Doing the Right Thing VII

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8 October 2021 (Sorry about the late posting!!)

Weekly Musings 15 : Tank Operations in Vietnam

During the C Squadron Reunion in Canberra on 6-7 June 2021, the AWM took photos of the crew of ARN 169056 which is located outside the Memorial.  The following story was drafted by an AWM journalist.  Whether or not it’s to be published, I have no idea.

When Bruce Cameron looks at the Centurion tank outside the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, the memories come flooding back.

To Bruce, it’s not just a piece of engineering; it’s the beating heart of its crew, a poignant reminder of events more than 50 years ago.

In 1971, Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Cameron MC was a young Second Lieutenant, serving as a troop commander with C Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment, in Vietnam.

He was only 22 years old when he commanded the last troop of tanks in action in Vietnam and was awarded the Military Cross for his courage and leadership during the war.

During the battle of Long Khanh, he launched an attack against a heavily defended, cleverly concealed, bunker complex; the tanks forcing the enemy’s withdrawal from the forward bunkers and contributing greatly to the defeat of the entire enemy force. 

He also risked his life to save his driver, who had been severely wounded, and was in danger of being killed, during Operation Hermit Park, a joint infantry/armoured clearance operation conducted in dense jungle near the De Courtenay Rubber Plantation in Phuoc Tuy Province.

The tank he commanded that day is the one that is on display outside the Memorial.

“It’s good to have the tank here,” he said.  

“But it’s not about how heavy they are, or how fast they go, or how much ammunition they have: it’s the stories they serve to tell that matter.”

The son of a Second World War veteran, Bruce went on to serve in the Australian Regular Army for 19 years.

He was born in Melbourne in December 1948 and graduated from the Officer Cadet School at Portsea in June 1969.

“My father was a Second World War veteran, and a career soldier,” he said.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t think too much about what I wanted to do until I left school at 16.

“I had a scholarship to go to Duntroon, but when I got there, it wasn’t what I expected, so I went to England, where my father was posted at the time, and joined the Bank of New South Wales.

“While I was over there, I joined the Territorial Army Parachute Regiment and realised I quite enjoyed the Army, so I applied for Portsea and got in.”

Inspired by an armoured corps instructor at OCS, Bruce joined the Royal Australian Armoured Corps. He was posted to C Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment, in January 1970, and arrived in Vietnam the following year, on 21 January 1971.

“I flew in on a 707, and the heat and the humidity really struck you when we landed,” he said.

We had tried to duplicate the conditions in Vietnam as much as possible during our training, but nothing can prepare you for the smells and the humidity and the dust and everything else.”

More than 50 years later, Bruce still remembers it as if it were yesterday.

“I remember going into a tent that I was sharing with a sergeant,” he said.

“I unpacked my bags, and I felt a need to go and look at my tank and check it out.

“I was really surprised when I saw it for the first time.

“There were grenades in the turret, and I thought, ‘Why have we got grenades? What use will we have for grenades?’

“I was soon to realise, of course, but in training you never occupied a fully bombed-up tank, which was ready to go at a moment’s notice with all its ammunition and weapons fully prepared so it was a big shock.”

Bruce remembers there was little or no handover when they arrived.

“In many cases, the people we were taking over from said goodbye to us as they got on the plane to fly out, so there was no handover of any sort,” he said.

“It was pretty much straight into things and getting to know the lie of the land, which is pretty important for a tank crew. With the experience of the troop, you sort of know you shouldn’t go over there because it will be boggy or whatever, and gradually you develop that knowledge and experience yourself.”

The 53-tonne Centurion tanks were not only involved in intense fighting with infantry and artillery to capture enemy defences and defeat attacks. They also fought their own battles against enemy mines, ambushes, and an unforgiving terrain and climate.

“They were late in sending tanks to Vietnam because they thought they wouldn’t be able to operate successfully,” Bruce said. “They thought they’d sink in the paddy fields and that they wouldn’t be able to get through the jungle … but they became an indispensable part of Australian combat operations, so much so, that their subsequent withdrawal was as controversial as their deployment.”

The 1st Armoured Regiment’s tanks worked closely with the Australian infantry and the APCs of 3rd Cavalry Regiment on operations throughout Phuoc Tuy and neighbouring provinces. They provided fire support for infantry operations, were used to directly attack enemy positions, and helped defend the Fire Support Bases.

“In our training in Australia, we learnt that tanks always operate with infantry, and that they’re very vulnerable if they didn’t have infantry with them, but we soon learnt that, in the circumstances at the time, we could also operate effectively by ourselves,” he said.

“We could operate as an independent entity quite safely, and dominate and control an area, and look for information and things like that.

“But we were particularly vulnerable at night, and we had to be very careful.

“I remember on one occasion, the sentry was looking through the night-viewing device, a very early generation night-vision device called a Starlight Scope.

“It’s very basic, first-generation equipment, and the sentry could see four legs.

“He couldn’t tell whether it was the enemy because he couldn’t them properly because of the vegetation and all the foliage higher up.

“It was after curfew, but it could have been farmers returning late, so we counted down, and when I said, ‘Three, two, one, now,’ we all turned on our searchlights.

“It was the biggest buck deer that anybody had ever seen. It had these antlers on it which were just incredible. And what the sentry had seen through the Starlight Scope was its four legs.

“The deer was as surprised as we were, but it made me realise that if the deer hadn’t picked up on the fact there was a tank troop there, then quite likely, the enemy wouldn’t either.

“You’d think with the tank smell, and the noise they make when theengine parts are cooling down and contracting, you wouldn’t be able to hide them. But we learnt how to ambush silently, and we developed our capability enough to ensure we weren’t making a lot of noise, and we weren’t giving the enemy any warning that we were there.

“You’ve also got fireflies buzzing around in front of you, which is one of the things that takes a bit of time to get used to.

“I hadn’t known about fireflies before, and sure enough you would see these lights, and think, ‘Are they torches? Or what are they?’

“And, of course, the Vietnamese used to gather these fireflies together and use them as illumination so sentries had this tremendous tension all the time.”

Fireflies were not the only insects the tank crews had to worry about.

“I remember one of my troop sergeants knocked a large wasps’ nest down from a tree, and it fell on top of him,” Bruce said. 

“These wasps all swarmed around him, and he was stung so many times around the face and neck, he had to be ‘dusted off’ and medevacked out.

Ants would get knocked down too, and we also got the odd snake, and that sort of thing, which certainly makes life interesting.

“We had to carry large containers of calamine lotion with us for when we were going through the bamboo.

“Bamboo has these little flakes, which are like itching powder, and once it comes down on top of you, it’s so uncomfortable that you rip your skin off.

He also remembers the gunners, trying to survive the heat inside the turret, while identifying designated targets; the operators trying to maintain communications, while keeping the guns loaded; the drivers, trying to see their way forward, while keeping their heads down; and the commanders, trying to locate enemy positions, while directing their drivers and giving fire orders.The mechanics also had to overcome extraordinary challenges to maintain the 22-year-old tanks, and the field engineers risked their lives to protect the tanks and their crews against mines.

“Everyone was very alert to the possibility of mines and booby traps, and mines were always at the forefront of everyone’s minds,” he said.

“There was always the possibility of running over a mine; that was the greatest threat to us, I think, rather than being ambushed.

“Normally we were too big to be ambushed and the enemy would let us go by because they wanted a softer target.

“But the mine was a way they could deal with us without exposing themselves to our weapons.

“The mine incidents we had in Vietnam were phenomenal, just the amount of effort the enemy went to, to create mines that would knock out a tank, and crack or twist the hull.

“You’ve got to do a lot to knock out a 53-tonne tank.

“And that’s when they started offsetting the mines. They’d put the pressure plate under the track, and put the explosive in the centre, so that the mine would go up directly underneath the tank.

“And then they got even cleverer. They connected an anti-tank rocket warhead – and in some cases, more than one – to the pressure switch so that the warhead fired through the bottom of the tank.

“In the Centurion tank, the ammunition is laid horizontally on the floor, just above the hull armour, so when the warhead went through, it ignited the ammunition, and that was incredibly effective for them.

“I know of one particular engineer, who was particularly good, and one day he slammed the driver on the helmet and called out stop. He’d seen there was a wire poking out of a tank track ahead, and the driver had to back up to allow him to examine it.

“That’s how close the crew were to running over this switch. It had been set into previous tank tracks, which had then been remoulded into shape.

“The explosive which was uncovered was offset and directly under the tank, and it was enormous.

“It was amazing the engineer happened to notice it.”

Today, Bruce wears his black beret with pride.

“A tank is more than just an armoured vehicle,” he said.

“And in terms of the tanks, the crew is the crew, in both word and in deed, and you’re relying on each other.

“You could never really relax … and it wasn’t just one incident, it was every day.

“The tanks were constantly on call … and it’s not as if the tank crews were in some sort of cocoon in which they were protected.

“The opposite was the case, and they knew full well they were vulnerable.

“The only weapons the tanks were immune to were pistols and small arms; everything else – anti-tank rockets, recoilless rifles, mines, heavy machine guns– they could all penetrate the vehicle, while satchel charges and snipers were also threats to the crew.  Tank optics provided limited visibility and crews had to expose themselves to see properly … so even small arms were a threat. And the bravery of the crew was in knowing this, they still went forward.”

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1 October 2021

Weekly Musings 14: Rifle Volleys

A few days ago, I found the cartridge case at above. It was buried about 10 cm down, close to the AWM (Ataturk Memorial/ANZAC Parade).  I discovered it using a metal detector that I have recently acquired.   The headstamp inscription was: ‘1942, MJ, LV’. 

The MJ refers to the Arms Ammunition Factory at Hendon (near Adelaide).  This facility made .303 rifle ammunition during the Second World War.  What does LV mean, however?

I was puzzled because the diameter of the top of the case was about 6mm or .243 calibre.  So, it wasn’t a 303 case.  Yet the length was the same (and it was centrefire/rimmed).

A little bit of help from overseas resolved the matter.  It was a blank round. 

But what was it doing where I found it?  Maybe it was fired during a three-round volley at a military funeral?  I thought that it might have been a funeral for a senior commander that was conducted at the AWM.  Couldn’t be, I quickly realized.  Those of general rank and above don’t have volleys fired at their funerals.  They have gun salutes.  Maybe it was from a volley fired at some other ceremonial occasion? 

I’ve done what research I could, and feu de joie is the only possibility I could find. This can be conducted on any special occasion (eg Queen’s Birthday Parade at RMC).  I wonder if a feu de joie was fired during at parade at the AWM to mark the end of the Second World War.

Given that I’ve gone as far as I can, I’ve advised the AWM and informed them that I’ll donate the case to them … were it to have any historical significance. 

Footnote:  Why is a three round volley fired at military funerals?  Does it relate to the holy trinity or does it have a more macabre origin?  Interestingly, ceremonial protocol for funerals is something which has remained largely unchanged over time.

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24 September 2021

Weekly MusingsThirteen : Changes (?) in Today’s Army

“On 03 September 2021, the Chief of Army distributed this letter to commanders which announced changes to Army’s command and control. In this vidcast, the Chief of Army directly addresses the different aspects of these changes and also answers the four key themes from all the questions that came from across Army.”

See it here:  https://cove.army.gov.au/article/chief-army-vidcast-watch-it-here

Before watching, it’s recommended that that the CA’s letter (above) be read.

It was compulsory viewing for SGT, WO, CAPT and MAJ.

The question I submitted was:

In the 1970s, Electronic Warfare became an Army wide priority: vulnerabilities were highlighted and counter-measures, practised and tested.  Given Army’s increasing dependence on digital technology within its systems and platforms, to what degree is cyber security a priority today?  What measures are in place to reduce the vulnerability of Army’s command and control systems to cyberattack and are these continually tested?

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18 September 2021

Weekly Musings Twelve: The Future of the Tank

Australia’s decision to replace its fleet of 59 M1A1 tanks with 75 M1A2 tanks, has been roundly criticised in the Defence media.  It is argued that the replacement tank is too heavy. 

Is it right that an emphasis should be placed on protection?  As was found in Vietnam, the ability of lightweight handheld anti-tank weapons to penetrate armour is astonishing.  With them becoming more and more prevalent on the battlefield, it is hardly surprising that protection is rated so highly.  A tank which is immune to enemy handheld anti-tank weapons, is a game changer … as was proven in 1917. 

It has been suggested that Australia should have opted for the US Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle (aka ‘light tank’) which is to be fielded in 2025. These journalists just don’t understand that Australia’s likely operational scenarios, require a high level of crew protection.  Prior to Vietnam, it was argued by some that Australia needed a light tank to be able to operate in South East Asia.  Thank heavens that sound minds prevailed and we didn’t operate 33 Tonne Comets from British stocks in HK (as had been proposed)

As has been mentioned previously, the proven development of active protection systems will revolutionise future AFVs.  It is still very early days, however, the current weight penalty associated with protection could well be removed, allowing lighter faster tank designs, including unmanned vehicles.

Unfortunately, Australia does not have the luxury of waiting.  Our M1A1 fleet is in urgent need of replacement.  The small number purchased has resulted in them being overworked; a situation which it is to be hoped will be avoided with an increased number in the replacement fleet, combined with greater simulator support. 

European countries are co-operating to develop a future land warfare system, including an MBT.  The operational capability is forecast for 2040.  It is likely that Australia’s new M1A2 fleet will continue our operational tank capability into the 2040s.  Need I say more?

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10 September 2021

Weekly Musings 11 : Right Sizing the Tank Fleet

The following two goals are currently in the ‘pending’ category:

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 following article is from ADM, May2021:

“In late April, the US State Department approved the sale to Australia of 160 M1A1 tank hulls from stock.

Those frames will be used to produce the ADF’s next tank fleet: around 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams main battle tanks, plus 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles, 18 Joint Assault Bridges, six M88A2 Hercules Combat Recovery Vehicles, and 122 AGT1500 gas turbine engines.

Whilst the exact balance of vehicle types will be approved by the National Security Council (NSC) at Gate 2 approval, this represents a major upgrade to Australia’s heavy armour capability. It is being managed under Land 907 Phase 2 (the tank upgrade) and Land 8160 Phase 1 (the combat engineering vehicles).

“Land 8160 is re-introducing a range of capabilities that originally existed under the Leopard fleet but wasn’t followed on when we introduced Abrams,” Colonel Paul Graham, Director Land Combat Vehicle Program at Army HQ, said to ADM. “The combat engineering vehicles are all based on the M1 chassis. The programs were originally run separately but the decision was made to bring them together given that commonality.”

After Army’s combat engineering vehicle capability was removed following the retirement of the Leopard fleet, soldiers risk-managed those tasks in a coalition setting; but according to Brigadier Jeremy King, Director General Platforms at Army HQ, the operational justification for re-introducing the capability was clear.

“It’s been a relatively easy argument for the combat engineering  vehicles,” BRIG King said. “People have in their mind a concerning image of a soldier prodding for IEDs. We’ve learnt the lesson that a mature armoured capability can do that more effectively without putting soldiers at risk.”

One of the problems with the current tank fleet is that its limited size has meant that the platforms have been overworked, resulting in a decrease in reliability.  This is especially the case, with the limited repair pool stock available.

The pending introduction of enhanced simulator facilities has been referred to recently.  Is it possible that the existing M1A1s can be used for driver training and that, together with the greater simulator capability, the tank fleet might be able to be regarded as both ‘upgraded’ and ‘right sized’? Of course, the other benefit to result, will be the continued interoperability with US forces.  [It’s likely that retaining M1A1 driver training vehicles will be too difficult in terms of maintenance requirements.]

In September 2020, Contact magazine reported:

“A composite of ceramic, metal and other materials will form a bespoke armour fitted to either the M1A2 System Enhancement Package (SEP) V3 or an M1A2 Australian-specific custom variant.

“The custom variant can be equipped with different sub-systems to suit our needs,” Lieutenant Colonel Cowan said.

“If we select the SEP V3, we can upgrade to the V4 later down the track and it will allow us to maintain commonality with the US and follow its upgrade path.”

Rather than the four ammunition types currently used, the new tanks will carry just two main tank rounds, both using the Ammunition Data Link, which enables the crew to select the effect they want.

Army will acquire an anti-tank round and an anti-personnel round with airburst and point-detonation capability.

“They’re programmable, which means you can tell the round how far the target is so it will have the best effect,” Lieutenant Colonel Cowan said.

Already boasting better reliability, reduced running costs and lower maintenance requirements, the tanks will be complemented by a suite of simulators.”

Conclusion.  The next tank fleet will comprise 75 Abram M1A2 SEPVs … an additional 16, compared to the current fleet.  The big question is, how will they be distributed?  With the current fleet, I understand that tanks have to be relocated from the last ‘ready’ brigade, to the next ‘readying’ brigade.  It seems that each of these two ACRs currently hold 16 tanks (three troops of four tanks, plus two in SHQ). 

Maybe the allocation will be: three ACRs, each 18 tanks; 8 at SOA; 4 at RTC and three repair pools, each with 3 tanks.  Whatever … I think ‘pending’ is still the right category.

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4 September 2021

Weekly Musings Ten:  Zoom Meeting Vietnam/Afghanistan

I was recently invited by the President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia to participate in an on-going series of zoom meetings with Bill Shorten who reached out to Vietnamese refugees and veterans to seek their advice as to what could be done re their Afghan counterparts.

Emil prior to second meeting:

I would like to put forward the following topic for consideration by the Hon Bill Shorten and Shayne Neumann.  Possibly you could forward it to them in advance of the meeting.

“In June 2021 a National Commemoration to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Khanh was held in Canberra.  It was organised by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and attended by many Vietnam Veterans. 

DVA ruled that the President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia could not be invited as an official guest, even though he is the senior representative of those for whom Australian soldiers fought together with, and for.

Obviously, political considerations were involved.  The Australian Government did not want to upset the current Vietnamese authorities.  Will the same thing happen in terms of Afghanistan?  Will a future Australian Government turn its back on its Afghan community, so as not to offend the Taliban?

Maybe … but does it have to be one thing or another?  Surely Australia is mature enough as a nation to recognise new international circumstances, while continuing to respect the cause for which our service personnel died.

Email from another member of the group:

“Just as an aside the same thing happened, in a sense at the Vietnam War Memorial of Victoria dedication, when the Vietnamese government INSTRUCTED us and the City of Dandenong that the red and yellow flag MUST not be flown – but the scary part is that DFAT agreed.  We flew it.”

I responded as follows:

“Also at the National Commemoration of the Battle of Binh Ba.  DFAT sent out lapel badges showing crossed Australian and Socialist Republic of Vietnam flags to be handed out to veterans for wearing on the day. 

We explained how offensive this symbolism was and, after considerable lobbying,  DFAT were forced to withdraw them.  We also had the RSL proposing to enter into an MOU with the Communist Party of Vietnam.  The position we took was that this could be considered if it was to result in the removal of the human rights abuses suffered by former ARVN members and their families.  This was too much for the RSL and they withdrew the proposal.  (There were some shameful episodes as far as the RSL leadership were concerned in this matter.)”

Some notes on the outcome of the second zoom meeting:

It was a good meeting focusing on ways to help Afghan refugees and Australian veterans.
I made the point that one way to help veterans would be ensure that they know that their country is proud of them.  Education, not platitudes is required.  It’s often said that ‘your country of grateful’, but these are hollow words when most Australians have no idea what veterans did in adding to the security of our nation and helping those people in the countries to which they were deployed.  I suggested a TV program would be a good start.

Bill Shorten said that he would look into ways in which the points made could best be communicated, including the possibility of editing the recordings of the zoom meetings into a succinct ‘communique’.

I also made the point that if the Government turns its back on its Afghan community, it will be turning its back on its veterans.  There have been a number of examples of this.”
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27 August 2021

Weekly Musings Nine: How to Show Respect

The Governor General’s Director of Communications circulated a message that the GG would have given if Covid had not forced the abandonment of the service at the Vietnam Memorial.

“Fifty  years ago the majority of our Vietnam veterans had returned to Australia … some uncertain of what they had achieved … of how they should feel about their service … whether they were part of the Anzac legacy and whether anyone cared about what they had done and what they suffered in the service of our nation.

“I want to give a message to them – and to all Veterans of the ADF including those who served more recently in Afghanistan who may be wondering the same things – a message that they should have been told at the time.

You should be proud of your service.

“You fought for reasons that your Government determined to be important to Australia and you fought for your mates – our nation won’t forget your service.

“You inherited the Anzac legacy, built upon it and handed it to the next generation. And for that, we are grateful.

“We do care. You are not alone and we will support you.”

It’s a good message: veterans were informed that the nation won’t forget their service and that they are cared for and will be supported; the nation was grateful for their service.  But, what didn’t it say?

It was stated that veterans should be proud of their service, but it didn’t say that’ the nation was proud of their service’.

It was stated that ‘we’, the nation, “will support you”It didn’t say ‘we will continue to support you’.  Presumably because of the failings by the nation to do so in the past. 

It was stated that ‘we’, the nation, are grateful that veterans built on the ANZAC legacy and handed it on, but it didn’t say that ‘we thank you for the contribution your service made to our security and to the nations in which you were deployed’ … the real touchstones!

Another statement: “Some words from Secretary Liz Cosson to DVA staff that captures our appreciation for all those who served in Afghanistan:

Those who have served in the ADF know the difference they make to the lives of so many people, and nations.  This includes specific actions with the people such as the Afghanis who were helped and more broadly with their role in nation building activities.  Nothing will diminish the difference that this service made.  Australia’s veterans did all that was asked of them and we are always grateful for their service.  We remain a grateful nation.

It states that veterans know the difference their service made to the people in Afghanistan.  Why don’t the Australian public know?  There has been a failing on the part of Government in this regard.  How can the nation be grateful when they don’t know the contribution made by Australian service personnel?

My message would be (in the hope that it was be true):

All Australians are proud of you and thank you for the contribution you made to our security and for the help given to those in the countries in which you served; we apologise for not providing better support on your return and pledge to do more in the future.

Finally, a couple of comments on a press release by the DVA Minister …

“The Australians eventually prevailed, but only after fighting in torrential rain for four hours. They were nearly overrun, but were saved by a timely ammunition resupply and reinforcements by an armoured personnel carrier.”

This should read ‘reinforcements brought by armoured personnel carriers’.

“Despite the Australians being outnumbered ten-to-one by the Viet Cong, our troops had a considerable advantage of their own – the fire support of three batteries of 1 Field Regiment sited at Nui Dat, as well as a battery of American medium artillery from 2/35th Artillery Battalion. 

161 Bty RNZA was not an integral part of 1 Fd Regt RAA, in the same manner as 103 and 105 Btys.  It was, however, under command of 1 Fd Regt RAA.  The FO party attached to D Coy 6RAR were from 161 Bty.  The contribution of the NZ gunners deserves to be mentioned; ie. it was not only Australian and American gunners providing support.

On that day in 1966, 17 Australians were killed in action and 25 more were wounded, with one of the wounded succumbing to his injuries nine days later.

Cpl Clements was wounded, not injured, during the battle, he later died of from his wounds (not his injuries).

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20 August 20-21

Weekly Musings Eight: The RAAC Corporation: Established to Provide Welfare Assistance

The Blog on 30 December 2020 is copied below:

Looking After Each Other

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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An update re the 1AR Assn’s position re this matter was provided in the Blog on 23 July 2021.

In a different post, Armouredadvocates asked why it was that the RAR Corporation was registered with the Charities and Not for Profit Commission (CNPC), and the RAAC Corporation was not?  [Note: The purposes of the RAAC Corporation are almost a direct copy of the purposes of the RAR Corporation.]

Well, how things change.  It seems that the RAACC was registered on 15 July 2021: https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity/209403647b790d41bca5f44a84be8ce6 

The article below (36) has been added to the end of the RAACC Constitution.  Of course, the reason stated for the establishment of the RAACC is not the case at all.  But why let the truth get in the way?

It has long been wondered why the RAR Corp publishes its annual reports and minutes of national council meetings on its website, but the RAACC does not.  Well, now it will have to happen — the CNPC requires it.  Openness and transparency … who’d have thought it possible?

36  CORPORATION ESTABLISHED FOR CHARITABLE PURPOSES

  • The Corporation is a Corporation established to provide for the welfare of Members and
  • The Corporation as represented by the Council, is prohibited from expending any moneys except on the welfare of Members and ex-Members of The Royal Australian Armoured Corps and their families.

NOTE:  The RAACC Constitution includes the following under ‘Definitions’.  It would seem that more work needs to be done to clarify Article 36, as at present it doesn’t make sense.

“Member” means a Regimental Association that is sponsored by an RAAC Unit of Squadron or Regimental size that is listed on the Australian Army Order of Battle at the time of application for membership and where the control of the association or organisation whose ordinary membership is representative of the sponsor RAAC Unit and is in the hands of ex-members of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps (including those who have served in an RAAC Regiment who were not themselves of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps), on the payment of the joining subscription is eligible to become a Member.

“Ordinary Member” means:

  • any individual person who is a financial member of a Member Association as specified in Rule 4 of this Constitution;
  • any individual person who is a financial member of an Associate Member Association as specified in Rule 5 of this Constitution.

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13 August 2021

Weekly Musings Seven : Honour Rolls

The following is one of the Goals set out in the introduction to the Blog:

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.

Vietnam Wall.  In the US, the name of anyone who died as a consequence of wounds they received in Vietnam is added to the Vietnam Wall memorial.  The name of anyone whose death resulted from illness or injury sustained in Vietnam, is added to a list held withing the Wall itself.

The AWM.   The Roll of Honour at the AWM only records the names of those on the operational roll of units that served in Vietnam who died within the prescribed period of the War, ie up until 29 April 1975.  Anyone who dies after this date is not recorded as a casualty of the conflict.  As far as Australians are concerned, it is believed that ‘only’ 521 died as a consequence of their service in Vietnam.  Of course, we all know that hundreds have died of the wounds after the end of the prescribed period.  (As did thousands of veterans after the prescribed period of the First and Second World Wars.)

The 1AR Assn.  Armouredadvocates has been critical of the Assn’s Honour Roll as it listed some, but not all, who died of their wounds after the prescribed period for Vietnam.  The C’tee took note and put a list of options to members.  The outcome was they decided to adopt the AWM policy; meaning that anyone who died of their wounds after 29 April 1975 is not recognised.

The RMC Roll of Honour for Graduates.  The criteria to list gradates of RMC, OCS or OTU is: Have been killed or died as a direct result of injury or illness sustained on active service in warlike or non-warlike operations, ie. peacekeeping, peace monitoring, or humanitarian operations or deployment.

Conclusion.  The RMC Honour Roll takes the same approach as the AWM, ie lists anyone whose death is caused as a consequence of their active service whether illness or enemy action; but does not limit this to the ‘prescribed period’.  As with the US Vietnam Wall, all those whose death resulted from the service are recognised (albeit differently in the US depending on whether or not death was due to enemy action).

Do both these memorials not reflect the true extent of sacrifice made on behalf of the nation?  The 1AR Assn has taken the easy option once again.  It goes without saying that soldiers whose death results from their active service, should be recognized in the same way as officers! 

Of course, the challenge arises … how is it known that death was a consequence of active service?  This was obviously a bridge too far for the Assn.  There are a number of options.  Obtaining medical certification from the NOK is one. This would provide the family the opportunity for their loved one to be appropriately recognised should they so wish.  Not too hard … surely?

The following is relevant in terms of the different views as far as commemoration of sacrifices made of behalf of the nation are concerned.

National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago

When visitors first enter the museum, they will hear a sound like wind chimes coming from above them and their attention will be drawn upward 24 feet to the ceiling of the two-story high atrium.

Dog tags of the more than 58,000 servicemen and women who died in the Vietnam War hang from the ceiling of the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago on Veterans Day, November 11, 2010. The  10-by-40-foot sculpture, entitled Above and  Beyond, was designed by Ned Broderick and  Richard Stein.

The tens of thousands of metal dog tags are suspended 24 feet in the air,  1 inch apart, from fine lines that allow them to move and chime with shifting air currents.  Museum employees using a kiosk and laser pointer help visitors locate the exact dog tag with the imprinted name of their lost friend or relative.

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6 August 2021

Weekly Musings Six: AFVs and Australia’s Defence Strategy

Recently I wrote a letter to the Editor of the Canberra Times:

Bradley Perrett fails to understand vital strategic planning when he advocates that ‘We need to restructure the Army’ (Opinion, July 3, p24).  He assets, on the one hand, that current Army equipment is unsuited for the most likely threat it has to face; and, therefore, existing modernisation programs should be scrapped.  On the other hand, he acknowledges that the threat might change and that the Army could be required to fight a ‘sophisticated ground war’.

The missing link in his analysis is that of lead times.  These are the periods required to acquire military equipment and train soldiers and units in its use and employment.  Of course, in periods of defence emergency, supply lines could be cut.  This contingency has to be factored into the ADF’s stockpiling policy.

The author suggests that armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) are not required for ground war because they can be knocked out from above by drones.  This is a false premise.  Active protection systems are being produced to protect AFVs from top attack, as well as from engagement by other weapon systems.  AFVs, including tanks, form the basis of mobile operations; these, in turn, are vital for successful ground warfare.

The author of the article about which I wrote, was of the opinion that AFVs are not required by the ADF.  This view was recently supported in an article in the Australian Security Policy Institute’s (ASPI) newsletter. An extract from which is:

But there’s no excuse for the massive (approximately $42 billion) investment in armoured fighting vehicles for the army. And, unless Defence expects an unlikely invasion of the Australian continent, the acquisition of 75 Abrams tanks defies a rationale. They are too heavy for most bridges in northern Australia, let alone in the Indo-Pacific. It’s hard to comprehend how main battle tanks could be deployed in almost any regional theatre, even if there were a strategic case for doing so.

Thanks goodness there are others who endeavour to correct the record as far as the role of AFVs is concerned.  The extract below is from Senator Jim Molan’s response to the earlier ASPI article:

No one who has ever fought in a war would say we don’t need armoured vehicles. Wherever you have infantry, you need armoured vehicles to protect them.

If we had a comprehensive strategy directing all aspects of national security, including defence, we might understand what a cascading defence strategy should look like. Maybe we would find that we need a different form of ‘defence balance’ that might even involve armoured vehicles.

Postscript.  Immediately after last week’s blog, the Secretary of the 1AR Assn contacted the former member of 1 Armd Regt who contacted me and whom I quoted.  It was pointed out to him that the 1 AR Assn had responded as follows:

“The Association has a policy of not contacting Bruce Cameron on any matter and we are not at liberty, due to the Privacy Act, to pass on any contact information of either current or former members (Mr Cameron is a former member).  However, he does have a blog – ArmouredAdvocates – which provides his email address as cameronshome@bigpond.com”.

I found it interesting to note that the 1AR Assn has a policy of not contacting me on any matter.  Even for something of importance to the RAAC, I would not be contacted … even though I could contribute.  ‘Cut off your nose to spite your face’?   I stand by my Blog.

Next week I’ll revisit the 1AR Assn Honour Roll policy.

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30 July 2021

Weekly Musings 5: For the Good of the RAAC?

I was contacted by a former member of 1 Armd Regt recently.  This person was aware of an appeal from the family for information about a Vietnamese MIA resulting from the fighting at Binh Ba.  He had been a tank crewman involved in the Battle and believed that he had information that could assist re this missing Vietnamese.  This was new information that had not been reported in any recorded history.  He thought I might be able to help him

Interestingly, he had difficulty in contacting me.  He tried the 1AR Assn first, but: “The Association would not either provide your address or forward an email to you asking you to contact me”.  Fortunately, another former member of 1 Armd Regt was willing to assist by providing my email address.  He knew that I would not object to receiving a request for help in such circumstances.  This was indeed the case and I hope that I might have able to subsequently provide some useful information/contacts.

But why in heavens name would the 1 AR Assn not be willing to help?  Apart from the humanitarian aspects, the history of one of 1 Armd Regt’s most significant battles could be added to.

It’s no secret that the C’tee of the 1AR Assn don’t like me for having made known the circumstances documented in the Introduction to this Blog.  But surely, they see the bigger picture?  Surely, they would not stand in the way of adding to the operational history of 1 Armd Regt?  But they did.  Why? 

It seems to me that what’s in the best interests of 1 Armd Regt and/or the RAAC, comes second to the interests of the C’tee of the 1AR Assn.

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23 July 2021

Weekly Musings 4

Caring for Those Less Fortunate

One of the goals of Armouredadvocates listed in the pending category (ie. improvement has been made, but not fully achieved as yet) 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.)

It seems that the C’tee of the 1AR Assn must take note of the Blog as the Assn’s latest newsletter states: For several years this Association has been regularly criticised, in the electronic environment, for failing to ‘articulate in practical terms how the Association addresses the issue of caring for those less fortunate’ and having articulated the means, would then enact the goal”.  [https://www.paratus.org.au/newsletter]

The article goes on the explain (inter alia) that:

“Rule 2 Purposes, sub-rule (4) of the Association Constitution states, ‘promote and advance or otherwise assist the welfare and well-being of members’, their dependents and next-of-kin, etc’ and Rule 2 (5) states, ‘provide all possible assistance to members in a practical and advisory capacity’.

