:

What degree of operational feedback took place …  from those in Vietnam, to those training to replace them?

Why was the tank telephone removed, rather than waterproofing it and lengthening the cable?

Was inf-tank training in Australia good preparation for Vietnam?

It is good to have such issues addressed, but will the paper inform those considering the replacement for the Abrams?  I guess it’s too long a bow to draw; BUT, as said in an earlier post, there is no doubt that infantry will still exist post 2035; this means that there will continue to be the requirement for direct fire support.

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10 October 2020

Tank of the Future III

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The Blog post on 3 Aug 20 (Doing the Right Thing IV) was titled ‘Tank of the Future (or Not)?’. It’s copied below.

The RAAC operated both the Centurion and then the Leopard for 30 years (give or take a couple).  The Abrams has been in service since 2007.  It has nearly reached its half-life point (if its predecessors are to provide any guide).  Of course, unless the Government procures the 30 tanks needed to ‘right size’ the Abrams fleet, its Life of Type might be less than 30 years.

There have been suggestions in the press that the UK is about to scrap its tanks.  One of these is included in the latest edition of the RACA NSW Journal: https://raacansw.org.au/Documents/Newsletters/Armour_October_2020.pdf

This idea is responded to in an article in the UK Defence Journal; the conclusion to which is copied below:

“Tanks are certainly no longer the most important part of an army that they once were, nor can they resolve every issue. However, just as a good builder has multiple tools for multiple jobs, the military must be able to respond to any threat and have the tools to do so. Therefore, if the British Army wants to remain relevant on the wide spectrum of the modern battlefield it is crucial it maintains as many conventional assets as possible, for whatever the future brings. This includes heavy armoured forces and tanks.”

3 August 2020

The recent Government announcement re future defence planning included reference to “Options for a system to replace the current tank capability when it reaches its end of life” and “A future program to develop a directed energy weapon system able to be integrated onto ADF protected and armoured vehicles, and capable of defeating armoured vehicles up to and including main battle tanks”.  (See Blog post for 8 July 2020 and subsequent.)

This is exactly the foresight that’s to be expected of our Defence staff.  The US is looking at exactly the same thing (and have been for many years).  The Abrams tank is great today and can be improved to meet the needs of tomorrow.  But what about the day after and the day after that?  What will the replacement for the Abrams look like?

The answer to that has to start with the role that the tank fulfills on the battlefield.  Is it possible that future wars will not involve infantry?  There will be all sorts of autonomous machines, but will any be able to take the place of a soldier?  The answer is certainly ‘no’ in the timeframe under consideration.  It follows that there will be a need to provide direct fire support, aka the tank.

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9 October 2020

LAND 400 Management II

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Image: ADM

In the Blog on 20 Sep 20 (‘LAND 400 Management’) I referred to the report that the DG Armoured Fighting Vehicles Systems Branch, in the Capability Acquisition and Sustainability Group (CASG), has suddenly been replaced.  The report stated that it was not known why Brig Greg McGlone (an Army Aviator) had departed.  He had been replaced on an acting basis by the Assist Sec, Land Vehicle Systems Branch, Ms Sarah Myers.

Both these Branches come within the command of the Head, Armoured Vehicle Division, Maj Gen David Coghlan (a gunner).  The title of the Division might be about to change, however, as it would seem the Armoured Fighting Vehicles Systems Branch is now called the ‘Combined Arms Fighting Vehicles Systems Branch’. Of course, AFV is a term which applies to a type of vehicle, not to the Corps which operates it. 

Nevertheless, it would seem that political correctness associates anything ‘armoured’ with the RAAC. This can’t be allowed to happen with the IFV (LAND 400 Phase 3) to be operated by the RA Inf.  (It would be much more cost effective if it was to be crewed by RAAC personnel.)

There is still an RAAC presence within the Project, however.  Colonel Allan Hamley is the Project Director for LAND 400 Phase 2, Mounted Combat Reconnaissance Capability (ie. the replacement for the ASLAV).  One has to wonder what Corps the new Head, Combined Arms Fighting Vehicles Systems Branch, will have gained his/her operational experience in.  (Of course, it’s not a pre-requisite that they have any … they have others to offer advice.)

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8 October 2020

Why We Do What We Do II

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I’ve been asked about the incident I referred to in the Blog on 6 Oct 20.

It was contained in: ‘Captain Bullen’s War: The Vietnam War Diary of Captain John Bullen’. Captain Bullen was a Royal Australian Survey Corps officer. He recounted an incident regarding Capt Don Campbell, RAAC. 

Background is: Don was on his way back to Oz from being with AATTV in I Corps (I think) and was staging through Nui Dat. This coincided with the departure of C Sqn to Coral, leaving the Sqn area quite vulnerable.  The OC, Peter Badman, asked Don to do what he could to improve defences.

Peter Badman explained later that “in a short time the base camp was surrounded by a network of Claymores and interlocking arcs of fire”

Back to Bullen’s book. To help with the task, Don Campbell went to the Survey Troop to get a base defence map.  Bullen handed over the map, but Don didn’t immediately know how to orientate it.  He wasn’t familiar with Nui Dat, having only just arrived.  This led Bullen to make belittling comments about professionalism etc. 

Bullen wasn’t to know that Don was not a member of one of the 1ATF units, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show his supposed superiority.

In another part of the book he made a gratuitous personal comment about a since deceased tank crew member.  While he didn’t mention any names, he was obviously not aware that a tank is like a ship, ie. it’s location at any time can always be pinpointed.  The member’s widow rang me to ask if what he had said in the book was true.  I was pleased to be able to say that it wasn’t.

We have to be just keep going … despite people such as this.

PS.  The book was edited by Paul Ham.  I had reason to write to Mr Ham about 300 or so matters in his book ‘Vietnam’.  Another who read this book at the same time was the late Maj Gen Jim Hughes AO, DSO, MC (CO 4RAR/NZ in 1971). His comment to me was that ‘he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry’.

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7 October 2020

Australia’s Longest Foreign Military Deployment

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The following quote comes from an article Our Afghanistan exit comes after little gain , by Ross Eastgate and published in the Townsville Bulletin on 3 October:

“AFTER 19 years it seems Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan may be drawing rapidly to an end. It’s Australia’s second-longest foreign military deployment and has come at great cost.”   https://targetsdown.blogspot.com/2020/10/our-afghanistan-exit-comes-after-little.html

If Afghanistan was Australia’s second-longest foreign military deployment, what was the longest?

Good question, but how do you find the answer?

Ross is an experienced journalist and so is unlikely to make an error in such a fundamental matter.  As always, the answer lies in the wording used.  He’s not referring to a war, armed conflict, or active service.  He’s referring to a foreign military deployment by Australian forces.

The answer is found in the AWM Website re the Roll of Honour: https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/honour-rolls/roll-of-honour

This lists the prescribed periods for “operations/conflicts” that Australian forces have been involved in, including the following, which lasted over 28 years:

Papua and New Guinea:  1 July 1947    16 September 1975.

I served in the Australian Defence Cooperation Group PNG, but after Independence (ie. after 16 Sep 75).  I hadn’t realised operational significance of the deployment prior to that time.  All fascinating stuff ….

FOOTNOTE: The following advice has been received:

“In response to a question about his article Ross Eastgate has said that Australia’s longest deployment has been to UNTSO, which he says has been ongoing since 1954.  Elsewhere it’s stated that our involvement began in 1956 (see links below) making it a 64 year deployment to date.  

Australians also served in UNMOGIP from 1948 to 1985  (37 years) and, as per your post, PNG from 1947 to 1975 (28 years).  At 19 years Afghanistan would only be Australia’s fourth longest deployment.”

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6 October 2020

Why We Do What We Do

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AWM P01404.028

I’ve just finished reading a book written by a Vietnam veteran.  It reminded me of another book that I’d read some years previously.  Both were written by officers, one of whom went on the become a major general. 

Why is it that some people wish to denigrate others and make it appear that they are superior beings?  This was the sense of similarity I had when reading these personal accounts of the authors’ time in Vietnam.

For me, there is no place for a personal failing on the part of someone else (in the opinion of an author), to be described in such a way that the author is made to appear superior in his thinking and actions, ie. to ‘big note’ himself.

I was once described by someone who was wanting to belittle me, as an “unctuous little officer”.  When I checked the dictionary, I found that I was being accused of being overly moralistic (among other things). Of course, being called a little officer” was designed to cut to the quick as well.  I’m being moralistic here, so should I apologise?  In my view, if society was more moralistic and less self-centred, we’d all be better off.

In one of the books, the discrediting of an RAAC officer (it could easily have been me, but it wasn’t) was based on a totally false premise.  There was no military lesson to be learnt from the incident, it was simply an opportunity for one person to demonstrate his supposed intellectual superiority over another. 

What is the value in writing such accounts?  There is no doubt that personal experiences are valuable and should be made known at every level.  One of the most important reasons to value these accounts, is for the contribution they can make to changes in the way the Army operates; ie. the ways in which training and operational procedures can be improved. Focusing on the perceived shortcomings of our colleagues, however, doesn’t benefit those going forward.

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5 October 2020

The History of the Main Battle Tank (MBT)

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The following post of mine on the Centurion Tank Appreciation Society Facebook related to the reference in the name plate above to the Centurion as a ‘MBT’.

“Of course, the Cent was never an MBT. It was a medium gun tank. The term MBT did not come about until the Chieftain was produced to replace both the medium gun tank and the heavy gun tank (the Conqueror).”

This prompted a couple of comments:

Tom Cox

If the Centurion was never an MBT then you can come and collect my collection of over 200 model tanks. It was the primary British MBT of the post WW2 period until the advent of the Chieftain. The only reason that the Conqueror Heavy Tank No 1 was not really considered as an MBT was due to the relatively small number produced.

Fergus Highgate

Hi Bruce, I would argue that as the Conqueror had been mothballed in the 60’s and the Chieftain wasn’t in service until the 70’s then the Centurion was the Main Battle tank of that period.

Bob Potts

 As I understood it, upgunning Cent. to 105mm made Conq redundant

Bruce Cameron

It was good to see the discussion taking place as  this is the only way to advance the accuracy of history.  It is my belief that these views are wrong, however, and responded as follows:

“It’s my understanding that prior to the Centurion, tanks had been designed and built according to their role, ie. infantry tank/cruiser tank. The Cent was referred to as the ‘universal’ tank as it fulfilled both these roles. Its formal designation, however, was ‘Medium Gun tank’. Rather than maintaining both a medium gun tank and a heavy gun gun (Conqueror), it was decided to produce the Chieftain. This was termed a Main Battle Tank, ie, one to fulfill both roles.”

Comments thereafter took the thread ‘off piste’:

Rob Mather

A bit like the new role for the household cavalry! Worked mbt and recce collectively for 40 years, now on Ajax a light tank! 

Lucy Taylor

 Please tell us where you have garnered the information that Ajax is a Light Tank? It seems to be touted as a light (medium in some articles) tracked armoured vehicle…… not as a tank of any sort! Intrigued. Then I can get back to Centurions! Here’s an ‘official’ link:https://www.forces.net/…/all-gen-ajax-military-vehicle

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4 October 2020

RAAC: Strategic Mobility

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Image: AWM

The following Letter to the Editor is self-explanatory:

“In “Strikes? What Strikes” (Letters, October 2) A Chaplin states that the wharfies’ union “opposed the Vietnam War, but they never refused to load shipping”.  This would suggest that all those working on the waterfront were loyal to their fellow Australians fighting on behalf of their nation.  Sadly, this was not so.  Members of the Seamen’s Union refused to operate a vessel if it was to be used to transport weapons and ammunition to Vietnam. 

Initially chartered and operated with RAN personnel replacing union members, the ‘MV Jeparit’ was later commissioned as ‘HMAS Jeparit’ as a result of continuing industrial action. 

Unfortunately, when Centurion tanks were unloaded from the Jeparit in 1968, many tools used for maintaining the vehicles, were found to have been stolen.  This was reminder of the equipment stolen from Stuart tanks of the 2/6 Aust Armoured Regiment when off-loaded at Port Morseby in 1942.”

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3 October 2020

Australia and VC Awards

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The article entitled, ‘ Australia and VC Awards’ by Noel Turnbull, can be accessed here:  

Australia and VC Awards

https://johnmenadue.com/noel-turnbull-australia-and-vc-awards/embed/#?secret=BeJzK3qWZ0

My response is copied below:

Hi Noel,

I, too, served in Vietnam, albeit after you, and I know of what you write. 

You refer to the stats re VCs that have been awarded to Australians.  You might not be aware that different criteria apply to the Imperial VC and the VC of Australia.

The criteria for the former, is that there has to be at least a 90 per cent chance of the person being recommended, being killed in doing what he did.  I don’t believe that this is the same for the VC of Australia.  That is not to say that recipients of the VC of Australia are in any way less entitled to their recognition than their predecessors. 

I was astonished when one of the arguments put up by Defence against awarding ‘Teddy’ Sheean a retrospective VC, was that it would create two classes of award.  (The other argument was that the Queen would be put in a difficult position.)  Seems to me, as it is in law, that there must always be the right to appeal.  For Defence to have blanket ‘no retrospective awards unless proven administrative error’ policy, is as heartless as it was to not allow the NOK of those who were killed in combat to receive the Army Combat Badge.  (A policy which was only overturned after it became public and embarrassment mounted.)

The finding of the Tribunal which considered the submission made for me to be awarded the VC (under the criteria at the time of Vietnam, i.e. the Imperial VC) was that, as I had neither been wounded nor killed, I had not demonstrated sufficient self-sacrifice.  It was absolutely their right to decide accordingly.

The book I am currently writing is entitled: ‘Not Enough Self Sacrifice for a VC’.


2 October 2020

Sorry … the Host for this site has introduced new procedures and I’ve been compelled to adopt them. The post for the 2nd was lost accordingly. I fear that the problems aren’t over yet!Jetpack

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  • Document

Much of the new (2017) C’tee’s time was taken up with governance matters which had been long in the making.  A firm of accountants were appointed to set up an accounting system to better enable the Assn to manage its financial transactions.  Interestingly, as a part of this, advice was given to the C’tee that my donations of royalties from my book, made for the purpose of “assisting the Association’s endeavours” (stated publicly in the Author’s Note), had “created a constructive obligation in respect to the donated funds”.

Supposedly this meant that the funds could only be used as I stipulated.  Of course, nothing was further from the truth … which was proven by the fact that I had no knowledge of the use of the funds to purchase either a TV set for D Squadron in South Australia, nor building materials for the Mick Rainey MM Club.  Both purposes I fully supported.  Nevertheless, a firm of lawyers was employed to tell me not to make any further donations.  I asked what I had to do to make an acceptable donation, but received no response.

The Minutes of the 2018 AGM stated that “… any future donations would be accepted without conditions”.   The present C’tee was asked to consider the question: “Could the C’tee please explain why a donation made “to assist the Association’s endeavours”, (i) is not considered a donation made ‘without conditions’; and (ii) what wording does a donor have to use to meet this requirement?  No response has been received.

Despite all the above, the financial status of the Assn has been moved onto a sound basis with stringent controls.  This is a major step forward. The fact that the Defence Fraud and Investigation Unit conducted an investigation might have been an additional spur to this end.  [The investigation related to $25,000 in donations being made to 1 Armd Regt from Rheinmetall.  These payments were ‘masked’ by being transferred through the 1 AR Assn accounts.  This ‘routing’ is possibly explained by the fact that such ‘donations’ were in complete breach of Defence regulations; Rheinmetall being a contender for a major Defence contract at the time.  The 1AR Assn C’tee responded by saying that the Assn was bound by Victorian Law, not Defence regulations.  [After submissions by members, the matter was investigated by the Defence Force Ombudsman and procedures within Defence amended as a result.]

The other step required was that of putting in place a valid and relevant Constitution.  The hard work of a group of dedicated members, especially Ron Baikie and Geoff Stelmach, paid dividends.  The draft Constitution prepared by them, with some amendments, was approved by members at the 2018 AGM.

One of the amendments inserted by the then C’tee was that which stated that just because you served in 1 Armd Regt, this no longer made you eligible to be a member of the 1AR Assn.  Previously you were automatically eligible and would only cease to be a member if you were to be in breach of disciplinary provisions.  Overnight, the C’tee has given itself the power of veto on their own terms.  Now, if you apply to join (or renew your membership) and the C’tee does not consider you ‘suitable’, then your application is not approved.  There is no definition as what “suitable” means in the eyes of the C’tee.

Interestingly, I was not able to attend the AGM for health reasons.  I explained this to those who demanded on-line, that I attend.  Immediately following the AWM, a series of photos appeared on the 1AR Past & Present FB page of a placemat with my name on it at various places within the AGM venue, coupled with the question: “Where is he?”.  I complained to the new C’tee.  The President responded to say that the C’tee could not do anything with respect to inappropriate behaviour on the FB page outside their control.

At its second C’tee meeting the following policy was adopted: “Inappropriate behaviour on a private blog or a face book page with privacy settings, where access rights cannot be controlled or influenced by the association, may result in the appointment of an association Disciplinary SubCommittee to examine and report on the behaviour. 

I assume that the behaviour described above would be considered to be ‘inappropriate’.  So it seems that the two 1AR Assn members behind the post, escape a review by a Disciplinary Sub-Committee (and I miss out on receiving an apology).  Was it not ever thus?

Part 6.

The story continues …  The final Constitution approved by the then C’tee differed from that which the group of members had drafted.  One point of difference was that a clause was inserted which gave the C’tee the right to refuse someone’s application for membership, without telling them why and without giving them any right of appeal.  These are the sort of powers that back the governance of a totalitarian regime.  A number of members raised objections to this, but their protests were ignored.

The C’tee with whom the group of members had been working to draft the new Constitution had included a provision in the Constitution for ‘existing’ Life Memberships to be continued.  The draft sent to members made this very clear.  (Background here is that when Life Memberships were originally awarded, there was no provision in the Constitution for this to be done.  The revised Constitution included such provision.)

Although I was a Life Member, I received a request to pay membership fees.  I did so, thinking that it would be somewhat arrogant of me to say that as a Life Member, I’m not required to do so.  Next, I’m advised that as I was deemed to have criticised the C’tee (with my suggestions re continual improvement of due process), I was therefore deemed not to support the Purposes of the Assn as set out in the Constitution.

As a result, my membership would not be renewed.  (The basis for and against the supposed criticisms are detailed in Blog posts for March 2019.)  Furthermore, I was advised that I would not be entitled to appeal this decision (which, for a disciplinary offence by a member whose m’ship was current, would be granted and heard by a General Meeting of members.)

I said “but I’m a Life Member, I was only applying for membership renewal on a voluntary basis”.  Surprisingly, I was told that all Life Memberships had been scrapped, (ie. the provision continuing Life Memberships mentioned above, was deleted from the Constitution by the C’tee, before a vote was taken for approval).  I asked why the decision to continue Life Memberships was overturned and why weren’t members informed of this?  I have not received a response to either question.

Nevertheless, as the Constitution provides for a Life Member to do, I’ve appealed the decision to revoke my membership.  What will the next chapter bring, I wonder?

In a letter dated 2 August 2019, the President 1AR Assn advised me that the reason that the C’tee did not notice that the provision for existing Life Memberships to be continued had been removed from the draft of the Constitution considered at the AGM, was an “oversight” which the Association “failed to detect”.  As a result, resolutions for the continuance of each former life member’s membership are to be considered at the AGM on 12 October 2019.  Each resolution must be approved by three quarters of the members voting, whether in person or by proxy.  I was not allowed to vote.

My Life Membership was not renewed.  I asked to see the proposal that was put to members with respect to me and the Minutes of the AGM …  neither was allowed.


Part 7: The Ideal World

In such a world there would be nothing for Armouredadvocates to have to draw attention to.

This would mean:

The memorial plaques provided by DVA for those who DOW would include reference to Mentioned in Dispatches (MiD) when this award had been received.

There would be two tank squadrons in the Plan Beersheba ‘Ready’ brigade (to facilitate the formation of an adequate number of battlegroups).

Members of the RAAC who participated in Operation Hammersley would be entitled to the RVN Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation.

Armoured crewmen would be entitled to wear a ‘silver’ Army Combat Badge (or other such badge) to acknowledge the unique dangers they face in combat.

2/14 QMI (ACR) would be equipped with a full squadron of tanks and all ACRs, SoA, and RTC, would have access to an adequate repair pool.

All RAAC ARES units would be equipped with a suitable crew operated vehicle (such as Hawkei) and have roles which are in keeping with the conduct of mobile warfare.

No-one on RAAC or related personal social media would use personal insults, derogatory language, or intimidation, in an attempt to stifle free and open discussion.

The RAAC corporation would stand up and advocate for issues which adversely affect the RAAC, even if this is contrary to Defence’s ‘official’ position.

Serving RAAC personnel would be issued with black berets and plumes at public expense.

All information panels re RAAC exhibits in the Vietnam Gallery at the AWM and audio-visual narratives would be correct

Those personnel who do not retire as SNCO or above, would be able to request a miniature ACB to be provided to them at public expense … should they have an occasion in which they need to wear it.

First Australians who defended their families, their land and their possessions against those who endeavoured to colonise Australia by force, would be commemorated by the AWM.

ANZAC Day services would commemorate the First Australians who lost their lives defending their families, land and possessions, on the same basis as all other Australians who have died defending their nation.

Wars in which Australia participated would no longer be defined by the casualty figures at their end, but references to them (including school text books) would acknowledge that casualties among veterans and their families continue to mount, with more wounds becoming apparent and more deaths occurring every day.

A system of Operational Analysis (OA) would be introduced which would ensure that the failure to quickly identify, report, and learn from operational experience, which happened in Vietnam, would never be repeated.

Donations would be able to be made to the 1AR Assn for the C’tee to utilise ”to assist the Association’s endeavours” (and not be rejected because a perceived obligation would be created).

1AR Assn would have valid By-Laws approved by members which would include the procedures to be followed by 1 AR Assn members/C’tee when members of the Assn and serving/former members of 1AR receive awards for their endeavours.

The above By-Laws would also include the procedures to be followed by 1AR Assn members/C’tee when members of the Assn and serving/former members of 1AR die.

The above By-Laws would also include the procedures to be followed when 1AR Assn members are in need of assistance; including how to make this known to the 1AR Assn.

ADF and DVA medical procedures would take account of the unique stress factors associated with operating AFVs in combat (and in training) when assessing the mental health of serving and former RAAC personnel.

RAAC personnel would be able to wear an AFV crewman’s badge following initial qualification as an AFV crewman and until no longer qualified.

ADF personnel would be able to wear dress embellishments which indicated the number of times they had been WIA and deployed on active service in a particular conflict.

The Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) to to be introduced under LAND 400 Phase 3 would be operated by the RAAC.

Oral history interviews would be conducted with those who have crewed the different AFVs used by the Australian Army, so that their experience might be recorded before they all pass away (and only the AFVs are left).

The submission made by the RAAC Corporation (when asked by Defence if they supported my submission to Minister for the Coral-Balmoral battlehonour to be emblazoned on the 1 Armd Regt Standard) would be made available to those who may seek to view it (given that the Corporation state that no prior submissions were looked at by them).

The reason that an application for membership of the 1AR Assn is denied by the C’tee must be made known to the applicant and members; the applicant must have the right of appeal.

Pending …

The RAAC tank fleet would be right sized’ from 59 to the 90+ that Army state is the minimum number to equip and support three dispersed tank squadrons.  (It has been reported that project LAND 907 Phase 2  incorporates an additional 29 Abrams, to bring the tank fleet to 88; with what seems to be a ‘trade-off’ in terms of two tanks for increased simulators, including one for troop tactical training.)

2/14 QMI (ACR) would be equipped with a full squadron of tanks and all ACRs, SoA, and RTC, would have access to an adequate repair pool. (See above.)

The minutes of RAAC Corporation AGMs would be made available to the members of the associations who make up the Corporation and pay for the privilege.  (The 1AR Assn C’tee is making available an ‘extract’ of the Minutes that is thought to be relevant to members.)

All RAAC personnel who serve as PMV-M (Bushmasters) crew commanders would be trained and certified to a level of competency approved by the School of Armour.  (The need for appropriate training has been acknowledged, however, it is yet to be formalised via the SOA.)

The Purposes of the 1AR Assn would include efforts to care for those less fortunate (in addition to simply promoting ‘camaraderie’) and this goal would be enacted by the C’tee.  (The desirability of the goal has been acknowledged, but is yet to be articulated in practical terms.)

The identity of the person who holds the logbooks for the Centurions at Puckapunyal would be known, as would the reason for the logbooks not being in Tank Museum where they belong.  (It is now known that Mr M Cecil, a former employee of the AWM, has or has had access to, at least one of the missing logbooks.  Footnote 55, p121, Vol1 , ‘Canister1 On! FIRE!’ refers.  (Mr Cecil initially issued a denial, however, subsequently admitted that he once transcribed info from the logbook.  He hasn’t volunteered where the logbook was at the time.)

Those who were wounded in action would no longer be referred to as being ‘injured’.  (Acceptance of this is becoming much more widespread, however, it is still far from universal.)

The 1AR Assn would operate in complete openness, transparency and honesty, particularly as far as governance decisions are concerned.  (Minutes of C’tee meetings are now made available to members, however, not all decisions are open and transparent.)

Serving members of the RAAC would carry into combat a personal weapon which provided effective rapid and hard hitting firepower.  (A carbine is now available for a tank crewman/commander to use should he have reason to leave the tank and are also provided for ASLAV crew members.)

RAAC related technology exhibits at the AWM would not focus entirely on the technical aspects of the vehicles/equipment, but also would incorporate the human dimension, ie. the roles of (and stress associated with) the crew operating AFVs in combat.  (The Director of the AWM, Dr Nelson, advises that he has adopted this policy, ie.  he “continually reminds AWM staff that it is the experiences of those operating the equipment, rather than the machines themselves, which are of most importance”.

Crossed off the List:

The RAAC Corporation has amended its website to correctly describe the vehicles operated by the RAAC.

The AWM has resolved the conflict between its different website references to the number of crew that operated its Japanese Ha Go tank.

The Ombudsman has undertaken a review of the perceived conflict of interest created when Rheinmetall ‘routed’ $25,000 through the 1AR Assn accounts to avoid scrutiny, at the same time as tendering for a $5b Defence contract.  Procedures within Defence have been amended as a result

The 1AR Assn have had a coffin drape made (ie. a large Regimental flag) and loan/hire this to NOK for use at funerals.

Serving members of B Sqn 3/4 Cav are eligible to wear the UCG insignia for Coral-Balmoral.

Those former 1AR members who desire to do so, can use a Regimental flag as a drape for their coffin.

The 1AR Assn now has a valid Constitution approved by members

The 1AR Assn Constitution is now available to be viewed by members on the Assn’s website.

The history of 1 Armd Regt has been updated on the 1AR website to reflect its present role (what a pity the RAAC Corporation has not followed suit).

2/14 QMI (ACR) would operate from a base which provides suitable housing and schooling for families (as well as good access to training areas).  There is to be no move to Central Queensland (… for now?)

Minutes of the last 1AR AGM were published without any defamatory material.

Minutes of 1AR Assn C’tee meetings are now being made available to members.

Members of the RAAC who participated in the Battles of Coral-Balmoral are now entitled to the Unit Citation for Gallantry (with Federation Star)..

Army Combat Badges are now provided to the NOK of those who have been killed in action.

The C-B Battlehonour has been emblazoned on the 1 AR Standard

Bien Hoa, Hat Dich and Binh Ba battlehonours have been emblazoned on the 3 Cav Guidon

The dates shown on the Vietnam Theatre Honour emblazoned on the 1AR Standard have been corrected.

The insensitive (made in China) ‘snow dome’ modeled on the Centurion tank in the grounds of the AWM (in which crew were WIA), has been removed from sale at the AWM

The LAND 400 Phase 2 timetable is on track, despite the anticipated delays associated with a change in the Minister for Defence.  (This means that the capability gap that would have resulted from a delay in the replacement of the ASLAV, has been avoided.)

1 Troop A Squadron 4/19 PWLH has been acknowledged as the first RAAC unit to be deployed in action (and is the recipient of the RVN Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation), rather than being designated ‘1 APC Troop (A Sqn, 4th/19th PWLH)’, the Defence proposal advocated by the RAAC Corporation.

Personnel subjected to mine incidents and the like, in which blast effects may have caused occult wounds (ie. invisible at the time), will now have the incident recorded and be subject to follow-up medicals.

A Centurion tank is now back on display at the AWM.

The RSL has abandoned its proposal to sign an MOU with the Communist Party of Vietnam, while the human rights of former SVN Armed Forces members (our Allies) continue to be violated.

DVA withdrew the lapel pin comprised of crossed Australian and Socialist Republic of Vietnam flags which the RAAC Corporation advocated be worn at the Coral-Balmoral Commemoration.

The Army has abandoned its policy banning the wearing of berets.

The Minister for Defence considered an account in a book by a Vietnam veteran, with a ‘glowing’ Foreword by a serving senior officer … if true, the incident amounted to premeditated murder.  The investigation found that it was ’embellishment’ by the author.  The Minister advised that Army training standards had been reviewed to ensure that such actions would be recognised for what they are and not be seemingly ‘condoned’ in the future.

Attention is now given (as a matter of course) to ensuring that the health of RAAC crewmen is not affected by the transmissions of radios and other electronic equipment in their AFVs.

The National Archives/AWM have acknowledged that a mistake made, for example in an After Action Report, CAN be brought to the attention of those who refer to the original documents in order to better understand what happened.

An RAAC veteran has received just and compassionate treatment from the Federal Court, overruling the Immigration Minister.  (What a pity justice and compassion were not to be found more widely from within RAAC ESO ranks.)

DVA has advised aged care providers of the assistance that they can provide for the conduct of Anzac Day Services for those who are mobility impaired.

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The blog continues below, the story remains unfinished.  ‘Doing the Right Thing V’ ( below) lists daily Blog posts from 12 August 2020.  Earlier day by day posts follow after that.

To comment, move the cursor to a point level with the ‘date circle’, on the RH side of the post.  This should illuminate a red rectangle which will enable a comment to be posted.  The comment won’t remain verbatim’, as each Blog Post is a separate publication (with the earlier one being removed).  Comments which contribute to to the issue at hand will, however, be acknowledged and very likely quoted in the next day’s Post (which will remain in the running archive).

IMPORTANT.

Should anyone see something which is incorrect in any Blog post, please inform me so that I can immediately correct the information and apologise to anyone inadvertently affected.  (See  example Corrections at the Blog posts for 3 June 2019 and 26 January 2019.)


NB 1.  Advertisements.  I’m sorry … I had no idea about the advertisements that have been incorporated into my posts (that some readers have experienced).  I guess this is all about the number of readers … when the number increases, so there is commercial value in incorporating ads.  Paradoxically, it seems this has also made it more difficult to access the Blog.  (I wouldn’t dare think that a hacker had been tasked to ‘close me down’.) 

Thank goodness!  Just place armouredadvocates.wordpress.com in the top search bar of Google and it should all be ok.  (Fingers crossed.)   I should mention that I have no association whatsoever with the products advertised, indeed I can’t see the ads myself.

NB 2.  Index A lot of readers have said how good it would be to have an index of blog posts on a subject by subject basis.  This was suggested to me right at the start of the Blog, but I foolishly thought that the Blog would have a very limited life and it wouldn’t be worth it.  I’ve realised for some time, how useful it would be … and will do something accordingly.  LATEST: The Index is being developed and the work in progress can be found here: …… SORRY, I’m working to fix this! If anyone would like an email copy of the Index, let me know.

NB 3.  Email Contact.   Should anyone wish to provide feedback by email, the address is cameronshome@bigpond.com


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LAND 400 and Conflict of Interest

Image: ADM

LAND 400 would have to be one of the Australian Army’s most successful defence procurement projects. Well done to all those who contributed (and are still contributing) to it.  The issue of conflict of interest was raised in 2017 when it was revealed that Rheinmetall had been masking payments to 1 Armd Regt by forwarding them through the 1AR Assn (see below).  Twenty five thousand dollars was transferred in this way, completely contrary to Defence regulations governing conflict of interest involving a company tendering for a Defence contract.  The 1AR Assn answered queries about this by stating that ‘we are not governed by Defence regulations, but by Consumer Affairs Victoria’.

The Defence Inspector General conducted an investigation and found loopholes in relevant regulations.  These have since been amended.  The point is that an offence has been committed if an act contributes to even the ‘perception’ of a conflict of interest.  This was undoubtedly the case here.

There is no public information available as to the make up of ‘Rheinmettal Defence Australia’ management staff.  If they included former members of the ADF who had recently left positions directly related to LAND 400, would this create a perception of a conflict of interest?

Some countries have particular laws designed to prevent such situation.  A conflict of interest could arise, for example, if someone applied for employment at a company which he is assessing for the award of a tender.  Another law prevents such a person taking up any such an appointment within a set time period after resigning from his ‘official’ position.

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The Ethics of ‘Masking’ Payments through the 1AR Assn. 

It was announced during my recent travels [2018] that Rheinmetall has been awarded the LAND 400 contract to provide the replacement for the ASLAV recon vehicle in the three ACRs.  This raises the ethical issues highlighted in the previous blog posts copied below.

28 December 2017

Priorities; Urgency; and Importance

The telephone can be the enemy of effective time management.  Time and all other resources are, of course, allocated to ensure that important matters are appropriately dealt with.  When someone calls on the telephone, they expect their call to be (i) answered and furthermore, (ii) their concern addressed immediately.  By default … this becomes an urgent matter.  If dealt with straightaway, however, it might well absorb resources required to deal with an important matter.  Of course, if something is both urgent and important, it must be allocated appropriate priority.

I referred yesterday to Assn Governance (urgent) and RAAC Issues (important).  It is possible, of course, for either category to include matters which are both urgent and important.

The following has the potential to be included in this category.

The financial ledger sent to Assn members recently, included the information below:

“Misc – Donation made to association from a company, it is masked by coming through us and then directed to 1 Armd Regt Regimental Funds          …..  $5,000.00”

One has to wonder if this is the first ‘donation’ which been channelled through the Assn to avoid (presumably) any suggestion of conflict of interest (ie. as might arise if the company was a defence contractor or potential contractor).  The possibility arises that other payments have been made via the Assn and that other RAAC Units are also beneficiaries.  Furthermore, if ‘secret’ payments are being made to units, it has to be assumed that other payments might have been made to individuals.

There is a major project in the pipeline which affects all ARA RAAC units.  Companies are vying for selection.  The overall cost is in the order of $5b.

It is both urgent and important that an assurance be given that any equipment to be operated by the RAAC is chosen on its merits and the decision is not, in any way, influenced by payments “masked by coming through” the Assn.

Donations?

Continuing on from 28 December …. the Assn’s 14/15 Financial Statement (included in the Minutes of the 2015 AGM) includes the following reference under the heading, Expenditure:

 “Donations (to 1AR from Rheinmetall Sim) $10,000”

I believe that $5000 may also have been donated on this basis in FY13/14.

So it appears that Rheinmetall may have donated at least $20,000 to 1AR (regimental funds presumably) through the 1AR Assn

Why would any commercial company do this, ie. what benefit would it expect to gain? One has to assume that the funds are being paid to the Assn because to pay direct to 1AR

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30 December 2020

Looking After Each Other

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One of the ‘Pending’ goals at Part 7 of the Intro (above) is:

“The Purposes of the 1AR Assn would include efforts to care for those less fortunate (in addition to simply promoting ‘camaraderie’) and this goal would be enacted by the C’tee.  (The desirability of the goal has been acknowledged, but is yet to be articulated in practical terms.)”

The background?

During the ‘dark’ period in the history of the 1AR Assn, providing any form of welfare support was rejected.  Indeed, formal agreement was reached with the RAAC Corporation to the effect that the Assn (like other members of the Corporation) had insufficient resources to provide such support.  It was stated that should the C’tee become aware of a member in need, they’d be referred to the RSL.  Added to this … it was made known that all that the members of the Assn were interested in was, ‘having a few beers and telling a few stories’.

Interestingly, Purposes four and five (out of ten) of the 1AR Assn, as set out in the Report to members included in yesterday’s Blog, are stated as:

  • promote and advance or otherwise assist the welfare and well-being of members, their dependents and next of kin and any other persons as the Management Committee, branch or branches shall approve; and
  • provide all possible assistance to members in a practical and advisory capacity.

Without any specific measures being introduced, I think ‘Pending’ is still the appropriate category for this Goal. 

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29 December 2020

Accountability to Members

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The following is an extract from the Blog Intro, Part 4 (above):

“It has subsequently been discovered that considerable irregularities occurred in the conduct of the AGM: in particular, there were enormous discrepancies with proxy voting; the numbers of votes stated in the AGM Minutes were 30% more than figures given at the meeting to those attending; membership records were inaccurate and wrongly disallowed at least one member from voting; a person addressed the meeting, described as a “financial Affiliate Member”, but there is no provision for affiliate members in the Constitution; another ‘member’ addressed the meeting, but there is no mention of him in the list of those attending; and the financial statement was not only not certified by the C’tee as being true and correct, but also it failed to encompass the whole FY and did not disclose reasons for the expenditure of funds.

All irregularities with respect to the Constitution were brought to the attention of the C’tee, however, no response was received.  Six weeks after his election, the Treasurer resigned, stating that when dealing with members’ monies on a daily basis it has to be within the rules, be open, be accountable and be transparent and most of all be honest and be sure there is some form of trail to follow”.  (There had been three previous Treasurers in the past 12 months.)”

The circumstances above relate to the 1AR Assn’s dark period some years ago.  Some members publicly demanded adherence to regulatory requirements and accountability on the part of the C’tee.  While these members were widely lambasted by others for their supposed lack of loyalty to the Assn, it is pleasing to see that progress has been made. 

A link to the current Financial Statement is provided below.  Not only does it comply with Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) requirements, but also it’s provided to members in advance of the AGM so that members can examine it in good time (something that the ‘concerned’ members’ group had sought).

Interestingly, if they look closely, there are some matters of detail that members might like to raise with the C’tee.

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28 December 2020

Defence Challenges in 2021

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An Australian Army M1 Abrams Tank moves into position before sunrise at Shoalwater Bay during Exercise Diamond Strike 2018.

Image: Defence

The following articles (extracts below) provide a snapshot of some of the issues to be confronted in the year ahead ….

If the tradition still holds, arriving on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s desk this week will be a report setting out the Australian intelligence community’s best guesses (they will call them ‘judgements’) as to big strategic developments that could go horribly wrong in 2021.

We will probably never see that report, so in its place here are my best judgements (you can call them ‘guesses’) as to the likely prospects for peace, conflict and the in-between stage now called the ‘grey zone’, where aggressors advance their interests covertly.

The strategic shocks to come in 2021 | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

As the document put it, this “new strategic policy framework to ensure Australia is able – and is understood as willing – to deploy military power to shape our environment, deter actions against our interests and, when required, respond with military force”.

This language of “willingness” is unprecedented in recent memory, uncertain in its application and raises the possibility of squandering the very defensive advantages the government wishes to achieve.

A high-risk, low-reward defence posture (lowyinstitute.org)

Overall, the narrative of the infographics we examined seems designed to strengthen the perception that Indonesia has international support for its sovereignty over West Papua and to quash hope of outside assistance with independence for the region. While the accounts we examined attracted only a relatively small amount of interaction, information campaigns on West Papuan issues have been persistent, and this is likely to be only a small part of operations designed to spread pro-Indonesia narratives.

Australia, UK and UN dragged into information operations targeting West Papua | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

The Australian government’s 2020 cyber security strategy is overwhelmingly focused on increasing the cybersecurity efforts of the defence organisation and law enforcement agencies. The mounting crisis in the United States from the hacking of software company SolarWinds indicates that this is not enough.https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australia-must-do-more-to-prepare-for-a-solarwinds-style-supply-chain-attack/embed/#?secret=UBcuFbVh1L

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27 December 2020

The RAAC Today

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I’ve been very critical about the errors in current Defence publications re the RAAC (as I have with some other sites which continue to depict the pre ACR Corps and superseded equipment); however, it seems to me that they’ve done a good job re the following recruiting videos.

I was once selected to join the 3MD army recruiting team, but ended up being posted elsewhere.  I wonder if I would’ve been able to avoid the ‘other’ sides to life in the RAAC as depicted here.

https://www.defencejobs.gov.au/jobs/army/armoured-officer

https://www.defencejobs.gov.au/jobs/army/armoured-vehicle-crew

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26 December 2020

Defence Strategy

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An article about Australia’s deterrence posture by Mike Scrafton (see below) can be found here:https://johnmenadue.com/the-deceit-of-deterrence-a-bankrupt-strategic-justification-for-defence-expenditure/

My response was:

“Is this really a “deceit” imposed on the Australian public by its Government?

Can someone take just one of the three strategic priorities set out on the 2020 Defence Strategic Update & 2020 Force Structure Plan, dissect it in terms of its apparent ‘failings’, and reach conclusions about overall defence policy?

The three designated priorities are to:

shape Australia’s strategic environment;

deter actions against Australia’s interests; and

respond with credible military force, when required.

It is, of course, the last which dictates the equipment allocation, force structure and readiness posture of the ADF …. this being a consequence of contingency plans which have been developed in response to the identified ‘threat’.

Seems to me that before we can criticise the components of a ‘credible military force’, we have to analyse the threat and its consequent force structure.”

Mike Scrafton was a Deputy Secretary in the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, senior Defence executive, CEO of a state statutory body, and chief of staff and ministerial adviser to the minister for defence.

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25 December 2020

What’s Important.

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Vung Tau, 1966 (AWM)

The following article: ‘The Christmas Story. It is not about tinsel’ by Tony Doherty, can be found here:  https://johnmenadue.com/christmas-reflection/

My response was as follows:

“Wonderful post Tony. My cousin’s husband grew up in a poor area of the UK, emigrated here, learnt to fly a helicopter and built a career resupplying the WA oil rigs.  At Christmas he has a tin of tuna and a couple of biscuits.

He can’t reconcile the lavishness of Christmas lunches with the fact that so many go without a decent meal (let alone the excesses of Christmas). If you had a message to pass to him (now in a terminal aged care facility), it would be much appreciated. Many thanks.
PS. I know the cartoon, but for the life of me … I haven’t been able to find it.”

I don’t think that more needs to be said on this day.  Merry Christmas to all those who read this Blog … might it be that between us all, we can make a few things better next year, than they were in 2020.

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24 December 2020

Where Does Responsibility Lie?

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First Pass.

In 2007, as a result of research for a book, I made both Defence and the Government aware of alleged war crimes in Vietnam.  They already knew, however, as the Government was providing educational material to schools which stated that Australian soldiers in Vietnam killed enemy soldiers who were wounded and unable to defend themselves.  A book detailing one murder was endorsed by a senior Army officer as being a great narrative of Australian military exploits. 

I asked for investigations to be conducted into these murders.  The Government declined.  I asked if training could be revised, so that the Australian people could be confident that no such things could happen again.  I was assured by the Minister, that this would be done.

It is clear that those who took no action when these matters were brought to their attention are responsible for what might have happened later.  They may have ensured appropriate training was prescribed, but if they did not ensure that this was regularly validated … they are still culpable.

What does this mean?  It means that they did not fulfill their responsibilities.  If you are aware of something that needs to be done and are about to vacate your position … what do you do?  You set down procedures that must be followed and overseen by your successor.  Is this asking too much?  Not at all … if a Minister or staff member takes their responsibilities seriously.  Of course, they might only occupy their positions for the salary and ‘perks’ that they provide and they might not give a ‘….’ about their responsibilities.

A submission detailing the above (with copies of letters to the Minister at the time) has been provided to the Afghanistan Inquiry.

Second Pass

Subsequent events have shown that no-one in either Defence of Government bears responsibility for what is alleged to have happened in Afghanistan.    How can this be?

Who has responsibility for the training that troops undertook prior to deployment?  The Government endorses the CDF, the CDF endorses the CA, the CA endorses GOCs Forces Command and Training Command. 

The Minister accepts the word of the CDF; the CDF accepts the word of the CA; the CA accepts the word of his GOCs.  So, on we go … the result being that no-one is responsible! Is this as it should be?

My former office manager (a retired Army colonel) once yelled out from his office in an angry voice to say: “Who’s responsible for THIS (which he was waving in his hand)?”  I replied to say that if it was ‘good’ it was the work of my team; if it was ‘bad’ it was my responsibility.  He said; “It’s great!”. (My team appreciated what is sometimes referred to as ‘leadership’.)  So … where does this leave us?

There is something called ‘self-respect’.  Some people think it to be of importance, others aren’t even aware of it.  There is no line of responsibility from top to bottom, unless those involved believe in the concept of ‘self-respect’. If they don’t care about it … why accept any responsibility for the conduct of those for whose actions they’re responsible?

The answer seems clear.

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10 December 2020

8/13 VMR Association News

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I found the information in the newsletter below, very interesting.

(8/13 were disbanded some time ago; an ‘8/13th Squadron’ is part of 4/19 PWLH)

See: https://www.813vmr.org/blog

It is great to see that, despite everything, the Armoured Corps spirit lives on and those past and their deeds, are not forgotten.  Positive notes to end on.

THIS WILL BE THE LAST BLOG POST UNTIL 24 DECEMBER —– FAMILY VISITS AWAIT.

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9 December 2020

RAAC Operational Capability

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Image: Defence

The latest issue of The Defender magazine has two interesting articles:

“Army is planning on raising a heavy armoured brigade for intensity peer to peer warfare operations as part of the 2028 Order of Battle”; and

“1 Armd Regt has been issued a fleet of new Hawkei PMV-L to trial as Combat reconnaissance Vehicles”.

I haven’t read the articles and I don’t know the accuracy of the source, however, on the surface … this would seem to be great news!

It is in keeping with two of the ‘goals’ set out in Part 7 of the Intro above, ie.

There would be two tank squadrons in the Plan Beersheba ‘Ready’ brigade (to facilitate the formation of an adequate number of battlegroups).

All RAAC ARES units would be equipped with a suitable crew operated vehicle (such as Hawkei) and have roles which are in keeping with the conduct of mobile warfare.

One can’t be sure why 1 Armd Regt is trialing Hawkei as a CRV, but with two CRV Boxer squadrons in the ACR … it’s unlikely to be their own use.

Of course, the reason for arguing for two tank squadrons in the ‘Ready’ Brigade is because of the need for sufficient tanks to form battle groups.  The reasoning here has been presented in previous Blog posts.

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7 December 2020

The RAAC ARES

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The following article was posted in The Cove by Dustin Gold: ‘Looking around: The future of the Army Reserves‘: https://cove.army.gov.au/article/looking-around-the-future-the-army-reserves

My response was:

“A case well argued.

It seems to me that Defence has two choices.  The Reserve forces can either be an ADF supplement or an ADF backup.

A supplementary role would see Reserves fulfilling individual specialist support roles, as well civil support such as that provided for the Invictus Games.  An example of the former is that of a doctor I know who has recently been deployed to Iraq.

A backup role would see the Reserves maintaining operational and tactical skills, in order to be able to reinforce the ADF on active service deployments.  The point here is that these skills take a long time to develop and this can only happen if appropriate equipment is available.