In a policy document, ‘Ex Service Organisations and Groups Providing Welfare, Health and Well Being for Veterans, Ex Service People and their Families, published by the Association in March 2019’, it was stated that the Association did not have the expertise, experience, personnel, or financial resources or indeed the wherewithal to take on such a considerable and risk-filled role such as the provision of services related to welfare, health and well-being.

Has the situation changed in the intervening years? No, the area of providing advice on financial, welfare and well-being for members of the ex-service community has become even more complex and should not be undertaken by well-meaning volunteers who are not qualified to provide advice in any of these areas.”

Response from the ‘electronic environment’:

The Chairman of the RAAC Corporation posted the following on the 3 Cav (Vietnam) forum page a couple of weeks ago, under the heading: ‘Death of Phillip James REEVES, formerly 1 Armoured Regiment’

Pedro Rosemond rang me last night about this – very sad indeed.  The funeral will be a private family affair.  A genuine legend and character of the Corps. May he sit at the right hand of God.  Commissioner Don Spinks has been notified by me. Brian Hatfield is the 1AR Assn rep up there and we had a lengthy telecon last night about what needs to be done DVA/DFRDB-wise from here on including the possibility of assisting Marie Reeves with  an application for ISS  should  Phil not have been in receipt of a Service Pension.”

Interestingly, three other former members of 1 Armd Regt died in the same period: Henry Polis, David Armstrong and Pat McAuliffe.  What’s going on here?  Why does the Chairman of the RAAC Corporation get involved in offering help and advice for the NOK of one of the deceased?  Why isn’t the same assistance provided to the other NOK?  If you’re a legend and a character, you get help; if you’re not, you miss out.  How can this be?  Where is the social justice?

The Chairman had a lengthy telecon with the 1AR Assn rep … why isn’t that advice documented and made available to all former members of 1 Armd Regt so that their NOK might be better prepared in such circumstances?  There would be no insurance liability involved.  (Presumably, the Chairman indemnified Brian Hatfield in terms of assistance to be provided by a ‘well meaning volunteer’.)

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16 July 2021

Weekly Musings 3: ‘They Were All Volunteers in Vietnam’

The link below is to a newspaper article which states that all conscripts in Vietnam were volunteers.  I’ve had to correct this ‘myth’ many times and felt compelled to do so again.   My response and those subsequent, follow.

https://targetsdown.blogspot.com/2021/07/a-new-generation-is-up-for-challenge.html

Hi, the Vietnam ‘all volunteers’ is a myth. Extract from my book:

“There were no restrictions on service outside Australia or its Territories, as there had been during earlier periods of conscription in the Second World War and later in the 1950s.  Despite this legislation, it is often stated that those called up ‘had to specifically volunteer for overseas service’. If there was an obligation under the National Service Act to serve overseas if called upon to do so, how did the all-volunteer ‘myth’ come about?  Commanders going to Vietnam would not have wanted members in their units who were there against their will; some, therefore, arranged for those who did not want to go, to be transferred. As the majority of recruits were allocated to infantry, there was some flexibility available to battalions to do this. Most other Corps, of which the RAAC was one, did not have the luxury of being able to ‘tailor’ their units in this way. 

Footnote: One RAAC national serviceman stated: ‘I can tell you categorically … we were certainly not volunteers.’ Another former national serviceman (not RAAC) stated that: ‘At no time were we asked if we had any objections … I did not want to go and if I thought that I had a choice, then I would not have gone. I get quite wild when people tell me I had a choice, 40 years later.

PS.  The “form” mentioned above, was a left-over from the earlier conscription period, it was not relevant at all to Vietnam.

My response was not posted, so I asked:

“If I was to say that the above article is true and correct, would my comment be posted?  When I point out the factual inaccuracies and it is not posted, is this to shore up the credibility of the author? What about the credibility of the publication?”

This led to my response being posted, together with additional info …

Author of Article:  There were no restrictions under the amended NS act on service outside Australian territory.
Conscripts were offered the option of declining service in Vietnam, as also applied to UN or PNG postings.
Peer pressure was often applied to indicate yes.
When the withdrawal of combat forces was announced, I was instructing recruits at Singleton.
They were concentrated in the area theatre on told by the Commandant on direction from Army Office it was unlikely any would serve in Vietnam.
We were instructed to take them back to platoon lines and discuss the consequences and their reactions.
The reaction was mixed, but most took the view that having been called up and indicated their willingness to serve there, they could no longer see the point of why they were there.
Memory of that period seems to have become a selective thing.
My cohort, who were professionally affected by the announcement, have similar recollections.

I pointed out that:

In February 1967, Malcolm Fraser, the Minister for the Army, directed that infantry battalions in Vietnam were not to comprise more than 50 per cent national servicemen. The adjustments that had to be made by battalions preparing for Vietnam, meant that nearly all Regular Army recruits during 1967 were posted to Infantry. Other corps, such as the RAAC, had to manage the increased turnover associated with a higher proportion of conscripts.
Volunteering did not become a requirement until 1971. At that time, with troops being withdrawn, the Minister for Army announced that national servicemen would still be needed to go to Vietnam, but would no longer be compelled to do so.

The Author of Article had the last word:

The only individuals who can be “compelled” are those who have elected not to go. All the others are volunteers, so no compulsion is involved.

Can this be said to be a statement of the obvious …?  What do they say: ‘You can take a horse to drink, but you can’t make it water!

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9 July 2021

Weekly Musings 2: Vietnam Today

Someone posted in another forum that: “I had a yarn recently with 2 blokes who were Cav soldiers over there [Afghanistan] and these blokes are right up there rank wise. We were talking about the difference between Vietnam and Afghanistan and they both said the same as one; Vietnam has recovered well, but The Afghans have no hope.”

I responded to say:

It’s an interesting view: “Vietnam has recovered well”.

This, of course, is the view that that the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) would support.

It’s not the view of those on whose behalf we fought; those who spent years in concentration camps with hard labour after 1975; those who can’t get an education or meaningful employment because a family member served with the ARVN or was considered to have helped the ‘Americans’; or those whose human rights under the CPV are non-existent.

One would hope that the Australian Government will ensure that those Afghans who assisted Australian forces, eg interpreters, don’t suffer the same fate.

Someone else followed up my post to say:
“I thought social engineering in Australia was a huge problem.  About 22 months ago Jan and I spent three weeks in Vietnam from Saigon to Hanoi.  We chose to do a private tour driven around in a private vehicle. It became very obvious from the driver and tour guide (VCP employees) that they had been brain washed about “the American” war.  The propaganda is so thick you couldn’t cut it with a chain saw.  The current generation has had history re-written, and that is all they understand is what they have been taught.   I felt the intimidation and was not prepared to tell the truth.  Had a feeling I might disappear.

I am certain the older southerners have the same fears.

In the north Uncle Ho is more like Ho God.

We had a delightful female guide in Hanoi who told us that the prisoners in the Hanoi Hilton were treated well.  How anyone could believe this when displaying the cages they were contained in was beyond me.  I began to say something and she gave me the Shhhh! sign.  Outside she pointed out that there were ears everywhere inside, but I could now speak more freely.  I suggested that she should Google and obtain others opinions.  She pointed out that they can not Google in Vietnam all social media was censored.  I choose not to say anything further.

As for “recovered well”, on face value the country appears affluent with high rise buildings etc.  Apart from tourism income I could gain no picture on where the funding comes from.  Outside the Cities there is still a lot of poverty.  I could imagine a farmers taxable income would be a bowl of rice. “

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2 July 2021

Weekly Musings: 1

Image: Lawsonlegal.com

Who knows how this format will work out … only one way to find out!

1.  Apology?  Have I heard from WO 1 Simpson?  No.  Did I expect to?  No.  Did I hope to?  Yes.

2.  The Rule of Law Part 1

Not long ago, an RAAC veteran was to be deported to NZ.  He had come here aged 18mths, but his parents didn’t take out Aust citizenship. He was conscripted as a ‘British national’ and served in Vietnam.  His service and its effects weren’t taken into account by the court.
His unit association and its kin (and their principals who held high office) washed their hands of him … wouldn’t even provide certification re his army service.   
Individuals who believed that, right or wrong, justice must apply … argued on his behalf. 
Justice and compassion finally won the day, with the Federal Court overruling the Immigration Minister.  BUT … he had no support at all during the long drawn out process, other than that offered by those who believed that the rule of law must apply equally to all.  (One of the stories to be recounted in my new book.)

The above situation resonates with an RAAC veteran who was accused of war crimes related to an incident in Vietnam in August 1970.  The allegation was made by a politician.  The veteran received no support and had to deal with the ‘fallout’ on his own.  Eventually, contemporary military records proved that there was no basis at all for the allegation

3.  The Rule of Law Part 2

Does the above have any relevance as far as the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial is concerned?

Seems to me that the current defamation situation re BRS is different to a finding of ‘guilty’ or not.  I’m aware of a situation in which a wine company used a portrait of an ALH VC recipient on their bottles.  The artist had not given approval for this and sued for defamation. There was no doubt that that the company had acted wrongly, but a defamation action must demonstrate that the plaintive had suffered monetary loss.  This was not able to be proven, therefore, the case was lost.
In the BRS case, considerable attention has been given in the media to the financial loss that he’s suffered.  So, it’s a question as to whether or not the media acted wrongly. 
It seems a long bow, but I think this is different to whether or not BRS is guilty in terms of legal statutes (which is why the defamation proceedings can take place separately to the ‘legal’ proceedings).

As far as is known, the SASR Assn has no position on the matter, but is providing support to the witnesses; if it comes to a criminal trial, they will continue to lobby and support serving and non-serving members to make sure they have due process under both military and commonwealth law.  It’s great to think that the SASRA is there, not to pass judgement, but to ensure that ‘due process’ takes place.  That’s all one could ask (but is not always provided).

Re the ‘truth defence’ being run by the media, I think that the difference between defamation and other court matters, is that relating to decisions about what might be implied by the statements made (ie. that which have an impact on reputation, earnings etc).  I’m clutching at straws here … trying to make sense of a defamation trial proceeding while a legal enquiry is being conducted in parallel.

I don’t have any ‘expert’ knowledge, but it seems to me that if BRS loses the defamation action, he might not be found guilty in the latter; and vice versa.  I just can’t believe that there could be no grounds for different results … how could the defamation action be allowed to proceed otherwise?  I think the following is the answer:

The defamation case ONLY relates to what was published. The result of the defamation case will have no bearing on the criminal case; the two can run at the same time or before or after one another.  Evidence given by defence and plaintiff witnesses in one case, can be used in the other.

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25 June 2021

Note: I should never have had to post RAAC Communications 1-8, but if nobody takes a stand … we all end up down the gurgler. (Of course, I should never have had to take a stand with respect to 1AR Assn either.) As mentioned on 15 June, my Blog posts will now revert to being weekly, the next on 2 July 2021.

PS. The CO 1 Armd Regt advises that he’s passed my letter re Mr Simpson’s allegation to the OC C Sqn (blog posts 17 and 19 June refer). I’ll post any response on the Blog, as well as any apology or other communication (within what I judge to be acceptable limits) I receive from WO1 Simpson; but I’m not holding my breath that you’ll see anything with respect to the latter next week.

RAAC Commemorations 8

In previous blogs, I’ve addressed five allegations made against me recently by WO1 Simpson.  Today I deal with the last, copied below.

It is only by a “great deal of work by organisations, associations and corporations, which lead to veterans and their families being recognised by their nation”, ie. efforts on the part of individuals don’t count!

Why is it that we have to be subservient to group thinking?  If an Association decides something and an individual disagrees, should that be the end of the matter?

Take, for example, the 1 Armd Regt Standard … not only was the Theatre Honour for Vietnam wrong, but also the Battle Honour for Coral-Balmoral was not emblazoned.  You can’t do anything about this I was informed by all responsible parties, the Ceremonial Manual would have to be changed; those at the highest levels didn’t want to cause any fuss.  So, I wrote to the Minister … lo and behold, both matters were corrected.  Why subordinate everyone to the thinking of a particular group?  Of course, others were quick to claim responsibility … but that’s a part of life which will never change.

When the RVN Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation was approved for award to units in 173rd Airborne Brigade, the RAAC Corporation supported the Defence position that the APC troop should be referred to as ‘1 APC Troop (A Sqn, 4th/19th PWLH)’.  But this wasn’t correct.  Bringing the error to the attention of the custodians of Army history, resulted in 1 Troop A Squadron 4/19 PWLH being correctly acknowledged as the first RAAC unit to be deployed in action.

When the Army Combat Badge was introduced, a decision was made not to award it to the NOK of those service personnel who were killed in action (so as to save money … the recipients wouldn’t be able to wear it).  The ‘charter’ of the RAAC Corporation means that it cannot advocate a position which is not supported by the RAAC Head of Corps.  The HOC is bound to support the position taken by Defence.  Is that where things should be left … despite callous position being taken by Defence mandarins?  Of course not.  Once again, action by an individual brought about a change … NOK of those KIA now receive an ACB on behalf of their relative.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point … there is a place in this world for action by both representative groups and individuals.

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25 June 2021

RAAC Commemorations 7

The fifth allegation made by WO1 Simpson is that I “leeched off the hard work of others to gain personal credit”.  How insulting is this?  It’s an interesting subject … why some people feel the need to insult others.  I looked into it once for a Blog post, following a number of incidents in which a certain person insulted others (though “I was still in short pants when he was on his first tour of Vietnam”, so what would I know!).  The Blog post below is that which seems to have got up Mr Simpson’s nose.

9 June 2021

C Sqn (1971) Reunion: Canberra 6/7 June 2021

Despite there being no backing from the 1AR Assn or RAAC Corporation, everyone was pleased with their visit to Canberra.  The COVID 19 lockdown in Victoria meant that our dinner numbers were suddenly cut from 104 to 72.  (It’s very likely that our Vic brothers will have their own get-together in Melbourne, when it’s possible to do so.)

Sunday 6 June.  First activity was the Vietnam Requiem.  This was a huge success and is now likely to tour to other cities.  If you can get to it, you should.  Normie Rowe was in great voice and John Schumann was as well.  The rendition of the last song sung by Cathy Wayne, was heartfelt by many.  The soloists, the choir and the orchestra were outstanding,

Immediately after, was the Last Post Ceremony at the AWM.  Wreaths were laid in honour of Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick.  Andy’s daughter laid his wreath, before joining us for Dinner.  This was held at a nearby hotel, where many attendees stayed.  It was a very successful evening, with a special message being read from the widow of C Sqn’s OC, Peter Bourke.  The RAAC Head of Corps and President of the ACT Chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia both provided very informative after dinner speeches.

Monday 7 June.  The National Commemoration for Operation Overlord commenced at 10.30am at the Vietnam Memorial.  The weather was fine (albeit a little cold).  The GG read the Commemorative Address and the ceremony was dignified and well conducted.  On return to the Hotel we enjoyed a (not so) light Lunch, finishing the wines which had been provided for the dinner by one of our cohort.  Finally, a visit to the AWM ‘warehouse’ was undertaken.  This stores the many items of equipment which are being restored or waiting for space in the AWM.  The visit was a special one, additional to the one or two ‘Open Days’ through the year.

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Exactly what hard work of 1AR Assn/RAAC Corporation did I leech off?

The Vietnam Requiem.  I spent several hours, with a number of others, advising the Director with respect to the Vietnam War; I attended a prelim performance to look for any ‘errors’ in the information presented, as well as an early ‘rehearsal’.  The Director and General Manager were guests at the C Sqn dinner.  I did not claim any credit for the concert.  I know of no 1AR Assn/RAAC Corporation involvement.

The 6 June AWM LPC.  I arranged for wreaths to be laid in honour of two C Sqn members who DOW … these involved a family member directly and a message from a family unable to attend.  (The wreaths were paid for by a DVA grant, submitted by me.)  Those attending the Ceremony as part of the C Sqn Reunion were required to provide detailed information to allow tracing in terms of COVID 19.  I provided this.  I did not claim any credit for the ceremony.  I know of no 1AR Assn/RAAC Corporation involvement.

The C Sqn Reunion Dinner.  I organised it, but did not and do not claim any credit.  I know of no 1AR Assn/RAAC Corporation involvement.

The Operation Overlord Commemoration.  I was involved in planning meetings with DVA and providing info re those nominated as wreath layers and official guests; and numbers attending (who would also be at the C Sqn Reunion).  The Chairman of the RAAC Corporation was also at the two planning meetings.  I believe he might have provided advice re the former 3 Cav personnel attending.  I did not claim any credit for the Commemoration and know of no 1AR Assn involvement.

The Post Commemoration C Sqn Lunch.  I organised it, but did not and do not claim any credit.  I know of no 1AR Assn/RAAC Corporation involvement.

The AWM ‘Warehouse’ Visit.  I was involved in organising and providing details of attendees, but did not and do not claim any credit.  I know of no 1AR Assn/RAAC Corporation involvement.

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23 June 2021

RAAC Commemorations 6

The fourth allegation by WO1 Simpson is that: I’ve taken credit “for hard work by the RAAC Corporation and 1 AR Assn over an extended period of time which led to a successful DVA event”.

At no time did I take credit for the organisation of DVA’s National Commemoration of Operation Overlord (Battle of Long Khanh).  But was it the hard work by the RAAC Corporation and 1 AR Assn over an extended period of time that resulted in a successful event?  In a word … No!  Where then, should credit be placed?

The former CO 3RAR first advocated for a 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Long Khanh some years ago … planning on the basis of an event for which 3RAR would be responsible.  Colonel Scott contacted me (as I was someone whose tank troop was involved in the action) and we met with DVA.  His advocacy convinced DVA in terms of the significance of the Anniversary and DVA undertook to manage the commemoration.  My letter to the OC C Sqn, 1 Armd Regt of July 19 refers (see post for 19 Jun 21).  What happened next?

The 3RAR co-ordinator and I worked together to organise events across the days involved.  I invited the 1AR Assn and RAAC Corporation to participate.  They took the view, however, that false hopes could be built up in their members if the Commemoration was not to be approved.  Although DVA staff were confident that the event would go ahead, it could not be regarded as an ‘approved’ event until DVA’s budget for the 20/21 FY had been agreed to.  So, neither organisation would have anything to do with anything associated with it. Planning for the C Sqn Reunion went ahead on my part.  The greatest challenge being that of contacting former members.

DVA’s budget is approved … what hard work is it that the 1AR Assn and RAAC Corporation then put in? (Simpson’s “long period of time” having been reduced from three years to one).

DVA held two meetings to consult with stakeholders.  I attend, given my involvement with the C Sqn Reunion, as does the Chairman, RAAC Corporation.  Noel is not acting ‘officially’ on behalf of 3 Cav Regt as they are not a member of the Corporation.  He is, however, a former member of 3 Cav Regt, so undertakes ‘ex-officio’ responsibility for things such as contacting next of kin etc.  For 1 Armd Regt’s part, I nominated (in consultation with sqn members) those who should lay the Sqn wreath and those who should be invited as ‘official guests’.  There was also opportunity to comment on the suitability of different elements of the Commemoration, eg, those who should do the different ‘Readings’. 

I am aware that the 1AR Assn informed its members that the DVA Commemoration was a ‘ticketed event’ and that anyone wanting to attend had to advise the Assn (Rosemond) of their details.  This was incorrect and caused confusion.  It was not a ticketed event.  DVA only needed to know how many were likely to attend (for seating etc).  I had numbers as far as 1 Armd Regt personnel attending the Reunion were concerned, and advised DVA accordingly.  [Attendance at AWM Last Post Ceremonies were ticketed events and I provided the required info to the AWM for the LPC that was part of the C Sqn Reunion.]

What exactly was the “hard work by the RAAC Corporation and 1 AR Assn over an extended period of time that resulted in a successful event”? 

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22 June 2021

RAAC Commemorations 5

Following on in terms of the sequence, I respond here to the third allegation made against me by the immediate past RSM of the RAAC, WO1 Simpson.  This was that:

I announced that neither the 1AR Assn nor RAAC Corporation had anything to do with the DVA National Commemoration.

I did nothing of the sort. 

Mr Simpson was referring to my Blog post of 15 June 2021in which I stated that: “The 1AR Assn wanted nothing to do with it, however.  The RAAC Corporation, for their part, promoted a parallel 3 Cav Regt get-together and invited members of C Sqn to attend.  Neither group promoted C Sqn’s functions, despite all relevant information being shared with them. 

Was I referring to the DVA National Commemoration?  No!  I was referring to C Sqn’s [50th Anniversary Reunion] functions. 

Did 1 AR Assn or the RAAC Corporation support the C Sqn functions?  No.  Is there any evidence of this?  WO1 Simpson suggests that Minutes of meetings suggest otherwise: “Evidence of both organisations supporting this commemoration is available to members via agenda items within the minutes of meetings”.  Minutes of RAAC Corporation meeting aren’t published (something of which the author has long been critical).  The report of 1 AR Assn to the last RAAC Corporation meeting makes no mention of the C Sqn Reunion (nor the Overlord Commemoration).

The following report by the Chairman of the RAAC Corporation was included in the Minutes of the last 1AR Assn AGM: “Informal arrangements for the Meet and Greet (a la carte dinner) for 6 June 2021 (the evening before the Commemorative Service for Overlord/Long Khanh) at the Ainslie Football Club. An O group is also to be held at the same location after the Commemorative Service on 7 June 2021. An open invitation is extended to all members of C Squadron 1st Armoured who may wish to attend an informal gathering on both dates, with 3rd Cavalry Regiment and elements of D&E Platoon. Charlie Dearling is the Dining Member and point of contact”.

I emailed the Chairman to say: “Hi Noel, I note your statement to the 1AR Assn AGM in January. Pity you couldn’t have mentioned that C Sqn 1 Armd Regt will be holding a 50th Anniversary Reunion dinner on 6 June (for the information of anyone who might be unaware)”.

One might have hoped that the 1AR Assn would be supportive of a function which would bring together veterans from the Regiment and their families for a 50th Anniversary Reunion, in conjunction with a National Commemoration. DVA have grants to assist with such activities, however, applicants must be incorporated bodies. DVA advised me that any such body could act on my behalf. I asked 1 AR Assn (explaining that I would prepare all the paperwork etc). I was not a member and was not particularly surprised when they refused; I then asked the RAACA (NSW) Branch. I was a member (but am no longer) and was surprised and disappointed when they refused. Both bodies are members of the RAAC Corporation. I then asked the ACT TPI Assn, they agreed … and the grant was applied for and provided.

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21 June 2021

RAAC Commemorations 4

The second allegation against me by Mr Simpson, the immediate past RSM of the RAAC is that:

‘I precluded others from my planning in order to avoid situations which would not put me in my own spotlight.’

There are, of course, two allegations here; (i) that I did something, and (ii) why I did it.  The latter is very offensive on a personal level.  Rather than responding accordingly, I will simply show that the first (ie, that I precluded others from my planning) has no basis … meaning that the second is groundless.

Did I or did I not, consult with others re the planning for C Sqn (1971) Reunion activities? 

The following three documents, are some of many, which are relevant in terms of involving others in the planning:

#1

Commanding Officer, 1st Armoured Regiment,

Chauvel Lines, Edinburgh Defence Precinct, EDINBURGH, SA, 0830

                                                                                                            December 2020

Dear ….

I met you some years ago (2012?) when you were adjutant.  Congratulations on your current appointment!

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. I understand that the Standard will be paraded.

Tanks from my troop, 5 Troop/C Sqn/1 Armd Regt, played a pivotal role in the Battle of Long Khanh.  There are some lessons for armoured warfare which I believe are as relevant today, as they were back then.

I believe strongly in the transfer of experience from one group to its successor and I would be prepared to give an ‘informal’ presentation on the role of the Centurion tanks in this battle.  It might be that I could be joined by crewmen from the time, now resident in Adelaide.  They might be more readily able to answer questions about their duties and ‘challenges’.

Best wishes,

[I had arranged with former crewmen, now resident in Adelaide, to join with me in making the presentation.  This was the second offer in this regard, Blog 20 Jun 21 refers.  The reply came some months later.  The CO had thought I was offering to provide a briefing “on the sidelines of the National Commemoration itself”.  By the time the offer was accepted, I was too busy with the arrangements for the Reunion itself, to prepare a presentation.]

#2

From: Bruce & Jasmine Cameron <cameronshome@bigpond.com>
Sent: Sunday, 5 April 2020 12:32 PM
To: RAAC Corporation, 1 AR Assn, 1 Armd Regt, 3 Cav (Vietnam) Assn. >
Subject: C Sqn 1 Armd Regt Reunion (6/7 June 2021) : Update

Dear All,

The following advance arrangements are forwarded for information for any aspects which might have relevance for 1 Armd Regt, RAAC Corp, 1 AR Assn and 3 Cav Regt Assn

General.

The following edited extract is from the latest 3RAR newsletter.  You’ll see that, like us, 3RAR are organising a reunion to commemorate all those who served with the unit during 1971. (It’s worth bearing in mind as far as Canberra venues are concerned, that there will probably be five times more of them present, compared to us.)

“The PROPOSED 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Khanh Commemoration was discussed by Col Peter Scott and me [3RAR organiser, Tony Cox] with members of the Commemorations Section of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) in Canberra ACT on 19th December 2019.  DVA provided a commitment that they will do something to Commemorate the anniversary on Monday 7th June 2021.

Working on a PROPOSED event is a little unusual but we have been assured that DVA will conduct an event on the 7th June 2021.  That being the case, planning [is focussed] on the 5th, 6th and 7th June 2021 to dedicate and celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 3rd Battalion RAR’s Active Service in Vietnam in 1971.

Battalion companies and groups will coordinate their individual activities as usual. The reunion weekend will be coordinated with other groups who have similar intentions and concurrent interests.  3rd Battalion reunion activities may overlap and be concurrent with other Corps groups from Vietnam 1971.”

Note:  The Battle of Long Khanh is the name given by 3RAR to the action which took place primarily on 7 June 1971 during Operation Overlord (5-14 June 1971).  Given that Overlord was one of the largest operations undertaken by 1ATF, the DVA commemoration may well relate to the Operation as a whole.

C Squadron Reunion 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.)

5.25pm.           Ceremony concludes

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

7.30pm.           Dinner is served.

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

7 June 2021 (Monday)

10.30am.         TBC  National Commemoration commences (Vietnam Memorial, ANZAC Pde, Canberra

11.30am.         Commemoration concludes.

Related Activities

Friday 4 June 2021

4.55pm.           Last Post Ceremony, AWM (in honour of 2Lt David Paterson, KIA 20 March 1971)

TBC                It is likely that the Ainslie Football Club could be a dinner venue used by 3RAR attendees.

Saturday 5 June   2021

TBC                Grave Ceremony Lt John Wheeler, KIA 2 March 1971 (Norward Park.  65 Sandford Street, Mitchell ACT)

TBC                Grave Ceremony Flt Lt Everitt (Lofty) Lance DFC, RAAF.  KIA, 7 June 1971 (Woden Cemetery, Canberra ACT)

4.55pm.           Last Post Ceremony, AWM (in honour of Pilot Officer Ronald Betts, RAAF; KIA, 20 March 1971).

6.00 pm.          3RAR Battalion Dinner AWM Aircraft Hall

Sunday 6 June 2021

Evening:          3RAR Company dinners at venues to be organised.

Monday 7 June 2021

4.55pm            Last Post Ceremony, AWM (In honour of Flt Lt Everitt (Lofty) Lance DFC, RAAF KIA 7 June 19710.

Tuesday 8 June 2021

4.55pm            Last Post Ceremony, AWM (In honour of a Second World War Bomber Command member). The Bomber Command Assn will be hosting a gathering in Canberra during this period.

NOK Participation

Advice from Tony Cox:

2Lt David Paterson.  David’s daughter Mrs Sarah Hollier has authorised this event on behalf of her family.

Pilot Officer Ronald Betts.  Ronald’s sister Mrs Judith Stanton and her extended family are delighted for this opportunity to commemorate her brother’s sacrifice with her extended family.

 Cpl David Dubber. David’s sisters will attend this event dependant on health.  There are other family members who are yet to be advised.

 Flt Lt Everitt  Lance.  Lance’s 3 children will be attending the weekend and be hosted mainly by B Company, 3 RAR, but I think 9 Squadron RAAF will also enjoy their company.  Two members of Flt Lt Everitt Lance’s extended family are current members of the RAAF and [Tony Cox] proposed that they may participate in some way during the Commemoration and/or Last Post, at the family’s request.

Follow Up Work

I’m investigating the possibility of wreaths being laid during the Last Post Ceremony on 6 June 2021 by/on behalf of NOK and mates of John McCarthy, Ken Boardman (3 Cav); Phil Barwick (C Sqn) and D&E Platoon members KIA during Op Overlord  

Accommodation

As previously advised, provision has been made for 30 rooms at the Mercure Hotel, Ainslie.  The concessional rate is $149/$168 per night for a superior King Room with b’fast for 1/2 people.  Quote ‘C Squadron Reunion’.

For those with caravans, it is likely that some of the 3RAR attendees will be using the Alivio Tourist Park in O’Connor, ACT.

Costs

Dinner: “Two course alternate drop plated” $60pp (drinks at own expense)

Requiem Concert: Estimated to be $50.

Those Currently on the Mailing List:

… total 71/162 (44%)

Those Still to be Contacted:

Many thanks to those who are helping track them down.

That’s all Folks!

#3

From: Bruce & Jasmine Cameron <cameronshome@bigpond.com>
Sent: Saturday, 1 May 2021 2:37 PM
To: ‘noelmclaughlin47@bigpond.com’ <noelmclaughlin47@bigpond.com>; ‘Peter Rosemond’ <pedro.rosemond@bigpond.com>; ‘Secretary’ <secretary@paratus.org.au>
Subject: FW: The Almost Last Update re 6/7 June 2021

Should you receive any enquiries about C Sqn (1971)  activities during 6/7 June 2021, the info attached should provide answers.

Happy to help with any queries.

Bruce

=================================================================

20 June 2021

The Veterans of the Republic of Viet Nam Armed Forces Day. 

Taking a break from ‘RAAC Commemorations’ (below), I wish to mention a lunch that my wife and I were invited to yesterday by the South Vietnamese Veterans’ Association.

The Saigon Restaurant was booked out for the occasion.  There was so much food.  Beef stir fry was followed by spring rolls, prawn wontons and curry puffs.  Then came the main course, seafood hot pot.  Entertainment was provided by singers who were in remarkably good voice.

But the centrepiece of it all, were the veterans of the RVN armed forces.  The commemoration has been celebrated annually since 1965 (when Ky and Thieu came to office).  Some of those present, had spent 10 years or more in re-education camps (with hard labour) after 1975. 

While I knew that the Communist Party of Vietnam sought to wipe out the soul of the South Vietnamese, I hadn’t realised the ‘three generation’ policy.  Anyone whose father, grandfather or great-grandfather has family links to the RVN Government or Americans etc, can’t gain access to either university or secure employment.

The photos on the table by the incense jar are those of six RVN Armed Forces generals who committed suicide, rather than surrender.  Such acts were common at the time. 

There are about 5000 in the Vietnamese Community in Canberra.  Their humility, compassion and bravery in the face of adversity, is an example to us all.

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19 June 2021

RAAC Commemorations 3

Following on …. I address the first allegation made against me, ie. that I failed to invite the OC and SSM C Sqn to the C Sqn 50th Anniversary dinner. The letter below was drafted for the senior officer of the 1971 C Squadron to the current OC of the squadron. It is self explanatory. The response from the CO invited John Scales to give a presentation to the Regiment. John’s health precluded him and I offered to speak in lieu. There was no response to this offer.

Moving closer to the event … I attended meetings held by DVA to discuss arrangements for the National Commemoration. The person responsible, asked the ex-service groups involved not to contact the ARA support parties that would be attending (presumably there had been problems/confusion in the past).

DVA requested that association and corporations DO NOT reach out to units or Corps directly and leave Army to issue the relevant Task Orders to execute this task.”

I asked, therefore, that 1 Armd Regt be informed that the Standard Party would be welcome to attend our dinner (the night before). There was no response to this offer.

I have written to the OC C Sqn to express my disappointment that he might think that he and the SSM would have been unwelcome at our dinner and advise him that the opposite was the case.

From: Lieutenant Colonel John Scales RAAC (Ret’d)

To: Officer Commanding, C Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment

Chauvel Lines, Edinburgh Defence Precinct, ADELAIDE,SOUTH AUSTRALIA, 5111

July 2019

Dear Major,

I was the 2IC of C Sqn, 1 Armd Regt in Vietnam in 1971 (sadly the Squadron Commander is deceased). 

I maintain an interest in on-going matters related to C Sqn and I was pleased to see recently that DVA have undertaken to hold a National Commemoration for the 50th Anniversary of Operation Overlord.  This is to be held at the Vietnam Memorial in Canberra on 7 June 2021.  It will take the same form as that marking the 50th Anniversary of Binh Ba this year. 

I’m writing so that this might be placed on 1 Armd Regt’s forward calendar as early as possible. 

The Squadron will be interested to know rhat Australia Post will be issuing a pre-stamped envelope in conjunction with the Commemoration, the design likely to be an infantryman standing next to a Centurion tank with an Iroquois overhead.  I believe that the Mint are also doing a commemorative coin. 

You’ll no doubt be aware of the significance that Operation Overlord had in 1971 as far as 1 ATF was concerned.  The success that the firepower of the tanks involved was able to bring about, ensured that infantry would always ask for tank support before dealing with an enemy defensive position, thereafter. 

I know that some former members of C Sqn are contacting others to ascertain interest in holding a ‘mini-reunion’ of C Sqn 1971 on 6/7 June 2021.  If you wish, I’ll be happy to keep you up to date with these arrangements.  I’m certain that members of C sqn from 50 years ago would be delighted to meet some of those serving today. 

Finally, a Last Post ceremony is to be held at the AWM in conjunction with the Commemoration.  If you (or your successor) were able to be present, it would be very fitting if you and I were able, together, to lay a wreath at that time.

Yours sincerely, John Scales

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17 June 2021

RAAC Commemorations 2

As mentioned below, my next post was to be on 22 June. On 15 June (following the post under), however, I received some feedback from Derek Simpson, the Immediate Past RSM of the RAAC. I’ve copied only the salient points below. The allegations are so far from the truth, it’s not funny. It makes me realise how false impressions gain credibility when openness and transparency take a back seat. There can be many reasons for this, but none can justify it. Matters which I categorically deny and which I’ll provide evidence to refute are:

  1. I failed to invite the OC and SSM C Sqn to the C Sqn 50th Anniversary dinner.
  2. I precluded others from my planning in order to avoid situations which would not put me in my own spotlight.
  3. I announced that neither the 1AR Assn nor RAAC Corporation had anything to do with the DVA National Commemoration.
  4. I’ve taken credit “for hard work by the RAAC Corporation and 1 AR Assn over an extended period of time which led to a successful DVA event”.
  5. I “leeched off the hard work of others to gain personal credit”.
  6. It is only by a “great deal of work by organisations, associations and corporations, which lead to veterans and their families being recognised by their nation”, ie. efforts on the part of an individual don’t count!

“Mr Cameron, firstly, I am no longer the RSM RAAC. Secondly, your blog today (and most days) has been drafted as if it was you, and you alone, that put together the events in support of and including the service. 

By announcing that that neither the RAAC Corporation or the 1AR Association backed anything to do with the events is very misleading, but thats how you seem to operate. You appear to take credit for a significant body of work conducted by both organisations over an extended period of time which led to a very successful DVA event. Evidence of both organisations supporting this commemoration available to members via agenda items witgin the minutes of meetings.

By precluding certain people in your planning you have perhaps missed some opportunities, but that would not put you in your own spotlight. The current OC and SSM of C Sqn were in attendance, a missed opportunity to have the serving custodians of the squadrons fine history speak with those who make up part of that history. They would have relished the opportunity, but alas, no invitation from the organiser.

You appear to have leeched off the hard work of many to gain personal credit, this is disappointing.

I have no doubt the reunion rekindled some lifelong relationships and created an opportunity to remember mates who could not attend for a variety of reasons.

Opportunities like this occur through a great deal of work and co-operation between organisations,associations and corporations which lead to veterans and their familes being recognised by the nation.”

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15 June 2021

(Note: I suffered a seizure the night prior to the Reunion dinner. The previous one was caused by a brain haemorrhage in 1989, but this one was probably caused by stress associated with the organisation. My blog posts for the immediate future will be on a weekly basis. The next … 22 June 2021.)

RAAC Commemorations in the Future

Photograph taken by David Whittaker Order reference: AWM2021.4.50. Contact: esales@awm.gov.au

The C Sqn 1 Armd Regt 50th reunion (see below) was a great success.  The 1AR Assn wanted nothing to do with it, however.  The RAAC Corporation, for their part, promoted a parallel 3 Cav Regt get-together and invited members of C Sqn to attend.  Neither group promoted C Sqn’s functions, despite all relevant information being shared with them.  RAAC solidarity??

The background is interesting.  Given the long lead time required to contact all C Sqn members (incl LAD), I gave myself a two-year lead time.  The dinner and other activities were to be heldin conjunction with a National Commemoration for Operation Overlord, to be conducted by DVA.  Final approval for the Commemoration could not be given by DVA until 12 months out, however, as it was dependent on FY funding.

Both 1AR Assn and the RAAC Corporation took the view that they were not prepared to back any activity which didn’t have complete approval. 

I therefore contacted the President of the 3 Cav Assn and asked if its members might like to join with C Sqn in the activities being planned.  This was agreed and a 3 Cav person volunteered to act as a co-ordinator for them.  Arrangements proceeded.  These included booking a room which would be big enough, preparing relevant 3 Cav table signs, and developing a 3 Cav email list for Updates. 

Come the final approval of DVA’s budget and the Operation Overlord Commemoration, what happens?

The Chairman of the RAAC Corporation (a former 3 Cav person) decides that 3 Cav should have its own function.  The person who volunteered to act as co-ordinator sends me an email, informing me.  Disappointingly (though not surprisingly), he won’t answer his phone to me, nor return my calls.

It is clear that this had been their intention all along … keep stringing me along until the approval decision is made.  One would have thought that common courtesy would have meant that I’d have been alerted to their thinking.  There must have been a modicum of embarrassment … otherwise why not speak to me on the phone?

Hopefully those organising RAAC functions in the future might benefit from this experience.  There will always be self-centred, gutless, bastards … I’d naively thought that they didn’t wear black berets.

Note: Re the photo above, I was presented with a personally crafted plaque, by my crew, in front of our tank … I was humbled.

1 Armd Regt Hon Col

At the C Sqn 50th Anniversary dinner on 6 Jun 21, the RAAC HOC explained that he had been appointed to the position for a further two years.  I would have like to have asked who has been/is to be, appointed as Hon Col of 1 Armd Regt (and Patron, 1AR Assn).  I felt it inappropriate, however, to enquire about such a matter at such a time.  (The Blog post for 27 May 21 refers.)

NOTE: I had forgotten … I think Brig Ted Accutt has been appointed Hon Col 1 Armd Regt.

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9 June 2021

C Sqn (1971) Reunion: Canberra 6/7 June 2021

Photograph taken by David Whittaker Order reference: AWM2021.4.50.01 Contact: esales@awm.gov.au

Despite there being no backing from the 1AR Assn or RAAC Corporation, everyone was pleased with their visit to Canberra.  The COVID 19 lockdown in Victoria meant that our dinner numbers were suddenly cut from 104 to 72.  (It’s very likely that our Vic brothers will have their own get-together in Melbourne, when it’s possible to do so.)

Sunday 6 June.  First activity was the Vietnam Requiem.  This was a huge success and is now likely to tour to other cities.  If you can get to it, you should.  Normie Rowe was in great voice and John Schumann was as well.  The rendition of the last song sung by Cathy Wayne, was heartfelt by many.  The soloists, the choir and the orchestra were outstanding,

Immediately after, was the Last Post Ceremony at the AWM.  Wreaths were laid in honour of Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick.  Andy’s daughter laid his wreath, before joining us for Dinner.  This was held at a nearby hotel, where many attendees stayed.  It was a very successful evening, with a special message being read from the widow of C Sqn’s OC, Peter Bourke.  The RAAC Head of Corps and President of the ACT Chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia both provided very informative after dinner speeches.

Monday 7 June.  The National Commemoration for Operation Overlord commenced at 10.30am at the Vietnam Memorial.  The weather was fine (albeit a little cold).  The GG read the Commemorative Address and the ceremony was dignified and well conducted.  On return to the Hotel we enjoyed a (not so) light Lunch, finishing the wines which had been provided for the dinner by one of our cohort.  Finally, a visit to the AWM ‘warehouse’ was undertaken.  This stores the many items of equipment which are being restored or waiting for space in the AWM.  The visit was a special one, additional to the one or two ‘Open Days’ through the year.

Note: I have considerable ‘wrapping up’ to do in connection with the above arrangements.  Next Blog will be posted on 15 June.  I may consider weekly editions thereafter.

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30 May 2021

Ironsides News: Part 4

Finishing the sequence …

(i)  Op Hammersley Command and Control.  The article in Ironsides states that “The British radio sets fitted in the Centurion tanks were not compatible with the US radio sets fitted to the APCs” This is not correct (I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain this).  The radios in the tanks operated on ‘old’ squelsh.  The radios in the APCs could select either ‘old’ or ‘new’ squelsh.  If ‘old’ squelsh was selected, APCs could communicate with tanks.  (This meant that the APC crew would have the squelsh sound in their headsets.)

(ii)  Wheeled RAAC Vehicles.  Ironsides refers to a 1988 proposal for 2 Cav Regt to be equipped with a wheeled AFV.  The author was not to know of the entrenched attitudes that had to be overcome to get to this point.  When I left the Army in 1987, I was SO1 Ground Mobility in Ops Branch.  I well recall one particular meeting when a Colonel (non RAAC) stated emphatically that only tracked AFVs were suitable for Army’s roles.  ‘Chancing my arm’, I pointed out many roles where the opposite was the case and argued strongly for a trial to be conducted to determine the advantages and disadvantages of wheeled AFVs. 

(iii) Abrams Upgrade.  Ironsides states that “two options are being considered, both variants of the M1A2” [M1A2 SEP V3 and M1A2 ‘A’].

The Blog on 5 May 2021 is relevant here, ie: “It has recently been announced that:

US State Department approved the possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of Heavy Armored Combat Systems and related equipment for an estimated cost of US$1.685 billion.

Australia requested to buy 160 M1A1 tank structures/hulls provided from stock in order to produce the following end items and spares:

  • 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams main battle tanks;
  • 29 M1150 assault breacher vehicles;
  • 18 M1074 joint assault bridges;
  • 6 M88A2 Hercules combat recovery vehicles; and,
  • 122 AGT1500 gas turbine engines.

Also included is development of a unique armour package, common remotely operated weapon station low profile (CROWS-LP), driver’s vision enhancer, mission equipment, special tools and test equipment, ground support equipment, system and engine spare parts, technical data and publications, US government and contractor technical and logistics assistance, quality assurance teams, transportation services, program management, new-equipment training, and other related elements of logistic and program support.

The M1A2 SEPv3 will upgrade the current Australian fleet of M1A1 SA tanks with no changes to Royal Australian Armoured Corps force structure.”

Note: This will be the last Blog post until 8 June 2021.  The COVID situation in Victoria has created some challenges for the C Sqn 50th Reunion during 6/7 June and attention needs to be focussed.  The post on 8 June will explain how it all went.

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29 May 2021

Ironsides News: Part 3

Ironsides states that the “plan to re-establish 10th Light Horse Regiment as part of the Army Objective Force expansion of 13 Bde is significant.  The wheels re in motion and there will be significant announcements for 10th Light Horse and 13 Brigade in 2021”. 

Earlier in the article, it was stated that cavalry training had been conducted recently.  One has to wonder what vehicles were used to do this … PMVs?  It wasn’t so long ago that the RAAC was denying that PMVs were utilised by the RAAC.  So, A Sqn 10 LH becomes a regiment … what vehicles will it be equipped with?

Could it be, as Armouredadvocates has long suggested, that Hawkeis will have a part to play?

Recent blog posts on this subject are copied below.

12 February 2021

10 LH Regiment

What’s happening? In an earlier Blog I referred to the following:

From 13 Bde Facebook Page (5 Jan 21):2021 is going to be a big year for 13th Brigade. Starting from February, the Brigade will commence its transformation journey.

A multi-year, multi-dimensional evolution, to become the backbone of a standing Joint Task Force made up of a hybrid workforce.

Think new partnerships, new capabilities, and new approaches.

The transformation train is starting its engine, so jump on board, follow our page, and join us on this exciting journey.

I emailed Derek Simpson [Corps RSM] to ask if he can help explain what the above means and whether or not it will be a model for the ARES as a whole?

This post on the 13 Bde FB would suggest changes are imminent:

“Western Australia’s most storied Military Unit, the 10th Light Horse Regiment, will be re-raised in the second half of 2021 for the first time since 1976. Its DNA has been kept alive inside A Squadron, 10th Light Horse.

Looking to the future, it will epitomise the very best of a hybrid workforce focused on blending traditional Cavalry skillsets with emerging platforms and sensors. Delivering new methods of networked intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to the Joint Force. Stay tuned for more updates…Commander 13th Brigade, Brigadier Brett Chaloner.”

This was reinforced by the following:

13th Brigade Facebook Page (29 Jan21): · 

Welcome back to work 13th Brigade!

As you may have already picked up, 2021 is all about transformation.

Transforming 13th Brigade from a reserve Brigade into a hybrid, joint, contemporary agile force.

At a Town Hall meeting in December, Commander 13th Brigade, Brigadier Brett Chaloner, issued a challenge to all members.

To have an evolving mindset, to contribute to a competition of ideas, and to explore ways to harness Western Australia’s potential.

Are you ready for 2021?

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28 May 2021

Ironsides News: Part 2

Extracts from Ironsides include:

“In order to support the transition to Boxer CRV and to investigate potential complimentary capabilities, 1st Armoured Regiment recently took delivery of 16 Australian designed and made Hawkei vehicles, which will be trialled in A Squadron as a light combat reconnaissance capability.”

“1st Armoured Regiment has recently received — fresh off the production line — the Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicle – Light. Equipped with a digitised communications suite, the Hawkei is a highly protected vehicle that we will test in a number of roles, including as a formation reconnaissance capability.

While the 1st Brigade is not scheduled to receive Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles for a number of years, the Hawkei will provide an interim capability that traverses the “Ready Now” and “Future Ready” paradigms.”

So, the Hawkei is not being trialled as a platform for the RAAC ARES (see below), but as an operational vehicle in its own right.  The key word above is “interim”; ie. a capability to ‘plug’ the capability gap until the ASLAV is fully replaced.  Recent Blog posts about this are copied below.

2 April 2021

RAAC ARES Platform to Maintain Skills?

The 1AR Assn advise that A Sqn 1 Armd Regt are currently operating a trials fleet of Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicles – Light in conjunction with their ASLAV troops. (Is this because of ASLAV unavailability, one wonders; ie. it’s not a ‘trial’ per se, but a means of maintaining recon skills in 1 Armd Regt?)  Surely the 211 Boxers to be procured (including 133 recon variants) will be sufficient to equip the six recon squadrons in the three ACRs. 

Before delving into the topic … an interesting footnote: The vehicle is named after a highly venomous snake, the Barkly Death Adder – Acanthophis Hawkei – which is found in the Barkly Tablelands 

The Hawkei is now in full production … 50 vehicles per month.  One presumes that the persistent reliability issues which have been reported, have been resolved; also, the safety ‘incident’ in Dec 2020 which brought usage to a stop pending an investigation.

The G-Wagon SRV [Special Reconnaissance Vehicle] has been used in a reconnaissance role by Special Forces.  Presumably the reconnaissance variant of the Hawkei will replace the SRV in this role.

Is it possible that the Hawkei trial being conducted by 1 Armd Regt is to evaluate its suitability as a means of maintaining mounted skills in RAAC ARES light cavalry regiments?  Interestingly, Hawkei can carry cavalry scouts and can be fitted with weapon and observation ‘pods’. The following refers.

A remotely controlled weapon station (RCWS) is installed in the Hawkei vehicle. It is an automated control weapon station principally used for light and medium-calibre weapons. The RCWS can accommodate remote control weapons encompassing 5.56mm, 7.62mm, and 12.7mm machine guns, 40mm automatic grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles and observation pods.  https://www.army-technology.com/projects/hawkei/

3 April 2021

Capability Gap: ACR Reconnassiance

The following quotes are from a recent Australian National Audit Office report …

 ”On 9 August 2018, Defence established a contract, valued at $4.28 billion (including GST), with Rheinmetall Defence Australia (Rheinmetall) for the acquisition of 211 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRVs), 12 mission modules and associated support systems. The vehicles are to be delivered in two blocks (tranches):

  • Block I — comprising 25 vehicles intended to provide an early deployable capability for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) by December 2020; and
  • Block II — comprising 186 vehicles to be delivered between February 2022 and January 2027.”

“The highest priority for Army is to replace the ASLAV fleet with a CRV [combat reconnaissance vehicle] due to obsolescence factors that constrain tactical employment and increase the cost of ownership. These obsolescence factors cannot be mitigated through upgrade and without replacement starting in 2020, a capability gap will result.”

https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/defence-procurement-combat-reconnaissance-vehicles-land400-phase2

The last of the 25 Boxers, supposedly to be delivered from Germany by December 2020, won’t be delivered before June 2021.

According to the ANAO report, the planned final withdrawal date for the ASLAV fleet is December 2021.

For how many years will the capability gap in Army reconnaissance exist?  Replacement of the ASLAV is not scheduled to be completed before 2027.  Seems like the Hawkeis will be fully employed maintaining skills in the ACR, let alone the RAAC ARES.

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27 May 2021

Ironsides 2020: News

Last year’s Ironsides was published recently.  https://ironside.partica.online/ironsides/2020-edition/responsive

There has always been an issue with the fact that publication takes so long.  Nevertheless, it is a good journal and deserves to be read.  The accounts of unit activities show just how much commitment is involved in serving today. The next series of Blog posts will relate to what the latest issue makes known in other ways.

Page 3 advises that the new Representative Honorary Colonel of the RAAC “will be named shortly”. The Blog post for 25 May 2021 is relevant and copied below

“The Honorary Colonel/Patron Quandary

The following was included in the Minutes of the last 1AR Assn C’tee meeting:

The President advised the meeting the current patron (MAJGEN Craig Orme, DSC, AM, CSC [Retd]) had been appointed as the Honorary Colonel of the Corps as well as for B Squadron 3/4 Cavalry Regiment. As a result, he would be standing down as our Patron. The President asked for opinions as to whether the Association should continue with the tradition of inviting the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment to be the new Patron of the Association. There was general agreement that the tradition should be followed and that a letter of invitation be forwarded to the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment.

It used to be that Maj Gen Roger Powell, AM, was: Representative Hon Col of the RAAC; Hon Col 1 Armd Regt; and Patron 1 AR Assn.   His 1 Armd Regt and 1AR Assn duties were subsequently taken over by Maj Gen Craig Orme DSC, AM, CSC.  Craig has now assumed the position of Rep Hon Col of the RAAC, meaning that he can no longer remain as Hon Col 1 Armd Regt or Patron 1AR Assn.

The 1 AR Assn are going to forward a letter to the Hon Col 1 Armd Regt, asking that he become the Patron of the 1AR Assn.  But, as far as is publicly known, the Hon Col of 1 Armd Regt is yet to be appointed … or has he/she?

Note.  It’s interesting that the Rep Hon Col of the RAAC cannot also be the Hon Col of 1 Armd Regt, but CAN also be the Hon Col of B Sqn 3/4 Cav. One would have to assume that it’s about the ‘span of command’, ie. the work load associated with being both RAAC and Armd Regt Hon Cols. But Roger Powell did it.”

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Following from the last para above … info from Ironsides is that the former Rep Hon Col of the RAAC was also “Colonel Commandant of the School of Armour & B Sqn 3/4 Cav Regt”. According to the 2019 Ironsides, each RAAC unit had an Honorary Colonel.  What is the difference between an honorary colonel and a colonel commandant?  Interestingly, Wikipedia confuses things by describing Maj Gen Powell as the ‘Colonel of the Regiment’. 

Surprisingly, the 1AR Assn website still refers to Maj Gen Orme as the Assn’s Patron.  As expected, the Assn’s last two newsletters make no reference to a new Hon Col being appointed for 1 Armd Regt. 

I wonder if I’m the only one who would appreciate some clarification?

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26 May 2021

The Army in a War With China

The following is a letter to the editor of the Canberra Times, published today. [I’d thought that it might be a bit too ‘provocative’; will be interesting to see comments result.]

Bradley Perret makes some good points in his articles about war breaking out over Taiwan.  In his second ‘How war could spill into Australian territory’ (Canberra Times, 24 May), he states that there would be no need for the Australian Army.

This is based on his assessment that there would be neither Chinese landings in Australia, nor Australian landings in China (or Taiwan).  This is not the full story, however.  Irrespective as to whether or not Australia places restrictions on Chinese Australians, the possibility of terrorism activities cannot be ruled out.  

It must be expected that vital assets, which he has identified, need to be protected.  Our airports, ports and fuel reserves would be primary targets, along with population centres.  The panic caused by the release of a sarin gas canister in a CBD, for example, could cripple our infrastructure.  In terms of other units, anti-missile defence systems need to manned and protected.  Furthermore, military logistic capability would be stretched to the limit and would undoubtedly have to be augmented.

It is to be expected that current Defence contingency plans would specify very specific and important roles for the Army in any such situation.

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25 May 2021

Vietnam : Background for Requiem Part 3

The second part of yesterday’s post …

So … the Vietnam War  for Australians was unlike anything ever experienced.  The scale and intensity could change in the blink of an eye … from dealing with local guerrillas setting mines and booby traps, to attacking extensive defensive positions occupied by regular battalions of the North Vietnamese Army.  The constant tension that resulted from this, was significant in the experience of Australian soldiers.  Training prior to deployment was not adequate preparation.  The effect manifested itself in many ways, as seen by the number of mental health issues which were present in returning veterans.  [Moving between the two different levels of warfare was also a factor in the experience of members of the AATTV, I think; but John Scales could elaborate.]  Australian forces experienced isolated, but similar, situations in which Cathy Warnes was shot by an American soldier.  The pervasive tension and stress was constant throughout.

As I’ve tried to describe, the major battles were one part of the experience only.  Five battlehonours were awarded: Long Tan; Binh Ba, Bien Hoa (the Tet Offensive), Coral-Balmoral and Hat Dich.  (These are all described on the Internet.)  Other major actions were Operation Hammersley; Operation Bribie; the Battle Long Khanh (Operation Overlord) and the Battle of Nui Le. 

The bravery and courage of Australian soldiers was also demonstrated time and time again on operations at the other end of the spectrum, ie. searching a village or a tunnel system, conducting an ambush, denying food supplies to local VC, helping protect villages etc.  The dichotomy is such that the major battles were similar to those experienced in, say, New Guinea during the Second World War; while the counter-insurgency actions were not unlike those of the Malayan Emergency.

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24 May 2021

Vietnam : Background for Requiem Part 2

Following on from yesterday, I’ve copied below the advice I provided to help inform those preparing the Requiem.

My view is that, unlike the First World War, the Vietnam War can’t be defined by individual battles. 

The experience for service personnel (I’ll say ‘soldiers’ hence, as a generic for male and female service personnel) was one of long periods living in an alert situation, punctuated by brief periods of intense danger, during which conspicuous courage was frequently demonstrated.  The major battles which did occur represented the difference between Vietnam and the counter-insurgency of the Malayan Emergency.  In the latter, the first  stage of revolutionary or guerrilla warfare (during which the enemy develop their infrastructure) was paramount throughout.  It should have been realised following Long Tan in Aug 1966, that this had ended for Vietnam and the enemy had moved to the second stage, Preparation for the Counter Offensive (in which regular units of the North Vietnamese Army became involved, rather than just local guerrillas). 

Unfortunately, this realisation of this didn’t occur until after Operation Bribie in Feb 1967.  (Gordon Murphy can tell you all about this.)  At this point Australia deployed a third infantry battalion and a squadron of tanks.  (Prior to this time, the strong view was that there was no place for tanks in operations limited solely to counter-insurgency warfare.)

The second half tomorrow…

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23 May 2021

Vietnam : Background for Requiem

I attended a preview of the second half of the Vietnam Requiem on Thursday evening.  The first half comprises music from the time, sung by artists from the time. The second half is made up of orchestral movements, reflecting the different stages of the War … backed by projected photos from the War and information segments.

The reason for the preview was to seek advice re any mistakes re the images or the info presented.  It was interesting to hear the comments from not only the Vietnamese community, but also the Lao and Cambodian viewpoints.

One of my points was that the dichotomy of the War should be made clear. Two relevant comments were:

The Role of Australians in Vietnam.  There were many images of Australian patrolling etc, but I don’t recall any mention of what their purpose was.  There are various answers here.  Essentially the presence of Australians was to help the ARVN provide security for the South Vietnamese.  This meant protecting villages from VC intimidation, ie securing villages, as well as searching for and attacking enemy base camps and defended positions.

The Nature of the War.  Following on … operations comprised searching for enemy bases and destroying them when located.  There were many photos of infantry patrolling (the ‘searching’), but few of tanks or artillery (fire support when enemy defensive positions were attacked).  The 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Khanh/Operation Overlord is being commemorated on 7 June 2021.  This was one of the greatest examples of infantry/tank co-operation of the War.  The essential point is that all operations involved combined arms working together and supporting each other.

This dichotomy was raised in earlier advice, when I was asked to provide my view of the Vietnam War.  I’ll copy this tomorrow.

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22 May 2021

Military Values 2

Military Values was the topic of the Blog post on 12 May 2021. 

The following comments are relevant …

(1) It would be interesting to know who actually comes up with this crap Bruce, it seems “Community capacity building” is about promoting the ‘capacity’ of local communities to develop, implement and sustain their own solutions to problems in a way that helps them shape and exercise control over their physical, social, economic and cultural environments.

I have always been under the impression that the main job of a soldier was to seek out and destroy the enemy, assisting communities in times of trouble is a secondary role and shouldn’t involve getting entangled in community matters.  Seems to me that any “community capacity building” is the responsibility of the community itself and local government.

(2) Speaking from the point of view of someone who has had the experience of having had to make the decision between taking the life of an enemy soldier and protecting the life of a comrade (please ask no details), it is similar to recognising that the veneer of civilisation is miniscule and no more substantial than understanding that the target is like a number 9 target on the range, except that it doesn’t go clang – it is a split-second decision and would probably be the same today.  Interesting, isn’t it?

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21 May 2021

The RAAC Corporation Limited: Glacial Speed

The Purposes for which The Corporation exist include:

To foster and protect the interests of The Corporation and The Royal Australian Armoured Corps, its Regiments and units, ordinary members and their families in any matter likely to affect them during or after their service in the Royal Australian Armoured Corps;

To provide advice, guidance and welfare assistance to ordinary members.

To perpetuate the close bonds of comradeship and esprit de corps created by military service in The Royal Australian Armoured Corps

To preserve the memory of those ordinary members of The Corps who have died on active and overseas service;

To represent the interests of the serving and ex-serving ordinary members of The Corps

To consider and provide advice where appropriate, on benefit services;

To develop, and represent, the Corporation’s view on matters of interest to appropriate persons

To conduct appropriate fund-raising activities.

See http://www.raaccorpltd.org.au/

One has to ask how any of these services for ordinary members (serving or retired) of the RAAC can be achieved without any means of communication.  Seems to me that the RAAC Corporation’s purposes need rewording; rather than “representing the interests of serving and ex-serving members of The Corps”, the words ‘serving and ex-service members of The Corps who are members of associations that the Corporation represents’.

The website (above) used to have a ‘News’ link, but following a query as to why there was no news being provided, this was changed to ‘Info’.  

The info page has had a couple of new additions over the years.  There is now more information re the RAAC Overwatch, following representations to this end.  There is also an RAAC ESO contacts list.  Interestingly, this states that 1 Armd Regt Assn’s NSW Rep is temporarily acting as ACT Rep”.  So … an ACT Branch of the Assn is planned. 

Some years ago, the RAAC Corporation announced that it had been approached by the RAAC Hon Col to form an ACT RAAC body.  The embryo organisation lasted for a couple of months and failed because of a lack of communication.  No RAAC members resident in the ACT were asked what sort of association they might support.  Unsurprisingly, there was little enthusiasm for the things dictated. 

Finally, why does the RAAC Corporation website still refer to 1 Armd Regt operating Abrams tanks and 2 Cav and 2/14 LH (QMI) operating ASLAVs?  Surely enough ice has melted for the ACR structure to be referred to?

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20 May 2021

Armed Neutrality or Mutual Defence Agreements?

Following the thread, an article by Peter Jennings in the ASPI’s ‘Strategist’, entitled Defence spending and ADF readiness need to match the risk of conflict, is relevant.  https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/defence-spending-and-adf-readiness-need-to-match-the-risk-of-conflict/

The concept of ‘Deterrence’ is important.  Extracts are copied below …

It’s clear that Scott Morison and his ministers understand that the region is facing a crisis brought on by an increasingly bellicose Chinese Communist Party. Taiwan is the immediate flashpoint and the level of risk will peak in perhaps four to five years’ time.

Hardly a day goes by without PLA aircraft, often in large numbers, encroaching Taiwanese airspace. CCP rhetoric about taking Taiwan by force if necessary is increasingly being used in speeches and editorials.

The [US] secretary of state stressed the Biden administration’s interest in ‘reaffirming and revitalizing America’s alliances and partnerships’ and, in the 70th year of the ANZUS Treaty, finding ways for the alliance ‘to evolve to meet the challenges we face’.

While these are positive steps [the Defence announcements in the recent Budget], the uncomfortable truth is that the bulk of the $270 billion allocated over the coming decade to build ships, submarines and other military equipment will only come into service well after the riskiest period for Taiwan.

A faster way to strengthen deterrence would be to re-open a discussion with the US about increasing the US Marine Corps presence in northern Australia and getting some US Navy ships operating out of our west coast base, HMAS Stirling

The only short-term way to strengthening deterrence is by lifting the defence readiness of democracies. If US President Joe Biden does visit Australia for the ANZUS anniversary, you can be assured this will be the number one item on his agenda.

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19 May 2021

Armed Neutrality: A Myth

Following on from recent posts, the following is a letter sent to the Canberra Times:

“Nicholas Stuart in his article ‘Trying to learn from the past’ (OPINION, 17 May 2021) states that ‘We need to understand what armed force can, and can’t, achieve’.  The implied point being, that Australia’s current defence posture needs to be examined.  Stuart’s article is based on two recent books.  The author of one, Dr Albert Palazzo, has recently advocated that Australia should embrace armed neutrality.  [See: http://sdsc.bellschool.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/publications/attachments/2018-12/cog_45.pdf%5D

The current ADF is neither structured nor equipped to be capable of defending Australia without support from allies.  Mobilisation capacity is not nearly sufficient: standing forces would need to be strengthened considerably; and a much greater reserve capability would be required.  Self-reliance comes at a cost.

In essence, current defence partnerships allow the ADF to be structured to defend Australia’s national interests, on a minimal budget; a situation which no Government is likely to change.  Armed neutrality is a pipe-dream.”

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18 May 2021

The AFV of the Future Part 2

Following on from yesterday, this article from BreakingDefence is relevant: https://breakingdefense.com/2021/04/future-tank-beyond-the-m1-abrams/

A few extracts are copied below …

What comes after the M1 Abrams, the Army’s massive Reagan-era main battle tank? “Everything is on the table at this point,” the service’s armor modernization director, Maj. Gen. Richard Ross Coffman, says. 

Command Vehicles or Combat Vehicles?

Even Scharre, the most futuristic-minded expert we spoke to for this story, doesn’t see armored vehicles disappearing entirely. He just doesn’t see them as being the decisive weapon anymore, but a supporting arm.

“I suspect that tanks will not go away completely,” he told me, “but they are likely to go the way of the infantry — as a mopping up force for close-in engagements, rather than the central role tanks have played in ground combat since World War II.”

That central role will shift to ground robotsdrones, and long-range missiles, Scharre believes, with the decisive clash often occurring before the humans on opposing sides ever lay eyes on one another. But armored vehicles will still be valuable, especially when humans have to survive maneuvering through a war zone.

Upgrade the M1 Or Replace It?

If a manned main battle tank remains necessary, can the M1 Abrams continue to fill that role, or does the Army need a new MBT?

The M1 Abrams could be the centerpiece of the future manned-unmanned armored force, said Bendett. Much as it’s been upgraded in the past multiple times since its introduction in 1980, it just needs to be upgraded again, with counter-drone defenses, electronic warfare, and a command system for the robots.

But there are only so many upgrades the old M1 can take, argued Guy Swan, a retired armor officer now with the Association of the US Army.

“One thing is for sure, we cannot continue to hang more on the M1 Abrams frame,” Swan told me. “The tank, while I believe it’s still the best in the world, is far too heavy to navigate regions of the world where ground forces may have to operate.”

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17 May 2021

The ADF of the Future.

The ‘2020 Defence Strategic Update & 2020 Force Structure Plan’ (Land Fact Sheet) forecasts approx $10b for ‘replacement tank evaluation and design’ and a similar amount for ‘future autonomous vehicles’.  See https://www1.defence.gov.au/strategy-policy/strategic-update-2020

Theoretically, the current tank upgrade project will see the tank capability maintained for the next 20 years.  Surely this is not correct.  Does anyone actually read these documents?

An extract from the Update is copied below.

LAND

• Throughout its history, Australia’s land forces have responded to a wide variety of tasks from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, to peacekeeping and, ultimately, to combat operations.

• To equip the land forces to meet these challenges into the future, new investments are being made in strike weapons, watercraft, helicopters, information effects, logistics resilience and emerging robotics and autonomous systems.