Maybe there’s a hybrid answer; ie. operational skills are prioritised according to importance re ADF capability and the time required for training. 

The problem is, unless a decision is made … the opportunity for the reserves to capable of providing an ADF backup role rapidly diminishes, as the capability gap increases.”

Dustin is an Army Reserve Captain within 9 Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery. He is currently undertaking a Reserve Forces Foreign Exchange with the District of Columbia National Guard whilst posted to Washington DC in his civilian role with the Australian Public Service. As an Army Officer, Dustin has completed multiple periods of full time service, including deployments on border security operations and Defence Assistance to the Civil Community.

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6 December 2020

50th Anniversary Reunion: C Sqn, 1 Armd Regt

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A National Commemoration is being held by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for the 50th Anniversary of Operation Overlord.  The main battle of this Operation was fought on 7 June 1971 and hence the Commemoration will be on 7 June 2021.  C Sqn is holding a 50th Reunion for all those who served during 1971 in conjunction with the DVA Ceremony, which will be at the Vietnam Memorial in Canberra.  A dinner is to be held the night before and prior to that wreaths will be laid in honour of Phil Barwick and Andy Anderson (who were wounded in the Operation immediately after Overlord) at the Last Post Ceremony at the AWM.

There are currently about 100 registered to attend the dinner.  Should any reader wish to attend, although not in C Sqn 1971 but with another connection, you’d be welcome to do so.  Email me at cameronshome@bigpond.com.  Info below.

Timetable

 6 June 2021 (Sunday).

2.00pm            Vietnam Requiem Concert (hosted by the AWM’s Musical Artist in  Residence, Chris Latham, at the Llewellyn Hall, ANU).

4.55pm.           Last Post Ceremony commences at the AWM. (In honour of Cpl David John Dubber, RAAF; KIA 7th June 1971.)  Wreaths laid in honour of Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick

5.25pm.           Ceremony concludes

6.30pm.           C Squadron Meet and Greet (bar/lounge area of the Mercure Hotel, Ainslie).

7.30pm.           Dinner is served. ($60pp)

9.30pm.           Dinner concludes (those who so desire, adjourn to the bar)

7 June 2021 (Monday)

10.30am.  National commemoration commences (Vietnam Memorial, ANZAC Pde, Canberra).

11.30am.  Commemoration concludes.

12 noon.  ‘Snacks’ at Mercure Hotel (drinks at own expense, food cost to be advised).

Note: DVA will provide a shuttle bus from the Mercure to the Ceremony and back

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5 December 2020

Vietnam Requiem

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Flowers of War – Diggers’ Requiem: Image-City News Canberra.

Last night I attended a rehearsal performance of the Vietnam Requiem:

http://theflowersofwar.org/calendar/2021/6/6/vietnam-requiem

It was just incredible and the full concert should be simply amazing.  It was to be performed only once on 6 June 2021, prior to the National Commemoration for Operation Overlord, but COVID has meant that the venue will be limited to 50% capacity and an earlier performance on will be held on 5 June.

John Shumann did a new rendition of ‘I was only 19‘ and Little Patti has lost none of her vocal talent. They are both simply delightful people.

Act 1 of the Requiem comprises twelve songs that were popular at the time of Vietnam; while ACT 2 is made up of twelve Movements which relate to specific phases/aspects of the War, ‘illustrated’ by a photographic backing.  The three Movements performed during the Rehearsal were very compelling and wonderfully performed.

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4 December 2020

The RAAC ARES

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The following article is published in The Cove by Eamon Hale (below):

Light Cavalry in the RAAC: A marriage between regular and reserve | The Cove (army.gov.au)

My response was:

“Well written Eamon. 

I have argued previously for vehicles (not necessarily AFVs) which could enable mobile warfare reconnaissance skills to be developed and maintained to be allocated to the RAAC ARES.

As you know it’s the skills that take the time to instil at all levels.  Whether or not this is important, depends on the role of the ARES within the ADF.  It’s hard to imagine that mobile warfare skills are not required at this time in terms of Defence contingency plans.  This is evidenced by the funding granted to procure the Boxer CRV. 

BUT … no-one is prepared to state and justify the actual role of the ARES in time of defence emergency.  Maybe it’s thought the such a time will not come again. Even the 2020 Defence Reserves Association conference completely side-stepped this fundamental issue.

I hope that the fundamental role of the ARES will be defined, then the wisdom of your proposals will undoubtedly come into play!”

Eamon Hale joined the Army Reserve in 2004, as an M113A1 crewman. He transferred to the Regular Army in 2007, being posted to numerous units with the RAAC and Army. He has deployed on operation to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as exchange to Canada, and training officer cadets  in PNG. 
In mid-2017, Eamon left the regular Army and returned to the Army reserve. 
In 2020, he commenced a continuous full-time service contract attached to 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, with whom he deployed again to Afghanistan as a Force Protection Node Commander and PMV Section Commander. 

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3 December 2020

In the Shadows 3

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Following on from 1 December … the following email sequence is self-explanatory”

1.  Hi Charlie,

I see now that not only was your phone not ‘lost’, but also you have barred me from phoning you.  You really don’t have to lie.

Is it not a travesty that we can’t be open about our communications and discussions with others? 

I could, for example, publish the emails between you and me.

Maybe one or other of those cc’d will have the ‘balls’ to phone me and say why it was that the open and transparent arrangements that you and I had established, were simply ‘overturned’ without any notice to me (or considerations of those on whose behalf we were working).

Once again, I ask if you or Noel or Pedro could phone me (if any of you have the guts to do so).

Cheers, Bruce

2. G’day Bruce

What are you trying to do here.   The matters between you and Charlie are not of my concern or interest.  I have absolutely nothing to do with the social events you are all worked up about.

I was not involved in any of this and absolutely have no interest.   I do not even know Charlie.

What is the purpose of me phoning you?

Are you calling me out as gutless, if so I believe we should sort that out face to face, not via email or phone.

Why am I even a CC addressee on this crap?

Pedro

3.  G’day Pedro,

I like to be open and transparent in all matters I’m involved in.

The person who nominated himself to be a 3 Cav representative (with the backing of the 3 Cav Assn President) for a combined function on the eve of the Overlord Commemoration won’t explain why there was a sudden decision not to proceed according to our planning, but to conduct a separate 3 Cav function. 

I simply ask why I wasn’t given the courtesy of being told when it was decided that ‘if the Commemoration goes ahead, we’ll have our own function’.  This would have been very helpful to know in term of the organisation.

It’s my belief that Mr McLaughlin wanted to attend a social event, but not one with other groups; as a result, he contacted Mr Dearling and they agreed to proceed independently. 

I know that Mr McLaughlin informed you of the arrangements and I presumed that you might have been part of the discussion between him and Mr Dearling. You have said that this was not the case. 

Thank you … that’s all I was wanting to know. 

PS. Don’t you think it ‘unusual’ that Mr Dearling won’t discuss the matter and has blocked my calls … if you’re working in partnership with someone, there’s an expectation that both are honest with each other.  I guess if one is to get “worked up” about something, it’s as good a reason as any.

Bruce

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2 December 2020

The Retrospective Victoria Cross.

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The following letter to the Editor, ‘Canberra Times’ stands by itself:

“It was wonderful to see the gallantry of ‘Teddy’ Sheean recognised at last.  But it’s been a longer road that it should ever have been. 

There were a number of letters earlier this year about the Government’s decision to overturn the independent Tribunal’s decision that he should be awarded the VC.  This decision was surprising, as no-one doubted the bravery and self-sacrifice demonstrated (which is why the independent Tribunal recommended that the award be made retrospectively).

It subsequently became known that the PM accepted the advice of our Chief of Defence Force that the Queen might be put in a difficult position if the award was to be recommended.  Apparently, the NZ Government put forward an equivalent proposal some time ago, only for it to be rejected.  It was also thought that a retrospective award would open the floodgates for other claims and that two classes of award would be created.

Many were of the view that courage and sacrifice on behalf of our nation was being ditched in favour of political nicety.  Public opinion subsequently compelled the PM to appoint Dr Brendan Nelson to examine the matter; the outcome of which led to the recent award and ceremony at Government House.  It seems that the Government’s decision to withdraw the Meritorious Unit Citation to the SASR might also be overturned by public opinion.

There’s undoubtedly a message here … let’s hope that it is recognised and acted upon.”

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1 December 2020

In the Shadows 3

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The following sequence of emails is self-explanatory (though the matters addressed are less so). It is all very tiresome, but apathy doesn’t appeal to everyone.

1. To: ‘Secretary’ 1AR Assn
Cc: ‘Peter Rosemond’; ‘Noel McLaughlin’
Subject: Consultation

Dear Secretary, 

I’ve copied you some of the ‘Updates’ which detail the activities for the C Sqn Reunion.  I note that you’ve opted not to copy me into associated matters that you’re involved with.

When you send the following [proposed] message to members of the Assn, maybe you’d like to say that the names of those attending the C Sqn reunion will be advised by myself when they ‘register’ early next year. But maybe that would be too late and those who are not members of the Assn would miss out ….

“Those members of C Squadron wishing to attend the National Service of Remembrance at the National Vietnam Memorial, or any formal ceremonies at the AWM should register with Pedro Rosemond as soon as possible as numbers at the AWM have been considerably restricted due to COVID-19.”

How do you think that we might resolve this matter for the benefit of ALL C Sqn veterans?  I could, of course, provide the names of all those who have indicated their intention to attend the dinner. That would cover everyone, whether or not an Assn member.

PS.  You’ll be interested to know that I’ve spoken to the AWM re the LPC and wreath laying and have initiated a request for a DVA grant for two wreaths (Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick).

2. From: Peter Rosemond
To: ‘Bruce Cameron’ <cameronshome@bigpond.com>; ‘Secretary’ <secretary@paratus.org.au>
Subject: RE: Consultation

G’day Men

Thanks for the copy of this message.

I have no intent to become engaged in a competition of any kind, especially over this topic.

I have assisted the 1st Armoured Regiment Association and the RAAC Corporation with these Vietnam 50th Anniversary Events simply from an experience perspective.   Along with many others who have also provided support and assistance to make sure the events are conducted to the highest standard possible and I compliment DVA Staff on their energy and competence in doing these things.

DVA initially conducted these 50th Anniversary Events within the budget of the Centenary of WW1.   After the Bin Ba Commemoration there were not to be any more as there was no dedicated funding.   This took a concerted effort and loads of work from us to bring about the remainder of the 50th Anniversary Events being commemorated by DVA.   It was shocking to me that the DVA heads could not see that stopping 50th Anniversary Commemoration half way through the experiences of the Vietnam Veterans would be devastating to the Veteran who were involved in major Operations such as Hammersley 70, Overlord 71 and the end of War 72.   They got the point, achieved the funding and so the events are unfolding as they should.

This is the work of the RAAC Corporation, of which I am simply a member of the Advisory Board and as such have no place to broadcast what we are doing, which I would not do in any case as I prefer t just contribute to the effort of the organisation of which I am a member.

Back to the issue of who is compiling lists.   Bruce, if you have a list of confirmed attendees, please provide a numbers to me and DVA at the meeting you attend this week.   That is all that is required.   I do not need to know names of who is attending or what events they choose to participate in.   DVA require the proposed attendance so that they can arrange appropriate resources to support the event.

Note of Caution:   We are not clear of Covid 19 and if all the policy makers are paying attention to what is happening in the Norther Hemisphere, as Winter approaches and the climate cools, we may experience a similar challenge as Winter Approaches here in the Southern Hemisphere next year.   God help us and we can all prey that is not the case.

3. From: Bruce Cameron
To: ”Peter Rosemond’
Cc: ‘Noel McLaughlin’; ‘Secretary’; Peter Scott; Tony Cox; John Scales
Subject: Consultation

G’day Pedro,

There are 108 ‘definite’ attendees for the C Sqn dinner on 6 June 2021 and 12 ‘probables’.   So 120, however, I expect this number to fall as we enter 2021 by 25%.

Ninety C Sqn attendees, therefore.  George Hulse advises that the mini-team guys will be attending the dinner also … but it is probably best for this number to be advised to DVA by the sappers themselves.

Good to know the RAAC Corporation Advisory Board has been so busy in terms of its “concerted efforts and loads of work”.  You’ll appreciate that the Commemoration is the initiative of Peter Scott, CO 3 RAR in 1971.  He and the battalion function organiser, Tony Cox, have met with DVA on a number of occasions.  DVA have always been very supportive.  They could not confirm the event until the FY budget was approved, but we knew that the intention was always there.  Peter Scott has organised a commemorative coin and pre-paid envelope, which have been approved.

There were 254 from all Corps in the sqn, 25% of whom are deceased.  Of the remainder, 90% have been able to be contacted and informed about the commemoration.  We will consult with them before deciding on those to lay wreaths and to act as the designated Sqn VIP.

Interestingly, the cut-off date for DVA grant requests for the Commemoration has passed.  DVA were very helpful in advising how a grant could be requested by a non-incorporated association/person.  We have requested DVA funding for printing (dinner name tags, menu etc) as well as two wreaths for laying at the AWM Last Post Ceremony.   These will be in honour of two sqn members who DOW.  Those to lay the wreaths will be decided by their mates.  The AWM advise 200 attendees now, but 2000 (I think) if COVID restrictions are lifted.  Fingers crossed. We will be making a booking with the AWM for a small wreath laying party for 6 June 2021, just in case COVID is still with us.

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30 November 2020

In the Shadows II

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The following a copy of a post of mine in response to a post on the 3 Cav Forum which alleged that I had appointed myself with respect to organisation of the Overlord Commemoration …. when I had no right to do so.

(This really is very tiresome!)

“I don’t regard myself as self-appointed.  DVA invited me to provide advice and I’ve been doing this for some time.  The whole commemoration was the idea of the former CO 3 RAR and I’ve been working with him to bring it to fruition.  3RAR activities, like those of C Sqn, are being organised by an individual, not the 3RAR Assn. 

The former CO’s idea was to commemorate the Battle of Long Khanh.  My tank troop and later that of the late Warren Hind were instrumental in the success of the Battle.  Given this involvement, I felt that I had a responsibility to do what I could to assist.  [DVA decided to expand the commemoration to the whole of Operation Overlord, though the Battle of Long Khanh will still appear in the official title of the Commemoration.]

I set about contacting all former sqn members about a year ago [actually 18 month ago].  It was decided to invite all those who served during 1971, not just during Operation Overlord.  Ninety per cent of those still alive have been contacted.  Of the 254, almost 20 per cent are deceased.  The 254 include all corps who served with the sqn.  I think all will be particularly pleased with the Commemorative coin being produced by the Mint (I just hope that they’ve got the driver’s beret pulled down on the right side).  I have kept the 1AR Assn and RAAC Corporation informed of what I’ve been doing and the consequent planning.  I can send you details if you wish.

In terms of others I invited to the coming planning meeting … they were the sqn 2IC at the time (now the most senior surviving member) and a representative of D&E platoon (which lost five KIA in the 84 Section incident).  I established that 3 Cav would be represented by the RAAC Corporation (as will the 1AR Assn).  I’ll report on the outcome of the meeting.  You might be right … there might be too many cooks.  (I had to join the AACC Facebook group to track down the C Sqn cooks.)

PS.  C Sqn will be laying wreaths at the AWM with respect to Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick (both DOW).  The Kiwis who rescued them from their tank are also attending.  See Vietnam War bravery overlooked because of ‘medal quotas’ finally recognised 50 years on – ABC News .  The following was included in the June Update this year:

“I couldn’t let the 49th Anniversary of our attack on the base and training facility for 3 Battalion, 33 NVA Regt (and other units) to go past without saying how honoured I was to have served with you all.  Although it was 3 and 5 Troop involved in name, as always, it was a Squadron effort.  As you’re all aware, while the National Commemoration on this day next year will be for Operation Overlord, our reunion is for all those who served in, and in support of, C Sqn throughout 1971.”

At all times I’ve tried to do the right thing and to keep everyone informed.  I don’t feel in any way, that I’m guilty of some foul deed or misrepresentation.

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29 November 2020

In the Shadows

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It’s great to take a break from the Brereton Report, but no less joyful (unfortunately).

I’ve been accused of trying to usurp the 3 Cav Assn in terms of a function to be held in conjunction with the National Commemoration for Operation Overlord.

The email below indicates how I went about checking with the 3 Cav Assn re any intentions for a function on 6 June 2021 and, if not, to extend an invite to 3 Cav members to attend our tank squadron dinner.

Hi Dallas,

I’m currently doing some pre-planning and your advice would be appreciated.

If DVA funding enables a National Commemoration for Operation Overlord to be conducted, will you be organising a 3 Cav get-together?

If not, would you be interested in inviting those who participated in Operation Overlord etc,  to join C Sqn for our dinner on 6 June 2021? 

There’s no commitment associated with your answer … it will simply help in my planning (I’m already aware of a number of 3 Cav pers who would be attending the Commemoration, should it be held).  I don’t want to make this difficult, simply trying to anticipate arrangements with the function venue we’re dealing with (which can all be cancelled if DVA finding is not approved).

Many thanks, Bruce

Dallas (the President) indicated that it was unlikely that 3 Cav would organise a specific function, so I went ahead and extended the invite.  Charlie Dearling offered to act as co-ordinator for 3 Cav, as he was one of those who accepted the invite. Discussion on this forum took place so that everyone knew what was planned, including re the right signs for the 3 Cav and 84 Section table signs (which have been pre-prepared).

Unbeknown to me, as this time, Charlie and Noel Mclaughlin (Chairman, RAAC Corporation) were planning to conduct a 3 Cav event. Days ago, Charlie advised me that: “The Association was waiting to see if the event was to go ahead, and now that it appears certain, are starting to look at preparations. We decided that an informal ‘meet and greet’ on Sunday 6 Jun will better suit our members ….”.

I’ve subsequently read (in an email forwarded to me) that “Charlie Dearling – in conjunction with Dallas Burrage of 3 Cav Regt (Vietnam) Association – is organising an informal dinner on the night of 6 June 2021 in the Ainslie area for 3 Cav veterans”.

It was interesting to see that Charlie commented that: “Suppose I better think about an email to a certain party…….”.

I wonder who that might have been and why he and Noel couldn’t have been open and transparent in the first place.  I spent eight months trying to keep everyone informed.  I sent copies of updates to the RAAC Corporation and Sec 1AR Assn.  Why couldn’t someone have sent an email to me to say that if the National Commemoration goes ahead, we’re planning a 3 Cav function. 

This would have meant that time wouldn’t have been wasted in preparing table signs, nor negotiating with the venue for additional space.  Of course, I would also have been able to advise where the 3RAR companies have booked for their company dinners.  I’ve left a message on Charlie’s phone … I hope, should he ring me, that the next post might explain how things came to this point.

The following email to the Secretary of the 1AR Assn is more of the same:

Dear Secretary, 

I’ve copied you some of the ‘Updates’ which detail the activities for the C Sqn Reunion.  I note that you’ve opted not to copy me into associated matters that you’re involved with.

When you send the following message to members of the Assn, maybe you’d like to say that the names of those attending the C Sqn reunion will be advised by myself when they ‘register’ early next year. But maybe that would be too late and those who are not members of the Assn would miss out. 

“Those members of C Squadron wishing to attend the National Service of Remembrance at the National Vietnam Memorial, or any formal ceremonies at the AWM should register with Pedro Rosemond as soon as possible as numbers at the AWM have been considerably restricted due to COVID-19.”

How do you think that we might resolve this matter for the benefit of ALL C Sqn veterans?  I could, of course, provide the names of all those who have indicated their intention to attend the dinner. That would cover everyone, whether or not an Assn member.

PS.  You’ll be interested to know that I’ve spoken to the AWM re the LPC and wreath laying and have initiated a request for a DVA grant for two wreaths (Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick).

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28 November 2020

Brereton Report 11

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letter to the Canberra Times ….

Dear Editor:

I agree with John Simmons (‘Many rotten apples’, Letters, 26 November), the problem predates Afghanistan.  When allegations from Vietnam were brought to the Government’s attention, they shirked their responsibility and declined to investigate them; giving assurances that training had been revised and the same thing couldn’t happen again.

I drew the Minister’s attention to Government material provided for school children doing modern history which stated Australian soldiers were guilty of “killing the badly wounded [and] shooting enemy who had surrendered or who were clearly no threat”. I also pointed to an interview published by DVA in which it was alleged that “the Geneva Convention was thrown out the window … if something moves, you shoot the bastard, irrespective of what it is, or who it is…”.  My request for investigations fell on deaf ears. 

I asked the Minister in 2008, “Do you agree that one of the fundamental tenets that Australian schoolchildren should be taught is that: Although the horror of the reality of war is worse than anything thot can be imagined, Australian people and their Government condemn the abuse of military power in any form whatsoever— proof of this is provided by the thoroughness by which each and every alleged atrocity is investigated”.

Rather than SAS officers letting down their men, I feel that the Government has let down the ADF.  If investigations into the above allegations had been conducted, and training revised and validated, what is alleged to have happened in Afghanistan, might not have occurred.

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27 November 2020

Brereton Report 10

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The ‘Don’t tar all our soldiers with the same brush’ by Jon Blackwell (see below) was published here: https://johnmenadue.com/jon-blackwell-soldiers-in-afghanistan-and-elsewhere/

My response is copied below:

“Great article.  I agree … it is a Government, on behalf of the Australian people, that sends its nation’s soldiers to war.  But, it is the same Government who is responsible for ensuring that training is appropriate, not only to confront the battlefield challenges, but also, the moral challenges that are to be faced.  The Government was complicit in turning a ‘blind eye’ to matters associated with breaches of Rules of Engagement (ROE) in Vietnam.  Advice was requested from the responsible Minister that military training had been structured to ensure that the moral failings which occurred in Vietnam could never happen again. This assurance was given.  It proved ill-founded.

The following examples from Vietnam emphasise the differing perspectives that applied:

The Rules of Engagement (ROE) were that we had to positively identify enemy before we engaged.  In essence, this meant that they had to be carrying weapons.  One night we were in an ambush.  Using a first-generation night vision device, the sentry saw four legs … two followed by another two.  Upper bodies were obscured.  Whoever they were, they were breaking the curfew. This did not mean they were enemy, however.  After ‘standing to’, I counted down over the radio and all tanks switched on their searchlights.  There was no need to give the order to fire.  Illuminated was the biggest buck deer anyone had ever seen.  The four legs were explained.”

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One book I read was ‘Contact Wait Out!: A Vietnam Diary’ by Bruce Ravenscroft.  The author describes an ambush he was involved in.  A number of enemy were killed and one wounded (who could be heard to be in pain).  The ambush commander radioed his HQ and explained the situation.  He was told not to bring back any prisoners.  All members of the ambush party stood up and “emptied their magazines into the enemy soldier”.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  My surprise was compounded by the fact that the Foreword of the book, which described it as “a valuable addition to the documents about the war from an Australian’s perspective”, was written by a serving senior Army officer.”

Jon Blackwell has managed hospital and health services in the Pilbara and South Australia and was the CEO of the Central Coast Area Health Service from 1997-2003. He was subsequently CEO of Workcover NSW from 2003-2009.

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26 November 2020

Brereton Report 9

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One of those to whom I sent a copy of my call for greater Government accountability was Andrew Hastie.  The following is an SBS report from yesterday:

Mr Hastie, who chairs a parliamentary committee on intelligence and security, wants to create a committee with powers to compel defence chiefs and bureaucrats.

“If we are serious about increased accountability and transparency, then we need proper parliamentary scrutiny of the Department of Defence and the Australian Defence Force,” he said.

“Without it, our parliament cannot exercise proper civilian oversight of our military.”

This goes some of the way, but it doesn’t acknowledge that the reason for oversight is that it is Government that is responsible.  Government policy is that which determines the state of readiness of the ADF, as well as its structure, equipment, and nature of training.

Recently, Don Spinks (Repatriation Commissioner) circulated an Open Letter from the Minister and Secretary of DVA.  I contacted him to say:

“Thanks for forwarding the Open Letter.  After reading it, I rang the Safe Zone number. I was concerned that there did not seem to be anyone looking into the failure of the Government to investigate war crimes from Vietnam, the results of which might have prevented what’s now being investigated.  I was advised to go the Defence Ombudsman.

I’ve copied below my submission the Afghanistan Inquiry.

Is there anyway, in which DVA can look at its own responsibility, having ignored matters brought to the Department’s attention re Vietnam, for what happened in Afghanistan?”

He, to his great credit and that of his Office, responded to say (in part):

I have forwarded your concern to DVA for review and comment, I will advise once I have RX feedback.

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25 November 2020

Brereton Report 8

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Image: Andrew Hastie

This matter has taken up much time recently.  I’m annoyed with myself for not having more persistent regarding the Vietnam matters I alerted the Government to, but the Minister assured me that training had been revised and such things could never happen again.

The following article was published recently: https://johnmenadue.com/sas-officers-failed-their-men-and-australia/

My response was:

“It can also be argued that Governments have failed the Australian Defence Force.  Twelve years ago, our school children were being told in educational material provided by the then Government that Australian soldiers committed the very same war crimes in Vietnam, as are alleged to have occurred in Afghanistan. 

It is a Government, on behalf of the Australian people, that sends its nation’s soldiers to war.  It is the same Government who is responsible for ensuring that training is appropriate, not only to confront the battlefield challenges, but also, the moral challenges that are to be faced.  The Government has turned a ‘blind eye’ to breaches of ROE in Vietnam.  The responsible action would have been to investigate, identify systemic weaknesses and institute and validate training to ensure such things couldn’t occur again. I asked if the Minister could give such an assurance to the Australian people.  This assurance was given.  It proved ill-founded.

I’ve copied below a letter to the Minister of Veterans Affairs in April 2008 [see earlier blog]. 

The last question was: “Do you agree that one of the fundamental tenets that Australian schoolchildren should be taught is that: Although the horror of the reality of war is worse than anything that can be imagined, Australian people and their Government condemn the abuse of military power in any form whatsoever—proof of this is provided by the thoroughness by which each and every alleged atrocity is investigated”?  I received no response to this or the earlier questions I asked.”

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24 November 2020

Brereton Report 7

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Image: ABC

The following was included in the latest Army newspaper:

“Message from the Chief of Army

As individual, we demonstrate integrity by being accountable for our actions. We are also accountable to call out the behaviour of others when it is not in accordance with our values.

We report accurately and honestly. If something isn’t right, we say so.

As teams, we demonstrate the integrity of our actions by auditing, checking and testing. As an Army we demonstrate integrity by investigating when our actions and words are not aligned with what is right. We self-identify and self-correct.

Acting with integrity, every day, strengthens trust in our teams, with other organisations and with the Australian people.

We strive to be a trusted national institution where every member of its team always acts ethically and with integrity.

– CA Lt-Gen Rick Burr

INTEGRITY – is the consistency of character to align my thoughts, words and actions to do what is right.”

I’ve sent the following email to the CA …

Dear Sir,

I’ve copied below my submission to the Afghanistan inquiry [published on the Blog below].  I see that in the Army Newspaper, you say:

“As individual, we demonstrate integrity by being accountable for our actions. We are also accountable to call out the behaviour of others when it is not in accordance with our values.

We report accurately and honestly. If something isn’t right, we say so.”

BUT what happens when someone does the ‘right thing’ … and those that they’ve reported to, ignore their responsibilities and no change occurs? 

The ‘ice age’ continues … that’s what happens!  I can’t believe that reports made about incidents simply ‘go through to the keeper’.  I’m very tempted to write a piece for the media to show how ‘corrupt’ the reporting system is.

Yours sincerely, Bruce Cameron

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23 November 2020

The Brereton Report 6

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Following on ….

War Crimes and Government Inaction: A Conspiracy of Silence: Part 2

The Second Account (2007)

Still doing research for my book, I came across material that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs had provided for use by the education system, as part of schools’ modern history curriculum.  The references stated that war crimes had been committed by Australian soldiers in Vietnam.  I wrote to the Minister for Defence asking for assurance that the incidents referred to, had all been investigated.  My letter was forwarded to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.  More than six months later, I received a response from DVA to say that my request for an investigation “had been denied”.

I wrote back to the Minister, asking a number of questions regarding DVA’s statement to schoolchildren that war crimes were committed in Vietnam, for inclusion in my book. This letter is attached (G2).  No such information was received.

The Third Account (2008)

My research took me to DVA’s oral history archive where I was able to listen to veterans recounting their experience.  One interviewee, however, made allegations about war crimes which I knew to be untrue.  I contacted DVA and advised that the allegations were false.  I was informed that the interview had been recorded in good faith and couldn’t be removed as this would affect the integrity of the archive.  I gathered evidence, sought legal opinion, and wrote to the Minister, asking that the interview be withdrawn as it was false, misleading and defamatory.  (Letter attached, G3).   Finally, the oral history was removed from the archive.

Conclusion

It is a Government, on behalf of the Australian people, that sends its nation’s soldiers to war.  It is the same Government who is responsible for ensuring that training is appropriate, not only to confront the battlefield challenges, but also, the moral challenges that are to be faced.  The accounts above demonstrate that Government has been complicit in turning a ‘blind eye’ to matters associated with breaches of ROE.  Advice was requested that military training had been structured to ensure that moral challenges faced in Vietnam could be appropriately addressed in the future. This assurance was given.  It proved ill-founded.

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22 November 2020

Brereton Report 5

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Following on …. the first part of my short ‘paper’ identifying Government culpability, is copied below.

War Crimes and Government Inaction: A Conspiracy of Silence: Part 1

I have just heard the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs say that there were obvious failings within the military and it has to lift its game (or words to that effect).  He made no mention of any responsibility on the part of the Government. I believe that the Government has in the past, and continues today, to shirk its accountability for what has happened in Afghanistan.

The following narrative relates to three accounts of different incidents of unlawful killing by Australian soldiers in Vietnam.  On each occasion, as soon as I became aware of the circumstances, I requested that an investigation be conducted.  I further sought assurance that measures had been introduced so that Australians could have confidence that such things could not happen again.  In the background to all this, DVA provided material for school children which stated that Australians committed war crimes in Vietnam.  Government knew about war crimes, but had it investigated them?

Background.

I was a tank troop leader in Vietnam in 1971.  The Rules of Engagement (ROE) were that we had to positively identify enemy before we engaged.  In essence, this meant that they had to be carrying weapons.  One night we were in an ambush.  Using a first-generation night vision device, the sentry saw four legs … two followed by another two.  Upper bodies were obscured.  Whoever they were, they were breaking the curfew. This did not mean they were enemy, however.  After ‘standing to’, I counted down over the radio and all tanks switched on their searchlights.  There was no need to give the order to fire.  Illuminated was the biggest buck deer anyone had ever seen.  The four legs were explained.

I was conscious of examples such as this in terms of the adherence to ROE, when I wrote a book about Australian tank operations in Vietnam:  https://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/books/canister-on-fire-australian-tank-operations-in-vietnam/

The First Account (2005).

During research for my book, I tried to read as widely as possible.  One book I read was ‘Contact Wait Out!: A Vietnam Diary’ by Bruce Ravenscroft. (https://regimental-books.com.au/product/contact-wait-out-a-vietnam-diary/)  The author describes an ambush he was involved in.  A number of enemy were killed and one wounded (who could be heard to be in pain).  The ambush commander radioed his HQ and explained the situation.  He was told not to bring back any prisoners.  All members of the ambush party stood up and “emptied their magazines into the enemy soldier”.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  My surprise was compounded by the fact that the Foreword of the book, which described it as “a valuable addition to the documents about the war from an Australian’s perspective”, was written by a serving Army brigadier (who went on to be a major general).

What to do?  Being aware that there is no statute of limitations as far as murder is concerned, I rang the Defence whistle-blower telephone number.  This isn’t something for ‘us’ I was told, go to the police.  This isn’t something for ‘us’ I was told, go to Defence.   I wrote to the Minister of Defence.  The Army History Unit conducted a search of records and concluded that the incident had never happened.  As far as I’m aware, the author of the book was never interviewed.  Once the incident became known to be a fabrication, he rang me and stated emphatically that every word was completely true “right down to the last copper jacketed bullet!”.

I was still concerned that the account had been ‘endorsed’ by a senior officer (and, therefore, seemingly part of a wider culture within Army).  I wrote the Minister again and asked if he could guarantee that appropriate training was in place to ensure any such breach of ROE would never be accepted again.  The Minister responded to say that this was the case.

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21 November 2020

Brereton Report 4

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In earlier posts, I’ve copied information I’ve sent to the media about the Afghanistan report.  I haven’t had any responses … so time to go for the jugular!  The email below is the cover to my submission to the leader of the Opposition.

I’ve been advised it’s been copied to the Shadow Minister for Defence, as well as Mr Albanese’s policy working group.

We can only hope that lessons from the past are acknowledged.

Dear Mr Albanese,

I believe that the attached material shows partial culpability on the part of the Government which has not been acknowledged.

I further believe that, unless there is such acknowledgement, that the status quo won’t change.

I offer the attached for your consideration.

I don’t seek any personal publicity; however, if there is a need for someone to stand behind this issue, then I’m prepared to do so.

Best wishes,  Bruce Cameron

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The above is the Blog post as I drafted it.  I wrote to Mr Albanese because I thought that he could ask questions in Parliament which would force the Government to recognise their culpability and responsibility (rather than simply hanging the Army out to dry) … BUT, I’ve just realised that Alan Griffin (the Minister to whom I wrote to in 2007/8) was Labor.  So Albo is unlikely to light much a fire under the current Govt.  Hence, I’ve copied the material to Andrew Hastie and Jacqui Lambie; but I think it’ll take an investigative journalist to really make the case for principled and lasting change.

I’ll post the short ‘paper’ I sent, tomorrow

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20 November 2020

The Seniority of Regiments in the RAAC

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Following on from 5 November …. the seniority for the first four RAAC regiments is currently listed as:

1st Armoured Regiment 

2nd Cavalry Regiment 

1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers

2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (QMI)

This was correct when 2/14 LHR (QMI) was an ARES unit, but it is now ARA.

The basis for seniority is set out in Australian Military Regulations AMR):

“Units of the Army take precedence as follows:

(a) the units of the Permanent Forces have precedence over the units of the Reserves;

(b) the units have precedence according to the order of their numerical succession;

(c) if units are not included in a numerical succession, the units have precedence according to the order in which the Commands to which they belong are specified in the instrument appointing Commands.”

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2007C00747

The RSM Ceremonial advises that:

(i) AMR “were cancelled in April 2015; however, the precedence originated from these regulations still stand …”;

(ii) 2/14 LHR (QMI) fully transitioned to an ARA regiment in 2005, however, “there is no evidence that the RAAC Corps Council requested a change to the order [of seniority] of the RAAC units to the Chief of Army”.

(iii) “The Corp could have made an adjustment to the accepted order. It did not do this at the time nor was it requested”.

 (iv)  “The HOC RAAC has no intention in requesting the order change …”.

The conclusion … the order is wrong, but the RAAC has not bothered to ask for it to be changed.

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19 November 2020

The Brereton Report III

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Image: ABC

Following on from the earlier posts, I have given the following response to two media articles which have widespread readership (see below).  I have deliberately not stated what the reply was that I received from the Minister.  I hope that this ‘drip feed’ might draw attention to the deliberate policy of Governments past, ie. to ignore all such matters and refuse to investigate and respond as needed.  It can well be argued that if the Government had responded as it should have in the past, what is being reported on now might well have never happened.

“The Government has continually shirked its responsibility and must be held to account.

I can prove this, for example … sometime ago, I wrote to the then Minister of Defence. I pointed out that educational material, provided by DVA to Australian schoolchildren, includes reference to an unspecified number of incidents of Australian soldiers: “killing the badly wounded [and] shooting enemy who had surrendered or who were clearly no threat”. I also drew attention to an interview published by DVA in which it is alleged that “the Geneva Convention was thrown out the window [by Australian soldiers in Vietnam] … if something moves , you shoot the bastard, irrespective of what it is, or who it is…whether innocents were killed, maimed, whatever, we just didn’t give a xxxx”.

I expressed the view that the material raised a number of questions: (i) were the alleged incidents investigated; if not, why not?; (ii) if found to be true, what action was taken to bring those responsible to justice and to ensure that the same thing could not happen again? I highlighted the fact that, without this information, schoolchildren may believe that such actions were condoned by the Australian Government. I asked the Minister if he would ensure that all allegations had been investigated and amend the educational material to reflect this.

I look forward to all relevant matters leading up to this situation, being made known (to which I will contribute)”.

PS. Having just listened to General Campbell’s press conference, I have also provided the above to the ABC’s defence correspondent and their Canberra based political correspondent https://johnmenadue.com/george-orwell-are-you-listening-truth-warping-about-afghanistan-war-crimes/embed/#?secret=fLc8UtuII9https://johnmenadue.com/war-crimes-and-the-asymmetry-myth/embed/#?secret=0ml9wgZcrT

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18 November 2020

The Coming Brereton Report II

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Image: ASPI

Following on from 16 November, I’ve copied another letter below, to show how responsibility must be accepted on the part of Government and those in command for not acting prior the circumstances which have arisen recently.. I look forward to all relevant matters leading up to this situation, being made known (to which I will contribute).

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The Hon Alan Griffin, MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

House of Representatives,

Parliament House

CANBERRA  ACT 2600

                                                      cc.        Maj Gen David Morrison, AM,

                                                                  Chairman, Army History Committee.

Dear Minister,

ALLEGATIONS OF ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY AUSTRALIANS IN VIETNAM

On 6 October 2007 I wrote to the then Minister of Defence.  I pointed out that educational material, provided by DVA to Australian schoolchildren, includes reference to an unspecified number of incidents of Australian soldiers: “killing the badly wounded [and] shooting enemy who had surrendered or who were clearly no threat”.  I also drew attention to an interview published by DVA in which it is alleged that “the Geneva Convention was thrown out the window [by Australian soldiers in Vietnam]…if something moves , you shoot the bastard, irrespective of what it is, or who it is…whether innocents were killed, maimed, whatever, we just didn’t give a xxxx”.

I expressed the view that the material raised a number of questions: (i) were the alleged incidents investigated; if not, why not?; (ii) if found to be true, what action was taken to bring those responsible to justice and to ensure that the same thing could not happen again?  I highlighted the fact that, without this information, schoolchildren may believe that such actions were condoned by the Australian Government.  I asked the Minister if he would ensure that all allegations had been investigated and amend the educational material to reflect this.

My letter was forwarded to the then Minister of Veterans’ Affairs on 15 November 2007 (responsibility for the matter having been judged to lie within your portfolio).  Today, more than six months after the date of my letter, I received a response from the Director, Advising and Public Law Legal Services, DVA

In informing me that my request to have these allegations investigated had been denied, Mr Harrison stated that “Information for teachers on the Australian Defence Force protocols and procedures in wartime is not included [in DVA’s educational resource material] as this is not part of the curriculum”.  I take this to mean that DVA considers that Australia’s education curriculum in some way prevents schoolchildren being informed that while atrocities sometimes occur in war, those alleged to have been committed by Australian soldiers in Vietnam have been thoroughly investigated by the Australian Government. 

I will ask the Minister for Education to consider DVA’s position on this matter; for the moment, however…I am currently writing a book about Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.  I would like to ask you the following questions (so that the responses of the Australian Government may be included in the book for the benefit of all Australians): 

  1. How many incidents (please state if an estimate) form the basis of advice to Australian schoolchildren that Australian soldiers in Vietnam killed badly wounded enemy soldiers?
  2. How many incidents (please state if an estimate) form the basis of advice to Australian schoolchildren that Australian soldiers in Vietnam shot enemy who had surrendered or who were clearly no threat?
  3. Do any of the incidents at paras 1 and 2 include that described in ‘Contact : Wait Out’?  The alleged murder of a wounded enemy soldier contained in this book was investigated by the Minister of Defence in 2005.  The incident was found to have been a complete fabrication by the author.  (Material has been provided to DVA separately which shows conclusively that the interview referred to in the opening paragraph is another fake memoir.)
  4. Apart from the incident in ‘Contact ; Wait Out’, how many atrocities, among those which form the basis of DVA’s advice to schoolchildren, have been investigated, as far as DVA is aware?
  5. Apart from the incident in ‘Contact : Wait Out’…of those allegations which have been investigated, how many have been found to be true, as far as DVA is aware?
  6. If DVA is aware of alleged atrocities which have not been investigated, has DVA brought those matters to the attention of the relevant authorities?
  7. Do you agree that one of the fundamental tenets that Australian schoolchildren should be taught is that: Although the horror of the reality of war is worse than anything that can be imagined, Australian people and their Government condemn the abuse of military power in any form whatsoever—proof of this is provided by the thoroughness by which each and every alleged atrocity is investigated.

Yours sincerely,

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17 November 2020

The RAAC Looking Good!

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A recent Blog post bemoaned the lack of ‘accurate’ public relations material re the RAAC.

With the 50th Anniversary of 2 Cav Regt coming up on Cambrai Day, I went looking for information as to what might be happening.

I struck Gold!

The above Association website includes a recent address by the CO 2 Cav Regt.  He is to be congratulated as a truly great ambassador, not only for 2 Cav Regt, but the Army as a whole.

Seems to me that the RAAC is in good shape.

What a pity it is that more information such as that provided here, is not readily available.

I encourage everyone to watch this video.  It is 12 mins long and can be found at the following website (under CO 2 Cav Regt).  Copy and paste in the top https address bar.

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16 November 2020

The Tank Capability of the Future

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The following is an article submitted for publication in the Army’s ‘The Cove’.

“For just over a century, the tank has been the key symbol of land power. Today, tanks no longer enjoy the same level of battlefield supremacy that they used to. So, what’s next? Do they still have a role to play? If so, how do they need to evolve and what will the next generation look like in terms of features and capabilities?”.  Nicholas Drummond, https://uklandpower.com/2020/04/05/where-does-the-tank-go-from-here/ 

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The2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan’ stated that: “Defence will develop options for a system to replace the current tank capability when it reaches its end of life. This new system will integrate with reconnaissance and infantry fighting vehicles to ensure the land force retains a decisive land combat capability into the future.” (https://www.defence.gov.au/strategicupdate-2020/)

The fact that Defence has committed to developing options to replace the Abrams, indicates that the tank capability is recognised in terms of its importance for the ADF (and its contingency plans). This is exactly the foresight that’s to be expected of our Defence staff.  The US is examining the same circumstances (and has been for many years).  The Abrams tank is adequate today and can be improved to meet the needs of tomorrow.  But what about the day after and the day after that?  What will the replacement for the Abrams tank capability look like?

The answer has to start with the role that the tank fulfills on the battlefield.  Is it possible that future wars will not involve infantry?  There will be all sorts of autonomous machines, but will any be able to take the place of a soldier?  The answer is certainly ‘no’ in the timeframe under consideration.  It follows that there will be a need to provide direct fire support, aka the tank capability, as part of a combined arms force underpinning land operations. The fact that the next ‘tank’ may not be anything like the Abrams, is without dispute. 

What does such a direct fire capability need to provide?  The answer is, as it has ‘always’ been: lethality, survivability, and mobility, under all extremes of climate and terrain. This is self-evident.  What is unknown is the way in which advances in technology will influence the solution.  There are developments in mobility such as hovercraft and hydrogen fuel cells, however, this is not the breakthrough science.

Direct fire support can be provided by a manned vehicle, a robotic vehicle, or an optionally manned vehicle.  The US Army is considering the last concept.  One imagines that this is because it is too soon to bank everything on robotics alone.

Many arguments have been advanced that, whether crewed or optionally crewed, the weight of a direct fire support capability has to be reduced to enable it to be deployable in all contingencies.  This is especially so in terms of ADF planning.  How can this be achieved, while maintaining requisite protection levels?

Volume under armour is the biggest impost on the weight of an AFV.  Reducing the size of the crew by incorporating an autoloader was the answer at one time, but the lethality of anti-armour weapons is now so advanced, that this is no longer enough.  The current Russian T-14 Armata MBT is one solution.  The crew is within a ‘cocoon’ in the hull of vehicle, below the external gun and autoloader. Considerable weight is saved without having to protect crew members in their own turret. 

As well as the provision of an Active Protection System (APS) for certain vehicles, the Strategic Update (above) also made reference to: “A future program to develop a directed energy weapon system able to be integrated onto ADF protected and armoured vehicles, and capable of defeating armoured vehicles up to and including main battle tanks.”

Such a weapon is suggestive of a laser, but is unlikely in terms of defeating AFVs in the foreseeable future.  Another possibility is a ‘rail gun’.  Neither of these technological breakthroughs, however, will resolve the main challenge facing the replacement tank capability.

The APS, however, might be part of the solution. Such systems have been demonstrated to be capable of defeating attack by ATGM and RPGs. But what about kinetic energy penetrators?  Can an APS counter these, thereby enabling the weight of armour to be significantly reduced?

A recent press release suggested that this is feasible: “Elbit Systems’ Iron Fist active protection system (APS) has successfully engaged a 120 mm armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) projectile under test conditions”. If this was to be substantiated, it would really be revolutionary.  https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/iav-2020-elbits-iron-fist-engages-kinetic-energy-round  (Elbit is an Israeli company with links to the RAAC.)   BUT…what about attack from above?  It’s been proposed that low cost drones could be employed en mass to attack AFVs from above.  Will an APS be able to counter this?

If protection is able to be increased and weight reduced … will this be sufficient for a direct fire capability to be deployed on the future battlefield? It has been suggested that a new grouping of complementary force capabilities will be needed in the future, i.e. traditional organisational structures will no longer be adequate.

Conclusion

The challenge is how to provide a future direct fire support capability which is lethal, survivable, and mobile.  There are numerous options as far as mobility/engine power are concerned, as there are in terms of firepower.  The crux of the design challenge is to decrease weight, while increasing protection against both ground and air attack. The role of APS (especially against `top attack) is crucial; as is the need to structure future operational groupings in such a way that direct fire support can be provided in a readily deployable ‘all arms’ context.

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5 November 2020

 The Coming Brereton Report

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The following letter is more than twelve years old. I have been striving to correct false allegations for much longer than that and hope to be able to present material to the on-going process to (i) show how some veterans seek to sensationalise their experiences; and (ii) how the Government has endeavoured to ‘minimise’ their responsibility in terms of addressing such matters.

BTW.  The interview referred to below (re an RAAC unit) was withdrawn from DVA’s website


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                                                                                                       April 2008

The Hon Alan Griffin, MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Dear Minister,

Notice of a False, Misleading and Defamatory DVA Publication 

It is understood that 12,000 people per month, access DVA’s Australians at War Film Archive.  The majority of these are students, teachers, historians and researchers from both Australia and overseas. 

The transcript of interview number XXXX is published on DVA’s website.  It alleges that the Army unit the interviewee served with in Vietnam was responsible for appalling abuses of human rights and breaches of the Geneva Convention.  The attached statements demonstrate conclusively, that the allegations are false. 

It is apparent that the interviewee is not only sensationalising his experiences in a self-serving manner (eg. he falsely claims to have been wounded in action), but is also acting maliciously (eg. he insults the bravery and sacrifices of those who served in the unit and defames a number of people).  DVA were asked to amend the interview to remove such false, misleading and defamatory remarks, but the Department advised that this was possible only to a limited extent (which turned out to represent the worse examples of defamatory material) because of the effect that this would have on the integrity of the Archive.