• These capabilities will increase the land force’s combat power, and give the Government more options to deploy the Australian Defence Force in the more competitive strategic environment Australia now faces.

CAPABILITY INVESTMENT –

Land Combat Vehicles: Australia will continue to procure the Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle, invest in an infantry fighting vehicle and upgrade the Abrams main battle tank.

Land Combat Support: New investment in enhanced artillery and strike capabilities, including Self-Propelled Howitzer Protected Mobile Fires, and new anti-armour systems such as a directed energy weapon system and smart anti-tank mines.

Land Combat Mobility Continued investment in the Hawkei protected mobility vehicle fleet, large landing craft and new investment in a watercraft base in Northern Australia, and a fleet, up to a brigade in size, of un-crewed ground vehicles

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16 May 2021

Armed Neutrality: Part 4

Photo: ASPI

Armed neutrality is really just another way of saying ‘Defence of Australia’ without mutual defence pacts with other countries, ie. self-reliance.

The concept of ‘Continental Defence’ was one which was advocated (and embraced) some years ago.  Concern about the vulnerability of northern Australia remains today.

Would we be prepared to deny our support to neighbouring nations such as PNG or Timor; or does the concept of ‘Armed Neutrality’ accept that Australia might enter into defence agreements with such nations?

What sort of force structure would be required for armed neutrality to be possible?

Rather than ‘coastal defence’, one would assume that the ADF would have to be based on a rapid deployment model (possibly backed by pre-positioned assets).  Such a concept, of course, would have to be capable of defending our off-shore possessions such as Christmas Island … unless our sovereignty over these areas was to be foregone. 

The current ADF is neither structured nor equipped to be capable of defending Australia (let alone helping defend our close neighbours).  Mobilisation capability is not nearly fast enough.  Standing forces would need to be strengthened considerably and a much greater reserve capability would be required. 

In essence, the present defence partnership with the US, allows the ADF to operate with a minimal defence budget.  No Government is likely to change this.  Armed neutrality is a pipe-dream.

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15 May 2021

Armed Neutrality: Part 3

A second part to the article referred to previously, has now been published: https://johnmenadue.com/armed-neutrality-an-alternative-principled-defence-policy-to-safeguard-an-independent-australia-keep-us-out-of-wars-and-promote-peace-part-2/

An extract is copied below:

“In relation to Australia adopting armed neutrality as its defence policy, Dr Albert Palazzo (Director of War Studies in the Australian Army Research Centre) says: “There is no doubt that in order to adopt armed neutrality the ADF will have to undergo a major transformation. Platforms that are designed to operate within a US naval or air task group, for example, may no longer be practical or even suitable for armed neutrality. The Army’s perception of itself as an infantry-centric force may need to undergo a radical revision, with the status of the gunner moving to the fore as coastal defence again becomes the land force’s primary role.”

Coastal defence??  Surely not … is Dr Palazzo really advocating that Australia’s defence be based on similar strategies to that of pre-Federation and the Second World War?  [Bias Alert: I have raised issues with one of the author’s published references previously.]

There is no doubt that Armed Neutrality would require a different ADF force structure.  What would that look like, and what constraints would it impose on ADF deployment options?

The quest for answers continues ….

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14 May 2021

Armed Neutrality? Part 2

Following on from yesterday … more questions, what might the answers be?

“Would America be able to guarantee Australia’s security in a more contested Asia where the US-led security order no longer exists? This is the question that Australians should start asking themselves. And this question is not just about choosing between America and China. It is about preparing reasonable alternatives for Australia’s national defence in the Asian century without American preponderance.

As an alternative, some scholars suggest Australia to opt for armed neutrality. The policy of armed neutrality has not seriously been considered by successive Australian governments, but it has always been an unignorable topic in the Australian defence policy debate. Especially those who emphasise the country’s geostrategic advantages and are sceptical about its dependency on the great powers have consistently expressed their interest in this model. Indeed, Australia’s geographical position – a country forming a continent of its own, geographically unconnected to any great powers – certainly makes this model attractive and credible. It is also true that for many times Australia was dragged into difficult circumstances because of its heavy dependency on its powerful allies – first Britain and then the United States.

These contentions certainly have the point. But they only occupy one side of the debate over armed neutrality for Australia. And one can surely participate in and contribute to the debate by trying to answer the following three fundamental questions: First, what would Australia’s policy of armed neutrality look like in practice? Second, what are the pros and cons of taking such an approach? And last, is it really an achievable and suitable defence model for Australia’s security for decades to come?”

https://hughshin.com/writings/is-armed-neutrality-an-effective-alternative-for-australias-defence/

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13 May 2021

Armed Neutrality?

The following article, ‘Armed Neutrality: an alternative, principled defence policy to safeguard an independent Australia, keep us out of wars and promote peace- Part 1’ was published on 11 May 2021:

Johnmenadue.com/armed-neutrality-an-alternative-principled-defence-policy-to-safeguard-an-independent-australia-keep-us-out-of-wars-and-promote-peace-part-1/

An extract follows:

The ANZUS Treaty reinforced in the Australian political and military elite a belief that to ensure the United States would indeed “come to our rescue in time of need”, Australia should constantly ingratiate itself with the U.S, reflexively support its foreign policies and participate in its wars, irrespective of their morality or whether there was any real threat to Australia, as an ‘insurance premium’.

This slavish obedience to the U.S has resulted in Australian soldiers’ lives being sacrificed in U.S wars of aggression such as those in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, countries which posed no military threat to Australia or the U.S and were not in the ANZUS Treaty geographical commitment area of the Pacific. These wars did not have the sanction of the United Nations and were therefore illegal. 

This is not a new proposal.  It was advocated strongly during Vietnam.  Is it a realistic option?  It is obviously a position which will form part of the debate about Australia’s defence posture, but is it a credible one?

More to follow.

Note: Sorry about the confusion resulting from me saying that I would be away until 12 June … I meant 12 May!

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12 May 2021

Military Values

An article entitled “What values should we expect among the ‘profession of arms’?” is published here: https://johnmenadue.com/what-values-should-we-expect-among-the-profession-of-arms/

My response was: 

“A good analysis, weakened by this assertion:

ADF members need ‘not only the skills to “kill and capture” but also the skills to “care and nurture” and to help build community capacity.’

These two skill sets are totally at odds with each other.  Trying to blend them together will create ambiguity, confusion and uncertainty.  All of which are an anathema to the development of fighting spirit.  The values required for which, include: proficiency, self-sacrifice, teamwork, honesty, respect for others, initiative, determination, self-discipline, and moral courage. 

Successful military operations depend on forces with high morale; this comes, in part, from good leadership and strong fighting spirit.”

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NOTE:  This will be the last post until 12 May 2021 … a short trip to Perth (fingers crossed) for family reasons.

5 May 2021

The Australian Tank Fleet

Part 7 of the Intro to the Blog (above) includes the following as goals which are now included in the ‘Pending’ category:

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.)

It has recently been announced that:

“US State Department approved the possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of Heavy Armored Combat Systems and related equipment for an estimated cost of US$1.685 billion.

Australia requested to buy 160 M1A1 tank structures/hulls provided from stock in order to produce the following end items and spares:

  • 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams main battle tanks;
  • 29 M1150 assault breacher vehicles;
  • 18 M1074 joint assault bridges;
  • 6 M88A2 Hercules combat recovery vehicles; and,
  • 122 AGT1500 gas turbine engines.
  •  

Also included is development of a unique armour package, common remotely operated weapon station low profile (CROWS-LP), driver’s vision enhancer, mission equipment, special tools and test equipment, ground support equipment, system and engine spare parts, technical data and publications, US government and contractor technical and logistics assistance, quality assurance teams, transportation services, program management, new-equipment training, and other related elements of logistic and program support.

“The M1A2 SEPv3 will upgrade the current Australian fleet of M1A1 SA tanks with no changes to Royal Australian Armoured Corps force structure.

“The M1150 assault breacher vehicles and M1074 joint assault bridges will be a new capability for the Royal Australian Engineers, bringing under-armor bridging and breaching capability, increasing the effectiveness and survivability of Australian combat engineers and providing increased mobility for the armoured fleet.”

One of the problems with the current tank fleet is that its limited size has meant that the platforms have been overworked, resulting in a decrease in reliability.  This is especially the case, with the limited repair pool stock available.

The pending introduction of enhanced simulator facilities has been referred to recently.  Is it possible that the existing M1A1s can be used for driver training and that, together with the greater simulator capability, the tank fleet might be able to be regarded as both ‘upgraded’ and ‘right sized’? (Of course, the other benefit to result, will be the continued interoperability with US forces.)

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4 May 2021

Black April Day Part 3

The following letter to the editor of the Canberra times has been sent.  Will it be published, or is it too ‘political’?

A wreath laying ceremony was held at the Vietnam Memorial on 1 May 2021.  It was to commemorate Black April Day, when South Vietnam was taken over on 30 April 1975.

The President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia (VCA) referred to the hardships inflicted (even now), the ‘re-education’ camps, the grave sites demolished, and the harsh penalties imposed; all of which were intended to wipe out the ‘soul’ of the South Vietnamese people.  It was patently obvious, however, that their passion for democracy and human rights lives on.

Interestingly, the President can’t be invited as an official guest to the coming National Commemoration for the 50th anniversary of a battle fought by Australians in Vietnam … even though he is the senior representative in Australia of the people on whose behalf we fought side by side.  It would seem that our trade interests might be jeopardised. 

Of course, ‘that’s politics’, but does it have to be one thing or the other?  Surely, we are mature enough as a country to do better; to achieve an outcome which protects jobs, while also respecting the cause for which our service personnel died.

The Vietnamese are such gracious, polite and kind people … how they delighted in the presence of a 92 year old former Australian Army Training Team member who still spoke excellent Vietnamese.

Note: The letter was published in this morning’s paper under a bold headline: ‘Fall of Saigon Marked by ACT Wreath Laying Ceremony’.  Now to see whether or not it prompts any change in Government policy.

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3 May 2021

Black April Day Part 2

The Blog on 27 April 2021 provided background re Black April Day.

I attended the Black April wreath laying ceremony this morning.

One of the things that the President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia (VCA) mentioned was what happened on 30 April 1975.  They North Vietnamese didn’t just take the land area, nor did they seek to unify the country … they sought to take revenge on the people of the south!  The hardships inflicted (even now), the ‘re-education (aka concentration) camps, the grave sites demolished, the harsh penalties imposed, were all intended to wipe out the ‘soul’ of the South Vietnamese.  Which is partly why the VCA are so passionate about human rights.  I

Interestingly, the President of the VCA can’t be invited to the National Commemoration of Operation Overlord as an official guest, even though he is the representative of the people on whose behalf we were fighting … that’s politics (we don’t want to offend our new trading partner).

Chris Hayes MP whose electorate is in southern Sydney (Liverpool area) also referred to human rights. He spoke about one of his constituents, a 72 yo retired baker, who returned to Vietnam a couple of years ago.  The Vietnamese authorities discovered that he had served in the ARVN, charged him with terrorism and sentenced him to 12 years jail.  Chris was very vocal about the Federal Government’s failure as far as such human rights abuses are concerned.  Not surprisingly, he’s a Labor MP.

The Vietnamese are such gracious, polite and kind people … how they delighted in a 92 yo former AATTV member who still spoke excellent Vietnamese.

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2 May 2021

Getting History Right: Part2

Following on from yesterday …  

Responses to my query are copied below.  It would seem that the historian concerned is correct; which makes all the other references to Operation Hardihood that come up on a Google search, incorrect, ie. they refer to only part of Operation Hardihood.  I think this has become such common practice, that it is entrenched.  As always, you can’t believe everything you read.

“Thank you for your email and your enquiry. I address your points below:  

  • The movement instructions for Army units from Australia to Vietnam was undertaken as part of Operation Hardihood by Headquarters Eastern Command under Operation Hardihood Movement Instruction E64/66 dated 1 Apr 66 (AWM Unit Diaries).
  • I am sure what 5 RAR activities you are referring to in the date range of 24 May – 5 June. The 5 RAR Advanced Party had arrived in-country as early as 19 April under Operation Hardihood, with the Main Body arriving on 4 May. Securing of Nui Dat occurred over the period 1-24 May, with HQ 1 ATF in location on 5 June.
  • The Third Phase of Hardihood involved the flying of 6 RAR to Nui Dat with this task was completed by 14 June and Hardihood completed on 15 June. For the Phases of Hardihood see FRAG ORDER 1-1-66 (OP HARDIHOOD), HQ 1 ATF dated 23 May 66 (AWM Unit Dairies).

1 RAR was deployed to South Vietnam under Operational Plan Trimdon in May 65, not Operation Hardihood, so the two should not be conflated. It is also useful to note that 1 RAR was reinforced under Plan Tanton in September 1965.

1 ATF was deployed to South Vietnam under Operation Hardihood, as the Hardihood Movement Instruction clearly indicated.

In response to my question: “Finally … how do you think the article here should be entitled https://www.5rar.asn.au/ops/hrdhood1.htm.  

Should the ‘formal’ title (not necessarily the one used for publication) be Phase 3 or Phase 4?”

I would have a title something along the following lines:

Operation Hardihood: Securing Nui Dat

The problem with the proposed date range of 24 May – 4 June is that, while it may well accord with 5 RAR planning and execution for the securing of Nui Dat, it over laps Phase One and Two of  Hardihood. Hence if you tie 24 May – 4 June into a definite operational phase of Hardihood you are misleading the reader.   

I have read the original operational planning documents related to 5 RAR  for the objective of securing Nui Dat. There is a lot going on and, as you would know, plans are being issued at the task force and unit level for at least six different units. However, 5 RAR unit orders for a specific activity with its own unit phasing should not be confused with the broader task force orders because often their dates and phases of how to achieve the objective do not always coincide – and with a devolved planning model you would expect this to happen.

Indeed initial US activity to secure Nui Dat commenced as early as 1 May.

My advice is to make it clear that only a 5 RAR operation be described and/or remove the proposed dates.

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It’s happened again!! Yesterdays post failed to ‘register’ on the Blog. Here it is (I hope).

30 April/1 May 2021

Getting History Right

An article in the 29 April 2021 edition of the Army Newspaper states that:

“OPERATION Hardihood was the name given to a complex three-phase plan to deploy 1 Australian Task Force (1ATF) to its future base at Nui Dat, Phuoc Tuy Province in April 1966 … the first deployment phase of Operation Hardihood, moving troops from Australia to Vung Tau, was largely completed by early May.”

Was this the case?

Most sources refer to Hardihood as the operation to clear and secure the Nui Dat area.  No mention is made of the operation including the deployment of troops from Australia.  References are quoted below:

Operation Hardihood was a security operation conducted from 16 May to 8 June 1966 during the Vietnam War by the U.S. 503rd Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) and the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR) in Phước Tuy ProvinceSouth Vietnam to secure the area around Nui Dat for the establishment of a base area for the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Hardihood

Fundamental to the security of the new base was the removal of all the civilian residents from within a 4000 metre buffer zone to an imaginary line – Line Alpha. Together with the US 173rd Brigade and 1RAR, 5RAR conducted their first operation, Operation Hardihood, removing the villagers, their livestock and their possessions from Long Phuoc and Long Tan and relocating them at nearby Hoa Long, Dat Do and Long Dien

https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/wars-and-missions/vietnam-war-1962-1975/events/phuoc-tuy-province/nui-dat/settling-nui-dat

5RAR state clearly that the dates for Operation Hardihood were 24 May to 4 June 1966.

https://www.5rar.asn.au/ops/hrdhood1.htm

So, when did planning for deployment of Australian forces to Vietnam start?

On 28 November 1961, the Director of Military Operations and Plans at Army Headquarters (AHQ) was tasked to ‘produce a concept of operations and logistic support to meet a situation in South Vietnam where minimum acceptable scales of equipment and vehicles are required, based on close country, with short road L of C [Lines of Communication], supplemented by the use of air supply’.  This was designated Plan Hammerhead.

I might be wrong in this, ie. Operation Hardihood may have involved earlier movement phases, followed by the securing of Nui Dat, and the above references should have referred to Operation Hardihood Phase 3.  I would find this surprising, however, as large-scale movement of forces have always been classed as separate operations.  I have written to the Army newspaper and asked that they consider whether or not clarification should be made in the next edition.

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29 April 2021

Army Recruitment in Times Past

The following post was placed on another site: “I just don’t know what to make of it; it just doesn’t seem to go anywhere”.  This comment referred to:

https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated/one-good-reason

I replied to say: “One Good Reason  was a promotional film for the Australian Army produced by Film Australia in 1973.  It featured Bill Hunter as Major Tom Archer who is facing a dilemma as to whether or not to resign to take a job in private enterprise, or continue in the Army. 

I think that this was a time, with Vietnam having ended, when many Army officers were in two minds about continuing in the Army as a career.  I don’t know for sure, but I think the film might have been subtle (?) propaganda in this respect. 

I remember watching it in the seventies (a ‘short’ prior to a main feature maybe?).  I think the RAAF took a different tack and offered a bonus to pilots who entered into a commitment to continue to serve.

I believe that it might have been made available on-line by the National Film and Sound Archive to honour Bill Hunter, following his death in 2011.

Interestingly, One Good Reason was filmed by Dean Semler who went on to win an Oscar for Dances With Wolves.”

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28 April 2021

Black April Day 2021

The Vietnamese Community in Australia will be conducting wreath laying ceremonies in capital cities around Australia to mark Black April Day.  Ceremonies are also conducted by the diaspora around the world, particularly in the US. 

Background provided in the link below. Usually the date is 30 April (the fall of Saigon), but this year it will be held at Vietnam Memorial in Canberra on Saturday, 1 May. 

Everyone is welcome.  Last year the drill by the guard made up of former ARVN soldiers, was memorable.  In Vietnam there is a holiday, known as Reunification Day.

Background at:

http://vietnamesewa.org.au/sinh-ho%E1%BA%A1t-activities/black-april-commemoration/

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27 April 2021

The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part VIII

The last in the ‘series’.  It’s an unbelievable story, I hope that my next book will do it justice.

12 February 2020

The Freedom of Information Saga Part 7

Following on from yesterday and blog posts immediately preceding that, the second half of the submission sent to the Minister on 7 Feb 17 is copied below.  The RAAC Corporation claims (see 10 Feb Blog) that it made a separate submission a month later and, as a result, a “legislative anomaly” was found which enabled its submission to be approved to have the Battlehonour emblazoned.  Posts 1-5 on this topic have investigated why it is that the RAAC Corporation will not allow anyone to see their ‘submission’.

Submission Seeking Approval to Emblazon the Battle Honour ‘Coral-Balmoral’ on the 1st Armoured Regiment Standard.  (Part 2)

Precedent for Re-evaluating Convention.  A precedent has been set in which the Australian Army acted contrary to Imperial directions and authorised a battle honour to be emblazoned because of the extent of bravery displayed by Australian soldiers in the action concerned.  Those soldiers, it was decided, had earned the right for their sacrifice and gallantry to be formally acknowledged.  There is no doubt that gallant efforts of those who fought at FSBs Coral and Balmoral deserve no less.

Nature of Modern Warfare.  As the Second World War was different to the First World War, so are modern conflicts different again.  Why should the extent to which today’s soldiers can be honoured be based on circumstances from over 70 years ago?

Why should those former members of 1st Armoured Regiment who fought and earned three battle honours for Vietnam, only be able to see two of them emblazoned on their Regiment’s Standard?  Why should members of that Regiment today, not be able to fully appreciate the significance of all the battle honours their forebears were awarded?

Wider Implications.  What would be the implications of endorsing the existing provisions of DI (A) Admin 38-3?  Three more battle honours would be able to be emblazoned on the Colours of the Royal Australian Regiment and the Guidon of 3rd Cavalry Regiment; one more battle honour would be able to be emblazoned on the Standard of 1st Armoured Regiment.

Timing.  The emblazing should carried out as soon as possible.  It will further boost unit morale, provide enhanced public profile of the gallantry of soldiers who fought during those iconic battles, and boost the public profile of Army’s heritage.  Furthermore, for the ever decreasing numbers of veterans who participated in the battles and are still alive, it will be seen as public acknowledgement of their job well done before they all succumb to the ravages of time.

Conclusion.

Today’s Army fights different wars to those of 1914-18 and 1939-45.  The basis on which the gallantry of today’s soldiers is honoured should be determined on current circumstances, not those of more than 70 years ago.

The existing provisions of DI(A)-Admin 38-3, Administration of Australian Battle Honours, Theatre Honours, Honour Titles and Honour Distinctions, which state that up to ten battle honours can be emblazoned on colours etc, should be strongly endorsed, rather than any thought being given to reverting to benchmarks set last century.  The Battle Honour, “Coral-Balmoral”, should be emblazoned on the Standard of 1st Armoured Regiment as soon as possible.

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Footnote:  So ends this series of posts related to secrecy imposed by the RAAC Corporation on their ‘lobbying’ of Government and the public statements made about this.  The Information Commissioner advises that the third party involved made at least three submissions to her Office claiming personal privacy provisions prevented disclosure (the initial reasons advanced by Defence having been discounted).  I have no interest in any such personal information and have asked that I receive the document with personal info blacked out, even if it means receiving a totally blacked out page.  If this request is denied, there are review mechanisms still be be employed.

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26 April 2021

The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part VII

Following on from the past seven days … the retelling of the story in all its ‘glory’ will be completed tomorrow.

11 February 2020

The Freedom of Information Saga. Part 6

Following on from yesterday and blog posts immediately preceding that, the first half of the submission sent to the Minister on 7 Feb 17 is copied below.  The RAAC Corporation claims (see yesterday’s Blog) that it made a separate submission a month later and, as a result, a “legislative anomaly” was found which enabled its submission to be approved to have the Battlehonour emblazoned.  Posts 1-5 on this topic have investigated why it is that the RAAC Corporation will not allow anyone to see their ‘submission’.

Submission Seeking Approval to Emblazon the Battle Honour ‘Coral-Balmoral’ on the1st Armoured Regiment Standard.  (Part 1)

Background.

Following the First World War, a British/Imperial Battle Honours Committee (BHC) decided that emblazoned battle honours should be limited to ten per regiment (because of constraints on the available space on colours etc).  The same constraint was imposed following the Second World War.

Because of differences in scale, the limit set for Korean War battle honours was one theatre honour and one battle honour.  This decision was initially accepted by the Australian Army.  Twenty years later, however, it was considered that the Battle of Maryang San was so important that the BHC edict would no longer be complied with — both Maryang San and Kapyong Battle Honours would be emblazoned.  

The limit of one theatre honour and two battle honours was maintained by the Vietnam BHC.  

1st Armoured Regiment was awarded three battle honours for Vietnam, but only Hat Dich and Binh Ba are emblazoned on its Standard.  Despite Coral-Balmoral’s overwhelming importance in terms of the Australian Army’s military heritage, the battle honour is not able to be emblazoned. 

Is it not time to question a policy founded in the days of Empire which denies an Australian unit the right to proudly proclaim all its battle honours?

Aim

This submission argues that the use of the First and Second World Wars as benchmarks on which to base the number of battle honours able to be emblazoned on the colours etc of today’s Army, is outdated and completely inappropriate in terms of acknowledging the service to the Nation selflessly given by Australian soldiers in modern conflicts.

Justification.

Authorisation Already Exits.  It could be argued that there is no need for this submission.  Current Army policy as set out in DI(A)-Admin 38-3, Administration of Australian Battle Honours, Theatre Honours, Honour Titles and Honour Distinctions, states that up to ten battle honours can be emblazoned.

It has been suggested, however, that this is a ‘known error’.  If so, it raises the question: why has no amendment been made?  Presumably this is a matter that is already recognised as requiring further consideration in light of the very different circumstances in which today’s Army operates.

This is not the only reference at variance with a limit of two battle honours.  Christopher Jobson spent thirty years in the Army.  Prior to retirement, he was RSM Ceremony and Protocol and an acknowledged expert in the subject.  In his 2009 book, Looking Forward, Looking Back : Customs and Traditions of the Australian Army’, he states that there is no limit on the number of battle honours that can be emblazoned on colours etc today.

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25 April 2021

We Will Remember Them

There have been a number of articles published on the theme of ANZAC (as there always are at this time of year.  A link to one follows, with my response below that. https://johnmenadue.com/ive-got-the-anzac-day-blues/

“In all conflicts between nations, we have conscientious objectors and opponents on one side; and volunteers, and supporters on the other.  Sometimes we also have conscripts.  Theoretically, in a democracy, the national will predominates. This determines the size and strength of a nation’s military forces, the members of which obey the orders of the government.  Sometimes troops have returned from war and been abused by protesters. But the troops didn’t have any say as to whether or not the cause for which they had risked their lives was an ‘honourable’ one in the eyes of others.  Those whose responsibility it is to honour their sacrifice, do so at the behest and direction of the Government.

Why is it that minorities so often seek to criticise those who obey the directions of the Government, but don’t seek instead to use their undoubted influence to change the decisions of Government itself?”

An old post that is relevant today.

Their Name Liveth for Evermore 

Nearly every day I have cause to pass by the Stone of Remembrance at the AWM.  For some reason, today I wondered why the inscription states ‘Their Name Liveth for Evermore’ and not ‘Their Names Liveth for Evermore’.  The latter would seem to be more correct grammatically and also more correct in terms of referring to all the names of the fallen.

I was dimly aware that Rudyard Kipling had recommended the inscription, as he had also recommended ‘Known Unto God’ for the headstones of unidentified soldiers buried on the battlefield.  The Internet informed me that the inscription comes from “Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore”, which, in turn, is from Ecclesiasticus (King James version of the Bible).

So … ‘their bodies’, but ‘their name’.  One would think that there would have to be a reason, otherwise it would be ‘their bodies’ and ‘their names’.  Is it because everyone is known unto God by one name (or am I thinking of ‘One Nation unto God’).

Given that this is a scholarly (rather than religious) question, I asked if any of those I knew had an insight into this.  The responses I received included:“Probably a more personal message, your loved one will be remembered, not as a mass of people but him or her” and “Could refer in the collective sense to those sacrificed.”

While I believe both of these suggestions are correct in their own way. I decided to refer to original text.  This is what I discovered:

There are men who have lived a full life and reached their potential.  They married and “left a name behind them” when they died. This ‘name’ was not only the family name, but also the basket of achievements that they had accomplished, thereby building a reputation. Through their descendants, “their praises might be reported” to future generations.

BUT …  there are other men who “have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born; and their children after them”.

Their name, the one encompassing their life’s achievements (the one that they did not have the opportunity to leave behind as the legacy of old men) will live on as if they had never died in their youth.  People “will shew forth their praise” in the absence of any descendants to do so.  These were not men “renowned for their power” or “rich men furnished with ability”.  “But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten”. 

Conclusion: “Their Name [that] Liveth for Evermore’ does not only refer to the name that they received at birth, but also to the achievements, reputation, and place in the world, that these men and women could have earned should they have had the opportunity to live a full life.

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Finally … according to military protocol, when flown at half mast, a flag is lowered by an amount equal to the height of the flag.  Why?  Its origins relate to an early naval custom, designed to show that another flag is being flown above it. Which flag is that?  The only one given precedence to be flown above a national flag or an ensign … the invisible flag of death.

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24 April 2021

The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part VI

Following on from the past six days … this and coming blog posts will repeat the story in all its ‘glory’. (We’ll take a break for ANZAC Day.)

10 February 2020

The Freedom of Information Saga. Part 5

Given the background explained in the previous posts, it’s understandable that I was surprised by the following announcement:

“On 10th March 2017 the Corporation lodged a submission on behalf 1AR through the Corps to have the BH Coral-Balmoral emblazoned on the 1Armd Regt Standard.  A legislative anomaly was found and used to great effect.  The submission was approved on 28/3/17 and action was commenced by AHQ to correct the error and make it consistent the relevant D-I(A).”  Chairman, RAAC Corporation

The Freedom of Information Saga Parts 1-4 have dealt with the inexplicable case of the RAAC Corporation refusing to make public its submission.

The letter below from the Minister is relevant.  Of course, it seems that I need not have written to him, as the RAAC Corporation had already ‘sorted’ the matter.

“Minister for Veterans’ Affairs 
Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600
Dear Lieutenant Colonel Cameron
Thank you for your letters of 7 and 22 February 2017 seeking approval to display the Battle Honour for Coral-Balmoral and to amend the date of the Vietnam Theatre Honour on the 1st Armoured Regiment’s Standard [letter of 22 Feb 17].
I am pleased to advise there is no administrative impediment to meeting both of your requests. I have been assured that Army Headquarters, in conjunction with the 1st Armoured Regiment and the Royal Australian Armoured Corp Cooperation, will endeavour to have the emblazing amended and completed by the 49th anniversary of Coral-Balmoral at the end of May 2017.
Previous Army protocols limited the number of Theatre Honours, Battle Honours and Honour Distinctions that may be emblazoned on Unit and Corps Colours, Standards or Guidons to two Battle Honours against each Theatre Honour. As you may be aware, this restriction was reviewed and amended by the then Chief of Army on 1 February 2013.
Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention and I trust this information is of assistance to you.”  [Pity about the reference to the “Royal Australian Armoured Corp Cooperation”.]

My ‘superfluous’ submission of 7 Feb 17 tomorrow.

[A recent report in the media]  “The Government has refused to release the Gaetjens report which purportedly exonerates the former Minister, Bridget McKenzie, and thereby the Government from charges of political bias in the distribution of the Community Sport Infrastructure grants. But why this refusal to release the report – the only obvious answer is because the report cannot stand-up to public scrutiny.”Another matter of failure to be open and transparent …

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23 April 2021

The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part V

Following on from the past three days … this and coming blog posts will repeat the story in all its ‘glory’.

[A reminder as to the reason for these posts … a member of the RAAC Advisory Board has asked me for specific info from my research into Op Hammersley.  I replied to say, ‘of course’, provided I can be allowed to see the RAACC’s submissions, in support of mine, re the C-B battlehonour and Hammersley.  The response was that this wasn’t possible as the Corporation had placed security gradings on them.  I asked if the Advisory Board could consider the matter and, if appropriate, recommend that I be allowed to see what had been submitted  to Defence ‘in support’ of my submissions to the Minister. Nothing’s been heard since.]

9 February 2020

The Freedom of Information Saga. Part 4

The background has been provided in the previous three Blog posts.

To summarise, the following reasons have been given ‘officially’ for NOT disclosing the RAAC Corporation’s submission to Defence, ‘supposedly supporting mine to the Minister’:

  • The document contains the opinions of the RAAC Corporation and release of that information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to Defence’s relationship with the RAAC Corporation.
  • Giving particular regard to the RAAC Corporation’s objections and contentions, releasing the document could reasonably be expected to harm the operations and membership of the RAAC Corporation.
  • Disclosure of the document could have an adverse effect on the RAAC Corporation and its members.
  • The RAAC Corporation’s membership will be affected by the public release of document.
  • Release of the document with deletions would involve the deletion of all the material in the document and the blank pages would be meaningless.
  • The document contains the opinions of the RAAC Corporation and release of that information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to Defence’s relationship with the RAAC Corporation.
  • Giving particular regard to the RAAC Corporation’s objections and contentions, releasing the document could reasonably be expected to harm the operations and membership of the RAAC Corporation.
  • If I was to see it, I would know who wrote it;
  • “Exposure [for wrong-doing] of one member of an organisation” would lead to concern in other organisations run by volunteers.
  • The welfare of an individual would be placed in jeopardy and Defence considers welfare to be of the highest priority, including mental health;
  • Formal responses to Tribunals on behalf of the ESO could be jeopardised;
  • The submission contains the personal intellectual property of a third party and there is strong public interest in protecting this;
  • The ‘third party’ has objected to the release of specific personal information.
  • Disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice an agency’s ability to obtain similar information in the future
  • Disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of an individual or group of individuals, and
  • Disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the management function of an agency.
  • Disclosure may influence whether Ex Serving Organisations make voluntary submissions to the Department in future which could ‘reasonably have an adverse effect on Defence’s ability to conduct, manage and perform its functions and working relationships with ESOs in the future’ including with respect to determinations on Defence honours and awards, and
  • Disclosure may influence membership of Ex Serving Organisations and could ‘affect the integrity and efficacy of the Department of Defence’s internal working relationships with ESOs’ which could affect the Army’s administration of the welfare of serving personnel and transition of personnel to civilian life.

The following public interest factors were ‘officially’ regarded as being in favour of disclosure of the document:

  • disclosure would promote the objects of the FOI Act including by informing the community of the government’s operations, revealing background or contextual information that informed a government decision and enhancing scrutiny of government decision-making, and
  • disclosure would advance the fair treatment of individuals and other entities in accordance with the law in their dealings with agencies.

What was the reasoning considered by the Information Commissioner in relation to the release of the RAAC Corporation’s submission (‘supposedly’ supporting mine?)

In Favour:

“I agree with the Department and the applicant that disclosure of the document would promote the objects of the FOI Act including by informing the community of the government’s operations, revealing background or contextual information that may have informed a government decision and enhancing scrutiny of government decision making, and would advance the fair treatment of individuals and other entities in accordance with the law in their dealings with agencies.”