The interview is also used a means of conveying a threat of assault against an individual.  Emphasising the seriousness of the threat, the interviewee details a plan to murder the person concerned while both were in Vietnam.  He also boasts of the grievous bodily harm he inflicted on his next door neighbour.  The ACT Attorney-General had to intervene to ensure the safety of the person threatened, an ACT citizen, and his family. 

Would you please consider that attached material with a view to instructing DVA to withdraw the interview from publication.  The Department have previously declined to do this, citing the fact that it was published in ‘good faith’.  There is now overwhelming evidence to show that there has been an abuse of trust.  Part of a legal opinion as to DVA’s obligations in regard to this matter is attached. 

It concludes that: “It is one thing to publish the truth even where that truth is less than complimentary.  It is an entirely different thing to publish lies.  Despite Mr Harrison’s [Principal Legal Officer, DVA] assertions, there can be no integrity in an archive where lies and misinformation are permitted to flourish.  This interview is so contaminated by lies, misinformation and defamatory material that it could not be redeemed by ‘cutting and pasting’.  It is singularly without merit and should be removed from publication”. 

It has been suggested to DVA that guidelines should be developed to set out what constitutes acceptable material for publication; the idea being that if a user of the Archive came across something which contravenes these guidelines, then it could be brought to DVA’s attention.  The Department have stated that this is not possible, as it might inhibit an interviewee’s freedom of speech.  In effect, the DVA are saying that the publication of false, misleading and defamatory material is acceptable and that the ‘disclaimer’ attached to interviews, absolves the Government of any responsibility in these matters.  As a Minister looking at this matter ‘afresh’, your further consideration of this suggestion is requested.

I should also point out that the attachments below [statements providing evidence refuting the claims made] were made available to DVA, with a draft of this letter, almost three months ago.  (This followed three months correspondence with the Department prior to that.)  It was hoped that the matter might be able to be addressed without the need for publicity which could damage the credibility of the Australians at War Film Archive as a whole.  It appears, however, that resolution in this way is not possible.  Quick attention on the part of your Office would be appreciated, so that the time limitations for appeal to the Commonwealth Ombudsman will not be exceeded (should this course have to be adopted).

Yours sincerely ….

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14 November 2020

The Tank Today and in the Future

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The significance of the following article ‘Fighting to Win – The importance of the tank to the ADF in the 21st Century” by Brigadier Chris Mills and Lieutenant Colonel Leo Purdy on 12 September 2018, has been discussed previously on the Blog.  It was republished in Australian Defence Magazine soon after: https://www.australiandefence.com.au/land/fighting-to-win-the-importance-of-the-tank-to-the-adf-in-the-21st-century

The following are some of the comments ADM readers made:

“If the M1 tank is to have credible role in future warfare, they should have an active protection system made standard.  I have seen videos on how easy it is these days to disable an M1 with a portable missile launcher.”

The US Army seems to recognise the benefit of APS.

I am not disagreeing that the M-1 should be fitted with APS but as with all Vehicles, Ships & Aircraft the best Defence is to kill the Launch Platform before it fires and that is the importance of combined Arms.

Only thing I would add to this excellent piece is that the loss of tanks in Iraq and Syria at the hands of ISIL (particularly Turkish Leopard 2 and Iraqi M1s) was due to poor doctrine with respect to the use of the tank, a complete absence of situational awareness, and a lack of infantry support. Tank opponents sometimes point to these losses as proof that tanks are no longer relevant but like anything, it comes down to how they are used.

A cynic like me would say that too much of the ADF equipment program is built on the maxim of ‘we have, therefore we replace’.  I think that the changes we are seeing now means that Plan Beersheba is already obsolete and the ADF could be well served by a good look at what we need and what are nice to have’s. I do not mean ANOTHER white paper!

To suggest we get rid of Tanks because we will struggle to land them on a Beach is absolute rubbish.

If the army really want to stay with the mbt concept but at a usable weight, something like the new Type 10 from Japan. It varies between 40t minimum to 48t with bolt on added modular armour. The reason Japan developed the Type 10 was because the previous Type 90 was too heavy to use in most of Japan.

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There are a number of points here which relate to previous Blog posts: the role of APS (especially re top attack); the weight of the Abrams and the need for a lighter direct fire weapons system to facilitate its deployability in the future; and the need to structure our operational units in such a way that direct fire support can be provided in a deployable ‘all arms’ context.

I believe the above to be the crucial issues, how they’re achieved is not really relevant.  There are numerous options as far as mobility/power are concerned (eg. hovercraft/hydrogen fuel cell); as there are for firepower (eg. rail gun).  The crux of the design challenge is to decrease the weight, while increasing the protection.

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13 November 2020

Half Cocked at the Keyboard.

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Image: AWM

The following article was published on 11 November 2020: ‘Armistice Day: Old Bones, Young Soldiers, Long Wars’. https://johnmenadue.com/armistice-day-old-bones-young-soldiers-long-wars/

This is the sort of thing that I scan out of interest.  Suddenly, my hair stood on end: the author was stating that Australian soldiers had no moral courage.  This was just too much, a ‘cheap shot’; on Remembrance Day of all times. My response was going to be very forceful.  I found a good quote re moral courage by Michael Josephson.

 “But there’s another form of courage [to physical courage] that’s just as important; it’s called moral courage. It’s the kind of courage C. S. Lewis referred to when he said, “courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” The testing point is the place where living our lives according to moral principles may require us to put our comfort, possessions, relationships, and careers at risk.

For most of us, the need for physical courage is rare. But our moral courage is tested almost every day. Being honest at the risk of disapproval, lost income or a maimed career; being accountable when owning up to a mistake can get us in trouble, making tough decisions and demands with our kids at the cost of their affection, being fair when we have the power to be otherwise, and following the rules while others get away with whatever they can – these things take moral courage, the inner strength to do what’s right even when it costs more than we want to pay.

The sad fact is that people with moral courage rarely get medals. Instead, they risk ridicule, rejection and retaliation. Yet this sort of courage is the best marker of true character and a life your children can be proud of.”

How dare anyone accuse Australian soldiers of lacking moral courage!  My head of steam was just building up when I noticed something in the article.

The comment I sent to the author explains:

“Douglas, Thank you for your piece.  The following might give you a laugh.  I almost made myself look a fool (some will say not for the first time).  Instead of correctly reading “… if the moral courage of the governments equalled the immortal military courage of their soldiers.’ True then; true now”; I read: ‘if the moral courage of the governments equalled the immoral military courage of their soldiers.’ True then; true now.”

I got part way through an earnest response, when I realised my mistake …”.

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12 November 2020

How We Lose Sight of How Things Were.

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A Dutch Army Centurion Mk5/2 with its driver’s hood protection which is used in cold climate condition, mostly during training drill in winter.

The image above was part of a post on the Centurion Tank Appreciation Society’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/134672933274865

[This is a great site; run here in Australia by Adrian Clayton, a dedicated Centurion owner and enthusiast.]

Some of the comments were:

“The most useless bit of kit ever. Used to mist up, leak like a sieve, obstruct side vision, and as Lawson says, very claustrophobic. Oh, and it limited the turret traverse or got wiped out by it.”

“they were a part of CES, but were never issued (sat unused in Troop Stores, under the grotty cam nets).”

My post in response was:

“I think the name is ‘Drivers’ Long March Hood’. I guess the tank designers appreciated that in action drivers would be closed down, but there might be occasions in which they could be faced with a long approach ‘march’ to the battlefront. If this was in inclement conditions, the health and welfare of the driver might become important (not that it wasn’t on all other occasions). I’m constantly amazed at how much thought those responsible at the time, put into every nook and cranny of the design. I know I found the grenade holders in the turret useful in Vietnam (though I would not have anticipated this beforehand).”

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11 November 2020

HAWKEI for RAAC ARES

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Following on from 4 November, the following was the response from Major Thomas Basan to my comments:

Image: Motoring

Bruce, that’s a great question about the provision of HAWKEI to the reserves. I’ve served as BM 13 Bde and so have a good understanding of your concern. I think ARES RAAC are prime candidates for ‘fighting’ versions of HAWKEI.

I think we must couple HAWKEI with BUSHMASTER and to a lesser degree the armoured trucks to create a combat system. Together the vehicles can easily cope with domestic security, rear area security and stability tasks, which are the core tasks that shape the ADF. However, I’m of a view that everything must be driven by operational plans.

Up to now, we’ve been guided by what are essentially ‘good ideas’, ‘parochial views’ and ‘what we’ve got’; not what we need. As the ADF shifts to a more integrated force and the ‘drums of war’ grow louder I think you’ll see more modern equipment provided to the reserves. However, without solid operational plans it’s difficult to use logic and reason to inform capability choices and to ‘train as we’ll fight’.

If you read my training article, at https://cove.army.gov.au/article/new-approach-collective-training-lessons-drawn-sport-and-music you’ll get an idea of how ‘mission profiles’ can help to define what you need.”

I read the training article above (a very long one) and responded to the above as follows:

Thomas, I read your training article above and noted that in the Conclusion you stated: “Significantly, collective training is not an end in itself, but a means of meeting the needs of an operational plan…”.  It seems to me that this is self-obvious.  What is more relevant is that there appears to be a need to improve the direction and guidance being provided from top-down which links operational (contingency) plans and training objectives at unit level.  There does not have to be an existing direct threat to train and prepare for participation in a contingency plan.  Certain skills, such as armoured reconnaissance, are relevant to many contingencies and are unable to be developed at short notice.

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10 November 2020

The Future Battleground: Autonomous Vehicles

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Image: sadefence.com

Following on from 8 Nov 20 …. the link to the article below relates to the replacement of the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance helicopter:https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-eye-of-the-tiger-is-the-australian-army-preparing-for-the-right-conflict/embed/#?secret=ma5jp8WaMF

As mentioned in the earlier post, the UAV is set to play a major part on the future battlefield.

Previous posts have looked at how the weight of a future direct fire support vehicle can be reduced.  This is achievable using vehicle design and active protection systems (APSs) from the ground threat, but how feasible is it in terms of top attack?  It would seem that this is the crucial ‘next step’, as regards the battleground of the future, ie. to protect the AFV from attack by multiple low-cost UAVs

An extract from the above article is copied below:

“What’s most important is that the decision should reflect a land-warfare vision that includes large-scale use of armed autonomous systems in the air and on land. Adversaries will be taking advantage of the military power of such systems to complement—or even replace—crewed systems, and if our own defence organisation doesn’t, Australia will be at a disadvantage.

Such a system will demand investment in battlespace command and control that is resistant to countermeasures such as electronic warfare, cyberattack and kinetic attack. Such a capability needs to embrace the ‘small, cheap and many’ approach of ‘command clouds’ operating in the air, over land and even from space, using low-cost, small and easily deployable components. Very high altitude, long-endurance UAVs operating in near space can complement locally developed and launched small satellites and constellations of smart cubesats to provide tactical communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to swarms of lethal autonomous weapons. In such a scenario, an attack helicopter would hang back, managing the swarms via the command cloud, and avoid needlessly putting itself at risk over what will be an intensely contested battlespace.

Factoring in the role of autonomous systems is crucial to thinking about the future of army capability …”.

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9 November 2020

Cavalry Memorial (Tongala) Beersheba Day Ceremony 2020

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Image: VWMA

The following video is worthwhile watching:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/15ofN3IEjlDLPEo3zQAQwPHMPJ0dEUBqV/view?usp=sharing

Full credit to the 3 Cav (Vietnam) Assn for taking the initiative, applying for a DVA grant, and working with the Tongala community to create this Memorial.   Congratulations to them for maintaining contact and developing such dedication, commitment, and support on the part of all those involved across all ages.  The red and yellow roses look fantastic!

More background is provided here:

https://vwma.org.au/explore/memorials/2020

http://placesofpride.awm.gov.au/memorials/249941

http://centurion-mbt.tripod.com/cent-mbt10.htm

I was one of those who attended the opening of the Avenue of Honour to Armoured servicemen killed in the Vietnam War.  (Background to this below.)  Well done to the 3 Cav Assn to taking the concept further.  It’s sad that the 1AR Assn did not do likewise.  The late John Whitehorn would have been pleased if an Armoured Corps Memorial was to have resulted.

For 1AR Assn C’tee: a story about John Whitehorn (see below) and his commitment to 1 Armd Regt would be great to see in a future addition of ‘Paratus’.

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From RAACA (NSW) Armour newsletter 2006:                                                 

“Tongala Project – Avenue of Honour Centurion Tank”

REPORT THIS AD

‘In 2001 the Australian Light Horse/Armoured Memorial Committee was formed with a total of 4 people to build a Australian Light Horse memorial to honour the Lighthorsemen from the district that went off to war. In 2003 the Light Horse Memorial was built and dedicated.

After this dedication the committee agreed on building Avenue of Honour to the Armoured Servicemen killed in the Vietnam War.  This Avenue was unveiled in November 2004, by the Governor General of Australia, and the Chief of the Australian Army. Over 4000 people attended this event.

While the Avenue of Honour was in planning stages, John Whitehorn ex 1 Armoured Regiment soldier approached the committee on the idea of having a Centurion Tank placed in Tongala to be dedicated to his two mates, Jimmy Kerr and Mick Hannaford and to all those who served with the Centurion tanks.  John at that present time had throat cancer which was progressing, John knew he wouldn’t be around for the dedication (John passed away in June 2005) but did agree to leave funds aside for the project.

It was also John’s wish to have both Armoured and Cavalry represented together in the Avenue of Honour. The committee at present time is in the planning stages for the event with the unveiling set aside for November 2008. At present ARN 169120 Centurion Tank has been purchased by Michael Thompson and is in Tongala. Michael has put in $15,000 of his own money to purchase and transport it to Tongala.’

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8 November 2020

The Future of the Battlefield and its AFVs

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Image: ADM

The following article is from the ASPI publication ‘The Strategist’

ttps://www.aspistrategist.org.au/cheap-drones-versus-expensive-tanks-a-battlefield-game-changer/

The article included a link to the recent use of armed drones:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU9AeU-gAP8&feature=youtu.be

In my view, this footage has to be one of the most profound influences on the future battlefield.

“[It] has generated debate on whether expensive and technologically sophisticated armored vehicles can survive in future battles against masses of cheap ‘suicide drones’. Is the tank, which first emerged on the battlefields of the Western Front in 1917, now approaching the twilight years of its military utility?”

“With Australia’s purchase of new armoured vehicles under the LAND 400 program underway, the likelihood of large numbers of low-cost drones operating over the future battlespace should be a concern for defence planners.

The article also updated the costs re LAND 400 Phase 3:

In Phase 2 of LAND 400, the Defence Department is acquiring 211 Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles to replace the army’s light armoured vehicles (the ASLAVs). In Phase 3, it will buy 450 infantry fighting vehicles and up to 17 manoeuvre support vehicles to replace the obsolete M113 armoured personnel carriers.

South Korea’s Hanwha Defense Australia’s AS-21 ‘Redback’ and Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s ‘Lynx’ are competing in Phase 3. A decision is due by 2022. The budget range is now $18.1 billion to $27.1 billion for 450 vehicles, or about $50 million each.

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7 November 2020

RAAC Matters: Free and Open Discussion

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One of the goals at Part 7 (above) is:

No-one on RAAC or related personal social media would use personal insults, derogatory language, or intimidation, in an attempt to stifle free and open discussion.

Following on from 5 November 2020, in which I queried the current order of seniority of RAAC regiments, the comments below (albeit only a very few of the 73 made) have appeared on the RAAC Facebook page:

Rob Vonk

Oh what a can of   worms, are we going to suffer casualties from all this crap, all black hats so as long as we can look back at our forebears and remain proud, if you ain’t a black hat you ain’t pardon the pun.

Bruce just let go!!!! It doesn’t matter any more, we are now a CORP that works in a Combat TEAM. Doesn’t matter who what where or with we are BLACK HATS and proudly do our job regardless of our unit origins.

How much shit will my last post attract???

I didn’t know Rob Vonk, but it appears that he was an RAAC WO in recent years.  His ‘profile’ is at: https://au.linkedin.com/in/rob-vonk-206a9933  I responded:

I’m not sure if this post in response to yours above is classed in your terms as “shit” or not, but can you explain what opposition you have to the history and contribution of our RAAC forebears being clearly defined?

That led to the following:

none whatsoever but why dwell on ancient history as we as a Corp have to move forward to develop our fighting skill in a new way of conducting warfare. I am proud of my past units history, 1AR, 2Cav, 4Cav, 3/4Cav, 1/15 RNSWL, SOA, 1 Topo Svy Sqn, 6ESR to name a few, forgot OBG4 all served as a Black Hat.

Also from Craig Cook 

I am a bit lost that today’s Army choose an accepted order of its choosing and because our former members don’t accept it, they demand the current keepers accept what former members think is correct or want.

Fact is … I’m NOT demanding anything.  I’m simply asking if the change to the order of seniority was something which was forgotten when 2/14 QMI became an ARA unit.

Question is … does it matter if the order of seniority of RAAC regiments is correct or not? 

If it doesn’t, where does this lead?

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6 November 2020

RAAC Operational History: One Mystery Solved

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The photo above has created lots of interest.  I came across by accident among those I’d been sent for my book and posted it on the 3 Cav Vietnam Assn website … just for info.

The photo below was then posted.

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Incredibly, no detail was available about the incident in which it was penetrated by the RPG (nor what happened to the crew). The Assn is very motivated regarding matters associated with their history, however, and many members contributed.

It turns out that the APC was one of those hit by RPGs in Baria during the Tet Offensive.  Amazingly, it seems to have been repaired and returned to operations in just 10 days.   How was this done?

I’m aware of the techniques used to weld ‘plug’ RPG holes in Centurion turrets, but what about aluminium armour.  Is it possible that a panel could have been cut out and replaced? How long would it take to do this?

I’ve asked the Bluebells. 

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5 November 2020

Seniority of RAAC Units

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Following on from 29 October 2020 …

I had to write to the Minister to get both the dates on the Vietnam Theatre Honour on the 1 Armd Regt Standard corrected and the Coral-Balmoral Battle Honour emblazoned.  It appears that I’ll have to do the same re the seniority listing of RAAC units.

The seniority of RAAC units is currently listed as:

1st Armoured Regiment 

2nd Cavalry Regiment 

1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers

2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (QMI)

4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment 

12th/16th Hunter River Lancers

B Sqn 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment 

A Sqn 3rd/9th South Australian Mounted Rifles

A Sqn 10th Light Horse Regiment 

I believe this is wrong as 2/14 LHR (QMI) has transitioned from being an ARES unit to an ARA unit.

The importance of this is that ARA units should take precedence before ARES units.  The following refers (thanks to Bruce Scott): Australian Military Regulations, Part 3, Para 68 (2) of 2007:

“Units of the Army take precedence as follows:

(a) the units of the Permanent Forces have precedence over the units of the Reserves;

(b) the units have precedence according to the order of their numerical succession;

(c) if units are not included in a numerical succession, the units have precedence according to the order in which the Commands to which they belong are specified in the instrument appointing Commands.”

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2007C00747

The Corps RSM states that what is stipulated is what it is and the President of the 2/14 LHR (QMI) states they receive advice from those serving.  Discussion on the RAAC Facebook has revealed the basis of seniority above, but is unlikely to lead to any change. 

When I was trying to correct the error re the dates that 1 Armd Regt served in Vietnam on the Standard (I declare a vested interest, my tank troop was the last to serve on operations), it seemed to me that nobody wanted to cause a ‘fuss’, ie. they would not be looked on well if they were to do so (even if the historical facts were without doubt).

Why do we not place importance on historical accuracy?  What if the Life Guards’ Queen’s Cavalry Standard showed the wrong dates for Waterloo?  There would be outrage, and justly so.  (I mentioned this in my submission to the Minister.)  But not here in Australia … we don’t want to cause a ‘fuss’. 

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4 November 2020

RAAC ARES: Mounted Capability/Tactics Development

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The following article by Major Thomas Basan (see bel;ow), is on The Cove (Army’s PME website): HAWKEI IS COMING, WHAT CAN WE DO WITH IT?’ https://cove.army.gov.au/article/hawkei-coming-what-can-we-do-it

My response was:

“Well written Thomas … a very comprehensive analysis of capability and technology!

I have only one comment, intended to add value, not detract in any way from what you’ve said.

One of the roles, as you’ve said, that the Hawkei was developed for was reconnaissance.  You’ve pointed out that it is not suited for combat reconnaissance unless “sensor and targeting pods are fitted to an armed and jammer protected Hawkei”.  In which case “it would be a significant combat multiplier”.

You’ve further pointed out that “if the capability manager (Chief of Army) exploits the protection and mobility of Hawkei, coupled with the offensive use of the weapons on a RWS; we can create a light armoured fighting vehicle”.

The importance of battlefield reconnaissance is demonstrated with two reconnaissance squadrons in each armoured cavalry regiment and the commitment to the combat reconnaissance vehicle project (LAND 400 Phase 2).

Unfortunately, the Boxer has been deemed too expensive and sophisticated for allocation to RAAC ARES units.  As a consequence, they have been condemned to a dismounted cavalry scout role.

Successful reconnaissance depends as much on tactics skills, as it does on the capability of the vehicles/aircraft/UAVs involved.  These skills take ‘eons’ to perfect.  What great benefit could be obtained by allocating Hawkei to RAAC ARES units; to allow reconnaissance tactics to be developed.  Without any such initiative, the ARES will be unable to provide any ‘surge’ capacity for reconnaissance squadrons in time of Defence emergency.”

Major Thomas BASAN enlisted in January 1980. As a soldier and NCO, MAJ BASAN served in 2/4 RAR and SASR. On commissioning, MAJ BASAN commanded paratroopers in 3 RAR at platoon, specialist platoon and company. MAJ BASAN is a graduate of ACSC and ATSOC and has a master’s in systems engineering. In later years, MAJ BASAN served in Future Land Warfare, AHQ; Land Development Branch and the Australian Defence Test and Evaluation Organisation, CDG; Brigade Major, 13 Brigade and Preparedness, AHQ. He is currently employed within Land Capability Development, AHQ.

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3 November 2020

1AR Assn Newsletter: RAAC Communications

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The last edition of ‘Paratus’ can be found here: 

In it, the editor, Peter Lukeis, stated that:

“This edition of the Newsletter (No. 85) now named ‘Paratus’ will be number 16 for me or (4 years) along with the upkeep of our Website, as well as setting standards for Communications, which includes badging, letter heads, certificates, presentations etc., but it is now time for me to move on and hand over to the new broom, hopefully next generation.”

Being responsible for the production and publication of sixteen editions is an enormous contribution to the Association and its members.  I wonder how the Assn will acknowledge his commitment to this end?

The notice of departure from the position (above) was in the May 2020 edition.  Presumably no-one has been found to replace him, as August and November editions have not been published. 

One has to wonder about the importance that organisations today place on their public image.

As mentioned in a recent Blog post, the information provided by Defence re the RAAC is woefully out of date and totally misleading for anyone searching for relevant info.

The same seems to apply to public Facebook pages, both at Brigade and unit level.  It seems that all ‘current’ info is confined to private Facebook pages. 

Why was there no public recognition afforded to the significance of Beersheba Day?  Will Cambrai Day simply go unnoticed?

This to me, is a travesty.  At a time when there is the greatest need to debate Defence policy and preparedness, public media outlets seem to be collapsing.  I used to work in marketing … I know what I’d do.  But who would listen to me?

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2 November 2020

What’s to Become of the AWM Redevelopment? II

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Following yesterday’s Blog, the following comment was made in relation to what I had said:

“Hi Bruce – it’s not an either/or argument – we can have both – a magnificent site (which as you say is much more than the iconic building) and an expansion to enable expanded galleries. But it must be done properly and not put at risk the core commemorative strengths of the place – the iconic building and site. I know this can be done.