Against:

“I am satisfied that the name and title of the individual officer of the third party ex-service organisation who signed the submission in the document at issue is the personal information of an individual … I am also satisfied that the specific content of the submission or representation by the third party ex-service organisation says something about the individual officer who signed the document in the circumstances of this case and constitutes their personal information.”

“…. it was found that: a. the specific personal information relating to the individuals is not well known to the greater public; b. the specific personal information is not readily available from publicly accessible sources; and c. the third party has objected to the release of the specific personal information.”

“… the third party has made submissions objecting to disclosure of the document at issue and explaining their particular personal circumstances relevant to their objection to disclosure of the specific personal information in the document at issue.  

“…  it is apparent that disclosure of the name and title of the individual officer of the third party ex-service organisation and the submission or representation made by the individual officer on behalf of the third party ex-service organisation would be an unreasonable disclosure of personal information, having regard to the personal circumstances of the third party individual.”

Conclusion.  When I was called by the OAIC to be advised of the outcome, I reiterated that I had no interest at all in personal details of anyone involved in authoring, or associated with, the document.  I was informed that if this information was ‘blacked out’ that there would be nothing left of the document, ie. as had been stated earlier” Release of the document with deletions would involve the deletion of all the material in the document and the blank pages would be meaningless”.

So, the personal information of an officer (or officers) of the RAAC Corporation, writing a submission to Defence, ‘supposedly’ in support of mine to the Minister, takes up so much space that anything left would be meaningless.  I think that I can imagine what the RAAC Corporation submission to Defence might have involved.  I ask again, why is there so much secrecy associated with actions by an organisation on behalf of its members?  Why can’t there be openness and transparency?

Why can’t matters of relevance to the RAAC be put above individual interests?  What is there that the RAAC Corporation’s submission to Defence ‘supposedly in support of mine to the Minister’, could possibly say “about the individual officer who signed the document” which meant that it couldn’t be released?   More tomorrow.

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22 April 2021

The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part IV

Following on from the past three days … this and coming blog posts will repeat the story in all its ‘glory’.

8 February 2020

The Freedom of Information Saga. Part 3

As previously stated, the end of this incredible story has arrived.  It is simply unbelievable.  Why is it that there is so much secrecy when an organisation supposedly acts on behalf of its members?  Why is it that things can’t be open and transparent?  Before revealing the decision of the Information Commissioner and her justification … a review.  The third part of the Blog from 22 November 2019 is copied below.  Bear with me, the ending is sensational!  All will be revealed tomorrow.

The Applicant’s Response

Defence, in conjunction with the RAAC Corporation, have provided twelve different reasons that supposedly justify not releasing the document in question.  In a process of rejection, followed by provision of more time, after more time, for Defence to reconsider …  OIAC have rejected nine of these reasons.  Turning to what’s left:

Will Defence have difficulty in obtaining similar information in the future if the document is released?   I wrote to the Minister; the Minister’s Office asked for Defence’s position; Defence asked the RAAC Corporation what their position was; the RAAC Corporation provided this information to Defence.  The Minister approved my (two) requests.  The RAAC Corporation refuses to allow anyone to see their submission (maybe it was positive, as the RAAC Corporation claim; maybe it was negative).  If the document was to be released, would, say, the Royal Australian Regiment Corporation or the 1 Field Squadron RAE Association, withhold information that Defence requested from them because of it?

Of course NOT.  Integrity is crucial to their membership.  A document written by their Executive on behalf of their members, would be made available to their members so requested.  How could it not be, if the association had any integrity?  I can obtain statements to this effect from a range of ESOs if need be.

Will an individual or group of individuals be harmed by release of the document?  Defence have previously stated that the “welfare of an individual would be placed in jeopardy”.  This is a very definitive statement; not ‘may be placed in jeopardy’, but “will be placed in jeopardy’.  Presumably it is the Chairman of the RAAC Corporation who is being referred to.  It was he who stated that he’d prepared a submission for Defence supporting mine to the Minister, but without “having read anybody else’s including yours!”.    As advised earlier, I can’t imagine that anyone could author a supporting submission, without reading the submission that it was supporting.  Of course, if the submission was opposed to, rather than ‘in support of’, this could explain why release of the document could affect the author’s welfare (if he’d stated the opposite).  This would also be the case if the RAAC Corporation’s ‘submission’ was a copy of mine (when he’s stated he hadn’t seen it.)

But is this justification for not releasing the document?  If I was being sentenced and stated that if I was sent to jail, I would kill myself … should the Judge take this into account?  Of course, not … if His or Her Honour did, there wouldn’t be anyone in jail.

Will disclosure of the document prejudice the management function of an agency?  The ‘agency’ in question is the Department of Defence.  Defence has 65,000 employees.  Is their management likely to be affected by the release of a document supporting an application to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs for a restriction on the emblazoning of battlehonours and a correction to an error on a unit’s Standard?  The opposite is much more likely.  As the Case Officer has stated:

  • disclosure would promote the objects of the FOI Act including by informing the community of the government’s operations, revealing background or contextual information that informed a government decision and enhancing scrutiny of government decision-making, and
  • disclosure would advance the fair treatment of individuals and other entities in accordance with the law in their dealings with agencies.

Conclusion.  I ask that the OAIC consider the above.

NOTE: I’ve been asked to remove the RAAC Corporation logo as I’d have to have permission from the Army Branding Agency.  Use of the logo in an article about the Corporation is permitted, however.

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21 April 2021

The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part III

Following on from the past two days … this and coming blog posts will repeat the story in all its ‘glory’.

7 February 2020

The Freedom of Information Saga. Part 2

As stated below, the end of this incredible story has arrived.  It is simply unbelievable.  Why is it that there is so much secrecy when an organisation supposedly acts on behalf of its members?  Why is it that things can’t be open and transparent?  Before revealing the decision of the Information Commissioner and her justification … a review.  The second part of the Blog from 22 November 2019 is copied below.  Bear with me, the ending is sensational!

“The OAIC Appeal

On appeal, Defence stated the primary reasons were:

  1. The document contains the opinions of the RAAC Corporation and release of that information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to Defence’s relationship with the RAAC Corporation.
  2. Giving particular regard to the RAAC Corporation’s objections and contentions, releasing the document could reasonably be expected to harm the operations and membership of the RAAC Corporation.

When OAIC asked Defence to provide further justification, Defence provided two NEW reasons for not releasing the document:

  1. If I was to see it, I would know who wrote it; and
  2. “Exposure [for wrong-doing] of one member of an organisation” would lead to concern in other organisations run by volunteers.

OAIC informed Defence that this was not adequate justification.  Defence responded to say:

“As stated, … in the further information the 170 submissions linked to the Public Inquiry were not released publicly. Defence Honours and Awards would contact the owner of each submission for approval to release each submission. In this instance [the third party] requested Defence not to release the submission under the FOI application.

OAIC informed Defence that this had nothing whatsoever to do with the document under consideration.  More time was allowed for Defence to consult a ‘third party’.  Defence then contended that:

  1.   The welfare of an individual would be placed in jeopardy and Defence considers welfare to be of the highest priority, including mental health;
  2.   Formal responses to Tribunals on behalf of the ESO could be jeopardised;
  3.   The submission contains the personal intellectual property of a third party and there is strong public interest in protecting this;
  4.   The ‘third party’ has objected to the release of specific personal information.

The OAIC Case Officer’s Position

As the case officer, you believe that “disclosure of the document could reasonably be expected to have a substantial adverse effect on the Department’s operations since:

  • disclosure may influence whether Ex Serving Organisations make voluntary submissions to the Department in future which could ‘reasonably have an adverse effect on Defence’s ability to conduct, manage and perform its functions and working relationships with ESOs in the future’ including with respect to determinations on Defence honours and awards, and
  • disclosure may influence membership of Ex Serving Organisations and could ‘affect the integrity and efficacy of the Department of Defence’s internal working relationships with ESOs’ which could affect the Army’s administration of the welfare of serving personnel and transition of personnel to civilian life.

In the Case Officer’s opinion, arguments for and against release of the document are:

In Favour.  In this case, the following public interest factors favour disclosure of the document:

  • disclosure would promote the objects of the FOI Act including by informing the community of the government’s operations, revealing background or contextual information that informed a government decision and enhancing scrutiny of government decision-making, and
  • disclosure would advance the fair treatment of individuals and other entities in accordance with the law in their dealings with agencies.

Against: In this case, the following public interest factors weigh against disclosure of the document:

  • disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice an agency’s ability to obtain similar information in the future
  • disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of an individual or group of individuals, and
  • disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the management function of an agency.”

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20 April 2021

The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part II

Following on from yesterday … the blog posts in the coming days will tell the story again in all its ‘glory’.

6 February 2020

The Freedom of Information Saga. Part 1

The end of this incredible story has arrived.  It is simply unbelievable.  Why is it that there is so much secrecy when an organisation acts on behalf of its members?  Why is it that things can’t be open and transparent?  Before revealing the decision of the Information Commissioner and her justification, a review.  The first part of the Blog from 22 November 2019 is copied below:

“The Blog on 11 Sep 19 stated that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) advised the day before that: “This matter is awaiting a decision by the Information Commissioner under s 55K of the FOI Act to affirm, vary or set aside and substitute the internal review decision of the Department of 26 June 2017”.

After two years, it seemed as if the matter was finally going to be resolved. Background is copied below from an earlier post.

The Latest Development:  On 13 Nov 19, the OAIC desk officer advised “I would be grateful for your further assistance in the resolution of this Information Commissioner review In relation to the material that remains within scope of this IC review, I invite you to please confirm whether you seek access to the name and title of any third party individuals that may be included in the document at issue. I would be grateful for your response by 20 November 2019”

My response stated inter alia:

I have no interest in “the name and title of any third party individuals that may be included in the document at issue”.  My only interest is with respect to information provided to the Minister which may have had the potential to influence his decision in relation to my submission to him … surely this the right of each and every Australian?.

I don’t mean any disrespect to the OAIC here … simply trying to express my purpose in pursuing this matter, ie. the principle that if a Minister is asked to decide on a matter, then submissions made to him about it by other parties should be available to all … otherwise how is public confidence to be maintained?

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Background.  [Although the reasons given for not releasing the material sought, seem unbelievable … it is a true account!]

In 2015 I prepared a submission seeking approval for the emblazoning of the Coral-Balmoral Battle Honour on the 1st Armoured Regiment Standard.   I had hoped that the 1AR Association, together with the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Corporation (RAACC), might take the lead in presenting this to Government on behalf of 1AR, 3 Cav and the RAR (the submission points out that the precedent set by the 1Armd Regt approval would enable three more battle honour to be emblazoned of the guidon and colours of the other units involved.)

After years of inaction, in February 2017 I personally wrote to Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, asking that the current limitation imposed on emblazoning Vietnam battle honours on unit colours etc, be reviewed. (I also requested that he approve a correction being made to the Theatre Honour emblazoned on the Standard.)  The RAACC subsequently posted messages on social media sites advising that it had made a supporting submission.

I thanked the RAACC Chairman and asked if the Corporation’s submission was any different to mine. The Chairman responded to say: “I wouldn’t know – not having read anybody else’s including yours!”. 

I was surprised at this, as I had automatically assumed that anyone preparing a supporting submission, would refer to the content of the submission that they were supporting.  (Additionally, my submission had been available publicly since it was posted off.)

I then asked if I could see the Corporation’s submission, so as to know how it compared with the information I provided to the Minister.  Surprisingly, the RAACC Chairman refused to allow me to see the submission that the Corporation had made in support of mine (no reason was given).

I was concerned that, if my submission was not approved, it might be because of information presented by the RAACC.  I therefore wrote to Defence to “seek privilege under FOI to see a copy of the RAACC submission made in support of my request to Minister Tehan”.

The Defence Response.

 Defence initially provided the following reasons for not disclosing the document:

  1. The document contains the opinions of the RAAC Corporation and release of that information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to Defence’s relationship with the RAAC Corporation.
  2. Giving particular regard to the RAAC Corporation’s objections and contentions, releasing the document could reasonably be expected to harm the operations and membership of the RAAC Corporation.
  3. Disclosure of the document could have an adverse effect on the RAAC Corporation and its members.
  4. The RAAC Corporation’s membership will be affected by the public release of document.
  5. Release of the document with deletions would involve the deletion of all the material in the document and the blank pages would be meaningless.”

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Apologies … as to why the Blog for yesterday failed to post, I have no idea. See below for the belated post. Gremlins at work!

19 April 2021

 The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All

Recent events have to be made known, in the context of all that which has gone before.  A few days ago, I was contacted by a member of the RAAC Corporation Advisory Board, asking for information from my research in relation to my submission for the award of the SVN GCWP unit Citation made to 8RAR, to be extended to supporting arms. 

I responded to say that I would be happy to do so … if the RAAC Corporation would provide information that had previously been denied to me, ie. copies of its submissions (supposedly in support of mine) regarding the emblazoning of the battle-honour Coral-Balmoral and the CGWP Citation for Hammersley.

The hypocrisy involved is unimaginable and deserves to be, and will be, highlighted in subsequent posts.  To start … an earlier Blog post regarding the Coral-Balmoral battle-honour is copied below.

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4 March 2021

The Freedom of Information Saga.

Theoretically, this long running saga (see summary across Blogs 6-12 February 2020) was a matter between Defence and myself.

But this was not the case. I reported the proceedings in an open and transparent manner on the Blog as they occurred.  It transpired that the Chairman of the RAAC Corporation sought to influence the Information Commissioner’s consideration (not once, but four times).  One can’t but wonder what was claimed (in secret) and why.

“On 10 October 2017, 11 October 2017, 14 August 2018 and 15 August 2018 the third party individual [ie. the Chairman] made submissions in a personal capacity and as an officer of the third party ex-service organisation [the RAAC Corporation] objecting to disclosure of the document.”

The Commissioner decided that “the name and title of the individual officer of the third party ex-service organisation who signed the submission in the document at issue is the personal information of an individual”.

Access to the document which the Chairman states was in support of my submission to the Minister (a submission that he states he hadn’t seen) was consequently denied.

No problems I said, simply delete all personal information.  I even made the point that I would be happy with a blanked-out piece of paper.

No… this can’t happen, as: “having regard to the nature and contents of the document and the submissions of the parties relevant to the relationship between the individual officer and the ex-service organisation, I [the Commisioner] am also satisfied that the specific content of the submission or representation by the third party ex-service organisation says something about the individual officer who signed the document in the circumstances of this case and constitutes their personal information”.

What is it one has to wonder, that the content of the submission says about the Chairman, which means that it would be damaging to him if made public?

Open and transparent governance: an unattainable ideal.

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18 April 2021

RAAC ARES: Role and Resourcing

An article in the latest Army newspaper (see link below) is entitled STRATEGIC GUIDANCE 2021-22 and sets out the Chief of Army’s plan in this respect.  A quote from NEW CAPABILITIES – ARMY OBJECTIVE FORCE is copied below:

“WE HAVE a good plan to deliver the government investment described in the 2020 Force Structure Plan. The Army Force Structure Implementation Plan is a long-term road map. It describes options to build a scalable Army that is part of an integrated ADF, industry and national system. The challenge, as ever, is to do this simply and sustainably. Over time, the Force Structure Plan investments will change the Army fundamentally. This is what government expects us to do to meet the evolving strategic context. The 2021-22 decisions that we must make or inform [include]:

Affirm the roles and tasks of 2 Div [ie. the ARES] are clear and resourced. Continue to evolve the organisation, equipping and training 2 Div and align its national footprint to tasks and recruiting opportunities.

At last!  Armouredadvocates has been calling for years for the role of the RAAC ARES to be defined.  Maybe at long last something will be done is this respect.

The most recent Blog post is copied below:

22 March 2021

The Role of the RAAC ARES.

A post from last month’s ADF ‘Our People’ Facebook page is copied below.

Previous Blog posts have lamented a clear role being defined for the RAAC ARES.  Could this be a breakthrough, ie. the Role of the RAAC ARES is to support and augment ARA RAAC units’.

“Pop smoke for the reveal of our latest armoured leaders, including our 4th/19th Prince of Wales’ Light Horse members LT Alakus and LT Arrowsmith!

Graduates shown here with two Light Armoured Vehicles at the end of the final part of their Royal Australian Armoured Corps, Regimental Officers Basic Course.

This course teaches trainees to lead soldiers in light cavalry units, increasing the capability of these trooper[s] and units to support [and] augment the Australian Regular Army [Armoured] Cavalry Regiments.

The trainees (left to right): LT Thomas Case 12/16 Hunter River Lancers, LT Danyal Alakus 4/19 Prince of Wales Light Horse Regiment, CAPT Jaime Brownlie 1/15 Royal New South Wales Lancers, LT Oscar Arrowsmith 4/19 Prince of Wales Light Horse Regiment, LT Kai Neagle 3/9 Light Horse, and LT Natalie McHugh 2/14 Light Horse Regiment”.

#ROBC #OfficersBasicCourse #OurPeople 

https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/ourpeople

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17 April 2021

An Attempt at Virtual Reality at the AWM: Bushmaster

Following on from the recent posts …

On Closer Inspection is a 360 degree immersive experiences developed by the Australian War Memorial.

Through the use of 360-degree digital video and virtual reality technology, users can view and explore a Bushmaster, Australia’s most successful and trusted Protected Mobility Vehicle.”

https://www.awm.gov.au/visit/exhibitions/on-closer-inspection/bushmaster

I’m not sure that I mastered the ‘controls’ all that well and I didn’t watch to the end, but it serves as an example of how technology can ‘give life’ to what would otherwise be a bucket of bolts.

Hopefully if the RAAC can build on my engagement with the AWM, the service and sacrifice of AFV crews can made known more widely.  (Then again, maybe I’ll be left up to me to continue to push the ‘envelope’ whenever I can.)

“An AFV in combat is not some product of engineers, it is the beating heart of its crew.”

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16 April 2021

Meeting with the AWM Redevelopment Team: My Follow Up

Dear [Head, AWM Redevelopment],

Thanks for your time this morning.  I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you and Jen.

Thinking about it … it seems to me that Virtual Reality is a generational thing and older people might be put off by it.  I realise also that it is expensive both up front and to maintain; and if it fails, visitors can form a poor view of the institution.  Hopefully technology has evolved and it will have a place in the new gallery. Good luck in striking the ‘balance’ across the board. I can see it having a fantastic impact in specific areas, including AFVs.

In contrast, my suggestion re the outside AFV exhibits, uses ‘old technology’ and might help bridge the current divide between equipment and the people behind it, ie. an audio speaker from within playing at intervals (according to a shown schedule) providing the sound effects of engine, guns firing, orders being given etc, together with a spoken description of what it was like to fight the vehicle in combat.  This idea could also be applied to internal exhibits, as per the current Huey helicopter sound and light effects.

Finally, the person that the Director communicated with regarding the crew functions being promoted in the Centurion exhibit, has produced an AV presentation on a USB stick to be played at our 50th Anniversary dinner of 6 June.  Would you care for a copy?

Best wishes, Bruce Cameron

“An AFV in combat is not some product of engineers, it is the beating heart of its crew.”

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15 Apr 21

AWM Redevelopment Team Meeting: How Did it Go?

In a word … really well.  I met with the Director and Deputy Director of the AWM Redevelopment Project. While my ideas were listened to, I also learnt from them.  The concept of Museums as community hubs has been around for a while, but I was unfamiliar with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Virtual and Augmented Reality (AR) Museum Exhibitions provide an opportunity to add a third dimension to displays, bringing objects or scenes to life. 3D (digital) personas are then able to provide a narration.

I suggested that the outside AFV exhibits could be fitted with an audio speaker, playing from within, at intervals (according to a shown schedule) providing the sound effects of engine, guns firing, orders being given etc, together with a spoken description of what it was like to fight the vehicle in combat.  This idea could also be applied to internal exhibits, as per the current Huey helicopter sound and light effects.  This will be considered.

The Redevelopment Team are really keen to connect with veterans to gain their input and first-hand experiences as operators of the exhibits on display.  I offered to act as a conduit where I could and they’ll also work through the Army History Unit.

The role of museums in society is changing. Once static institutions, museums are reinventing themselves to become more interactive, audience focused, community oriented, flexible, adaptable and mobile. They have become cultural hubs functioning as platforms where creativity combines with knowledge and where visitors can also co-create, share and interact.

https://icom.museum/en/news/imd2019-museums-as-cultural-hubs-the-future-of-tradition/

Nils Pokel from the Aukland War Memorial Museum spoke about his experience with VR in a museum space. He talked about his hope that VR will continue to add value when used in conjunction with a curator’s existing tools. He pointed out that it has some unique traits, for example, the ability to create a true first-person perspective. This could be a huge draw when creating a new exhibit. Although he believes that VR is useful, he does concede there are some downsides.  One of the most limiting factors currently is cost. [One of the other problems is that older people don’t embrace this technology as readily as the younger generation.]

My after-meeting response to the Director tomorrow.

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14 March 2021

Meeting: AWM Redevelopment Team (14 April 2021) Part 2

Points I’ve noted for discussion in advance of my meeting at 11am:

1.  AWM Organisation.  Last time I looked, Brian Dawson’s National Collections Branch had a Military Heraldry and Technology Team.  I think the title says it all.  It has been my experience that the function of this team has had an overwhelming focus on the technical aspects of their remit.

I would like to suggest that this should be offset by others whose focus is on the service personnel who operated the equipment.

2.  What should be the focus of their work?  I believe that a different set of skills is needed when considering crews, as distinct to engines.  They should seek to investigate the challenges faced by the crews in performing their duties, the dangers they faced, and the fears that resulted from these.

3.  How should this become part of the exhibits?  Mannequins could be used in exhibits where visitors can see into an exhibit, otherwise photo showing crews in positions could be utilised. Audio recordings vide headphones could be made available to visitors with crew experiences either recorded first hand or by readings of texts.  Sound effects are an essential element of operating AFVs: the engine noise, the guns firings, the radio transmissions, the crew commander’s orders and crew responses (and more).

4. The essential point. This is to demonstrate that the crews are never immune inside an armoured cocoon.  The opposite is the case.  They are the targets of concentrated enemy fire.  Some have no awareness at all of what is happening outside their vehicle. The AFV in combat is not some product of engineers, it is the beating heart of its crew!

Tomorrow: What happened.

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13 April 2021

Meeting: AWM Redevelopment Team (14 April 2021)

Image: AWM, turret restoration

The following is an email to the AWM Redevelopment Team …

I drafted the following as a few opening words.  When I finished, I thought why waste time … send in advance and simply respond to questions.

Hope the following might be useful …

Best wishes, Bruce

————————————————————————

There used to be a common question at job interviews along the lines of “How have you prepared for today’s meeting?

If I was to be asked this today, I’d say that there were three main elements on which I base my advice with respect to AFV exhibits … research, consultation, and personal experience.  As you know, it is my belief that there is too great an emphasis on technology as far as AWM exhibits are concerned.  I believe this ‘depersonalises’ AFVs, replacing people with facts and figures: weights, speeds, number of rounds carried, engine power etc.  I believe that my comments might also be applicable to other crew served equipment, including aircraft.

I’d like to use an example.  I was interested to learn that the Milne Bay campaign is to be one of the aspects that the new exhibition space will highlight.  Centrepieces of this are to be the Kittyhawk fighter and the Ha Go tank.

The Type 95 Ha Go has been, and still is, a subject of debate between those interested in AFVs and the Memorial’s historians.  The following is an edited version of the AWM website report on the conservation of the Ha Go:

‘… the Ha-Gō contained three crew: a driver who sat in the right of the hull; a gunner/mechanic who operated the 7.7-mm machine-gun in the left of the hull; and the commander who stood behind the driver in the turret.  Also inside the turret was a 37-mm main gun, plus there was another 7.7-mm machine-gun facing rearward out the of the turret. Entry and exit through the turret hatch are very difficult.  The interior is very cramped, especially with the guns protruding into the cabin’.

Other AWM references with respect to the tank state that:

While it is thought that the crew size on these tanks was typically three, contemporary evidence, including the interrogation report of a Marine captured at Milne Bay, indicated the two used in this battle had a crew of four. 

This particular Type 95 tank had a crew of four (usually reported as three): commander, gunner, driver, and hull gunner. 

Obviously, it’s confusing to the public having conflicting references from the same source, but surely if the crew size is usually known to be three, there is a need to explain why the AWM is convinced that its Ha Go tank had a crew of four. 

Information that I’ve seen states that the AWM received information from an Australian posted to Japan who found a crew list related to the Japanese Naval Landing Force.  Someone whose duties are to guide the tank, is not, however, regarded as being part of the crew. 

The AWM is stating that the Ha Go had a two-man turret … commander and gunner.  The starting point here is to ask if two men (even Japanese) could fit into the turret. 

What is the relevance of the above?

It is my belief that it is the crew of an AFV that should come first, not the AFV itself.  To this end, if there were two men in the turret of a Ha Go tank, the AWM should exclaim their bravery as part of this exhibit!!  Those Japanese deserve everyone’s respect.  Of course, if there were only three men, then they, like the rest of us, were just doing our job.

Image: AWM, turret restoration

The following is an email to the AWM Redevelopment Team …

“I drafted the following as a few opening words.  When I finished, I thought why waste time … send in advance and simply respond to questions.

Hope the following might be useful …

Best wishes, Bruce

————————————————————————

There used to be a common question at job interviews along the lines of “How have you prepared for today’s meeting?

If I was to be asked this today, I’d say that there were three main elements on which I base my advice with respect to AFV exhibits … research, consultation, and personal experience.  As you know, it is my belief that there is too great an emphasis on technology as far as AWM exhibits are concerned.  I believe this ‘depersonalises’ AFVs, replacing people with facts and figures: weights, speeds, number of rounds carried, engine power etc.  I believe that my comments might also be applicable to other crew served equipment, including aircraft.

I’d like to use an example.  I was interested to learn that the Milne Bay campaign is to be one of the aspects that the new exhibition space will highlight.  Centrepieces of this are to be the Kittyhawk fighter and the Ha Go tank.

The Type 95 Ha Go has been, and still is, a subject of debate between those interested in AFVs and the Memorial’s historians.  The following is an edited version of the AWM website report on the conservation of the Ha Go:

‘… the Ha-Gō contained three crew: a driver who sat in the right of the hull; a gunner/mechanic who operated the 7.7-mm machine-gun in the left of the hull; and the commander who stood behind the driver in the turret.  Also inside the turret was a 37-mm main gun, plus there was another 7.7-mm machine-gun facing rearward out the of the turret. Entry and exit through the turret hatch are very difficult.  The interior is very cramped, especially with the guns protruding into the cabin’.

Other AWM references with respect to the tank state that:

While it is thought that the crew size on these tanks was typically three, contemporary evidence, including the interrogation report of a Marine captured at Milne Bay, indicated the two used in this battle had a crew of four. 

This particular Type 95 tank had a crew of four (usually reported as three): commander, gunner, driver, and hull gunner. 

Obviously, it’s confusing to the public having conflicting references from the same source, but surely if the crew size is usually known to be three, there is a need to explain why the AWM is convinced that its Ha Go tank had a crew of four. 

Information that I’ve seen states that the AWM received information from an Australian posted to Japan who found a crew list related to the Japanese Naval Landing Force.  Someone whose duties are to guide the tank, is not, however, regarded as being part of the crew. 

The AWM is stating that the Ha Go had a two-man turret … commander and gunner.  The starting point here is to ask if two men (even Japanese) could fit into the turret. 

What is the relevance of the above?

It is my belief that it is the crew of an AFV that should come first, not the AFV itself.  To this end, if there were two men in the turret of a Ha Go tank, the AWM should exclaim their bravery as part of this exhibit!!  Those Japanese deserve everyone’s respect.  Of course, if there were only three men, then they, like the rest of us, were just doing our job.”

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12 April 2021

The Australian Army: The Parlous State of its Organisation (Part 4)

Image: Army-Technology.com

Under Plan Beersheba, the ARA brigades (1, 3 and 7) became known as Combat Brigades, each with an armoured cavalry regiment.

The ACR from 1 Brigade was relocated to Adelaide in 2017.  The following is an extract from the Blog on 30 March 2021 …

“1st Brigade’s Edinburgh Defence Precinct based 7th Battalion Mechanised Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR(Mech)) and 1st Armoured Cavalry Regiment (1AR – Armoured Cavalry Regiment) will form the foundation of a fourth combat brigade designated the 9th Brigade, rerolled as a heavy armoured combat manoeuvre element.” 

So … 1 Armd Regt and 7RAR (Mech) will provide the manoeuvre elements for the new 9 Brigade.  They will be supported by 9 Field Squadron, RAE, which will be raised as an Assault/Manoeuvre Support Squadron and will be equipped with the M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV) and the M1074 Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) under acquisition under Project Land 8160 (Under Armour Breaching & Bridging).

So, we now have four combat brigades with seven brigades under Command of Field Force.

But 1 Brigade has no mounted reconnaissance capability, no armour and only one inf battalion.  Will it remain a Comat Brigade or will its role be changed?

To complicate things, 9 Brigade has no artillery. 

It will be interesting see where the on-going restructure goes next.

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11 April 2021

The Australian Army: The Parlous State of its Organisation (Part 3)

Given that in 2000, a parliamentary Report stated that Australia did not need and cannot afford a nine brigade Army. Yesterday I commented that we still have nine brigades.  I was wrong … we have twelve!  Six under command of Field Force and sic under command 2 Division.

The following three have been added to the Orbat:

Maybe the Defence Chiefs have got it right (or not)?  More to follow.

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10 April 2021

The Australian Army: The Parlous State of its Organisation (Part 2)

Following on from yesterday … how is the Australian Army presently organised?

 1 Brigade – a mechanised brigade, predominantly staffed by ARA at approximately 70 per cent of operational strength and based in Darwin;

 3 Brigade – a light infantry brigade, predominantly staffed by ARA at approximately 85 per cent of operational strength and based in Townsville;

 4 Brigade – based in Melbourne, staffed at approximately 40 per cent of operational strength with subordinate elements drawn from across the state of Victoria;

 5 Brigade – based in Sydney, staffed at approximately 30 per cent of operational strength with subordinate elements drawn largely from the Sydney and southern NSW area;

 7 Brigade – a motorised brigade, staffed by ARA and GRes at approximately 73 per cent of operational strength and based in Brisbane; and

 8 Brigade – based in Newcastle, staffed at approximately 32 per cent of operational strength with subordinate elements drawn largely from the Newcastle and central NSW region;

 9 Brigade – based in Adelaide, staffed at approximately 35 per cent of operational strength with subordinate elements drawn from South Australia and Tasmania;

  11 Brigade – a light infantry brigade, predominantly staffed by GRes at approximately 30 per cent of operational strength with elements located in north and central Queensland 6.10 Australian Regular Army (ARA) pers; and

 13 Brigade – based in Perth, staffed at approximately 30 per cent of operational strength with subordinate elements drawn from Western Australia.

The above assessment might well be different today. It was taken from ‘From Phantom to Force: Towards a More Efficient and Effective Army’ a Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade reportto both Houses of Parliament. 

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Completed_Inquiries/jfadt/army/armyindx

Another quote, this time from the report’s conclusion:

“It is clear, based on the capability requirement specified in Chapter 4 and the funding limitations discussed in Chapter 5 that Australia neither needs, nor can it afford, a nine brigade Army. For the Army to be credible and efficient this structure needs to be reviewed. Rationalisation of the force structure could transform the Army from a having three useable brigades to four useable brigades. It could also free up resources to provide a true capability for force generation – something that does not exist now. How this can be done in terms of equipment and personnel is discussed in the next two Chapters.”

Seems to me that the apathy of the general public allows such things to come about. 

I’ve just discovered that this report is from 2000.  I’d thought it was 2020.  But, we still have nine brigades (at what level of operational strength, one has to ask) … or do we?  More to follow.

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9 April 2021

The Australian Army: The Parlous State of its Organisation (Part 1)

The Armoured Brigade Combat Team (9 Brigade) was the subject of a recent blog.  The following is taken from a 2019 Defence Connect article:

“Enter the concept of the Brigade Combat Team (BCT) – established as part of a major restructuring of the US Army in order to take advantage of advancements in technology and platforms, while also responding to evolving geo-strategic and political realities in the post-Cold War era and the changing global responsibilities of the US. 

Contemporary BCTs consist of an integrated combined arms manoeuvre brigade incorporating support and fire units. BCTs are typically made up of 4,500 soldiers, with specialised infantry, mechanised infantry and light armoured reconnaissance, armoured units, divisional artillery, air, medical, logistics and command support.

Further recognising the constantly evolving nature of modern warfare, BCTs can be highly specialised – being broken down into infantry, mechanised infantry (Stryker), armoured, airborne and air assault capabilities – leveraging capabilities of individual platforms, while combining the capabilities of individual units and platforms to form an integrated web of systems and platforms capable of responding to any number of contingencies, without limiting the overall combat strength of the Army, by deploying a proportional, tailored, brigade size ‘combined arms’ force to global hotspots within 96 hours, as opposed to a division-sized force at 120 hours.