With regard to your question on how do you define heritage value – I realise you allude to this as being something esoteric, and perhaps suggest heritage means nothing should change – this is not the case – the National Heritage List and the AWM’s own Heritage Management Plan, Heritage Strategy and Heritage Register all describe the significant and irreplaceable attributes of the site – you can find all these key documents online – they were all done to ensure we recognise and retain what is so special about the place and to guide future development. They are well thought out documents – which consider the full range of issues associated with the place – developed with input from not only heritage professionals, but key stakeholders like you (and me) – they are worth a look.”

My response was as follows:

“Hi Stewart, The AWM Heritage Management Plan (HMP) is very comprehensive.  Presumably a listing has been compiled showing where the proposed redevelopment does not accord with the Plan’s recommendations.  It would be a pity for such a rationale to be lost sight of, because of ‘other’ issues.  For example, the extent or otherwise of public support.  If I wished, I could lobby veterans and have a petition signed in support of the project.  But all this is ‘smoke and mirrors’. 

Seems to me that the following provision of the HMP is the central issue (which is why images were included in the article above):

“Ensure that the ability to perceive the AWM main building ‘in the round’ within its landscape setting is not comprised by any new surrounding development or impact on significant views to the building”. 

The image of the current proposal would suggest an impact on a significant view of the building.  The HMP allows such variations if there is no alternative.  But the real issue would seem to be whether or not the impact is an adverse one.  The HMP is silent on this aspect and seems to seek to enshrine all significant views in perpetuity. Surely this was not the intent?”

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1 November 2020

What’s to Become of the AWM Redevelopment?

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The following article is relevant: http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/mcilroy-tom-former-veterans-minister-warns-of-war-memorial-heritage-risk/

My response was a follows:

“It is really no surprise that opposing positions have become so entrenched, the AWM being such an iconic institution.  I was almost going to say ‘iconic building’, but the AWM is much more than the its building … or is it?  My father was an army engineer involved in preparations for its opening on 11 November 1941.  There is no doubt that at that time, the focus was on the building itself and the human values that it represented in an architectural sense.  But the AWM has evolved. 

It is no longer ‘just’ a Memorial.  Visitors leave with a much greater understanding of the conflicts in which Australians have been involved, than if they were only to reflect on the sacrifices made while they were in the Hall of Memory.

Understanding of conflicts is important if we are to learn from them.  This is why it is no surprise that many of us argue for the AWM to provide a canvas for the Frontier Wars and the bravery of indigenous Australians in defending their people and land.

What are the main arguments?  There are two: (i) the money for the redevelopment could be put to better use in other ways; and (ii) the planned redevelopment will jeopardise the heritage value of the AWM.

Opportunity cost will always be an issue with any new project.  What is the best use of the money?  Everyone’s answer will depend on their personal values. Being a democracy, however, we’re ‘burdened’ with the fact that everyone has the right to express their views.  It is a matter for our elected Government to adjudicate.

Heritage value?  How do you define this?  Are we referring to the vista or ‘ambience’ created by the building, the building itself, or all three?  If the original building is not to be changed, then ‘heritage’ must relate to ambience and/or vista.

It would help the case of those arguing against the redevelopment, to explain their opposition in these terms.”

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31 October 2020

The Future for the Tank: Is Now the Time for the Funeral?

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The following article suggests that the ‘spirit’ of tank crews will live on: ‘Semper Tanks’: Marines hold on to tanker spirit as 100-year legacy ends

https://www.stripes.com/semper-tanks-marines-hold-on-to-tanker-spirit-as-100-year-legacy-ends-1.650085

Several quotes have been copied below.

It’s interesting that these underscore previous posts about the future of the tank, ie. the availability of protected direct fire support is vital and a lighter more agile force is needed.

The question is: how to achieve these opposing goals?  

A veteran of the Iraq war who spent over six months fighting in Fallujah, he said “tanks were an absolute necessity” there during Operation Phantom Fury and subsequent operations. Many Marine infantrymen would not have made it home without them, he and others say.

“When you need a tank, nothing else will suffice,” Valasek said. “I don’t know what direct fire asset is going to replace [tanks].”

The commandant envisions a lighter, more agile Marine Corps, largely designed to counter China, and has said the Army would continue to provide tanks and other heavy ground systems.

“I really fear the day that a future Marine finds himself in a bind and looks around because he needs a tank and there isn’t one there to help him,” he said.

Marines have voiced what Valasek calls “tanker optimism” that the service may one day backtrack — and that it’ll need Marines like them again when it does.

“Just because our equipment’s going away, our brotherhood’s not. It will never die,”

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30 October 2020

‘Formulating Defence Strategy’ II

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Image: ASPI

Following on from 28 Oct 21:

“The Minister’s commitment to the existing and planned force structure suggests the government has failed to recognise this critical point. Indeed, one of the more incongruous elements in its wafer thin Force Structure Plan was an upgrade to the Army’s 60-tonne main battle tanks, a like-for-like replacement whose strategic purpose was always in doubt – at least until one Prime Minister proposed that they spearhead an Australian invasion of Ukraine.” https://johnmenadue.com/part-2-australias-defence-strategy-built-in-resistance-to-change/

My response was:

“Please … in the interest of honest public commentary, explain the basis for the following statements:

(i)  Plans for an upgrade to the Abrams tanks which involve a like-for-like replacement;

(ii)  The fact that the strategic purpose of the Abrams tanks “was always in doubt”; and

(iii) Proposals that Abrams tanks spearhead an Australian invasion of Ukraine.

Unless you do so, the entire credibility of Part 2 (and the article as a whole) is called into question.”

Another comment was made by Cameron Leckie (bionote below):

Yesterday’s article suggested that “Australia faces the greatest threat to our independence since 1942.” Today’s article states that “the military threat to Australia is now greater than at any time since 1942.” It is concerning how the language is changed/twisted without actually explaining what the threat is.

What is the threat to our independence? What sort of military threat do we face? Is it a long range missile threat, conflict in the South China Sea, an invasion of Australia? These general ‘threats’ seem to be used as a tool to generate fear rather than an analytical assessment of the actual threat that China poses to Australia.

The military defines a threat as a capability plus intent. [My emphasis] Clearly China has, and increasingly so, the capability to militarily threaten Australia. It seems far from clear however that China has the intent to harm Australia, other than if we involve ourselves in actions that are seen by China to harm its national interest. Yesterday’s article listed a whole bunch of examples of ‘Chinese aggression,’ most of which were no threat at all to Australia.

China’s rise to the world’s largest/second largest economy has occurred without recourse to military conflict. This is not surprising from the home of Sun Tzu. Why, when it is clear that China is or will soon become the world’s largest economy, would it resort to military conflict now? That seems illogical.

Is the China threat actually just a case of projection?

Cameron Leckie served 24 years in the Australian Army retiring with the rank of Major. As member of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals he served in a number of regimental and training appointments, concluding his service as the Executive Officer of the 1st Signal Regiment. He deployed to East Timor (Operation WARDEN), the Solomon Islands (Operation ANODE) and Sumatra (Operation SUMATRA ASSIST). He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Southern Queensland.

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29 October 2020

The RAAC, as Portrayed by ‘Official’ Public Sources.

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Just imagine that you (or someone you knew) had heard about the RAAC and were interested in finding out more … possibly with an interest in enlisting.  You go onto “Google’ and enter RAAC.  The info copied below is what the Defence website tells you.  ‘Why oh why’ can’t Defence update their websites?  We all know that tank regiments and cavalry regiments no longer exist. 

But what about the seniority of RAAC units … it is my understanding that ARA units take precedence before ARES units.  It might be that regiments come before squadrons (which would explain the position of B Sqn 3/4 Cav Regt) … but why isn’t 2/14 LH Regt (QMI) listed after 2 Cav Regt?  Some years ago, I pointed out to DPR that their published info was out of date.  I was assured that it would be corrected. I’ve copied this to the Corps RSM.

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Royal Australian Armoured Corps

The role of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps is to locate, identify, destroy or capture the enemy, by day or night, in combination with other arms, using fire and manoeuvre.

The Royal Australian Armoured Corps (RAAC) is a combat arm with a range of capabilities that can be employed by the Army. RAAC units are able to participate in a range of operations including direct attack, reconnaissance and armoured mobility to infantry. Units of the RAAC are equipped with the Abrams M1A1 main battle tank (MBT) family of vehicles or the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) and Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle (PMV). 

The main types of Armoured Corps units are: 

The tank regiment – The tank regiment operates the Abrams main battle tank. The Regiment’s manning and equipment make it suitable for a variety of employments. The role of the tank, in coordination with other arms, is to close with and destroy the enemy using fire, manoeuvre and shock action. 

The cavalry regiments – The cavalry regiments operate the ASLAV and Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle. A cavalry unit’s personnel and equipment enable it to conduct a variety of tasks. The role of cavalry is to locate, dislocate, and disrupt the enemy through the conduct of offensive, defensive and security actions. 

The light cavalry regiments – The light cavalry regiments/units are Army Reserve units that can operate either in a mounted or dismounted role. The units are equipped with either the light cavalry patrol vehicle (LCPV) and the interim infantry mobility vehicle (IIMV) or the Bushmaster (PMV). Light cavalry conducts stability and enabling activities and augments cavalry regiments. Light cavalry tactics comprise security, stability and enabling activities including the operations of protection, counter-insurgency, evacuation and strategic response options and RFSU operations.

Within the Royal Australian Armoured Corps the following is the accepted order of precedence of regiments:

  • 1st Armoured Regiment 
  • 2nd Cavalry Regiment 
  • 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers 
  • 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) 
  • 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment 
  • 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers 
  • ‘B’ Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment 
  • ‘A’ Squadron, 3rd/9th Light Horse (South Australian Mounted Rifles) 
  • ‘A’ Squadron, 10th Light Horse

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28 October 2020

Formulating Defence Strategy

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The article ‘Sharp-edged but sophisticated diplomacy needs to underpin our defence strategy Part 1’ by Jon Stanford (below) can be found here: https://johnmenadue.com/sharp-edged-but-sophisticated-diplomacy-needs-to-underpin-our-defence-strategy-part-1/

My response is copied below:

“The government’s recent Defence Strategic Update suggests Australia faces the greatest threat to our independence since 1942. This demands a sophisticated diplomatic strategy, the development of a sound military strategy to deter an attack by a great power and careful analysis of how to design the right force structure to deliver it. This first article of three looks at the issues around diplomacy.”

At last!  The logical sequence of consideration has been ‘nailed’ in public commentary.  We start with the threat analysis.  This, in turn, provides an assessment of the warning times available.   Diplomatic and military strategy are developed in parallel.  Finally, the development of the relevant force structure, incorporating the assessment of lead times for the acquisition of equipment and training of personnel.  The end result of all this, is a determination of the level of preparedness needed by standing and reserve force components, the levels of stockpiling needed, and the development of contingency plans.

Why this is so difficult to understand is beyond me.  We have commentators criticising decisions regarding equipment, without any reference to the threat assessment which led to the force structure decision(s). I saw one influential person recently state that preparedness has to come first and strategy follows.  How can this be?  The threat is assessed, the strategy developed and the level of preparedness adjusted accordingly.  This is a continual process; not one confined to the publication of Defence White Papers.”

In a former life, Jon Stanford was a Division Head in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Currently, as a Director of Insight Economics, he is undertaking significant research on Australia’s future submarine project, generously supported by Gary Johnston, owner of the Submarines for Australia website.

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27 October 2020

Operation Overlord: 50th Commemoration

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Image: AWM

I have been invited to attend an initial planning meeting for the 50th Anniversary National Commemoration of Operation Overlord (the Battle of Long Khanh).

My response to DVA is copied below:

“Many thanks for your email.  I can confirm that I will attend.  I will be accompanied by Lt Col John Scales (Retd).  John was the 2IC C Sqn during Operation Overlord.  As the Sqn OC is deceased, John will be the senior representative of the tank squadron at the National Commemoration.

I have organised a dinner on the evening of 6 June for members of C Sqn, 1 Armd Regt and supporting units who served together during 1971.  So far, we have bookings for over 80 attendees and I expect at least 100.  Apart from the dinner, the ‘itinerary’ for the preceding day will include the Vietnam Requiem at the School of Music and the Last Post Ceremony at the AWM.

In relation to the dinner and Last Post Ceremony, I would like to apply for DVA grant funding (as per the entitlement below) to cover the cost of printing menus and name tags ($200) as well as wreaths ($300). I am not a member of an incorporated association, however.  Is it possible for a grant application to be made in conjunction with the National Commemoration arrangements?  (I believe, Tony Cox, the 3RAR organiser would like to make a similar application.)

On another matter, when my tank troop assaulted the enemy position during the Battle of Long Khanh, it comprised three tanks and an armoured recovery vehicle.  The ARV was crewed by RAEME personnel.  We were without infantry support and when contact was made with the enemy, our drill was to form a square and engage our respective arcs of responsibility.  The RAEME crew had exactly the same responsibilities as the tank crews.  It is acknowledged that RAEME members were part of the units to which they were attached, nevertheless, I wonder if it might be possible to ‘officially’ acknowledge RAEME participation in the Battle of Long Khanh (ie. in terms of overcoming the enemy, rather than ‘just’ providing repair support)?  Could the HOC RAEME have advice to offer here?

Finally, I’ve attached a PDF copy of Volume 2 of my book: https://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/books/canister-on-fire-australian-tank-operations-in-vietnam/   Chapter 28 describes Operation Overlord.  I’d be happy if DVA wished to make use of any material.  I can provide the maps/photos in high resolution TIF format.  (I’ve got them on a cd.)”

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26 October 2020

The AWM Redevelopment

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A letter to the PM signed by 70 ‘prominent’ Australians is published here:https://honesthistory.net.au/wp/stop-this-mad-indulgent-498m-project-at-the-war-memorial-open-letter-to-the-prime-minister-signed-by-over-70-australians/embed/#?secret=ykC49lfjse

My response is copied below:

“Those who signed the petition are undoubtedly ‘prominent Australians’.  How many had actually faced the enemy, however?  Only one … Mr Gower. His book, ‘Rounds Complete’ details his role as an arty forward observer and is worth reading in this respect. Maybe his signature should have influence, maybe not.  So how is it that 69 people who have not put their lives on the line for their country, consider that they have the right to dictate the manner in which the AWM depicts the history of those who have served their nation in War?

Of course, many of the signatories could be aware of the feelings of forebears, ie family members who have served their nation in War.

On what basis does the AWM credit the importance of the petition?  If it is only on self-professed ‘prominence’ … does it have any credence? What if another petition was to be organised seeking the views of those who have been prepared to give their lives on behalf of their nation.

If media and publicity is to be used to influence Government decisions re the commemorations of our nation’s history, is it too much to ask that the views of those who were actually involved in creating the history … be requested.”

Another comment was published as below:

Dear Bruce
With respect, as one who signed the petition, and, like most Australians, has strong family connections to war, this is about protecting that extraordinary site and building which does so much for commemoration. We all have a responsibility for that place. As the letter said “The Memorial must be supported to achieve its core functions, but this should (and can) occur without damage to its core commemorative strength – the iconic heritage building and site”.

My Response:  “It is to be expected that there will always be a range of differing viewpoints associated with a project like this. I’m not arguing against the position expressed in the letter, just trying to relate it to ‘due process’, ie. one in which the Prime Minister’s counsel acknowledges the importance of all stakeholders, even the ‘unprominent’.  

The response to this …

Thanks Bruce
I agree. We are all stakeholders in what happens at that place. In the 20 years I worked there I never saw anything like the controversy this project has caused. That is such a shame. It should never have gone that way. The process and design is so flawed. I only wish the much referenced veterans (and others), especially the ones who understand the extraordinary tangible and intangible qualities of the site, and know what we risk losing through this development, were more vocal.

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25 October 2020

RAAC Corporation: 3/4 Cav Regts Assn

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The Blog on 22 October included the following:

“The RAACA NSW simply said ‘No’ … no reason given by the President.  Seems to me that my efforts to hold the RAAC Corporation to account, have once again been a factor.  If I was to press for an explanation, I wouldn’t be surprised if the President’s response was simply it’s political”. This was the reason given by the 3/4 Cav Regts Assn for withdrawing my membership.”

I’ve been asked what happened re the 3/4 Cav Assn.  There is a long story, one which has been detailed in earlier Blog posts.  The following is a short version.

1st Armd Regt was awarded three battlehonours for Vietnam, but were only permitted to emblazon two on the Standard.  I had hoped that the RAAC Corporation might advocate in support of a submission that I had prepared to have the Coral-Balmoral battlehonour emblazoned.  The Chairman said that he wasn’t interested, so I wrote to the Minister myself.

The Minister responded to say that a review had been conducted and the restriction no longer applied.  (I had also asked that an error on the Standard be corrected and this was also approved.)

The new regulations meant that all the battlehonours awarded to 3 Cav Regt would now be able to be emblazoned on their Guidon.  I suggested on the 3/4 Cav Regts Facebook page that the Assn might like to advise the OC, B Sqn 3/4 Cav Regt (at the SOA) of this, so that the history of the ‘new’ battlehonours could be made known in advance (possibly vide troop projects).

The RAAC Corporation Chairman considered that I had impinged on what were the responsibilities of the Corporation. 

He spoke with the President, 3/4 Cav Regts Assn … my post was deleted and my membership cancelled. 

When I asked why, I was advised that the President had said that “it was political”.

Note. The badge above was that of 3 Cav Regt. It is that which the RAAC Corporation links on its website with the 3 and 4 Cav Regts Assn. I assume that this is because it is the badge worn by B Sqn 3/4 Cav Regt.

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24 October 2020

RAAC ARES: RAAC Corporation

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The following post is on 1/15RNSWL Facebook page:

“Some great work from 1/15 RNSWL’s paired Armoured Cavalry Regiment (ACR) – 2/14 LHR (QMI) as they start driver training on the new Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV).  Discussions continue on the employment of Cavalry Scouts within a Boxer Troop.” https://www.facebook.com/115Lancers/

For one incredulous moment, I thought that 1/15th personnel were participating in the training on Boxer.

I quickly realised, however, that it was only 2/14th who were training and 1/15th were left wondering if they might be considered for even a dismounted cavalry scout role.  (Please Sir … can I have some more?)

The latest edition of the 1/15 RNSWL journal can be seen here: https://www.lancers.org.au/site/Lancers_Despatch_Aug_2020.php

How great it is to see the acknowledgement being given to their role during the pandemic.

However, as per this Blog’s previous post regarding the Minister’s press release on Reserve Forces Day … it’s one thing for community assistance to be respected, but what about the Reserve’s role in terms of defending our Nation?  If it has one …

As stated at Part 5 in the Intro above, one of Armouredadvocates’ goals is to ensure that:

All RAAC ARES units would be equipped with a suitable crew operated vehicle (such as Hawkei) and have roles which are in keeping with the conduct of mobile warfare.

How sad it is the RAAC Corporation has become what it is. 

There has to be a balance … one which can only be achieved by consensus.  On the one hand the Corporation needs to represent the interests of its member associations which align with the view of Defence; on the other, it needs to represent the interests of its member associations which do not align with the Defence view. 

Sadly, ‘official’ agreement for the formation of the Corporation was premised on the fact that it would not advocate with respect to the latter. (The driving force behind the creation of the Corporation passed away before this rule was enshrined. It would never have been allowed, otherwise.)

Makes one wonder about the motto: ‘In Unity is Strength’. It’s hard to imagine any circumstances in which the strength provided by mass support, would ever be needed … if the positions to be advocated are only those which are already approved!

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23 October 2020

RAAC Corporation

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‘PROPOSAL BY THE UK TO SCRAP ITS MAIN BATTLE TANKS?‘ By Kyle Mizokami September 2, 2020.  This article has been published in the RAACA NSW’s latest journal, ‘Armour’. https://raacansw.org.au/Documents/Newsletters/Armour_October_2020.pdf

Interestingly, it was first published in the UK Journal ‘Popular Mechanics’ and has simply been reprinted in ‘Armour’.  (I wonder why the original publication was not credited?)

Readers of the Blog will know the examination which has been given in this publication, to the future of the tank and its design. I wonder where the RAACA NSW C’tee will go to from here in terms of informing their members and encouraging discussion.   I would provide some draft pieces for consideration. That is, if I hadn’t recently resigned my membership. 

Why was this?  I asked if the Assn could forward an application for a DVA grant ($300, for a wreath and printing costs) associated with the National Commemoration for Operation Overlord next year.  C Sqn 1 Armd Regt and 3 Cav Regt will be holding a reunion for those involved.  The purpose of the expenditure is specifically provided for by DVA, but the application has to be made by an Incorporated Assn. 

The RAACA NSW simply said ‘No’ … no reason given by the President.  Seems to me that my efforts to hold the RAAC Corporation to account, have once again been a factor.  If I was to press for an explanation, I wouldn’t be surprised if the President’s response was simply “it’s political”. This was the reason given by the 3/4 Cav Regts Assn for withdrawing my membership.

There will be many things which will become clear when my story is published.

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice, lying and greed.  If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the Earth.”  William Faulkner, 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature.

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22 October 2020

The Tank of the Future: Protected, but Lighter

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Image: Defence Update.com

There is wide agreement that a direct fire weapons system is required, but it must be lighter than current MBTs.  One way of achieving this is to reduce the size of the crew and place them in the hull, with an auto-loaded weapons system above.  But this will never be the complete answer.  Active protection systems (APSs) have been touted as the solution.

The Hensoldt Multi-Function Self Protection System for Vehicles (MUSS) has been in the news recently.  This is designed to defeat attack by ATGM and RPGs.  The operating principles are copied below.  There is no revolutionary scientific breakthrough here.  But what about kinetic energy penetrators?  Can an APS counter these, thereby enabling the weight of armour to be reduced?

A recent press release suggested that this had been done: “Elbit Systems’ Iron Fist active protection system (APS) has successfully engaged a 120 mm armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) projectile under test conditions”.  Now if this was to be substantiated, it would really be revolutionary.  Elbit is an Israeli company with links to the RAAC.  https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/iav-2020-elbits-iron-fist-engages-kinetic-energy-round

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The MUSS is designed to counter threats caused by ATGM (anti-tank guided-missiles) and laser guided ammunition in six steps:

1. The scenario is continuously monitored by the MUSS passive sensor heads. It recognizes threats with their emitting radiations through the warning sensors.

2. Based on the threat messages which include direction of attack and other parameters, this is then displayed to the vehicle crew.

3. The movement information of the vehicle and the head sensors is collected by the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and provided to the MUSS Central Electronics (MCE).

4. The appropriate type of countermeasures will be automatically selected. The countermeasures are initiated automatically or semi-automatically as selected by the vehicle crew.

5. The Jammer is able to disrupt the guidance of most of the jammable ATGMs which are currently in service. This function influences the missile in such a way that it does not reach its target, either hitting the ground or flying away.

6. A further countermeasure is the deployment of a special smoke grenade activated by the turnable smoke screen dispenser.

https://www.hensoldt.net/products/optronics/muss-multifunctional-self-protection-for-vehicles/

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21 October 2020

‘The Tank is Dead: Long Live the Tank’

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Image: pinterest.com

The above article was written by three members of Jane’s Military Publishing Company.  https://wavellroom.com/2020/10/01/a-critical-analysis-of-the-future-of-the-tank/

The bio notes for Jon Hawkes are copied at the end.  The authors address the topic under three main headings. Quotes from each of these areas are copied below.