This flexibility and ‘hard, fast and smart’ combination of capabilities enables the BCT organisational structure to serve as potent forward-deployed conventional, ground-based, power projection and deterrence forces in continental Europe. For Australia, with a long history of regional deployment, engagement and capability building, independently deployable and capable BCTs serve as the perfect forward deployed complement to the amphibious ‘Quick Reaction Force’ of the 2RAR. 

https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/land-amphibious/4133-hard-and-fast-brigade-combat-teams-and-the-hardened-army

So … will the Australian Army adopt the concept of specialised BCTs?

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8 April 2021

I’ve done it again … missed yesterday’s post. I plead the approaching C Sqn Reunion and its organisation.

The RAAC Corporation 2

The following goal is part of the RAAC Corporation’s Charter

“To represent the interests of the serving and ex-serving ordinary members of The Corps”.

So … the RAAC Corp represents the interests of not only those who are members of the Associations which comprise the Corporation, but also all former members of the RAAC.

[One has to assume that an ‘ordinary member’ of the RAAC (whether serving or ex-serving) is any soldier or officer.]

So how does an ex-serving ‘ordinary member’ of the RAAC, who is not a member of an association that is a member of the RAAC Corporation, contact the Corporation to advise matters that might be concerning him/her?

Answer.  He/she can’t.  There is no means by which someone who is not a member of an association that is part of the RAAC Corporation can make contact.  [This also applies to any public organisation or body that might wish to seek the advice of the Corporation about RAAC matters.]

The Corporation Charter is clearly misleading and is long overdue for amendment.

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6 April 2021

Battlegroups and Combat Teams

In the draft Preface of my next book (autobiography), I refer to “failings in the nature of the Army’s structure and ability to learn and adapt (which mirror the shortcomings in society as a whole)”.  It’s become evident to me that, rather than individuals being ‘asleep at the wheel’, structures and learnt behaviour patterns have failed once again.  The organisation of the Australian Army is currently in a parlous state.  I’ll explain why in coming posts.

Following on from yesterday … in the ‘olden days’ a battlegroup was a battalion sized unit comprising combinations of armour and infantry sub-units, eg. two tank squadrons and a mech inf company.  A combat team was same at sub-unit level, eg. two tank troops and an inf platoon.  That all seems simple enough, but terminology is becoming confusing.

The ‘armoured brigade combat team’ is a US Army organisation.  The term has recently been used in the Australian context.  The post on 30 Mar 21 included the following quote: “The future 2028 Army Objective Force 9th Brigade will constitute the Australian Army’s first true armoured brigade combat team capacity raised since the 2nd World War”.

The Armoured Brigade Combat Team.  The quotes below explain the nature of the US Army ABCT and make it clear how different this is to the new 9 Brigade organisation:

The Army is responsible for providing the bulk of U.S. ground combat forces. To that end, the service is organized primarily around brigade combat teams (BCTs)— large combined-arms formations that are designed to contain 4,400 to 4,700 soldiers apiece and include infantry, artillery, engineering, and other types of units. 

In the current structure, BCTs are permanently organized for independent operations, and division headquarters exist to provide command and control for operations that involve multiple BCTs. [Usually four BCTs per division.]  Divisions also include functional support brigades (FSBs).

The armored brigade combat team is the army’s primary armored force. It was designed around combined arms battalions that contain both M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). Other vehicles, such as HMMWVs and variants of the M113 armored personnel carrier, operate in a supporting role. In the future, it will also contain vehicles from the BCT Ground Combat Vehicle Program.

An armored brigade combat team consists of seven battalions: three combined arms, one cavalry (RSTA), one artillery, one engineer and one brigade support battalion. Prior to 2012, the armored brigade combat team was named the heavy brigade combat team.[2]

An ABCT includes 60 Abrams tanks, 60 Bradley IFVs, and 112 M113 vehicles.

A Combined Arms Battalion comprises:

https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Brigade_combat_team

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5 April 2021

The US Army’s OMFV Program

Image: Modern War Institute

Following on from yesterday, the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) is intended to replace the M2 Bradley IFV in the US Army.  The project has been beset with problems.  Past industry deadlines have not been met and companies have withdrawn, citing impossible criteria on which to make a bid.

The following extract explains where things are at, in one commentator’s view: (https://breakingdefense.com/tag/optionally-manned-fighting-vehicle/)

“Most Infantry Fighting Vehicles on the global market look a lot like the Reagan-era M2 Bradley: They’re tracked machines with a driver in the hull, a commander and gunner in the turret, and five to nine infantry soldiers in the back, transported under armor protection until they jump out for the final assault.

In previous attempts to replace the Bradley, the Army gave industry rigid requirements, specifying everything from passenger capacity to gun calibre to maximum weight. But the new Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle will be different. While the Army has mandated a crew of two, both sitting in the hull with an unmanned turret, it will let industry’s design teams suggest all the other specs.

“We’ve got companies out there… that have come and said, hey listen, ‘we don’t want to have to six/eight/10 people in the back. We want to have two, and we want to make a very small vehicle,” said Coffman, the director of Next Generation Combat Vehicles at Army Future Command. “We may need 15 OMFVs to move [a platoon of] 30,” he said, instead of today’s platoon of four Bradleys – and the new RFP would allow that.

According to Maj Gen Coffman, it is being left to industry to define the operating concept.  This is, indeed, challenging.  If it is to be operated in the unmanned role, what point is there in providing internal seating for six infantrymen? What combination of AFVs is the answer to accompany the M1 tank replacement into battle?  What is the structure of the future of the next ‘Armoured Brigade Combat Team’ to be … in the US or here?

(More on this to come.)

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4 April 2021

The Future of AFVs.

There is an interesting article in the latest Defence Technology Review: ‘Armour to Play Key Role in Indo-Pacific’. 

https://defencetechnologyreview.partica.online/defence-technology-review/dtr-apr-2021/flipbook/10/

It relates to an interview with the Director of the US Army’s Next generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team [what a title!], Maj Gen Ross Coffman.

In contrast to doom and gloom coming out of the UK, he states argues that the following doctrine is set to continue: ‘The Army now controls land using combined arms manoeuvre – infantry, armour, field artillery and aviation assets – that provide units the speed, range and convergence to enable decision dominance”.

He mentions the US Army’s Amoured Multi-Purpose Fighting Vehicle (AMPFV).  Upon checking this, it turns out to the US Army’s replacement for the M113. The US AFV system has the M1Abrams, supported by the M2 Bradley IFV; and the Bradley supported by the AMPFV.  So, the Abrams and Bradley are at the forefront of the battle, with the AMPFV providing armoured mobility support.  (The first AMPFV was manufactured by BAE Systems in September 2020).

I guess that this is what we have with some inf battalions equipped with the IFV and some with the Bushmaster PMV. It will be interesting to see how it pans out with the inf operating these vehicles over the long term.

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3 April 2021

Capability Gap: ACR Reconnassiance

The following quotes are from a recent Australian National Audit Office report …

 ”On 9 August 2018, Defence established a contract, valued at $4.28 billion (including GST), with Rheinmetall Defence Australia (Rheinmetall) for the acquisition of 211 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRVs), 12 mission modules and associated support systems. The vehicles are to be delivered in two blocks (tranches):

  • Block I — comprising 25 vehicles intended to provide an early deployable capability for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) by December 2020; and
  • Block II — comprising 186 vehicles to be delivered between February 2022 and January 2027.”

“The highest priority for Army is to replace the ASLAV fleet with a CRV [combat reconnaissance vehicle] due to obsolescence factors that constrain tactical employment and increase the cost of ownership. These obsolescence factors cannot be mitigated through upgrade and without replacement starting in 2020, a capability gap will result.”

https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/defence-procurement-combat-reconnaissance-vehicles-land400-phase2

Rheinmetall’ Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Redbank, Queensland, was opened in October 2020.

The last of the 25 Boxers, supposedly to be delivered from Germany by December 2020, won’t be delivered before June 2021.

According to the ANAO report, the planned final withdrawal date for the ASLAV fleet is December 2021.

For how many years will the capability gap in Army reconnaissance exist?  Replacement of the ASLAV is not scheduled to be completed before 2027.  Seems like the Hawkeis will be fully employed maintaining skills in the ACR, let alone the RAAC ARES.

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2 April 2021

RAAC ARES Platform to Maintain Skills?

The 1AR Assn advise that A Sqn 1 Armd Regt are currently operating a trials fleet of Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicles – Light in conjunction with their ASLAV troops. (Is this because of ASLAV unavailability, one wonders; ie. it’s not a ‘trial’ per se, but a means of maintaining recon skills in 1 Armd Regt?)  Surely the 211 Boxers to be procured (including 133 recon variants) will be sufficient to equip the six recon squadrons in the three ACRs. 

Before delving into the topic … an interesting footnote: The vehicle is named after a highly venomous snake, the Barkly Death Adder – Acanthophis Hawkei – which is found in the Barkly Tablelands 

The Hawkei is now in full production … 50 vehicles per month.  One presumes that the persistent reliability issues which have been reported, have been resolved; also, the safety ‘incident’ in Dec 2020 which brought usage to a stop pending an investigation.

The G-Wagon SRV [Special Reconnaissance Vehicle] has been used in a reconnaissance role by Special Forces.  Presumably the reconnaissance variant of the Hawkei will replace the SRV in this role.

Is it possible that the Hawkei trial being conducted by 1 Armd Regt is to evaluate its suitability as a means of maintaining mounted skills in RAAC ARES light cavalry regiments?  Interestingly, Hawkei can carry cavalry scouts and can be fitted with weapon and observation ‘pods’. The following refers.

A remotely controlled weapon station (RCWS) is installed in the Hawkei vehicle. It is an automated control weapon station principally used for light and medium-calibre weapons. The RCWS can accommodate remote control weapons encompassing 5.56mm, 7.62mm, and 12.7mm machine guns, 40mm automatic grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles and observation pods.  https://www.army-technology.com/projects/hawkei/

NOTE: I don’t think that I’ve forgotten to do a post before … sorry about 1 Apr (now below)

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1 April 2021

ANZAC Day or Anzac Day?

I was upset recently when the Canberra Times amended a letter I wrote to the Editor to change ANZAC Day to Anzac Day.  I expressed my annoyance/disappointment about this and was advised that the paper has to follow editorial guidelines.  I now appreciate that what I had assumed was correct, ie. always use ANZAC because it is an acronym and its origins should always be acknowledged.

About four years ago the AWM adopted the usage ‘ANZAC’ = military formation; all other uses = ‘Anzac’.  This is in accord with the ‘Protection of Anzac’ legislation; ie. the acronym ANZAC is used correctly only when referring to formations in the First and Second World Wars (the campaign in Greece re the latter).  Prior to the AWM’s decision above, it had generally used ANZAC.  The AWM and DVA are now in agreement as far as usage is concerned.  The Australian and NZ Governments both take this position.

While the Australian writers’ Centre takes the view that: “The full caps ANZAC is used only to refer to the army formation itself (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) but not to describe the people and events associated with it”, it acknowledges that some organisations (such as the RSL) believe that ANZAC is correct.

This quote is relevant: “From this summary we can see that ‘ANZAC’ is the acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and ‘Anzac’ is the name the soldiers of the AIF gave themselves during and after the Gallipoli campaign. That is why the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney, chooses the mixed case spelling. It is a memorial to the men and women who called themselves Anzacs. It is not the ANZAC Memorial as it is not a memorial to the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps.”  https://www.anzacmemorial.nsw.gov.au/our-stories/our-stories/anzac-acronym-or-proper-noun

This link is also relevant:

https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1617/Quick_Guides/TraditionsRituals

I’m sitting on the fence on this one, but will continue to use ANZAC.

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31 March 2021

‘Armouredadvocates’

The index for the Blog has been compiled since the beginning of ‘The Right Thing to Do VII’ at the start of 2021 (see it at the end of the post). Since then, 85 posts have been made. (How I wish I’d done it all along!)

I thought it might be of interest to summarise the number of posts in their various categories.

Results are copied below.  There may, or may not, be something to reflect on here.  I wonder what the grouping might be if this was done for all posts over the seven years that the Blog has been going.

1 Armoured Regiment Association    11

ADF                                                    2

Autobiography                                  2

AWM                                                  6

Defence Strategy                                7

Ethics                                                  7

LAND 400                                          3

RAAC                                                 33

RAAC ARES                                      6

RAAC Corporation                            2

War Crimes                                        6

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30 March 2021

Restructure Affecting 1 Armd Regt and ARES: Part 2

One of Armouredadvocates’ goals (Part 7 Intro above) is:

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

Following on from yesterday …

“1st Brigade’s Edinburgh Defence Precinct based 7th Battalion Mechanised Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR(Mech)) and 1st Armoured Cavalry Regiment (1AR – Armoured Cavalry Regiment) will form the foundation of a fourth combat brigade designated the 9th Brigade, rerolled as a heavy armoured combat manoeuvre element.” 

So … 1 Armd Regt and 7RAR (Mech) will provide the manoeuvre elements for the new 9 Brigade.  They will be supported by 9 Field Squadron, RAE, which will be raised as an Assault/Manoeuvre Support Squadron and will be equipped with the M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV) and the M1074 Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) under acquisition under Project Land 8160 (Under Armour Breaching & Bridging).

BUT … this still only allows the formation of a single battlegroup, ie. a tank squadron and two mech inf companies (with reconnaissance and armoured engineer support). Described as a “heavy armoured combat manoeuvre element”, a combat brigade, or whatever … 9 Brigade is still a battlegroup short because of the absence of a second tank squadron. 

The following is a gigantic falsehood: The future 2028 Army Objective Force 9th Brigade will constitute the Australian Army’s first true armoured brigade combat team capacity raised since the 2nd World War with the capacity to launch and sustain offensive operations through dense and sophisticated defences against both a peer or near peer opponent”.

The same number of armoured combat teams can be formed by the ACRs in 3 and 7 Brigades which also include single tank squadrons.  It’s not possible that Army would be substituting reconnaissance vehicles or IFVs for tanks, as was done in Vietnam with FSVs… or is it?

When is the tank fleet to be ‘right sized’ to 90, as Army has called for?

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29 March 2021

Restructure Affecting 1 Armd Regt and ARES

How long will it be before unmanned combat ground vehicles are part of the force structure?

The following about the 2028 Army Force Objective Plan, is part of an article posted on Veterans’ Web on 4 Dec 20:

“The Australian Army will undergo a massive reorganisation in the next eight years which will see additional combat brigades raised, a dedicated rocket artillery and missile brigade raised, an existing brigade refocused to digital warfare and the Army Reserve structure completely reconfigured with units equipped with next generation weapons and situational awareness capabilities.

The new expanded 21st Century Order of Battle is revealed in the Land Operational Concept Document which outlines Army’s plans for a 2028 Army Objective Force. Initial analysis reveals an augmented force that retains the vast bulk of existing combat manoeuvre elements, but with a new Joint Fires Brigade to control in the incoming NASAMS 2 Ground Based Air Defence entering service next year (Project Land 19 Phase 7B), the Long Range Fires Rocket Artillery and Long Range Missile capabilities to be acquired under Project Land 8113 and the Land Based (Anti Ship/Strike) Missile System to be acquired under Project Sea 4100. The three existing Combat Brigades will expand to four, with major rerolling of entire Brigades and the raising of a (fifth) high readiness Total Work Force (integrated Reserve) combat brigade with substantial combat power in Western Australia to finally redress the ground combat imbalance in the western third of the nation.

Major changes include the splitting of the Palmerston NT/Edinburgh SA based 1st Brigade into two separate Brigades with substantial rerolling of individual units. Under the proposed 2028 Army Objective Force, 1st Brigade will remain in Darwin and re role as an amphibious/littoral/light combat manoeuvre element with the existing 5th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (5RAR), 8th/12th Regiment Royal Australian Artillery (8/12RAA), 1st Combat Engineer Regiment (1CER), 1st Combat Signals Regiment (1CSR) and 1st Combat Service Support Battalion (CSSB), but be augmented with a re-raised 4th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment Amphibious (4RAR) in Pre Landing Force configuration. The Army’s 10th Force Support Battalion will re equip with new Littoral Manoeuvre – Light vessels to replace the inservice LCM8 and eventually field the Littoral Manoeuvre – Heavy amphibious platforms which will be concentrated at Larakeyah Barracks in Darwin with a detachment operating from the unit’s existing Ross Island Barracks in Townsville.

1st Brigade’s Edinburgh Defence Precinct based 7th Battalion Mechanised Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR(Mech)) and 1st Armoured Cavalry Regiment (1AR – Armoured Cavalry Regiment) will form the foundation of a fourth combat brigade designated the 9th Brigade, rerolled as a heavy armoured combat manoeuvre element.   Augmenting 7RAR and 1AR at 9th Brigade will be 9th Regiment Royal Australian Artillery (RAA), the former warehouse for the Army Reserve’s 81mm mortar equipped Light Battery units which will become regular and re equip with the next generation 155/52L AS9 Self Propelled Howitzer and its supporting AS10 Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicle and 9th Field Squadron Royal Australian Engineers who will be equipped with the next generation Heavy Armoured Capability Systems (assault support).”

http://www.veteranweb.asn.au/news/army-restructure-australia/#:~:text=Under%20the%20proposed%202028%20Army,Regiment%20(1CER)%2C%201st%20Combat

More information about the above will follow tomorrow.

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28 March 2021

Uniting Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians

I attended a public consultation session re the redevelopment of the AWM yesterday.  I’ve copied below the email I sent to the Redevelopment Team immediately after.

Dear All,

Thank you again for the presentations made earlier.

I’ve copied below the ‘Question’ I asked.

Aaron commented that I should make known any ideas I had in terms of rectifying this situation.  My suggestion is as follows:

Acknowledgement.  I believe that if the AWM’s Acknowledgement of Country was amended as shown below, it would go a long way to allowing indigenous and non-indigenous people to truly come together on ANZAC Day and other occasions …

“I acknowledge the original custodians of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal people, pay my respect to Elders past and present, and welcome all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with us today. I also acknowledge the suffering that indigenous people experienced in defence of their family, land, and way of life, in the past.”

I’m sure that if the concept was to be approved by the AWM and indigenous councils, even more appropriate wording could be found.

Best wishes,  Bruce Cameron

“It seems to me that the redevelopment project provides a wonderful opportunity to make the War Memorial something more than it is at present.  Rather than just more space and more exhibits … something unifying as far as our nation is concerned.

“For we are one and free”.  But we’re not as far as the Memorial is concerned. 

It stands only to honour those who have suffered in the defence of our country since around 1914 (with a small acknowledgement of colonial wars).  Rather than unifying the nation, it reinforces the devisiveness that plagues us. 

I can come here and reflect on the service and sacrifice of my earliest forebears, however, my indigenous neighbour cannot … despite the fact that we have a common bond in the service of our ancestors in defence of their land, family and way of life (for the First Nations peoples, since 1770) .

Can this shared bravery and commitment to our country not be acknowledged within the vast amount of additional space to be made available?  Can the War Memorial Act not be amended to allow this?

I’m not talking about recounting the story of the Frontier Wars; I’m talking about indigenous and non-indigenous people being able to stand together on ANZAC Day in an officially sanctioned tribute to ALL their forebears and their common suffering on behalf of those of us fortunate to be able to call ourselves Australians today.”

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27 March 2021

Operation Overlord/Battle of Long Khanh: 1AR Assn

A National Commemoration is to be held in Canberra for Operation Overlord/Battle of Long Khanh on 7 June 2021, 50 years to the day.  How does the history of 1 Armd Regt, as set on the 1 AR Assn website, refer to the Battle?

7 Jun 1971:  At 0500hrs two tank troops advance onto bunker system. The enemy is defeated.”

Wow!!  Talk about being underwhelmed by the significance of the tank action (apart from the fact that the reference is factually wrong. The other three battles deemed worthy of National Commemoration on their 50th Anniversary, are described in much greater detail by the 1AR Assn in the Regiment’s history; one has to wonder why of the Battle of Long Khanh is overlooked (and the tank crews disrespected in this way).  

The following is a synopsis of what happened …

In late May 1971, signals intelligence picked up indications of significant enemy activity in Long Khanh province.  A brigade operation was organised (one of the few to be conducted by the Australian Task Force).  3RAR was to be the attack force with tank support, while other units provided a cordon.  Late on 6 June 2021, 5 Platoon B Company 3RAR came across signs of enemy activity and heard voices. The plan was for artillery to brought down next morning, whereupon 5 Platoon would investigate.

The enemy did not abandon their position following the artillery bombardment.  The 3rd Battalion 33 NVA Regiment were determined to defend their position which had been strongly fortified.  5 Platoon suffered casualties and were pinned down by sustained and heavy enemy fire.  Artillery and mortar fire was brought down in support.

5 Troop C Squadron were about 900m north west of 5 Platoon. The tank troop started up and headed towards the infantry.  Not long after, an anti-tank rocket was fired at the lead tank.  The tank troop launched an attack. 

It then became apparent how big the enemy position was … 1000m east-west x 700m north-south.  It included all sorts of training facilities, such as huts, a lecture area with lectern and seating for 30, an obstacle course, and kitchens. Most of the bunkers were so strong, they would not collapse under the 53tonne weight of a tank.  Because of this and the fact that there were so many bunkers, tank crew commanders had to drop grenades into the entrances, as the tanks didn’t have sufficient ammunition to fire into every bunker to ensure that no enemy would attack them from behind.  At least one RPG was fired within its minimum range and didn’t detonate when it struck the armour; some were fired into trees above the turrets to wound the crews. 

A US helicopter gunship team came up on the tank radio frequency, describing the ordnance they were carrying.  “Where do you want it?” they were asked: “Fifty meters directly in front” was the response.  Fortunately, 5 Troop were joined by 3 Troop not long after.  Helicopter gunship support was maintained throughout.

The enemy had many chances to withdraw, however, it seems that they had decided to use their defences to inflict maximum casualties, while keeping escape routes open for as long as possible.  By this time, B Company had linked up with 5 Platoon and about 11am an attempt was made to repeat an ammunition resupply by 9 Sqn RAAF helicopter.  The enemy had a heavy machine gun ready and shot it down.   Finally, after a period of eight hours during which they had resolutely defended a position dominated by enemy fire, 5 Platoon were relieved by 6 Platoon.

CO 3RAR had earlier manoeuvred D Company, together with field engineers, to support 3 and 5 Troops in a clearance sweep through the position.  Forty-six bunkers, fighting pits, first aid stations and extensive living areas, were found.  The assault course included barbed wire obstacles.

The enemy’s ability to destabilise 1ATF’s withdrawal by mounting attacks against towns, villages and military posts, as well as against 1ATF itself, had been diminished. No tank crewmen were wounded; surprise and shock action acted in their favour.

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26 March 2021

The 1 AR Assn: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Minutes of the 1 AR Assn AGM and C’tee meetings are now posted on the 1AR Assn website (as well as being emailed to members).  How good is this!  It wasn’t so long ago that members had no idea what transpired at C’tee meetings and advocacy was adopted to change this.  The present situation reflects an open and transparent culture and is to be applauded.

Two matters in the Minutes of January’s AGM are also to be welcomed:

Condolence cards to NOK of deceased former members of the Regiment

The Secretary had distributed a copy of the Annual Report, including Financial Statements, by email and postal mail to all Association Members on 22 December 2020. An email was sent to all emailable Association Members on 15 January 2021 advising that any questions should be submitted to either the Secretary or the Treasurer prior to the AGM.

Condolence cards are not just sent to the NOK of deceased members of the Assn, but also to the NOK of former members of the Regiment who were not members of the Assn.  If this is the case (and not a misrepresentation) then the C’tee is to be applauded.  One would hope that this undertaking is widely known by the Regimental family.  Do the Assn and the Regiment work together in this regard, one wonders?

In respect to point two … the Financial Statement was sent to members in advance of the AGM.  This was something else that had been lobbied for, ie. members now have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the detail, rather than having to try and absorb it all in a few minutes at the AGM.

So why do we need to step back?

“BRIEFING ON COMMEMORATIONS IN CANBERRA for 2021 – Noel McLaughlin sought leave to address the AGM. Informal arrangements for the Meet and Greet (a la carte dinner) for 6 June 2021 (the evening before the Commemorative Service for Overlord/Long Khanh) at the Ainslie Football Club. An O group is also to be held at the same location after the Commemorative Service on 7 June 2021. An open invitation is extended to all members of C Squadron 1st Armoured who may wish to attend an informal gathering on both dates, with 3rd Cavalry Regiment and elements of D&E Platoon. Charlie Dearling is the Dining Member and point of contact.”

Omitted is any reference to the C Sqn 1 Armd Regt 50th Anniversary dinner to be held on 6 June 2021.  The 1 AR Assn C’tee declined to assist with this and now decline to help create awareness.  Currently 100 people have paid to attend the dinner and 50 for the lunch the following day.  ‘After Dinner’ addresses are to made by the Head of Corps and President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia.  One would have hoped that the 1 AR Assn might have supported a function such as a dinner to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of a 1 Armd Regt squadron’s active service.  The mind set of those involved in this decision beggars belief … 

Originally, the dinner was to include 3 Cav personnel, however, Charlie Dearling and Noel Mc Laughlin decided that a separate 3 Cav function would be held if the Commemoration was to go ahead.  They declined to say anything to the dinner organiser, however, and arrangements went ahead for a joint function for over 12 months.  Finally, Charlie said in an email (not meant to be shared): “I suppose that I’d better inform you know who”.  He won’t now return my calls nor answer my emails. 

“OPERATION OVERLORD/BATTLE OF LONG KHANH – Peter Rosemond sought leave to address the AGM. Peter indicated that the Commemoration was a ticketed event and those members wishing to attend must provide Peter, as the Association’s main point of contact, with names and address due to COVID-19 restrictions.”  This is incorrect.  No more need be said …

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25 March 2021

The Honorary Colonel/Patron Quandary

The following was included in the Minutes of the last 1AR Assn C’tee meeting:

The President advised the meeting the current patron (MAJGEN Craig Orme, DSC, AM, CSC [Retd]) had been appointed as the Honorary Colonel of the Corps as well as for B Squadron 3/4 Cavalry Regiment. As a result, he would be standing down as our Patron. The President asked for opinions as to whether the Association should continue with the tradition of inviting the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment to be the new Patron of the Association. There was general agreement that the tradition should be followed and that a letter of invitation be forwarded to the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment.

It used to be that Maj Gen Roger Powell, AM, was: Representative Hon Col of the RAAC; Hon Col 1 Armd Regt; and Patron 1 AR Assn.  His 1 Armd Regt and 1AR Assn duties were subsequently taken over by Maj Gen Craig Orme DSC, AM, CSC. Craig has now assumed the position of Rep Hon Col of the RAAC, meaning that he can no longer remain as Hon Col 1 Armd Regt or Patron 1AR Assn.

The 1 AR Assn are going forward a letter to the Hon Col 1 Armd Regt, asking that he become the Patron of the 1AR Assn.  But, as far as is publicly known, the Hon Col of 1 Armd Regt is yet to be appointed … or has he/she?

Note.  It’s interesting that the Rep Hon Col of the RAAC cannot also be the Hon Col of 1 Armd Regt, but CAN also be the Hon Col of B Sqn 3/4 Cav. One would have to assume that it’s about the ‘span of command’, ie. the work load associated with being both RAAC and Armd Regt Hon Cols. But Roger Powell did it.

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24 March 2021

Roger Tingley MC: The Book

Everyone knows about the scorpions, but this is an interesting article posted on the 3 Cav FB page ….

Even more interesting is Roger’s post in relation to it:

“Greetings Blue. Although a gentle conservationist, I still found the article interesting, as my Grandad hunted leopard/panther/tiger etc in Vietnam in the 1920s. Incl what you & I once called 3 Corps and told tales to his sons of elephants towing carts/cats on leashes in the streets of Hanoi/Saigon/Vung Tau. Dad went back with him in the early 30s, boxing/hunting/carousing etc and then, very briefly, as one of Slims mob, in 45.”

I understand that the story of Roger’s forebears will be included in his forthcoming book which will recount his own amazing story.

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23 March 2021

WO2 Tom Phillips, mid, RAAC

DA NANG, VIETNAM. 1965-12-25. INFORMAL GROUP PORTRAIT OF SOME MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY TRAINING TEAM VIETNAM (AATTV) CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS DAY AT AUSTRALIA HOUSE. LEFT TO RIGHT: BACK ROW: WARRANT OFFICER PHILLIPS (DIED OF WOUNDS 1966- 03-20), CAPTAIN BELLEVILLE (KILLED IN ACTION 1966-02-12), WARRANT OFFICERS WADE, STOCKLEY, WARRANT OFFICER LEES (KILLED IN ACTION 1966-01-13), MASTER SERGEANT EUGENE JORDAN (US ARMY); FRONT ROW: WARRANT OFFICERS MACPHERSON, DOWSETT, MAJOR MC NEILL, WARRANT OFFICER KENT, AUSTRALIAN CAPTAIN OF A MERCHANT VESSEL IN DA NANG HARBOUR, WARRANT OFFICER SUTHERLAND AND WARRANT OFFICER SELMES (WOUNDED IN ACTION 1966-03-19).

Following the background below is Tom’s citation.  Clearly, at a minimum, he deserved to be awarded the DCM or MM.  Why wasn’t he?  Because he was killed.  The only awards that could be made posthumously at the time were the mid or VC.  Thankfully, that time has passed!

From the RAACA NSW Newsletter:

The late WO2 Tom Phillips, previously buried at Terendak, Malaysia, will be reinterred in the Military Section, Woden Cemetery, Canberra at 11am on Mon 6 June [2016]. A guard will be provided by RAAC members from the School of Armour. The Corps RSM will be in attendance, together with other serving and former members of the RAAC.

WO2 Phillips was born in Wales. He was the first member of the RAAC to be killed in Vietnam. Aged 38, he died of his wounds on 20 Mar 66 after being shot in a contact while attached to an ARVN Regional Forces company (as a member of AATTV). WO2 Phillips sacrificed his life on behalf of his fellow men, he was Mentioned in Dispatches posthumously.

His Citation:

Warrant Officer Thomas Dudley Phillips enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in June 1959 after previously serving for several years in the British Army. He then served continuously with the lst Armoured Regiment at Puckapunyal until posted to the Australian Army Training team in October 1965, and assigned as an adviser to Regional Force units in the central Vietnamese Province of Quang Ngai.

On 18 March 1966, Warrant Officer Phillips was the adviser with the 423rd Regional Force Company on an operation in an area approximately 15 kilometres south of Quang Ngai City. He was accompanied by Warrant Officer John Neville Selmes, who was advising another Regional Force Company, and three United States Army Lieutenants. At 0810 hours both forces were engaged by a significantly superior Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Regular Force and a vicious fire fight ensued at close range. After approximately fifteen minutes all the Regional Force troops, with the exception of their Company Commanders, abandoned the position leaving the advisers to oppose the enemy alone and personal weapons only available since requests for artillery and air support had been refused.

At this point, whilst the group of advisers was attempting to withdraw, one of the US Lieutenants was wounded and Warrant Officer Selmes went to his assistance. While Selmes assisted the wounded officer to a safer position, Warrant Officer Phillips continuously exposed himself to heavy enemy fire in order to engage the enemy effectively and cover his comrades’ movement. This enabled the wounded officer to be taken to a rear ward position from which support could again be called.

While Warrant Officer Phillips was providing covering fire and successfully impeding the enemy’s’ approach he was seriously wounded in the stomach by a burst of automatic fire. He was seen to stumble but nevertheless recovered and continued to give fire support until he could no longer stand. After his subsequent recovery by the remaining advisers and as a result of these wounds, he died in hospital on the morning of 20 March 1966.

During this engagement all the advisers were wounded. By his courageous action, both before and after being wounded, Warrant Officer Phillips enabled the remainder to reorganise their position and eventually arrange evacuation for the whole party, Warrant Officer Phillips sacrificed his life in this endeavour and his conduct was in the highest Australian tradition of courage and professional dedication.

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22 March 2021

The Role of the RAAC ARES.

A post from last month’s ADF ‘Our People’ Facebook page is copied below.

Previous Blog posts have lamented a clear role being defined for the RAAC ARES.  Could this be a breakthrough, ie. the Role of the RAAC ARES is to support and augment ARA RAAC units’.

“Pop smoke for the reveal of our latest armoured leaders, including our 4th/19th Prince of Wales’ Light Horse members LT Alakus and LT Arrowsmith!

Graduates shown here with two Light Armoured Vehicles at the end of the final part of their Royal Australian Armoured Corps, Regimental Officers Basic Course.

This course teaches trainees to lead soldiers in light cavalry units, increasing the capability of these trooper[s] and units to support [and] augment the Australian Regular Army [Armoured] Cavalry Regiments.