Totality of the Battlefield

“What does this mean for the British Army and its tanks? Put very simply, a discussion around the enduring value of the tank for the British Army in any scenario neglects, or refuses, to address the fact that success in a conflict is the result of the totality of the battlefield. This means that the British Army, and the armed forces as a whole, must work together to ensure that they are able to present a cohesive and organized force that can influence the outcome. A myopic focus on the tank seems to ignore inconvenient truths, and usually rests rather heavily on the tiresome adage that begins “a tank is like a dinner jacket…”.

This aspect has been covered in previous blog posts, ie. oganisational flexibility is crucial for future combat scenarios.

Totality of Technology

“The purpose of a tank is to utilise its unique technologically enabled strengths of protection, firepower and mobility to deliver aggressive, mobile, shock action to exploit the enemy’s loss of initiative in response to the tank’s effects. Of these strengths, firepower has continued to improve and may see the adoption of 130 mm guns and integrated ATGMs, however mobility and protection are falling behind, leaving the tank vulnerable.” 

“Active Protection Systems (APS) have been hailed as a partial solution to this problem – they offer a credible and operationally proven hard counter to missiles and rockets, defeating them away from the vehicle and creating the option to either reduce the volume of armour or repurpose it to specifically face the threat of APFSDS projectiles.”

“Establishing ways to increase protection at reduced weight, whether physical or with disruptive technologies in the outer layers of the survivability onion, are critical to returning the tank to the apex position in the battlefield.”

How to increase protection at reduced weight is the critical issue addressed in previous blogs.

Totality of Society

“At present, the UK has a tank fleet that is too expensive to buy or maintain in sufficient quantities to make a difference against a peer/peer+ opponent such as Russia, is difficult to deploy anywhere quickly, and still fairly vulnerable to modern anti-tank weapons. Furthermore, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify the cost-efficiency of the tank within the UK’s limited budget, recruitment figures, and range of realistic or likely combat missions.”  This is a bit outside the scope of the Blog, ie. if the tank can be shown to needed to provide

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20 October 2020

‘Survive : The Case for Armour’

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The above article, by Giles Moon (see below), recently appeared on the UK Wavell Room website: https://wavellroom.com/2020/10/08/survive-the-case-for-armour/

Do the findings differ from those in previous posts on this Forum?  No.  The main issues are that tanks will still be needed and the ability to deploy to differing conflicts can be achieved through the right organisation.

What are tanks for? The core purpose of the tank is simple, and has remained essentially unchanged since they first “operat[ed]…in the van of the battle” one hundred years ago.  Tanks combine firepower, mobility, and survivability to dominate the close land battle. 

Despite the claims of the defence commentariat, the British Army still requires tanks if it is to be a force capable of fighting the majority of modern adversaries”

“While there may be merit in re-apportioning the defence budget to invest more heavily in areas such as cyber, eliminating key land capabilities entirely to buy more supporting technology would be akin to someone selling the engine from their car so they can afford better tyres”.

“… it is worth noting that [an] armoured brigade could be extremely potent if complemented by one or two Strike brigades of more mobile medium-armoured vehicles.  A medium-weight brigade would mitigate the major flaws of a heavy armoured formation (ie. strategic and operational level mobility) and give the UK a range of forces to deploy if the situation doesn’t demand heavy firepower.  Even so, Strike isn’t usable in all circumstances meaning an armoured brigade remains critical. “ 

Interestingly, it was proposed the Britain could hold tanks overseas to provide training rotations.  Sadly, Australia wasn’t mentioned.  Maybe this is something the RAAC Corporation will take up (?).

“With only two armoured regiments in the brigade and a sizeable stock of mothballed Challenger 2, Britain could store fleets of vehicles overseas in, for example, Canada, Germany, and Oman.  This would allow frequent training rotations in different conditions to keep crews and units trained.  If the armoured brigade were well funded, with enough ammunition and track miles to allow frequent training, then it should be simple to maintain readiness at a sufficient level for the brigade to be sent into combat with only a minimal pre-deployment work up.”

Major Giles Moon is a cavalry officer who has served in a variety of single service and joint roles. In 2018-19 he completed a full time MA at King’s College London as part of the British Army’s Academic External Placements programme. Having just completed ICSC(L), he is now serving on the staff in MOD main building.

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19 October 2020

‘Where does the tank go from here?’ III

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Continuing an analysis of the article below in UK Land Power: https://uklandpower.com/2020/04/05/where-does-the-tank-go-from-here/

As mentioned, there were many comments.  It was interesting to the extent of knowledge about AFV design and development, compared to the almost zero interest here (ie. Australia).

There were a number of areas about which comments were made:

1.  Deployability.  If forces were located in proximity to the threat nation, then ‘heavy’ tanks were seen to be relevant; if forces needed to be deployed to differing geographical locations, then the weight of tanks is a worry.

2. Russian T14 Amara.  Concern was expressed about the apparent weakness in the T-14 created by crew escape hatches in the floor. Obviously, this could weaken the hull in terms of mine attack, but there are many alternative ways to providing for crew exit without sacrificing the integrity of armour protection.

3. Calibre of Coax Weapons.  Interestingly, many comments related to the concept of increasing the calibre of a coax weapon in order to reduce the number of main armament rounds (and therefore save weight).  This is an age-old argument and doesn’t really impact future design concepts.

4. Vulnerability to Frontal Penetration. This was interesting.  Should it be accepted that future anti-armour weapons will be unable to penetrate the frontal armour of future tanks?  If so, should there be a focus on tactics aimed at attacking the enemy from the flank?

5.  Battle Group Organisation.  It was argued that complementary grouping of differing AFV capabilities was needed, rather than relying on, say, a heavy armoured brigade.

6.  Crew Size.  Could it be that only a single crewman is needed?  Or, rather than thinking of three (as per earlier posts) … could two suffice?  Thereby reducing weight considerably.

Conclusion.  Seems to me that a commander, gunner, and driver, in a protected shell within the hull, might be the way of the future.  Possibly a commander/gunner and driver could be viable, but a tactical commander for the tank troop would still be needed. This could be met by having a three man command variant. Obviously, decisions re calibre of main and secondary armaments are relevant; as are those relating to the structure and grouping of combat organisations.

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18 October 2020

LAND 400 Phase 3

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LAND 400 Phase 3 is a $10-15 billion Army program which will recapitalise Army’s Vietnam-era M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) force, with a combination of a tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and tracked APC.

https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/major-programs/land-400-phase-3-armoured-fighting-vehicles ;

https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/supplements/2-land—army-in-motion#book/13

“Rheinmetall Defence’s KF41 Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and Hanwha Defense’s AS21 Redback IFV have been shortlisted to compete against each other for the opportunity to provide Army with up to 450 tracked IFVs and 17 manoeuvre support vehicles.”

https://www.australiandefence.com.au/defence/land/the-reasons-behind-the-land-400-phase-3-decision

“LAND 400 Phase 3 – Mounted Close Combat Capability – acquisition of up to 450 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (the M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier replacement) and up to 17 Manoeuvre Support Vehicles.”

https://www.defence.gov.au/CASG/EquippingDefence/Land%20400.asp

The Australian Defence Magazine has reprinted Defence’s position that LAND 400 Phase 3 is intended to provide up to 450 IFVs; BUT Defence Connect (top) has stated very recently that a mix of IFVs and APCs is to be acquired.

Which is correct?  Has the basis of the project changed?  Rather than a mechanised infantry platoon comprising four IFVs, possibly it’s now to comprise two IFVs and two APCs.  This is a game changer if correct.

I’ve left a message with Defence Connect asking them to verify their article.

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17 October 2020

‘Where does the tank go from here?’ II

Continuing an analysis of the above article in UK Land Power: https://uklandpower.com/2020/04/05/where-does-the-tank-go-from-here/

We’ve decided that some form of direct fire support will be needed for the foreseeable future.  This can be provided for a manned vehicle, a robotic vehicle, or an optionally manned vehicle.  The US Army is considering the latter concept.  One imagines that this is because it is too soon to bank everything on robotics at this time.

As argued in the previous post, whether crewed or optionally crewed, the AFV’s weight has to be reduced.   How can this be achieved, while maintaining necessary protection levels?

Volume under armour is the biggest impost on the weight of an AFV (Armour School 101).  Reducing the size of the crew by incorporating an autoloader was the answer at one time, but the lethality of anti-armour weapons is now so advanced, that this is not enough.

One answer has already been fielded … by Russia.

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The Russian T-14 Armata MBT places the [reduced size] crew within an armoured cocoon in the hull of vehicle. This allows for a more compact and lighter turret served by an autoloader. This configuration saves 10-tonnes of weight as well as isolating the crew from the main gun ammunition.”  Clever.

The article has attracted many comments.  These will be examined next to see if there are any startling revelations.

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16 October 2020

ADF Ethics

The following article: ‘pr spin on our alleged war crimes and-rogue sas squad in afghanistan’ can be found here: https://johnmenadue.com/pr-spin-on-our-alleged-war-crimes-and-rogue-sas-squad-in-afghanistan/

My response was as follows:

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Hi Greg,

The book above recounts the story of the murder of a wounded Viet Cong soldier.  It has a Foreword by a serving senior officer stating how truthful an account it was and how proud Australians can be of those who serve on their behalf.  The circumstances were that an ambush has been initiated, an enemy soldier was wounded and calling out for help … the ambush commander reported this to his HQ and was told not to bring back any prisoners!  Those in the ambush then fired into the body of the wounded soldier.

Given that there is no ‘statute of limitations’ …

I rang the Defence ‘whistle-blower’ line and was informed that this was a police matter.  I rang the police and they were unable to investigate.  I wrote to the Minister.  An enquiry was conducted; it was a white wash and I said so.  Another was conducted.  The result was that the account given did not happen (although the author remained steadfast that it had, having been one of those involved!)

I wrote to the Minister again to ask if he could assure the Australian people that training was currently provided to the ADF to ensure that the obeyance of the Rules of Engagement in a conflict were understood by all military members.  I was told that this was the case.

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15 October 2020

‘Where does the tank go from here?’

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Artist’s impression of the KNDS Main Combat Ground System (MCGS) being co-developed by Nexter and Krauss Maffei Wegmann (Image: Marcel Adam)

The above article by Nicholas Drummond appeared 5 April 2020 on the UK Land Power site: https://uklandpower.com/2020/04/05/where-does-the-tank-go-from-here/  It deserves attention, as suggested by the following quote from the intro:

“For just over a century, the tank has been the key symbol of land power. Today, tanks no longer enjoy the same level of battlefield supremacy that they used to. So, what’s next? Do they still have a role to play? If so, how do they need to evolve and what will the next generation look like in terms of features and capabilities?”.

Do we still need tanks?  Previous blog posts have made the point that as long as we still have infantry, there will be a need for a direct fire capability to support the. Drummond agrees:

“For as long as we continue to conduct ground operations with the purpose of physically seizing and holding ground, it is reasonable to assume that we will need protected mobility to transport troops from A to B and protected firepower to support infantry in achieving their objectives and to neutralise other armoured vehicles.”

Moving on, the author considers the current state of the art as far as AFVs are concerned.  The role of the US in Kosovo is mentioned:

“It was too difficult to deploy M1 Abrams MBTS and M2 Bradley IFVs by air while HMMWV-equipped infantry units were too lightly protected and armed to counter the expected opposition. The mission underlined the need for a new kind of potent but rapidly deployable armoured force and precipitated the development of medium weight expeditionary brigades. The same expeditionary focus has now caused the US Marine Corps to question the validity of heavy tanks for use in the Pacific.”

How is it that the weight of an MBT can be reduced, while maintaining necessary protection levels?

To be continued

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14 October 2020

Ethics in Military Procurement

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Image: Defenceconnectc.com.au

The article “LobbyLand ‘Culture of cosiness’: colossal conflicts of interest in Defence spending blitz by Michelle Faye is at: https://johnmenadue.com/lobbyland-culture-of-cosiness-conflicts-of-interest-par-for-the-course-in-links-between-defence-industry-government-public-service/

My response was:

“Well written Michelle.

It’s relevant that a matter in the news today relates to a possible payment being made to an entity in breach of regulations, by channelling it though another entity so as to disguise the source.

There is evidence that, at least one company tendering for a multi-billion military contract, has done this.  In the incident that I’m aware of, supposedly there was a ‘loophole’.  The Inspector General of the ADF advises that Defence policy has been amended to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  An FOI application might provide info about this.

What is the significance here?  Military evaluations of future equipment options must be based solely on assessments of what is best for those using the equipment.  Of course, Government decisions might differ based on economic factors and the like.  This is the democratic process.

So … manufacturers (or their representatives) seeking to influence decisions re military procurement can target either the military personnel, or the Government officials (or both).

What is the consequence of any such ‘lobbying’?  Clearly, it is that Australian soldiers might not receive the equipment most suited for the operations in which they are likely to be engaged. 

Such practices have consequences for the lives of those deployed on behalf of our nation. Can there be any greater reason to ensure openness and transparency?  Sadly, it seems that not all of us share this view.”

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13 October 2020

CANADIAN ARMED FORCES: A NEW VISION FOR THE RESERVES | CANADIAN MILITARY JOURNAL

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Image: sldinfo.com

The article above has been posted in ‘The Cove’: http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/Vol20/No3/page6-eng.asp

My response was as follows:

“Wouldn’t this have been a great media release on 30 June 2020 ….

TO OUR RESERVE FORCES – AUSTRALIA SAYS THANK YOU

“Tomorrow is Reserve Forces Day.  I ask all Australians to join with me in applauding the selfless sacrifice of reservists, both former and present, in helping to ensure the defence of our nation.  The role of the Reserves is vital to our national security.  The dedication and professionalism with which they undertake their part-time service is an example to us all. 

The Government is committed to ensuring that the Defence budget is adequate to meet their needs now and in the future. In this way, the force structure of the ADF is able to be clearly defined.  Rather than a large standing army with Reserves limited to specialist civilian and simple military skills, we have a smaller regular army, with Reserves encompassing both specialist civilian and complex military skills.  It is our Reserve forces that provide, as they have in the past, the surge capacity in time of defence emergency (whether it be a military threat or natural disaster).”

The actual media release was very different; it solely referenced the recent bushfire and COVID-19 responses.  Of course, appreciation for this effort must be made; but is this the ‘only’ acknowledgement that should be made.  That suggested above clearly articulates the essential role of the Reserve as part of our national security, both now and in the future.  If it was to have one.

By comparison … this is what Canada’s Defence policy has clearly set out, ie. their intention to “fundamentally change the way the Reserve Force has been recruited, trained, equipped, and employed”.

The following quote suggests the conviction behind this policy: “In the CAF, it can be said that ‘…we share our men and women with their families’; it can also be said that ‘…we share our Reservists with their families and employers’.  It is vital to our success that we communicate with these stakeholders”.

Furthermore, Canada sets out a practical means of achieving this goal: “Reserve integration may eventually lead to an ‘adaptive’ or ‘alternative’ career path, with all CAF members able to have ‘portable’ terms of service to encompass the levels of commitment and time that they can provide to the institution”.

Canada’s goal is one that Australia must adopt:

“In particular, the development, support, and retention of a ready-capable, motivated, and relevant Reserve Force as a strategic and operational resource for Canada and the CAF is required, both now and well into the future.” (Replace Canada and CAF with Australian and ADF.)

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12 October 2020

Tank of the Future IV

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Image: UK Landpower.com

“Tanks are like dinner jackets. You don’t need them very often, but when you do, nothing else will do.”

The quote above stopped me dead. How very sensible!  How well put!

Who said this?

It turns out to have been Major General Kathryn Toohey, AM CSC.

She was giving an address at the RUSI Land Warfare Conference in London last year.

Who is Maj Gen Toohey?

She graduated from RMC as a signals officer in 1990 and in June 2019 was appointed Head Force Integration, within the office of the Vice Chief of Defence Force.  Her bio notes can be found here: https://www.defence.gov.au/VCDF/FID/

In a previous appointment, she was responsible for “proposing to government the best options for Australia’s future defence capability”.

Wait a minute … the quote above, “You don’t need them very often”.  Of course, frequency of need relates to the types of operations likely to be conducted.  If these were to involve attacking enemy defensive positions or conducting mobile warfare, then tanks will be needed and needed constantly.  In other types of operation, their need will not be so great … “but when needed, nothing else will do!”

Conclusion. It’s a good line, but could be better expressed.  My version:

Tanks are like dinner jackets. You don’t need them for every occasion, but when you do, nothing else will do”.

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11 October 2020

What Lessons Does Vietnam Hold for the Abrams Replacement?

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Image: twitter.com

I was interviewed (for the second time) yesterday by a Masters student at UNSW-ADFA. His thesis is: ‘Centurions with 1ATF in South Vietnam’.

I suggested that there will be little doubt about the contribution that tank direct fire support made in Vietnam.  Which is why the Centurions were replaced by the Leopards and they were replaced by the Abrams.

Will the successful employment of tanks by other nations in Afghanistan be sufficient to justify the replacement of the Abrams? 

Will the thesis ‘only’ serve to underscore history, or will it have a role in influencing the future force structure of the Australian Army.

Of course, there is every reason to add to history so that future decisions can draw on the lessons of the past.  But wouldn’t it be great if studies of past events could directly link with future decision making.

All the above boils down to: ‘What place will direct fire support have in military operations post 2035?’.

I was asked some interesting questions, eg:

What degree of operational feedback took place …  from those in Vietnam, to those training to replace them?

Why was the tank telephone removed, rather than waterproofing it and lengthening the cable?

Was inf-tank training in Australia good preparation for Vietnam?

It is good to have such issues addressed, but will the paper inform those considering the replacement for the Abrams?  I guess it’s too long a bow to draw; BUT, as said in an earlier post, there is no doubt that infantry will still exist post 2035; this means that there will continue to be the requirement for direct fire support.

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10 October 2020

Tank of the Future III

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The Blog post on 3 Aug 20 (Doing the Right Thing IV) was titled ‘Tank of the Future (or Not)?’. It’s copied below.

The RAAC operated both the Centurion and then the Leopard for 30 years (give or take a couple).  The Abrams has been in service since 2007.  It has nearly reached its half-life point (if its predecessors are to provide any guide).  Of course, unless the Government procures the 30 tanks needed to ‘right size’ the Abrams fleet, its Life of Type might be less than 30 years.

There have been suggestions in the press that the UK is about to scrap its tanks.  One of these is included in the latest edition of the RACA NSW Journal: https://raacansw.org.au/Documents/Newsletters/Armour_October_2020.pdf

This idea is responded to in an article in the UK Defence Journal; the conclusion to which is copied below:

“Tanks are certainly no longer the most important part of an army that they once were, nor can they resolve every issue. However, just as a good builder has multiple tools for multiple jobs, the military must be able to respond to any threat and have the tools to do so. Therefore, if the British Army wants to remain relevant on the wide spectrum of the modern battlefield it is crucial it maintains as many conventional assets as possible, for whatever the future brings. This includes heavy armoured forces and tanks.”

3 August 2020

The recent Government announcement re future defence planning included reference to “Options for a system to replace the current tank capability when it reaches its end of life” and “A future program to develop a directed energy weapon system able to be integrated onto ADF protected and armoured vehicles, and capable of defeating armoured vehicles up to and including main battle tanks”.  (See Blog post for 8 July 2020 and subsequent.)

This is exactly the foresight that’s to be expected of our Defence staff.  The US is looking at exactly the same thing (and have been for many years).  The Abrams tank is great today and can be improved to meet the needs of tomorrow.  But what about the day after and the day after that?  What will the replacement for the Abrams look like?

The answer to that has to start with the role that the tank fulfills on the battlefield.  Is it possible that future wars will not involve infantry?  There will be all sorts of autonomous machines, but will any be able to take the place of a soldier?  The answer is certainly ‘no’ in the timeframe under consideration.  It follows that there will be a need to provide direct fire support, aka the tank.

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9 October 2020

LAND 400 Management II

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Image: ADM

In the Blog on 20 Sep 20 (‘LAND 400 Management’) I referred to the report that the DG Armoured Fighting Vehicles Systems Branch, in the Capability Acquisition and Sustainability Group (CASG), has suddenly been replaced.  The report stated that it was not known why Brig Greg McGlone (an Army Aviator) had departed.  He had been replaced on an acting basis by the Assist Sec, Land Vehicle Systems Branch, Ms Sarah Myers.

Both these Branches come within the command of the Head, Armoured Vehicle Division, Maj Gen David Coghlan (a gunner).  The title of the Division might be about to change, however, as it would seem the Armoured Fighting Vehicles Systems Branch is now called the ‘Combined Arms Fighting Vehicles Systems Branch’. Of course, AFV is a term which applies to a type of vehicle, not to the Corps which operates it. 

Nevertheless, it would seem that political correctness associates anything ‘armoured’ with the RAAC. This can’t be allowed to happen with the IFV (LAND 400 Phase 3) to be operated by the RA Inf.  (It would be much more cost effective if it was to be crewed by RAAC personnel.)

There is still an RAAC presence within the Project, however.  Colonel Allan Hamley is the Project Director for LAND 400 Phase 2, Mounted Combat Reconnaissance Capability (ie. the replacement for the ASLAV).  One has to wonder what Corps the new Head, Combined Arms Fighting Vehicles Systems Branch, will have gained his/her operational experience in.  (Of course, it’s not a pre-requisite that they have any … they have others to offer advice.)

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8 October 2020

Why We Do What We Do II

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I’ve been asked about the incident I referred to in the Blog on 6 Oct 20.

It was contained in: ‘Captain Bullen’s War: The Vietnam War Diary of Captain John Bullen’. Captain Bullen was a Royal Australian Survey Corps officer. He recounted an incident regarding Capt Don Campbell, RAAC. 

Background is: Don was on his way back to Oz from being with AATTV in I Corps (I think) and was staging through Nui Dat. This coincided with the departure of C Sqn to Coral, leaving the Sqn area quite vulnerable.  The OC, Peter Badman, asked Don to do what he could to improve defences.

Peter Badman explained later that “in a short time the base camp was surrounded by a network of Claymores and interlocking arcs of fire”

Back to Bullen’s book. To help with the task, Don Campbell went to the Survey Troop to get a base defence map.  Bullen handed over the map, but Don didn’t immediately know how to orientate it.  He wasn’t familiar with Nui Dat, having only just arrived.  This led Bullen to make belittling comments about professionalism etc. 

Bullen wasn’t to know that Don was not a member of one of the 1ATF units, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show his supposed superiority.

In another part of the book he made a gratuitous personal comment about a since deceased tank crew member.  While he didn’t mention any names, he was obviously not aware that a tank is like a ship, ie. it’s location at any time can always be pinpointed.  The member’s widow rang me to ask if what he had said in the book was true.  I was pleased to be able to say that it wasn’t.

We have to be just keep going … despite people such as this.

PS.  The book was edited by Paul Ham.  I had reason to write to Mr Ham about 300 or so matters in his book ‘Vietnam’.  Another who read this book at the same time was the late Maj Gen Jim Hughes AO, DSO, MC (CO 4RAR/NZ in 1971). His comment to me was that ‘he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry’.

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7 October 2020

Australia’s Longest Foreign Military Deployment

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The following quote comes from an article Our Afghanistan exit comes after little gain , by Ross Eastgate and published in the Townsville Bulletin on 3 October:

“AFTER 19 years it seems Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan may be drawing rapidly to an end. It’s Australia’s second-longest foreign military deployment and has come at great cost.”   https://targetsdown.blogspot.com/2020/10/our-afghanistan-exit-comes-after-little.html

If Afghanistan was Australia’s second-longest foreign military deployment, what was the longest?

Good question, but how do you find the answer?

Ross is an experienced journalist and so is unlikely to make an error in such a fundamental matter.  As always, the answer lies in the wording used.  He’s not referring to a war, armed conflict, or active service.  He’s referring to a foreign military deployment by Australian forces.