The trainees (left to right): LT Thomas Case 12/16 Hunter River Lancers, LT Danyal Alakus 4/19 Prince of Wales Light Horse Regiment, CAPT Jaime Brownlie 1/15 Royal New South Wales Lancers, LT Oscar Arrowsmith 4/19 Prince of Wales Light Horse Regiment, LT Kai Neagle 3/9 Light Horse, and LT Natalie McHugh 2/14 Light Horse Regiment”.

#ROBC #OfficersBasicCourse #OurPeople 

https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/ourpeople

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21 March 2021

AWM Redevelopment Part 2

The Blog on 14 March referred to the public consultation sessions to be conducted by the AWM in relation to the redevelopment proposals and the submission that I’d made in this respect.

A consultation session was held by the AWM yesterday evening.  I referred to my earlier submission pointing out that:  

“Australian armoured experience should be represented not just by AFV technology, but also by a well-informed and engaging interpretation of what it was like for AFV crews fighting inside them; in other words, there is a need to “insert a human presence into objects relating to our military heritage”.

I had previously suggested that “One way to achieve this could be vide those headphones used in art galleries.  The sound (and possibly visual) sequence depicts the cacophony of noise (engine, tracks, guns, radio, explosions etc) with individuals relating their experiences as an overlay”.

I was pleased that they were very supportive, explaining (as an example) that they had audio tapes from a Bushmaster that detonated an IED in Afghanistan and video footage taken by the mini-team travelling behind.  There is still a lot more to do, however.   The Japanese Ha-Go tank from Milne Bay will be featured in one of the new exhibitions.  The significance of this will be lessened if they continue to maintain that it had a crew of four (rather than three).

They are hoping for more input from veterans: gallerydevelopment@awm.gov.au

In relation to the above, I emailed the AWM Team as follows:

Many thanks for your presentations yesterday evening.  One question if I may.

It was stated a couple of times that the AWM is seeking to consult with as many veterans as possible. Could you advise how this ‘reach out’ is being conducted.

I’ve not heard of any such thing and am able to pass on details to a number of veteran organisations.

Have you provided guidelines for the nature of the input that you’re seeking?

Their response will be interesting.

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20 March 2021

ANZAC Day

What contradictions this commemoration raises. 

I wrote to the Canberra Times to say that I was disappointed that they had changed my reference to ‘ANZAC’ in a letter to the Editor, to ‘Anzac’.  The response I received stated that there was no option available, as they had to follow the paper’s Style Guide.  This is the same as that for the ABC. 

DVA’s protocol, however, is a little different: “DVA only uses ‘ANZAC’ when referencing the Corps itself and uses ‘Anzac’ in all other circumstances; the Australian War Memorial (AWM) generally uses ‘ANZAC’, given its focus on historical records and memorabilia.

Seems to me that if we can’t come to a consensus in this respect, we’ve no hope in terms of bigger issues, such as ….

I was asked if I’d be attending the ANZAC Day ceremony.  My response was:

“I won’t be taking part, as I believe that ANZAC day should be a commemoration for ALL those who have put their lives on the line to defend ‘our’ Country. This includes our indigenous brothers and sisters whose forebears confronted the ‘occupying forces’ and who sort to defend their families, possessions, and lands.”

Why should they be commemorated?  Because they stood for the same values as all Australians have done in the past and do so today!  They could’ve turned and fled in the face of overwhelming force and weaponry.  They could’ve succumbed and simply given up.

But they didn’t.  They stood firm and defended their families and ‘human rights’.  They displayed incredible bravery.  The same bravery displayed by latter-day Australians in South Africa, at Gallipoli, at Tobruk, in Vietnam, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Australians in these conflicts stood firm and defended the values embodied by their nation, just as our first nations people did when their country was threatened. 

It is only just that we honour them and their bravery, in the same way that we honour all others who have done the same.

The AWM Charter might not allow it to honour the bravery of indigenous Australians who defended their country, their families, and their human rights … in the same manner as latter- day Australians.

But, is this significant?  Does the AWM Charter really dictate how we as a nation honour our forebears?  Of course not.  But that is what is happening. 

Instead of looking only at the ‘regulations’ which govern us, we should be looking at the values which bind us. 

Our national anthem states that “We are one”.  But is this really the case? 

If we were really ‘one’, then we would stand together on ANZAC Day and honour ALL our forebears who had suffered in defence of their nation. 

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19 March 2021

Charitable Act by 3 Cav (Vietnam) Assn

The Blog post on 12 March 2021 concerned the ‘Tongala Centurion’.  The information below provides some background and is taken from the latest 3 Cav (Vietnam) Sitrep newsletter.  How good to see an ESO acting in this way … standing firm and setting an example in terms of upholding core values in today’s society.

“JOLLY CHRISTMAS AT THE AVENUE OF HONOUR

Early on Christmas morning, two juveniles were in the Avenue of Honour, climbing on the tank, and when off it, one continuously kicked the public safety warning signs erected around the tank, warning of the dangers of climbing upon the tank, and to keep off. The signs were significantly damaged, and will need replacing.

The two offenders were easily identified by the CCTV covering the area of the tank, and a report was made to the Tongala Police, along with the visual evidence of the vandalism. On interview, the elder of the two juveniles admitted the damage to the signs, and was Cautioned officially for the event. No offer was made by the offenders to restore the damaged signs. The event was placed on Facebook before Police action, and it was extremely heartening to see that this type of behaviour was totally abhorrent to all.

There have since been many offers received by us to pay for the replacement of the signs, and we sincerely thank everyone for their concern, and their generosity. However, our view is that the townspeople of Tongala should not be the ones to shoulder this burden, and the signs will be replaced by our Association. It is an unfortunate occurrence to damage property belonging to a War Memorial, dedicated to the memory of those young lives lost in action in Vietnam so many years ago. However, we believe that this is a “one off” event, and will not be repeated.

Again, we thank everyone in Tongala for their concern and messages of goodwill that have been forwarded to us. We look forward to making the Avenue a place of local pride, enhancing the town for local people and tourists alike. Our best wishes to all for a better new year ahead, Sincerely, Dallas Burrage 3rd Cavalry Regiment (Vietnam) Association.

(Editor’s note…this is a copy of the article sent to the Tongala Times newsletter. The signs have been replaced, $154.00)”

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18 March 2021

The Echidna Strategy

The following article was published in the Lowy Institute’s ‘The Interpreter’ earlier this month: ‘How Far Would Australia go in Defence of the Rules Based Order?’

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/how-far-would-australia-go-defence-rules-based-order

There is much to commend it, but the matters it raises should all be able to be seen clearly in the statement of our [Australia’s] strategic interests

The 2020 Strategic Update states that the ADF is to be capable to deterring threats to Australia’s interests and responding with capable force if deterrence fails.

 file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/Factsheet_Strategic_Update.pdf

But what are Australia’s strategic interests?  Why are they not specified?  Presumably they include our offshore oil and gas fields, our freedom of navigation and aviation, our fishing zones, the sovereignty of our island territories.  But how do they relate to military assistance to other countries in our region if they were to be threatened?

Until the strategic interests that we would seek to defend are defined, there is no basis for public assurance as far as the capability of the ADF is concerned.

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17 March 2021

The RAAC in the Public Eye

I’ve written about this before …

RAAC tank, cavalry, reconnaissance, and APC units haven’t existed for over five years.  But who would know according to ‘official’ public information.  It would seem that no-one wishes to tell the public about armoured cavalry regiments, or the fact that the RAAC no longer operates APCs.  The examples are endless …

“Units of the RAAC include tank regiments, reconnaissance regiments and armoured personnel carrier regiments.” 

RAAC Corporation website:  http://www.raaccorpltd.org.au/

One might have thought that the RAAC Corporation, above all others, would keep the RAAC public info up to date.

“The main types of [ARA] 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. 

Defence website: https://www.army.gov.au/our-people/organisation-structure/army-corps/royal-australian-armoured-corps

“Drive formidable armoured vehicles such as tanks, armoured personnel carriers or combat reconnaissance vehicles; operating their weapons and managing basic maintenance.”

Someone forgot to mention that an “Armoured Vehicle Crew Trooper (Armoured Cavalry)” no longer has anything to do with APCs.

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

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16 March 2021

LAND 400: Who’s in Charge?

Image: ADPR

A public media ‘event’ for LAND 400 Phase 3 was held in Canberra last week.  See:

But who’s primarily responsible for the final recommendation?  (Although you’d have to say that it has to be the Lynx.)

The Head of the CASG’s Armoured Vehicle Division is Major General David Coghlan, an RAA officer.  Maybe this is appropriate in terms of suggesting whether or not the IFV should be crewed by RA Inf or RAAC crews; but I suspect that this decision is to be made well apart from CASG.  Maybe the next Head of the Armoured Vehicle Division should be someone who has personal experience in armoured vehicle operations (?).

See:  https://www1.defence.gov.au/about/capability-acquisition-sustainment-group/our-leadership

But who has direct oversight of LAND 400?  Brig Greg McGlone (an aviator) was the previous Director General AFV within CASG. But he left suddenly late last year and there doesn’t seem to be any public info as to his replacement.  (Sarah Myers was acting in the position.)

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15 March 2021

RAAC Members Doing What They Do Best.

Going under the radar … the latest 2/14 LHR (QMI) Assn newsletter contains an update from the CO which is the sort of information which I believe should be made more widely known.  (I won’t comment as to how this should best be done.)  We have much to be proud of in terms of those serving today!

 http://www.2-14lhrqmi.asn.au/index_htm_files/2-14%20LHR%20QMI%20Newsletter%20Dec%202020.pdf

I’ve advised the 2/14 QMI Assn that the DSO awarded to the CO for his service in the British Army, should take precedence before the CSC awarded to him by Australia.

ttps://www.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/pmc/Honours/order-of-wearing.pdf

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14 March 2021

AWM Redevelopment: AFV Exhibits

      The AWM is conducting consultation sessions re its redevelopment: Most of these sessions will be held online, however, two face-to-face sessions will be hosted at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra [on 18 and 27 march 2021].

I, and a number of others, have previously engaged with the AWM re the fact that AFV exhibits presently highlight technical characteristics of vehicles, but fail to represent the challenges confronting the crews operating them.

I will be attending (possibly RAAC Corporation reps will also be present) … if anyone would like to suggest questions that they’d like to have asked, please let me know.   I’ve copied a submission I previously provided to the AWM below.

AWM Redevelopment

There is an opportunity to provide better understanding as the combat experience of AFV crews.  Displaying a tank is one thing, making known what it was like to be a crew member fighting the vehicle during combat … is something else entirely.

There is a fallacy abroad that members of tank crews were protected from enemy fire and, therefore, their experience should not be portrayed as explicitly in closing with and engaging the enemy, as that of infantry.   Of course, nothing is further from the truth. 

Australian armoured experience should be represented not just by AFV technology, but also by a well-informed and engaging interpretation of what it was like for AFV crews fighting inside them.  As has been concluded by expert studies (see below), there is a need to “insert a human presence into objects relating to our military heritage”.

Understanding the Bravery of AFV Crews

Some quotes to emphasis the extent of the misunderstanding of the vulnerability of AFVs, and therefore, the bravery of their crews, follow.  That immediately below was one of many in response to the AWM’s request for feedback re the (then) new Vietnam Gallery:

“The caption accompanying a weapon display states that when the enemy acquired the RPG7, Australian tanks and APCs could be penetrated.  This infers that the RPG2 could do neither.  This is incorrect.  The RPG2 could penetrate APCs and Centurion tanks; the latter, anywhere other than the front of the hull and [front of the] turret.”

I expanded on this in a later letter to the AWM Director (2008)

“Those responsible for the new galleries deserve much credit for all they have achieved.  There is one aspect, however, that I would like to mention to you.  In writing my book on the history of Australian tank operations in Vietnam, I frequently come across a myth that the Centurion tank was immune to enemy direct fire anti-armour weapons.  The impression created by this myth is one of tanks pushing through the jungle, their crews ‘cocooned’ safely within their armour.  Of course, the opposite is the case.

The armour thickness of the Centurion was: turret front, 152mm; turret side, 115mm; hull sides, 20-50mm.  Enemy weapons were able to penetrate armour as follows: RPG7, 320mm; 75 RCL, 235mm; RPG2, 175mm; 57 RCL, 110mm.  The result is that Centurions were vulnerable to all anti-armour direct fire weapons, particularly the RPG7 and 75mm RCL. 

A quick check of my draft shows that Centurions were penetrated by RPGs through the front of the turret at least three times (five crew WIA); four times through the side of the turret (six WIA); and once through the side of the hull (three WIA).  Of course, the enemy did not have to penetrate the armour to temporarily ‘knock out’ a tank.  Inadequate optics and ventilation meant that crews could not ‘close down’ in the jungle.  This led to another ten crewmen being WIA as a result of shrapnel.”  [Of course, mines were an additional threat, with two KIA and ten WIA.]

An extract from the Epilogue to my book

“An information panel in the Australian War Memorial’s Vietnam Gallery refers to Centurions as ‘being nearly impervious to most enemy weapons’. This creates a false impression. Tank crewmen knew only too well that their vehicles could be penetrated by RPG2s, RPG7s, 57mm RCLs, 75mm RCLs, and even 12.7mm machine guns. Furthermore, because they were compelled to operate with open hatches, they were vulnerable to sniper fire, shrapnel, and satchel charges. Not always being able to travel off-road, tanks were susceptible to mine attack, something that the enemy exploited.

A tank is more than just an armoured vehicle, however. Having closed with the enemy, it is the crew who bring its guns to bear. It is their spirit and determination to achieve fire superiority at the point of battle, despite the risks, that is at the heart of armoured warfare. Rather than being immune to enemy fire, Centurions achieved success through the bravery and boldness of their crews and the shock action which resulted. The RAEME crews and RAE mini-teams who accompanied them displayed equal courage in putting themselves in harm’s way on behalf of their Country.

ANNEX A.  Relevant Studies Elsewhere.

Interestingly, exhibits at the Imperial War Museum (London) have been described in similar terms:

“Much of the Imperial War Museum’s displays are technology-focused, especially in the museum’s Large Exhibits Gallery. Here, guns, tanks and aircraft are displayed clean and undamaged, presenting a sanitised version of war, which emphasises technology rather than the context in which the objects were used, the people who made and used them, and the effects they had on their intended targets. The artefacts’ captions concentrate on their technical details.”

https://www.jcms-journal.com/articles/10.5334/jcms.7013/

Innovation in the British Army Museum shows that representing the experience of an AFV crewman is not completely out of the question. 

“IED Alley is a corridor in the museum which has been artfully designed so as to replicate a village street in Iraq, complete with a few hidden IED spots.  IED, of course, means Improvised Explosive Device, that dreaded modern incarnation of the booby trap which, perhaps more than any other weapon, has come to represent the nature of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I doubt whether the general public is even aware of how profoundly unsettling this small, contrived space in the museum can be to soldiers who have encountered the actual thing in real life – upon stepping into that exhibit a veteran instantly finds himself recognizing the suspicious objects, the blind spots, and the dead ground that in another time and place would mean that something terrible and deadly was lying in wait, very close by.  It was not an exhibit I lingered in for very long.”

https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/museumstudies/museumsociety/documents/volumes/haymond

  1.  

One way to achieve this could be vide those headphones used in art galleries.  The sound (and possibly visual) sequence depicts the cacophony of noise (engine, tracks, guns, radio, explosions etc) with individuals relating their experiences as an overlay

Another quote from the above article: “The cloister-like sterility of a museum can present a one-dimensional depiction of war, but most of the reality of the experience is necessarily lost in the distillation.”  

It has been argued that by presenting weapons as pieces of technology, their original context is made less apparent. In other words, this masks the fact that they were devices used or at least designed to kill people. Raths (2013) described the exhibition of tanks at Germany’s Tank Museum, Munster. Large numbers of fully restored tanks were displayed in neat rows without a trace of their former fates in battle. Textual interpretation was offered only in terms of their technical details. Raths argued that this method of display allowed visitors to forget that the tanks were ‘built by human beings, were filled with human beings and were used against human beings’. He commented that this ‘sterile’ method was a way of masking the horrors of war with technical fascination and this made it difficult for visitors to see these objects from other perspectives.

Raths goes on to argue that efforts to display the tanks differently, to encourage multiple interpretations, is something that the visitors would have to have forced upon them, as many are happy to enjoy the technicality of the object without considering what it did. Winter (2013) also suggested that those who develop fascinations with weapons dislike the display of their violent effects, as this spoils their idealized view of these supposedly thrilling objects

Let us also return to some of the factors that influence how an object contributes to the creation of representations of war. One thing that was highlighted was the way that these objects are connected with people. If museums want to influence a visitor’s outlook on conflict by displaying material culture, then surely they should respect those people linked to the objects who actually experienced it. When displaying military objects it is very useful to consider who made it, who used it, who it was used upon or who it was taken from. Efforts should be made not only to insert a human presence into objects relating to our military heritage, but also to humanise the enemies that fought against our soldiers. …. Yet it could be said that the adoption of certain approaches to displaying military objects means that the personal element of the objects are lost or become less apparent. Wood (1987:65) made the important point that

Military history is about people… However sophisticated the weapon systems become, the service man and woman will always be there and it is their presence, their story, that lies at the root of military history.

https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/museumstudies/museumsociety/documents/volumes/scott

ANNEX B:  The Stress Experienced by AFV Crews on Active Service

Purpose. 

The aim of this paper is to draw attention to some of the factors which may have affected the mental health of Armoured Corps Vietnam veterans, in order to better anticipate the needs of future veterans separating from the Service. 

 Human Factors in General.   

When considering the performance of an AFV, there are obvious characteristics which affect its capability, such as suspension, armour protection, number of rounds carried, visibility provided for crew to control vehicle movement and acquire targets, ease of maintenance, etc etc. 

These factors are taken into account when choosing between two contenders for a particular combat role (such as with the LAND 400 combat reconnaissance vehicle at present). 

But what are the factors which determine … not how well the crew can fulfil their responsibilities, but rather how safe and confident they feel, eg. whether or not they are likely to suffer anxiety in any of its forms when occupying their crew station? 

The British Defence Standard for Designers of Military Land Vehicles acknowledges that identifying these is far from an easy task as “human factors issues are not always quantifiable, unlike engineering parameters”.  Furthermore, “humans do not all react in the same way” and their performance varies “with stress, tiredness and extreme environmental conditions”.  To complicate matters, man is adaptable and often compensates for “deficiencies in system design to the eventual detriment of his own efficiency, safety, health or well-being”.

Morale. 

There are two main determinants of the degree to which AFV crewmen feel ‘comfortable’ in terms of their survivability.  Foremost is their confidence in the overall superiority of the system in which they are a part (ie. their commanders at all levels, their battle grouping, and their equipment) … vis a vis the enemy.  Following from this, is their confidence regarding the provisions which have been made for their individual protection. 

What happens, however, when a loss or reversal in combat is suffered (eg. an AFV is penetrated, causing crew casualties). It is understandable that confidence in the superiority of the overall system is reduced, while provisions for individual survivability are also called into question. 

Matters Affecting Confidence in Individual Survivability

All military training is conducted on the basis that it equips service personnel with skills superior to those of the enemy.  This means that AFV crewmen are confident in meeting their responsibilities when under fire.  They know that their fellow crew members are similarly trained and they will support each other.  

When the enemy demonstrates that they possess an equivalent ability, AFV crew have to accept that their vehicle could be penetrated by an anti-armour weapon or severely damaged by an anti-tank mine, leading to a catastrophic ammunition fire.  Apart from the obvious anxiety of being wounded or killed at any time, the following matters are some of those which become particularly important:

  • Being able to exit the AFV quickly if it is ‘knocked out’ or experiences a fire (particularly important for someone like a tank gunner who does not have direct access to the outside);
  • Knowing that the vehicle fire-fighting system will always operate immediately and effectively;
  • Being assured of the fire/flash retardant capability of crew combat clothing;
  • Being kept informed of what is happening beyond the AFV itself and not being forced to imagine the possibilities;
  • Being able to maintain contact with other crew members and not put in a situation of feeling isolated and alone (as can happen when the inter-communication system fails);
  • Knowing that medical support will ensure that all wounded will immediately receive life-saving treatment and evacuation;
  • Coming to terms with the nature of the wounds inflicted on the enemy by the enormous firepower of AFVs;
  • Overcoming a feeling of isolation by virtue of being in a different part of the AFV to the rest of the crew;
  • Having to obey Rules of Engagement which meant that the AFV had to be fired on before it could take action to defend itself; and
  • Being confined in an environment in which poisonous creatures such as scorpions, spiders, or snakes might be concealed.

Loss of confidence in any of these areas will significantly increase the anxiety and fear that comes with the stress of battle.  Should information overload occur in this digital age, the situation will be exasperated. 

Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

One definition of PTSD is a particular set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event which threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them.  It is generally recognised that it is not only the experience of a single traumatic event which can generate these reactions, other stressful situations (especially if repeated over and over) can have the same effect. 

Conclusion.

AFVs, by definition, operate at the forefront of operations against the enemy. Even if a crewman does not directly experience a traumatic event, being enclosed in a vehicle which could be penetrated by an enemy rocket or detonate an anti-tank mine at any time, gives rise to stressful feelings associated with being wounded or killed, being trapped inside an AFV and burnt to death; and/or being abandoned in a disabled vehicle on the battlefield.  These thoughts are often made worse by a lack of communication with other crew members, feelings of isolation, and a constant uncertainty about what is happening around him. 

There are unique factors which impact on the stress experienced by the crews of AFVs on active service.  These must be taken into account when any assessment is made of their mental health.

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13 March 2021

1 AR Assn : Anonymous Threat

I have received a letter from “Y Ivor Klew” {Dandenong Letter Centre 996-4, 12.36pm. 2 Mar 21}.  There was no address. He/she included a photocopy of the 1AR Assn Constitution (despite the fact that, after considerable lobbying, it is now available on the Internet).

Ivor takes issue with the Introduction to my Blog in which I make the statements copied below.  In particular, he/she states that no provision for life memberships was included in the draft. As one of those principally responsible for the draft I referred to, I beg to differ.

If I don’t apologise on the Blog, my untruths [will] become public knowledge on at least one, if not more, face book pages.  What rocks do these people climb out from under?

Wow! Someone is going to criticise me on Facebook page that I am not permitted to access, should I wish to respond. How gutless is this? I don’t take kindly to threats. [I assume that the person concerned is a ‘she’, as they obviously don’t have the balls to sign their name to their letter.]

My response has been copied to both the President and Secretary of the 1AR Assn.

Extracts from the Blog …

“The story continues …  The final Constitution approved by the then C’tee differed from that which our 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.)

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 continued.”]

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12 March 2021

Tongala Centurion

The info below was posted on the 3 Cav Forum:

“The Centurion in the Avenue of Honour down at Tongala has commenced to be sand blasted and spray painted. Greg Lyle of Kyabram started on Saturday last, and sandblasted it, before applying the first undercoat on Sunday. The undercoat was then covered with a red oxide (hence the pink tank), however, the final coat was not able to be placed on today (Monday 8th) as it rained early this morning. Greg will come back and finish the job at the end of this coming week, or the weekend.

All going well, we should have the complete installation of the tank completed a few days after the tank is sprayed. Already the explanatory plaque has been placed in front of the tank, and the seats concreted into position around the tank and Avenue itself. Traffic bollards have been installed along the side entranceway into the Avenue, to stop cars driving into and over the future footpath/pedestrian area.”

The tank concerned is ARN 169120.  It wasn’t used in Vietnam; but a bit of background from one of my much earlier Blog posts is copied below. (I attended the 2004 ceremony.)

From Roger Tingley, MC: “Way back in 1964, I was a C Sqn Gunner (tp ldr Don Gazzard) on ARN 169120 during the Paratus Cup shoot and after seeing your reply on ‘Cromwell’, wonder where ‘120 ‘is now.

1 Tp Sgt’s crew was Poole/Green/Tingley/Prickett (3 made ossifer for their sins) & ‘twas the only tank in the troop ‘completely’ operational by the end of the shoot, despite a small turret fire: Whereat the ‘L’ riding on top in some panic, screamed a general bailout & whilst wielding a fire extinguisher, somehow hit the tank gunner (last out) on the head with said extinguisher, knocking him back onto the tank floor.  Can’t recall 120’s given name … probably because I spent most of my time looking over my shoulder for the Tp Cpl …on whose ‘—-‘list I ever seemed to be.”

From RAACA (NSW) Armour newsletter 2006: “Tongala Project – Avenue of Honour Centurion Tank”

‘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 of 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 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.’

 (Photo: The late Col Filtness).

One has to wonder why the 1AR Assn is not involved …

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11 March 2021

Leadership 2

Following on from 2 March, I found the following (posted on The Cove) worth watching …

https://cove.army.gov.au/article/link-icymi-make-your-bed

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10 March 2021

Wounded or Injured : Does it Matter? 

This matter was raised on another Forum. I’ve copied my response below:

“A former troop sergeant, Jim de Turt, once said to me: “the next highest award after WIA, is KIA!“.

Re ‘injured’ [on active service]… this can either be Battle Casualty (BCAS) or Non-BCAS.  Someone who is hit by a falling tree branch during an assault on an enemy position is a BCAS; someone who trips over a tent peg while drunk on active service, is a non-BCAS.  Both were injured.

We had a prolonged debate with the AWM a few years back.  Two RAAF pilots were flying an aircraft when it’s ‘windscreen’ was hit by ground fire.  They received serious lacerations as a result of the shattered glass.  The AWM had a report which said that they were injured and this is what the public information stated. Of course, they were wounded as a direct result of enemy action.  I believe that the matter was finally resolved in favour of ‘wounded’.

I lobbied some years back for those who were wounded to have some form of recognition for each occasion this happened; also for recognition for each ‘rotation’ that someone was deployed to on active service.  [Wound stripes used to be worn.]

If recognition was to be given for each time someone was injured during military service, we’d need another Army to process the paperwork.  

Postscript: The Vietnam Wall in Washington shows the emphasis that should be afforded to those who were KIA or DOW.  Only if it can be shown that death was directly attributed to enemy action, will a name be listed on the Wall.  Those whose death resulted from illness, injury or other cause, have their names listed on a commemorative roll inside the Wall.  It takes those managing the Memorial an enormous amount of time to process applications, but they believe that it’s worth it.”

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9 March 2021

Vale: Kevin John Rowe, 21 July 1935- 5 February 2021

From Bill Burton …

He was a well-known and respected Troop Sergeant and member of the 1AR, ‘A’ Squadron, 4/19 PWLH and the Training WO at 3/9 SAMR.  He also served with the Brits during the Malaysian Emergency, and was with WO2 JA ‘Chesty’ Bond, in Vietnam, when he was KIA on ANZAC Day 1969, after an NVA soldier lobbed a satchel charge into the cargo hatch of ‘Chesty’s’ M113.  Kevin had only just debussed the M113 with his section of HQ Coy, South Vietnamese soldiers prior to the charge exploding.

I had the honour of serving with Kevin in ‘A’ Squadron, 4/19 PWLH from 1963-1966 and 3/9 SAMR from 1971-1974.  He was an excellent soldier and a great character with an outrageous sense of humour as well.  He also got up to some hilarious capers when he was a bit younger, it didn’t pay dividends to be too close to him when he was up to mischief, one could very easily be left holding the ‘can’, hence his nickname “Animal”. 

On one such occasion a group of us (incl Rowie) after a few pay-night drinks, when into Liverpool NSW, buy hamburgers at the cafe opposite the railway station.  On this particular occasion, assembled outside the cafe were the motorcycles belonging to a rough looking group of bikies.  The bikies glared at Kevin Rowe as he walked through the gleaming machines inspecting them, and giving the odd-one a bit of an extra touch-up polish with the sleeve of his shirt.  The group of bikies were impressed with ‘Animal’s great show of respect for their bikes, until one bikie fool, walked up to Rowie and asked him if he would like to kick it-over.  The ‘Animal’ said thank you very much – and he did just that!  With the deft touch of a champion soccer player, he kicked the stand from under the bike – and over it went!  The group of bikies could not believe their eyes.  I think I out-ran all starters back to Holsworthy.

He was a good bloke under all the rough and tumble exterior and a bloody good leader of men when the going got tough.

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8 March 2021

In Simple Terms, How Does an APS Work?

Blogs on 31 January and 6 March referred to Active protection Systems (APS). 

There are two broad types of APS Wikipedia explains:

Electronic countermeasures that alter the electromagnetic, acoustic or other signature(s) of a target thereby altering the tracking and sensing behaviour of an incoming threat (e.g., guided missile) are designated soft-kill measures.

Measures that physically counterattack an incoming threat thereby destroying/altering its payload/warhead in such a way that the intended effect on the target is severely impeded are designated hard-kill measures.

The Trophy and Elbit systems are both in the second category. 

In TROPHY’s case, the system employs actively scanned radar to provide continuous 360-degree protection of the vehicle. Army requirements demand that an APS must be capable of protecting vehicles under all conditions, and the radar is effective in adverse combat conditions like smoke, sand, dust, mud, glare, and explosions.

Once the threat is detected, the onboard computer classifies the threat and, if a hit is probable, the countermeasure launcher slews into position and launches a tight pattern of explosively formed penetrators that neutralize the warhead before impact or detonation. The threat detection, fire control, and processing all take place in milliseconds.

The same sensors that track incoming shots at the vehicle also paint a target on the shooter, allowing an immediate response from the crew. They can return fire, maneuver out of contact, activate slew-to-cue weapons and sensors, or call for fire support.  At the same time, Trophy automatically transmits the engagement data to the battle management network, giving friendly forces immediate enemy information.

How Active Protection Systems Knock Down Anti-Armor Threats for Both Legacy and Future Combat Vehicles « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

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7 March 2021

School of Armour Modernisation

Its good to see announcements such as those copied from Defence Media below.  While they are a little contradictory, the overall picture is clear.  Two things are certain: (i) our defence staff have been working steadily; and (ii) simulation is seen as the means to reduce training costs.

Almost $100 million will be spent to deliver a new three-storey Armoured Vehicle Simulation Centre in the School of Armour at Puckapunyal.

Works are scheduled to start in March this year and will include the modernisation of training support facilities in the wider School of Armour and nine additional workshop bays. Driver training facilities and tactical simulators for the Army’s Armoured Fleet will also be upgraded.

“About 85 per cent of the workforce for the School of Armour upgrade is going to be sourced locally,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said. “The program will also deliver workshops and supporting infrastructure that is designed to be able to maintain the suite of Armoured Fighting Vehicle platforms both now and into the future.”

St Hilliers has been awarded the head contract to deliver the second package as part of the $235 million Fighting Vehicle Facilities Program Stage 1 works, following the announcement of a related package of works at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville.

“Our investment will support the upgraded M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank and incoming Land 400 and Land 8160 vehicle fleets,” Minister Price said. “Training for these next-generation vehicles includes networked, high-fidelity training simulators in new, future-ready training centres.

“This upgrade will modernise the Australian Army’s armoured warfighting capability and their associated training systems.”

Work on the project is expected to finish in late 2022. 

The School of Armour at Puckapunyal will receive a new three-story Armoured Vehicle Simulation Centre as part of a $100 million package from the federal government.

Works are expected to begin in March and finish late 2022, and will also extend to the modernisation of facilities around the School of Armour including the driver training facilities and tactical simulators.

Full details are provided here:

or Google: Armoured Fighting Vehicles Facilities Program

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6 March 2021

Our Present Tank Capability

An Australian Abrams Main Battle Tank fires during a live-fire activity during Exercise Southern Jackaroo 17 in Mount Bundey Training Area on Saturday, the 27th of May.

Image: Contactairlandandsea

The Blog on 31 January 2021 was entitled ‘Our Future Tank Capability’.  A quote from this is copied below:

“The [Active Protection System] 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?”.

The February edition of Defence technology Review contains some interesting info: https://dtrmagazine.com/issues/february-2021/ .  A synopsis of which is:

The APS produced by Rafael, the Trophy, is to be fitted to the US Army Abrams and a number to Germany’s Leopard 2s. Interestingly the Elbit ‘Iron Fist’ has a weight penalty of around 700kg, but it seems that there a lightweight version which is being considered for our CRV and IFV (Land 400 Phase 2 and 3).

But the BIG news …LAND 907 Phase 2 (Heavy Armoured Capability) is due for approval re numbers in Q4 2021.  The project states that it is intended to upgrade the current M1A1 capability to M1A2 standard (which might well include APS).  What does this mean? 

Does it involve a fleet replacement; a vehicle upgrade; or the acquisition of additional M1A2 tanks to make up for the current 30 tank shortfall in fleet numbers (the M1A2s being used to equip the ready brigade, while the M1A1s are used for training)?

Note:  The alternative form of words has also been used in media reports, ie. LAND 907 Phase 2 will replace the M1A1 capability with M1A2 tanks.

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5 March 2021

Caring for Those who have Served

An email was recently circulated which poured scorn on the President of the TPI Association for apparently not maintaining a traditional approach to the distinction between operational and non-operational service.  I thought about this and propose the following …

Operational and Non-Operational Service from the Perspective of DVA

How should those harmed during military service be compensated?  Should they be treated differently because they were on active service, compared to those who were not?

This is not a straight forward matter, ie, soldiers fighting in battle versus those undergoing training … it is more complicated.