The answer is found in the AWM Website re the Roll of Honour: https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/honour-rolls/roll-of-honour

This lists the prescribed periods for “operations/conflicts” that Australian forces have been involved in, including the following, which lasted over 28 years:

Papua and New Guinea:  1 July 1947    16 September 1975.

I served in the Australian Defence Cooperation Group PNG, but after Independence (ie. after 16 Sep 75).  I hadn’t realised operational significance of the deployment prior to that time.  All fascinating stuff ….

FOOTNOTE: The following advice has been received:

“In response to a question about his article Ross Eastgate has said that Australia’s longest deployment has been to UNTSO, which he says has been ongoing since 1954.  Elsewhere it’s stated that our involvement began in 1956 (see links below) making it a 64 year deployment to date.  

Australians also served in UNMOGIP from 1948 to 1985  (37 years) and, as per your post, PNG from 1947 to 1975 (28 years).  At 19 years Afghanistan would only be Australia’s fourth longest deployment.”

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6 October 2020

Why We Do What We Do

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AWM P01404.028

I’ve just finished reading a book written by a Vietnam veteran.  It reminded me of another book that I’d read some years previously.  Both were written by officers, one of whom went on the become a major general. 

Why is it that some people wish to denigrate others and make it appear that they are superior beings?  This was the sense of similarity I had when reading these personal accounts of the authors’ time in Vietnam.

For me, there is no place for a personal failing on the part of someone else (in the opinion of an author), to be described in such a way that the author is made to appear superior in his thinking and actions, ie. to ‘big note’ himself.

I was once described by someone who was wanting to belittle me, as an “unctuous little officer”.  When I checked the dictionary, I found that I was being accused of being overly moralistic (among other things). Of course, being called a little officer” was designed to cut to the quick as well.  I’m being moralistic here, so should I apologise?  In my view, if society was more moralistic and less self-centred, we’d all be better off.

In one of the books, the discrediting of an RAAC officer (it could easily have been me, but it wasn’t) was based on a totally false premise.  There was no military lesson to be learnt from the incident, it was simply an opportunity for one person to demonstrate his supposed intellectual superiority over another. 

What is the value in writing such accounts?  There is no doubt that personal experiences are valuable and should be made known at every level.  One of the most important reasons to value these accounts, is for the contribution they can make to changes in the way the Army operates; ie. the ways in which training and operational procedures can be improved. Focusing on the perceived shortcomings of our colleagues, however, doesn’t benefit those going forward.

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5 October 2020

The History of the Main Battle Tank (MBT)

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The following post of mine on the Centurion Tank Appreciation Society Facebook related to the reference in the name plate above to the Centurion as a ‘MBT’.

“Of course, the Cent was never an MBT. It was a medium gun tank. The term MBT did not come about until the Chieftain was produced to replace both the medium gun tank and the heavy gun tank (the Conqueror).”

This prompted a couple of comments:

Tom Cox

If the Centurion was never an MBT then you can come and collect my collection of over 200 model tanks. It was the primary British MBT of the post WW2 period until the advent of the Chieftain. The only reason that the Conqueror Heavy Tank No 1 was not really considered as an MBT was due to the relatively small number produced.

Fergus Highgate

Hi Bruce, I would argue that as the Conqueror had been mothballed in the 60’s and the Chieftain wasn’t in service until the 70’s then the Centurion was the Main Battle tank of that period.

Bob Potts

 As I understood it, upgunning Cent. to 105mm made Conq redundant

Bruce Cameron

It was good to see the discussion taking place as  this is the only way to advance the accuracy of history.  It is my belief that these views are wrong, however, and responded as follows:

“It’s my understanding that prior to the Centurion, tanks had been designed and built according to their role, ie. infantry tank/cruiser tank. The Cent was referred to as the ‘universal’ tank as it fulfilled both these roles. Its formal designation, however, was ‘Medium Gun tank’. Rather than maintaining both a medium gun tank and a heavy gun gun (Conqueror), it was decided to produce the Chieftain. This was termed a Main Battle Tank, ie, one to fulfill both roles.”

Comments thereafter took the thread ‘off piste’:

Rob Mather

A bit like the new role for the household cavalry! Worked mbt and recce collectively for 40 years, now on Ajax a light tank! 

Lucy Taylor

 Please tell us where you have garnered the information that Ajax is a Light Tank? It seems to be touted as a light (medium in some articles) tracked armoured vehicle…… not as a tank of any sort! Intrigued. Then I can get back to Centurions! Here’s an ‘official’ link:https://www.forces.net/…/all-gen-ajax-military-vehicle

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4 October 2020

RAAC: Strategic Mobility

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Image: AWM

The following Letter to the Editor is self-explanatory:

“In “Strikes? What Strikes” (Letters, October 2) A Chaplin states that the wharfies’ union “opposed the Vietnam War, but they never refused to load shipping”.  This would suggest that all those working on the waterfront were loyal to their fellow Australians fighting on behalf of their nation.  Sadly, this was not so.  Members of the Seamen’s Union refused to operate a vessel if it was to be used to transport weapons and ammunition to Vietnam. 

Initially chartered and operated with RAN personnel replacing union members, the ‘MV Jeparit’ was later commissioned as ‘HMAS Jeparit’ as a result of continuing industrial action. 

Unfortunately, when Centurion tanks were unloaded from the Jeparit in 1968, many tools used for maintaining the vehicles, were found to have been stolen.  This was reminder of the equipment stolen from Stuart tanks of the 2/6 Aust Armoured Regiment when off-loaded at Port Morseby in 1942.”

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3 October 2020

Australia and VC Awards

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The article entitled, ‘ Australia and VC Awards’ by Noel Turnbull, can be accessed here:  

Australia and VC Awards

https://johnmenadue.com/noel-turnbull-australia-and-vc-awards/embed/#?secret=BeJzK3qWZ0

My response is copied below:

Hi Noel,

I, too, served in Vietnam, albeit after you, and I know of what you write. 

You refer to the stats re VCs that have been awarded to Australians.  You might not be aware that different criteria apply to the Imperial VC and the VC of Australia.

The criteria for the former, is that there has to be at least a 90 per cent chance of the person being recommended, being killed in doing what he did.  I don’t believe that this is the same for the VC of Australia.  That is not to say that recipients of the VC of Australia are in any way less entitled to their recognition than their predecessors. 

I was astonished when one of the arguments put up by Defence against awarding ‘Teddy’ Sheean a retrospective VC, was that it would create two classes of award.  (The other argument was that the Queen would be put in a difficult position.)  Seems to me, as it is in law, that there must always be the right to appeal.  For Defence to have blanket ‘no retrospective awards unless proven administrative error’ policy, is as heartless as it was to not allow the NOK of those who were killed in combat to receive the Army Combat Badge.  (A policy which was only overturned after it became public and embarrassment mounted.)

The finding of the Tribunal which considered the submission made for me to be awarded the VC (under the criteria at the time of Vietnam, i.e. the Imperial VC) was that, as I had neither been wounded nor killed, I had not demonstrated sufficient self-sacrifice.  It was absolutely their right to decide accordingly.

The book I am currently writing is entitled: ‘Not Enough Self Sacrifice for a VC’.


2 October 2020

Sorry … the Host for this site has introduced new procedures and I’ve been compelled to adopt them. The post for the 2nd was lost accordingly. I fear that the problems aren’t over yet!


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INDEX: 16 March 2020 – 31 December 2020

1 Armd Regt History

2 Feb 68: ‘The First Round Fired in Action by 1 Armd Regt, RAAC’

16 Mar 20: ‘The First Centurion to Detonate an Anti-Tank Mine in Vietnam’

17 Mar 20: ‘First 20pdr Round to be Fired in Action in Vietnam’ 

18 Mar 20: ‘Our History (And How it Becomes Distorted)’

31 Mar 20: Centurions in Vietnam’.

1 Apr 20: The First Centurion to Detonate an RPG Mine’.

7 Apr 20: ‘The First Round Fired in Action by a Centurion in Vietnam’

11 Apr 20: ‘Postscript: The First Round Fired in Action by a Centurion in Vietnam’

19 Apr 20: ‘The Centurion Which Detonated the Most A/T Mines in Vietnam’

3 May 20: ‘The Centurion Which Served the Shortest Time in Vietnam’.

7 May 20: ‘The Centurion (Gun Tank) Which Spent Most Time in Vietnam’

19 May 20: ‘RPG Strikes on Centurions in Vietnam’

22 May 20: ‘The Centurion Which Was Hit by the Most RPGs in Vietnam’

13 Jun 20: ‘Hammersley Recognition: What’s Right for the Goose …’.

16 Jun 20: ‘Ensuring the Accuracy of Our History (Binh Ba)’

30 Jun 20: Thank You for Your Service: What a Joke!’

12 Jul 20: ‘Our Centurion Heritage’.

13 Jul 20: ‘What Odds, the Importance of Our Heritage?’

14 Jul 20: ‘What Odds, the Importance of Our Heritage? Part 2’

26 Jul 20: ‘Seeing the Funny Side’

28 Jul 20: ‘Centurion ARN 169001’

24 Aug 20: ‘The Atomic Tank’ [169041]

26 Aug 20: ‘1 Armd Regt Heritage (Vietnam)’

17 Sep 20: ‘Canister! On! FIRE!

12 Nov 20: ‘How We Lose Sight of How Things Were.’

6 Dec 20: ‘50th Anniversary Reunion: C Sqn, 1 Armd Regt’

1 Armd Regt Assn

28 Mar 20: ‘Maintaining Our History ‘

29 Mar 20: ‘Maintaining Our History II’.

30 Mar 20: ‘Maintaining Our History III …’.

4 Apr 20: ‘Maintaining Our History (Cont …)

16 Apr 20: ‘A Photo Too Far’

28 Apr 20: ‘Things That Should be Corrected: 1AR Assn Publications’

24 May 20: ‘Honouring Our Deceased’

25 May 20: ‘Honouring Our Deceased 2’

26 May 20: ‘Honouring Our Deceased 3’

27 May 20: ‘1AR Assn: Then and Now’

17 Jun 20: ‘1 AR Assn: Fostering and Perpetuating Ties of Comradeship?’

26 Jun 20:Honouring Our Deceased 4: What’s Going On?’

30 Aug 20: ‘Honesty and Integrity: 1AR Assn’

1 Sep 20: ‘Honesty and Integrity: 1AR Assn (Part 2)’

10 Sep 20: ‘Honouring Our Deceased V’

26 Sep 20: ‘Honesty and Integrity: 1AR Assn (Part 3)’

28 Sep 20: ‘The Way We Support Veterans’

1 Oct 20: ‘Honouring Our Deceased VII’

29 Sep 20: ‘Honouring Our Deceased VI’

3 Nov 20: ‘1AR Assn Newsletter: RAAC Communications’

30 Dec 20: ‘Helping Each Other’

ADF Heritage

19 Mar 20: ‘Vietnam Requiem: Something ‘Big’ is in the Offing’

21 Mar 20: ‘Vietnam Requiem’

25 Mar 20: ‘Some ‘Facts’ About Australia’s Involvement in the Vietnam War’

23 Mar 20: ‘Vietnam Requiem: Australian Nurses and Surgeons’

24 Apr 20: ‘The world can be a much better place, but who is listening?’

25 Apr 20: ‘ANZAC Day 2020’

26 Apr 20: ‘ANZAC Day 2020 II’

27 Apr 20: ‘ANZAC Day 2020 III’

30 Apr 20: ‘ANZAC or Anzac?’

1 May 20: ‘ANZAC or Anzac? II’

17 May 20: ‘The Victoria Cross for Australia’

31 May 20: ‘The Victoria Cross for Australia II’

12 Jun 20: ‘The Victoria Cross for Australia III: Two Classes and Floodgates (or Not?)’

22 Jun 20; ‘The Vietnam Requiem: our war abroad and at home’

20 Aug 20: ‘Mentioned in Despatches’

3 Sep 20: ‘Victoria Cross’

9 Sep 20: ‘The Political Deceit Surrounding Australia’s Entry into WWI’

13 Sep 20: ‘National Service and Volunteering for Vietnam’

3 Oct 20: ‘Australia and VC Awards’

7 Oct 20: ‘Australia’s Longest Foreign Military Deployment’

2 Dec 20: ‘The Retrospective Victoria Cross’

ADF Today

20 May 20: ‘Weapon Handling in the ADF’

2 Jun 20: ‘ADF Readiness: Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Explosive (CBRNE) Warfare’

3 Jun 20: ‘Everlasting Leadership’

6 Jun 20: ‘ADF Culture and Learning’

11 Jun 20: The ADF Today: Operational Analysis?’

23 Jun 20: ‘The Importance of Surprise’

25 Jun 20: ‘Ethical Conduct’

3 Jul 20: ‘Ethical Conduct in the ADF’

15 Jul 20: ‘Military Ethics’

27 Aug 20: ‘How Are We Affected by Moral Injuries That We May Have Experienced?’

8 Sep 20: ‘Generating Force to Meet the Demands of Accelerated Warfare’

22 Sep 20: Blaming Soldiers (Again)’

25 Sep 20 ‘Blaming Soldiers (Again)’  II

27 Sep 20: ‘Doing the Right Thing’

3 Oct 20: Australia and VC Awards’

19 Nov 20: ‘The Brereton Report III’

21 Nov20:Brereton Report 4’

22 Nov 20: ‘Brereton Report 5’

23 Nov 20: ‘Brereton Report 6’

24 Nov 20: ‘Brereton Report 7’

25 Nov 20: ‘Brereton Report 8’

26 Nov20: ‘Brereton Report 9’

27 Nov 20: ‘Brereton Report 10’

28 Nov 20: ‘Brereton Report 11”

24 Dec 20: ‘Where Does Responsibility Lie?’

ARES: The Future

13 Oct 20: ‘The Future for Australia’s Reserves’

Australia’s Defence Strategy

27 Mar 20: ‘Defence Capability and What it Means’

13 Apr 20: ‘Australian Strategy and the Gathering Storm in Asia: The Remote Likelihood of        Greater Public Engagement’

21 Apr 20: ‘Australia’s Defence Strategy’

22 Apr 20: ‘Australian Defence Strategy II’

23 Apr 20: ‘Australian Defence Strategy III’

4 May 20: ‘The Importance of Self-Reliance’

10 May 20: ‘Defence Self-Reliance II’

21 May 20: ‘Australian Defence Strategy IV (Wargaming)’

1 Jun 20: ‘Wargaming II’

4 Jun 20: Australia Under No Military Threat?

5 Jun 20: National Defence Strategy: Safeguarding the Sea Routes

24 Jun 20: ‘Operational Research: Operational Analysis’

8 Jul 20: ‘2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan’

24 Jul 20: ‘The Army of the Future’.

27 Jul 20: ‘The On-Going Tank Capability’

14 Aug 20: Terror Cells Actively Recruiting’

19 Aug 20: ‘Defence Preparedness’

25 Aug 20: ‘Australia’s Defence Strategy’

4 Sep 20: ‘An Intel Truth and Honesty Commission?’

6 Sep 20: ‘Defence Settings – Have we got it Right?’’

28 Oct 20: Formulating Defence Strategy’

26 Dec 20: ‘Defence Strategy’

28 Dec 20: ‘Defence Challenges in 2021’

Australian War Memorial (AWM)

3 Apr 20: “The Ha Go Tank Saga’  

8 Apr 20: ‘The Cost to the Nation of the Vietnam War’

23 May 20: ‘Centurion Tank ARN 169056’

19 Jun 20: ‘The Ha Go Tank Saga (Cont)’

21 Jun 20: ‘Centurion Tank ARN 169056 (Cont)’

26 Jun 20: ‘Centurion Tank ARN 169056 (Cont 2)’

5 Jul 20: ‘The AWM Redevelopment’

16 Jul 20: ‘AWM Redevelopment’

17 Jul 20: ‘AWM Redevelopment II’.

22 Jul 20: ‘Next ANZAC Day (25 April 2021)’

13 Aug 20: ‘The AWM Expansion’

5 Sep 20: ‘The AWM Debate: Playing the Ball or the Man?’

14 Sep 20; ‘AWM Redevelopment VII’

30 Sep 20: AWM Photographic Collection’

26 Oct 20: ‘The AWM Redevelopment VIII’

1 Nov 20: What’s to Become of the AWM Redevelopment?’

2 Nov 20: ‘What’s to Become of the AWM Redevelopment? II’

5 Nov 20: ‘The Vietnam Requiem’

DVA

7 Jul 20: How we Consult the Ex-Service Community’: or Not

25 Jul 20’ ‘The Vision’

Ethics

23 Jul 20: The Ethics and Moral Values of Our Society’

19 Sep 20: ‘Australian Values’

21 Sep 20: ‘Ethics: A Caring Society?’

6 Oct 20: ‘Why We Do What We Do’

8 Oct 20: ‘Why We Do What We Do II’

14 Oct 20: Ethics in Military Procurement’

16 Oct 20: ‘ADF Ethics’

13 Nov20: ‘Half Cocked at the Keyboard’

15 Nov 20: ‘The Coming Brereton Report’

25 Dec 20: ‘What’s Important’

Ex-Service Organisations (ESOs)

22 Mar 20: ‘Changing Times for ESOs’

24 Mar 20: ‘Grand Strategy for the Long-Term Future of Australian ESOs’

17 Apr 20: ‘ESOs: Open and Transparent?’

24 Sep 20: ‘The Future of ESOs as we Know Them’

LAND 400

20 Sep 20: ‘LAND 400 Management’

9 Oct 20: LAND 400 Management II’

18 Oct 20: ‘LAND 400 Phase 3’

8 Nov 20: ‘The Future of the Battlefield and its AFVs’

31 Dec 20: ‘LAND 400 and Conflict of Interest’

Operational Analysis (Its Need During both Peace and War)

15 Apr 20: Lessons Learnt on The Job (Again)

Operation Hammersley: Recognition for Supporting Arms

26 Mar 20: ‘Operation Hammersley: The Story Goes On!’

29 Apr 20: ‘Hammersley Final Fling’

31 Dec 20: ‘LAND 400 and Conflict of Interest’

RAAC ARES

13 May 20: ‘RAAC ARES Stranded?

15 May 20:‘RAAC ARES Stranded? II’

2 Jul 20: ‘Does the RAAC ARES Have a Role?’

23 Sep 20: The Future of the RAAC ARES’

24 Oct 20: ‘RAAC ARES: RAAC Corporation’

4 Nov 20: ‘RAAC ARES: Mounted Capability/Tactics Development’

11 Nov 20: ‘HAWKEI for RAAC ARES

4 Dec 20: ‘The RAAC ARES’

7 Dec 20: ‘The RAAC ARES’ (II)

10 Dec 20: ‘8/13 VMR Association News’

RAAC Corporation

20 Mar 20: ‘The RAAC Corporation: Open and Transparent Governance?’

12 Apr 20: ‘How the RAAC Corporation Views Feedback’

20 Jun 20: ‘RAAC Corporation: Are we Being Let Down?’

20 July 20: ‘Saluting in Civilian Attire Wearing a Beret’

25 Jul 20: ‘The Vision’

7 Aug 20: ‘Advisory Boards’

12 Aug 20: ‘Hammersley: An Afterthought’

16 Aug 20: Blowing His Own Trumpet (Not for the First Time)’

12 Sep 20: ‘Representing the RAAC’

23 Oct 20: ‘RAAC Corporation’

24 Oct 20: ‘RAAC ARES: RAAC Corporation’

25 Oct 20: ‘RAAC Corporation: 3/4 Cav Regts Assn’

26 Nov 20: ‘In the Shadows’

30 Nov 20: ‘In the Shadows 2’

1 Dec 20: ‘In the Shadows 3’

RAAC General

2 Apr 20: Common Courtesy: Not That Common?

9 Apr 20: ‘The Unique Pressures on AFV Crews’

21 Jul 20: The RAAC as it is Presented by Defence Today’

2 Aug 20: ‘What is Wrong with the RAAC Family?’

5 Aug 20: ‘What is Wrong with the RAAC Family 2?’

6 Aug 30: ‘What is Wrong with the RAAC Family 3?’

8 Aug 20: ‘Where do Women Feature in the RAAC Family?’

11 Aug 20: ‘Esprit de Corps and the RAAC Family’

28 Aug 20: ‘Moving Forward: The Future of Cavalry Reconnaissance’

4 Oct 20: RAAC: Strategic Mobility’

3 Nov 20: 1AR Assn Newsletter: RAAC Communications’

5 Nov 20: ‘Seniority of RAAC Units’

7 Nov 20: ‘RAAC Matters: Free and Open Discussion’

17 Nov 20: ‘The RAAC Looking Good!’

20 Nov 20: ‘The Seniority of Regiments in the RAAC’

27 Dec 20: ‘The RAAC Today’

RAAC Heritage

10 Apr 20: ‘The Rank Trooper’

20 Apr 20: ‘1 Armd Regt: Was a New Unit Formed or Was an Existing Unit Renamed?’

12 May 20: ‘Recording the Human History of the RAAC’

14 May 20: ‘Recording the Human History of the RAAC (2)’

16 May 20: ‘Recording the Human History of the RAAC (3)’

9 Aug 20: ‘Our Forebears’

10 Aug 20: ‘Was the 2/9 Div Cav Regt Part of the AAC?’[JC1] 

17 Aug 20: ‘RAAC Heritage’

2 Sep 20: ‘The Last Cavalry Charge’

18 Aug 20: ‘RAAC Heritage’

29 Aug 20: ‘80th Anniversary of the Australian Armoured Corps’

7 Sep 20: ‘RAAC Heritage: Black Berets’

11 Sep 20: ‘The Last Cavalry Charge II’

15 Sep 20: 80th Anniversary of the RAAC’

18 Sep 20: ‘80th Anniversary of the RAAC II’

27 Oct 20: ‘Operation Overlord: 50th Commemoration’

29 Oct 20: The RAAC, as Portrayed by ‘Official’ Public Sources’

6 Nov 20: ‘RAAC Operational History: One Mystery Solved’

9 Nov 20: ‘Cavalry Memorial (Tongala) Beersheba Day Ceremony 2020’

RAAC Operational Capability

5 Apr 20: ‘At last, someone in responsibility prepared to say what it’s really like …’

6 Apr 20: ‘Saying What Needs to be Said ….’.

6 May 20: ‘The Passing of “Right Sizing” the Abrams Tank Fleet’

8 May 20: ‘The Abrams Tank Fleet’

9 May 20: ‘The Abrams Fleet II’

10 Jul 20: ‘Defence Strategy 101 (The RAAC)’

3 Aug 20: ‘The Tank of the Future (or Not)?

4 Aug 20: ‘Tank of the Future II’

11 Oct 20: ‘What Lessons Does Vietnam Hold for the Abrams Replacement?’

12 Oct 20: ‘Tank of the Future IV’

15 Oct 20: Where does the tank go from here?’

17 Oct 20: ‘Where does the tank go from here? II

19 Oct 20: ‘Where does the tank go from here? III

20 Oct 20: ‘Survive: The Case for Armour’

21 Oct 20: ‘The Tank is Dead: Long Live the Tank’

22 Oct 20: ‘The Tank of the Future: Protected, but Lighter’

31 Oct 20: ‘The Future for the Tank: Is Now the Time for the Funeral?’

8 Nov 20: ‘The Future of the Battlefield and its AFVs’

10 Nov 20: ‘The Future Battleground: Autonomous Vehicles’

14 Nov 20: ‘The Tank Today and in the Future’

16 Nov 20: ‘The Tank Capability of the Future’

8 Dec 20: ‘RAAC Operational Capability’

Vietnam: Our Legacy?

2 May 20: ‘Vietnam After the War’

5 May 20:‘Australia-Vietnam Relationship’

7 Jun 20: ‘The Thucydides Trap’

25 Jun 20: ‘The Australia-Vietnam relationship’


 [JC1]

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