To begin, consider the Roll of Honour at the AWM.  This lists the names of those who were killed or died while posted to a unit on active service during the period of the war.  Many consider that these are all battle casualties, but this is not the case.  Someone posted to Vietnam, but killed on R&R in a traffic accident in HK, is eligible.  Anyone who died as a result of illness or accident is eligible. Someone who returns home and takes his own life, is also eligible. The overriding criteria for the AWM is not the circumstances, but the prescribed period of the conflict.

So, should someone who is injured as a result of tripping over a tent peg while drunk, be compensated on different grounds, because he was on active service at the time; compared to someone who was injured as a result of a premature grenade explosion during training in Australia?

During the Boer War, a system of categorising casualties was introduced.  Prior to this, casualties who were not wounded or killed in action, were not reported.  This meant that failings in the medical services to combat disease went unrecognised. We now have Battle Casualties and Non-Battle Casualties; KIA; WIA; Died of Illness; Died of Wounds; etc, etc.

Should there not be a comprehensive categorisation of casualties that DVA can use for assessment, approved by all relevant ESOs … one which goes beyond just Operational or Non-Operational and takes account of all relevant circumstances associated with the nature of the casualty and the cause?

https://kapookamarchoutguide.com.au/the-kapooka-tragedy/ is relevant.

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4 March 2021

The RAAC Corporation

Look and compare …

Royal Australian Regiment Association – (rarnational.org.au)

http://www.raaccorpltd.org.au/

Why is it that the RAAC Corporation website is so ‘sparce’, with so little interactive content, compared to the equivalent organisation of our infantry brothers?

Everyone will answer “size”, ie, there are so many more former members of the RAR to help run its national corporation.

But is this explanation, really valid?

Apart from the vastly different websites and information provided, what are the fundamentals that distinguish the two?

1.  The RARC has two Patrons, one a former CDF, the other a former CA.  The RAACC either decided not to appoint a patron, or potential patrons decided not to make themselves available.

2.  The RARC provides a means for those interested to became ‘digital members’, ie. it places emphasis on its communication with everyone; RAACC, does not. 

3.  The ‘members’ above become those of the RAR Corporation; irrespective of whether or not they are members of an RAR Association. The RAACC has no such provision.

4.  The RARC provides a ‘Get Help’ link; the RACC does not.

5.  The RARC advertises for volunteers to fill positions to expand its services; the RAACC does not.

5.  The RARC promotes ‘Activities’; the RAACC does not. 

There are obviously more differences, however, while the above might be sufficient to start a discussion … it’s unlikely to start an ‘uprising’. 

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3 March 2021

The Australian War Memorial Part 2

Following on from 1 March 2021 …

My letter was published yesterday.  It was one of six related to Dr Wareham’s article objecting to the redevelopment of the AWM. Of course, it was not the redevelopment that was the subject of my letter, but the fact that she was also objecting to the AWM honouring those who have fought on active service, rather than ‘only’ those who have died.

None of the other letter writers referred to the subject I wrote about, they all agreed that the AWM redevelopment should not go ahead.  What arguments did they present?

The AWM will become:

A glorification of war;

A Disneyland which glorifies war … [something] which would fill the pockets of the “war monger” imagery;

A memorial to war and militarism:

A celebration of war;

A parade … which amounts to more and more sophisticated machines for killing humans and other living species.

These remarks obviously reflect a particular viewpoint.  Where does the rational assessment sit? 

The AWM has had a very comprehensive and detailed Heritage Plan for many years; intended to ensure that nothing is done to which might compromise heritage values.  I’ve put it to opponents of the redevelopment before … specify exactly how what is planned will compromise the Heritage Plan.  There has been no response.

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2 March 2021

Leadership

Army’s Professional Military Education hub has called for articles related to leadership: The Cove <soldiercove@gmail.com>

My input is copied below, but I’m sure that there will much much better examples on which those going forward should base their outlook.

Understanding Yourself and Others as a Leader. 

I’ve read all the prescribed texts on leadership (as well as a few others), but often found that theoretical analyses were ‘dry’ and failed to fully convey the things I wanted to learn. I hope that the following personal anecdotes might provide an alternative thesis.  (I apologise for the ‘I’ words, but they’re hard to avoid in a personal account.)

1.  Take Responsibility.  “Whose work is this?”, the Director said loudly, as he came into the work area from his office,waving the documentI knew what it was … a submission that we’d been putting together for some time.  I replied: “If it’s good then it’s the work of my team; if it’s not, then it’s my responsibility”.

There was a pause. “It’s very good”, he said.  My team were pleased not only about the response to their work, but the fact that I was prepared to take responsibility on their behalf, if something had gone wrong.

2. Be Prepared to Explain.  It was a barrack room inspection at 1st Armoured Regiment’s (then) Kapyong Barracks … usually the troopers just accepted the fact that it was an inspection.  A national serviceman, however, decided to ask what the point of it all was.

I explained that he “was being trained to be a member of a tank crew soon to be deployed in action.  If he was wounded, someone else would have to take his place.  That person would expect to know exactly where to find things such as the ‘tool removing jammed cartridge case’.  Instilling order into everyone in terms of layout was important to success in battle”.  He understood completely.  The explanation was appreciated and from then on, he took a supportive view in terms of the reasoning behind daily routines.

3. Don’t Take the Easy Way Out.  Doing sentry on a tank in an ambush on active service requires everyone to follow drills exactly.  I read an oral history interview recorded with a tank crewman after Vietnam.  He said that he wanted to get to another troop because I was too strict.  Any relaxation of standards, however, would have placed everyone at risk.  We had to take responsibility for each other and this was appreciated, far and away, by the majority. The tenet of following procedures applied also as far as Rules of Engagement (ROE) were concerned.

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. There might have been some who would have engaged on this basis.

Breaking the curfew did not mean that they were enemy, however (possibly farmers returning late from their fields).  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.

4.  Be Honest with Those Below and Those Above.  I was selected to be a candidate to be the ADC to the Governor-General. At the formal dinner with the other candidates, I was seated next to the GG.  Soon after, I turned to him and said: “Your Excellency, I have a confession to make!”.  The whole table went quiet.  The GG: “and what’s that?”.  I said that I had looked him up in Who’s Who so that I would have something to talk about.  “And what did you find out?” he said.  ‘That you had written a book entitled the Private Man’, this seems to be a paradox for someone in such a public position.”  “Well … let me tell you about that!”  (The others at the table went back to talking among themselves.)  The GG must have welcomed those who were prepared to speak openly and honestly, as I got the job.

5.  Maintain Your Self-Respect.  I took leave without pay from the Army for a period and was employed by an insurance company as a District Sales Manager.  I didn’t know about the ‘Baby Names’ (nor other things) that were wide-spread throughout the industry.  To explain, some of those who worked within the Classified’s sections of newspapers were paid by insurance agencies to provide the names and addresses of the people placing advertisements.  This allowed agents to call on those expecting babies or planning weddings and meet them when they were most vulnerable.

I later went before a promotion board and was asked why I came back into the Army.  “To keep my self-respect!”, I said (and I got promoted!)

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The above are but a few of the principles on which future leaders can draw as they go forward.  I suggest that everyone must think in terms of the principles that are relevant to them at their stage in their career … not all apply to everyone at all times (but most do).

Postscript: I’ve carefully side-stepped the lessons of poor leadership which I could so easily have included.

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1 March 2021

The Australian War Memorial

The following quotes were contained in an article in today’s Canberra Times by Dr Sue Wareham, President of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War.

“The AWM’s corporate plan for 2020-24 states that the institution’s purpose is “to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war or on operational service, and those who have served our nation in times of conflict”. The words in italics, to include all those who have fought, appear to have been unilaterally tacked on by the AWM Council, disregarding the significant distinction between dying and not dying. They are a stark departure from the relevant words in the 1980 Australian War Memorial Act, which refers to a national memorial to Australians “who have died on, or as a result of, active service”.

Where once we commemorated family members and others who died in Australia’s wars, we will now honour all those who fight and have fought: past and present, dead or alive, disabled by their service or fighting fit.”

I’ve responded in a letter to the Canberra Times:

“Dr Wareham criticises the AWM (Canberra Times, 27 Feb 21) for honouring not only those who have died fighting for their country, but also those who have returned from active service, quite possibly wounded.  How can this be?

Is it not right that we as a Nation commemorate honour ALL those who have fought on our behalf, many of whom carry the scars (physical and mental) of their service.  Surely, those prepared to sacrifice themselves on our behalf, deserve no less.

I can only imagine that Dr Wareham has no close associates who have been deployed on active service on her behalf and (thankfully) have returned. If she had, surely, she would want to honour them.”

Dr Wareham went on to say:

We will gaze in awe at the machinery of warfare, the tanks and fighter planes that will occupy most of the additional 24,000 square metres, and pretend that we understand war better for it.

It’s relevant that the AWM has undertaken to place greater emphasis on those who crewed tanks etc, highlighting the challenges that confronted them, than has been the case in the past

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28 February 2021

The RAAC Family

It shouldn’t just be the Salvos….

Isn’t this great to see:

“Rod Westgarth organized 22 Christmas hampers to be delivered to worthy recipients last December and will back up again this year. Rod Westgarth and David Finlayson organized a large number of gift vouchers that were distributed amongst our membership during the lockdown period. The rebirth of our website thanks to the sterling work of Secretary Peter Axton has been outstanding. It can be viewed at raacavic.weebly.com

Microsoft Word – VIC.docx (lancers.org.au)

One has to imagine that the RAACA (VIC) doesn’t support the motion passed by the RAAC Corporation a couple of years ago to the effect that the Corporation and its member associations didn’t have the resources to provide assistance to individuals in need and would refer any to the RSL.  The approach above also differs from that of the 1AR Assn, a C’tee member of which stated to the effect that: ‘We’re only here to have a few beers and swap stories’.

Let’s hope that the RAAC Corporation sees worth in the example of the RAACA (VIC) and takes the lead in introducing a ‘care for those in need’ policy (and resourcing)!

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27 February 2021

The Rule of Law?

“A small number of special forces soldiers who blew the whistle on alleged war crimes at an official inquiry have been issued termination notices against the advice of the military watchdog.”

https://www.theage.com.au/national/fight-erupts-over-defence-moves-to-sack-special-forces-whistleblowers-20210223-p5752d.html

What happened to the ‘rule of law’?  Seems to me that there are massive claims for compensation pending if whistle-blowers and others are sacked without any recourse to the law.

What role does the Australian Defence Association play in this?  I recall when it was established that it was to be the representative body which advocated on behalf of service personnel and their interests.  It has moved well away from such a role, however.

What role does the Judge Advocate General play?  Do its officers represent the interests of soldiers in such circumstances? As far as I can see … they do not. (The JAG Office certainly wasn’t proactive in such a representation when I sought their assistance on behalf of others some years ago.)

What role do unit associations play?  When I asked another RAAC association in the past … the response was along the lines of “We’re not interested … only want to have a few beers and swap a few stories”.  (Hopefully not all unit associations are like this.)

Is someone is going to stand up for the Rule of Law and ensure that it applies to all concerned (no matter their circumstances).  Hopefully so, but who?  I feel bad leaving this here.

It’s not publicity.  Alan Jones isn’t going to present legal opinion in court.  Who then?  If I were a whistle-blower and/or one of those alleged to have done ‘something’, who had received a ‘please explain why you shouldn’t be dismissed‘ letter, I would seek ‘Legal Aid’ (because I wouldn’t be able to afford a private lawyer and even if I could, I shouldn’t have to).  

You signed up to serve your nation… and what do you get?  Maybe there are other avenues?

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26 February 2021

Feather in the Envelope Part 2

Responses to yesterday’s topic include the following:

I’ve never heard of anything similar; I’m not even sure about the significance or meaning of a cockatoo feather. The closest thing in my experience is the mailing of a white feather during the 2nd world war to indicate the sender thought someone was a coward because they were not overseas fighting the enemy – obviously had no idea of the number of people it took to keep one active duty soldier in the field. Whatever, tell ’em “sod ’em” and carry on with all your good work, mate.

Bruce the coward that sent you the feather will never have the guts to face you
man to man ignore the sod.

Not sure about you Bruce but I have always found those who cannot stand and face you to be the most reprehensible of characters.

Leadership is about standards and if those standards are yours so be it.  In my military careers I did not always like (subjective word) my superiors but I respected their rank and position. As a young soldier I some time thought the SSM was a pain for making us clean things that in our minds didn’t need cleaning for at least 100 years.

I remember one particular captain of one particular ship I served on for a short time. Never spoke to the crew, officers and sailors unless to give directions or orders and tended to be aloof from all. But there was not a man or women he did not know well.  I nearly fell overboard when he asked me to dine with him in his mess deck. A very friendly fellow and was interested in all I was doing. I have to say I was not a member of his crew just attached for the operation.

 I suppose you could always look at the feather as “as you put it, put a feather in you cap” for all the things you have done in research and your belief in all things armoured.

Wear it with pride and give the world the finger.

There is always that lunatic fringe of people and no I’ve never received one of those. Definitely report it to the cops. Who knows what a lunatic like that thinks. Either that or someone you trying to wind you up. 

[My response to the last: There was no criminal offence involved, so no cause for the police action (unlike the previous incident). If the intent was to ‘wind me up’, then that has failed.  It’s only caused me to double down on my resolve in terms of my principles.  I wonder who such a gutless bastard might be?] 

STOP PRESS!!  Google tells me that finding a cockatoo feather means that: Happiness and laughter surround you.  Your vision is clear and perfect and you are blessed, protected, loved and guided.  Who could ask for more?

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25 February 2021

Feather in the Envelope

Is this a first, or has someone else received something similar?

Mail arrived today.  One letter (no sender’s address) contained a cockatoo feather (ie, white and yellow). It was postmarked Northgate Mail Centre (north Brisbane) on 15 February 2021 (2319 hrs).  I wonder who I might have upset.  The Police might be able to get fingerprints or find something on CCTV if asked.

This is the second time I’ve (apparently) been threatened.  The first was a DVA oral history interview with a tank crewman who claimed I was too strict (picquets etc).  He was going to beat the crap out of me when he got a chance. The police on that occasion were able to locate the person and assure me that he was not a threat (just ‘big talk’).

He had also boasted during the interview that he had pissed on the OC’s ice cream when he was on Mess duty, because the OC made some crewmen wear flak jackets (after a number were wounded) … “he was a little Hitler!“.  These remarks were combined with claims that we shot and killed everyone whether enemy or civilian: FINALLY, DVA were convinced to remove the interview from its archive. (It was a long road to get to this point!)

Does anyone else have a feather to wear in their cap?

What Should You Do When You Receive a White Feather?

One of the things that people do whenever they receive a white feather is to thank the angel or deceased loved one. Some people engage in a conversation with the angel messenger or directly with their deceased loved one.  [But maybe a cockatoo’s feather is different?]

The Meaning of White Feathers: Analyzing the Symbolism | LoveToKnow

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24 February 2021

Seniority of RAAC Units Part 5

Following on from yesterday, my response to the Minister is copied below:

Dear Minister [for Veterans’ Affairs],

Many thanks for your letter of 7 February 2021 in response to my enquiry regarding the seniority list for RAAC regiments.  As you mention, I had previously contacted Army about this matter.  The response that I received was that Australian Military Regulations were rescinded in 2015, but their provisions remain the basis for the order of seniority for units in the Army today, ie “the units of the Permanent Forces have precedence over the units of the Reserves”.

I was advised that when the 2/14 LHR (QMI) reverted from an ARES to an ARA unit, an appropriate change in the order of seniority could have been made.  BUT … no-one asked that this be done.  Hence my letter to you, asking that the order of seniority of 2/14 LHR (QMI) be amended to agree with current Army requirements.

You replied on 7 February 2021 to say that Army had decided not to make the change, as it would not help in reducing “the historical barriers between full time and part time service.  Army’s position is that distinguishing between full-time and part-time units undermines the Australian Defence Force’s Total Workforce System”.

I can understand this policy, however, the following matters now arise.

Is it allowable for individual Corps to have differing arrangements as far as the seniority of their units are concerned?  If this is NOT the case, what is the basis of the order of seniority to be … numerical sequence, date of formation, stand-alone regiments before merged regiments, etc?  Finally, what is the authority of this to be? 

Can you please advise.

Yours sincerely,

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23 February 2021

The Seniority of RAAC Units Part 4

Following on from 21 February 2021, the comments below are relevant:

Bruce, I do not want you to take offence as you mean well but to most people the seniority list does not mean much. It more important to report on and correct when wrong the deeds and history of the various Australian units.  I am glad the 10th Light horse went over the top at the Nek before the 9th Light Horse as my grandfather was in the Following on from … these comments are relevant:9th. Just imagine a crusty old major yelling at the 9th and 10th to get their order of their numerical succession correct as the bullets were wizzing past. 

My response:

Hi,
You may well be right … the matter might not be of any significance to members of the RAAC at all.
Then again, if we can’t get the foundations of our heritage and traditions right … what’s left?
There was considerable opposition to emblazoning the Coral Balmoral battle honour on the Standard and 3 Cav Guidon.  The Ceremonial Manual wouldn’t allow it, so I was informed by those ‘on high’.  Persistence proved the opposite.  I think the result is of significance to those involved in the battles.
Seems to me that there needs to be a valid reason for decisions by the ‘powers that be’. 
If this is not to be the case, then it’s all a sham and we’re responsible.

PS.  Of course, it could well be argued that there is no need for an order of seniority of RAAC regiments at all.  But if there is to be one, surely the order has to be based on valid grounds which are open to all.

The comments below followed:

Hi Bruce, to me the deeds and history of a unit are the foundations of our heritage and traditions and caring people like yourself are needed to balance out life’s hurdles such as the dusty Ceremonial manual non allowance that you struck. Good one for doing what you did and you can have my share of reading the book.  I am on the same wave length as you as far as persistence is concerned and if it loses a person some friends and acquaintances, well that is fine.

Bruce, you know what I think, and you should keep doing what you are doing, for two reasons. The first is to make things right, and that will be appreciated by those who follow us. The second is that for those of us who were taught that the standard you are prepared to walk past is the standard you are prepared to accept (RSM Curly Tim’s), you need to pursue the ideals you hold close. More power to you.

Hi Bruce, Our History is more valuable than it ever was and I commend you for your work and ability to make things right. To many drongos out there are trying to scrub our History from the books in every subject to do with our country. The Education system refuses to even teach it to our children. If not for those who have the skills, and abilities to bring it together properly, where would those coming after us find the Truth? As John has said and I couldn’t put it any better.  So Mote it Be. Make of it what you will.

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22 February 2021

War Crimes Revisited: Part 2

Following on from 19 February 2021 … a comment read as follows:

Hello Bruce Cameron,

Very young Australia has never had the internal conflict of many older nations, apart from the undeniable persecution of the original inhabitants during colonization.

There have historically been recriminations in many older countries of the world after conflicts, which generally fade as reconstruction and development progress.

Russia for example lost 28 million people in WW2 (and still counting), but today has around 300 plus McDonalds outlets, all of the world fashion houses, Irish pubs, etcetera. Younger generations speak better English than Australians, the boys have neat haircuts and the girls are nicely groomed.

Undoubtedly, the surviving older Vietnamese boat people have psychological baggage from the Vietnam War era; but much has since changed in their country of origin.

Vietnamese are very enterprising and their advancement over the past 50 years has been enormous. Have a peep at Google Earth and view the extensive development between Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tau, including areas once within the 1ATF Tactical Area of Responsibility.

Also; go to ALDI and note the superior quality of packaging for their seafood products. A friend in the building industry comments similarly re their hardware.

Communism is just a system of government that has adapted well to a rapidly changing world, as evidenced by China Russia and Vietnam. But Australia in my view is following the Brits and Americans into decline, fostered by capitalistic greed.

If I were 40 years younger, I would seriously consider emigrating to China or Russia, but perhaps not
Vietnam. Although I much like the people and their land, I would feel too guilty about what I did to many.

A response to this was provided by another reader: 

I saw Communism in Poland and DDR in mid-80s. There were very good reasons for the Wall coming down. And that’s because essentially Communism imploded from its own lies and contradictions.

Back in Sydney, I found it very difficult to explain the constant, grey awfulness and depression of it all. That was until I met Vietnamese boat people. I write with no sense of self flattery of how a Vietnamese Catholic priest said that I was first to really understand why they’d fled. And I found he understood me.

I’m not surprised they’ve done well because they value freedom. We don’t.

The Russians who profit from Communism’s fall bring their dirty money to places like London and Vienna. They’re not nice people. Putin is a thug.

The Chinese are certainly different. Those coming to U.K. (where I am now) and Africa don’t want to stay and rule. They just want to strip out and go home. They are utterly ruthless in social control and squashing dissent. China has an appalling human rights record. For example, if you think that harvesting prisoners’ organs are the right thing to do, then China could be the place for you.

Seems to me that helping those who did want to be subjected to communist rule by force, was the right thing to do.

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21 February 2021

Seniority of RAAC Units: Part 4

Following on from 29 October 2020 and 5 November 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 he receives advice from those serving. 

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’. 

I’ve received a response from the Minister.  Lo and behold there is a reason for the current seniority of RAAC units, ie. that of “reducing the historical barriers between fill and part time units.  Army’s position is that distinguishing between full-time and part-time units undermines the ADF’s Total Workforce system, to which the CA is fully committed”.

So AMR 2007 (above) is no longer applicable.  I wonder if it has been amended?  Maybe, I’ll ask the Minister.  More to follow.

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20 February 2021

The Tank Capability of the Future Part 4

A comment re my above article; it is good to see that as well as being the most read article of the week, it has also sparked some discussion …

The triad of ‘lethality, mobility and protection’ is a useful idea for design, comparison and decision. However, what is missing is a deep appreciation that ‘lethality’ is the ‘first amongst equals’; given that the vehicles are there to ‘apply fire against a range of targets’, which might or might not support other systems. The core issue has always been – ‘how do we envisage our plan for the ‘application of fire’ against an adversary’, in a particular terrain, to achieve a particular effect (task-conditions-standard). That is we need to consider what the ‘lethality need’ means to mobility and protection, not the other way round. Since the best protected or mobile systems are nought if they can’t deal with the aerial, terrestrial and human targets they will face. As for engaging in discussions, I believe one of the significant reasons there is limited discussion about the use of our capabilities is because we lack a coherent idea of how we’ll mobilise, deploy and then fight to achieve what are too often unspecified strategic objectives. The result is the notion that the ADF exists to provide options to a militarily illiterate government, guided by egotistical services and groups. The result is the parochial acquisition of systems, not the development of robust ‘kill-action chains’ that can actually ensure the prosperity of our people and the sovereignty of our state.

My reply:

“I guess the critical challenge is that of being capable of disrupting and defeating the enemy’s ‘kill-action chains’.  In terms of lethality, I was a little dismissive of directed energy weapons being capable of engaging the full spectrum of targets (as referred to in the 2020 Force Structure Review), but I see that such may well be feasible: 

“… the laser weapon, not just the laser, the whole laser weapon, could now start being made small enough, powerful enough, to now be deployed on Army vehicles, Navy ships, and even on aircraft. So, that’s really what changed the game. And as you can see, there’s a lot of activity in this domain from our customers, all the services are now advancing capability in laser weapon systems for land, sea, and air.”

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19 February 2021

War Crimes Revisited

The following article was recently published: https://johnmenadue.com/corrupted-intelligence-failures-in-australias-afghanistan-date-back-to-vietnam/

I responded as below:

“The profound intelligence problem is that we don’t know our own history.”

I would add ‘because we don’t accept responsibility’.

One might further say that we ‘neither accept nor acknowledge’ responsibility.  This has been the case since 1770.

The Government isn’t responsible, because it believed what it was told by the Chief of Defence; he isn’t responsible because he believed what he was told by the Chief of Army; he isn’t responsible because he believed what he was told by the Commander, Australian forces in Afghanistan; he isn’t responsible …

Obviously, there was a failure in training, ie. forces were deployed ill prepared for their operational task.  Some will say that such things couldn’t have been foreseen. 

Material provided to our school children by DVA states that Australian forces in Vietnam killed enemy who were wounded or otherwise unable to defence themselves.  When I asked the Government in 2005, I was informed that these incidents had not been investigated.  I then asked the Minister if he could assure the Australian people that appropriate training had been put in place so that such things could never happen again.  He said it had. 

Seems to me that responsibility is something that’s in the eye of the beholder.

Reading some of the comments below, makes me think of the appreciation expressed by the Vietnamese community in Australia (VCA) for the efforts that Australia made on their behalf.  They did not want to live under communist rule and their families still there do not want to so either.  The human rights situation is abysmal, but who cares?  The VCA are truly grateful for the efforts made on their behalf.  As far as the suggestion that we (Australians) shot everyone without regard to the Rules of Engagement (ROE), this is not so.  The following personal example explains:

I was a tank troop leader in Vietnam.  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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18 February 2021

Laser Weapons

“So, if you look at that prism, there’s a white light beam that comes into the prism and it breaks up into the colors of the rainbow, you could run that in reverse, you could have a whole bunch of beams that cover the different spectrums, and if you put it through the prism, they all combine and output a single beam. We call it kinda the ‘reverse prism effect.’ So what all of a sudden we were able to do was to scale laser power in a modular way. Instead of just trying to build a bigger and bigger laser, we’re actually scaling by adding lasers up.”

That how Lockheed Martin describe the breakthrough in laser weapons technology.  But as seen below, not all are convinced.

“Finally, the strangest proposal in the [2020 Australian Force Structure] plan must surely be for the development of laser guns able to be mounted on vehicles and “defeating” targets up to and including main battle tanks.

This sounds like an odd idea. Recently, no less than the head of Research and Engineering for the US Department of Defense stated he was sceptical that lasers – even ones large enough to be put on a 747 – could shoot down a missile. And rockets, of course, don’t have armour.

If that’s what you can get from a jumbo jet, how is a weapon on a Bushmaster meant to stop a 50-ton fighting vehicle? Of course, Defence may be thinking about much lower‑powered lasers to destroy enemy electro-optical systems, rendering them blind and thus “defeated”.

But perhaps the ADF knows something we don’t? Maybe Dr Evil has been busily at work shifting lasers from shark tanks to actual tanks. We live in interesting times.”

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/hidden-gems-2020-force-structure-plan

BUT, support for Lockheed Martin is given below:

“What that meant was that the system demands, the platform demands were greatly reduced, and it meant that the laser weapon, not just the laser, the whole laser weapon, could now start being made small enough, powerful enough, to now be deployed on Army vehicles, Navy ships, and even on aircraft. So, that’s really what changed the game. And as you can see, there’s a lot of activity in this domain from our customers, all the services are now advancing capability in laser weapon systems for land, sea, and air. Lockheed Martin is a premier provider of this technology in all these domains, and we are working in all these domains.” 

How The Once Elusive Dream Of Laser Weapons Suddenly Became A Reality (thedrive.com)

PS.  A nice note just received:

“I would like to congratulate you on having the most viewed article for the week of Jan 23-31 for your article titled ‘The Tank Capability of the Future’. As the winner of the article of the week, The Cove would like to send you a ‘Cove Coin’ to commemorate your achievement.”

It’s pleasing that the numbers of readers would suggest an active interest in the subject.

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17 February 2021

Defence Preparedness 3

Staying with the theme … a further comment is copied below:

“In my opinion (informed only by publicly available information) the risk of military invasion of Australia is minimal. What is to be gained by an invader that is not available to them by their already significant ownership of our agriculture, mineral and hydrocarbon resources, and vast holdings of real estate. Billions of dollars on defence spending is to what end? Against what threat? Strategic risk assessments have a half-life of a few months. The defence budget is necessarily spread thinly across many capabilities which may or may not have worth in defence of the country. Our defence spending should be focused on a serious deterrence capability. By which I mean, a nuclear capability, with delivery by submarine and/or long-range aircraft or missiles. A very simple defence posture: don’t poke the venomous snake. Less costly, more effective. We do not need land forces that can be deployed overseas, naval assets beyond what is required to patrol our sea border and near sea lanes, or ridiculously expensive air-to-air combat jets. We do need better intelligence services, cyber warfare capability and a defence force trained and organised to deal with major disasters.”

It is fair to say that there is a wide variance of views with respect to Defence.  I believe that this due in part, to a lack of trust in those who govern us.  This is, in turn, being due to a lack of leadership by them.

Defence is obviously an area in which complete openness and transparency is impossible. Without faith in those making the decisions, where do we go?

There is a woeful lack of informed discussion in the public arena.  The Lowy Institute and ASPI are viewed as not being completely objective and unfortunately organisations like ADA and USI have a very low profile.

Vested interests undoubtedly lurk in the background.  I don’t have the answers.  I can only ring the warning bells.  Seems to me that this is the same situation which led to Australian forces being deployed to Vietnam and Afghanistan ill prepared (and remained so throughout those conflicts).

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16 February 2021

Defence Preparedness 2

       
Another comment on my post on 14 February was (replying to another comment) was: “ … you are 100% spot on.  We are under prepared, under manned and under equipped.  As you said we would grind to a halt after 28 days.  Probably less if our allies say we have got our own problems, you are on your own.  Just think for a moment no fuel and no power, it is scary!

We may, just be able to hold off Fiji or NZ if they decided to attack.

As I have written on this site before, I do not believe that any future warfare/invasion will not follow any resemblance of attack as we recall them.

I see two BIG problems.
All politicians of all political parties are totally obsessed with what they need to do to be re-elected.  They are so keen to have the economy look good that they will sell their souls (including Darwin harbor) to balance the budget.  They are also permitting and encouraging all other countries to purchase property across the length and breadth of this country.  Once they have sufficient numbers, they will simply say it is ours now. If there is to be a more forceful take over there will be covert measures such as Corona Virus.  Bruce where were the Spooks when this intelligence was circulating?  It is a sad state of affairs.   

My response ….

“If there is to be a more forceful take over there will be covert measures …”.

What are such covert measures likely to involve?

There will be agents here who report infrastructure and strategic target locations and do their part to destroy them; and there will be cyber attacks to disrupt all military command and control communications.

Targets that might be of particular value in being reported would be those related to intelligence gathering/analysing sites that are not commonly known (ie, without signs out in front of their buildings) … of course, the infrastructure targets are those which have the max impact on population functioning (eg, railways; bridges etc).

One has to wonder whether or not biological weapons might also be used in terms of water supplies and the like.

It is obvious that those who safeguard such information, take the view that it is too sensitive to be released and discussed publicly.————————————————————————————————

15 February 2021

Defence Preparedness

Image: ABC News

One of the comments on my post yesterday was:

“A serious question gentlemen. Does anybody really think 90 M1 tanks (along with the rest of the armed forces) would be sufficient to defend Australia if another country actually got antsy and actually attacked?

Airborne and seaborne attacks have occurred in the past and  even with the advances in military hardware and personnel there is no way Australia could defend itself (not with our coastline) against an invader without an exponential growth in our armed forces, even then we’d be on a hiding to nothing.

It only needs our sea lanes blockaded and we are stuffed. Our fuel situation for one has us at a disadvantage. Currently 28 days and that’s for everything. Restrict fuel to military use only and how much longer would it last?

Answers? I have none but I’m really interested in what you gentlemen think. Only way I can see is going guerrilla. Hit hard and bugger off, but how long could that last?”.

My response:

“Good questions  …   The whole matter of Defence preparedness (ie. ADF force structure and size, readiness levels and contingency plans) is linked to Warning and Lead Times.  The Warning Time is that which our intelligence services advise we have to alert us before a credible threat becomes an actual one; the Lead Time is that which involves the time to acquire necessary equipment and logistic stocks from countries of origin and train the ADF to the required standard.  The latter connects directly with the necessary level of our Defence Self-Reliance. 
If we have faith in the ability of our intelligence services and those preparing the ADF contingency plans, then everything should be ok.  
Theoretically, the fact that the RAAC has a significant operational capability gap at present would be seen in the light of there being a very low threat level, leading to a low ADF preparedness state.

But … if one has an average intelligence level, this might be questioned.”
 
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14 February 2021

$235 million Armoured Fighting Vehicle Facilities Program

Following on from yesterday …

The RAAC have missed the boat with respect to: (i) ensuring that the RAAC ARES have a platform which is suitable to maintain the skills of mobile warfare (though Hawkei might be a game changer, if it’s reliability probs can be fixed); (ii) ‘right sizing’ the Abrams tank fleet to 90; and (iii) preventing an operational capability gap with respect to ACR reconnaissance squadrons.

BUT … leaving operational capability aside, it seems that RAAC training and logistic support systems are to be seriously upgraded.  Google:

‘ARMOURED FIGHTING VEHICLES FACILITIES PROGRAM’ … and go the aph link.

The parliamentary submission also includes an interesting map showing the geographical location (and numbers) of RAAC AFVs.  From it, it will be seen that that an ACR tank squadron comprises 14 tanks (rather than 20 as previously).  Is this, three troops of four tanks or four troops of three tanks? Of course, the two SHQ tanks are used as ‘replacements’ for the tank troops.

Unfortunately, what the current fleet number means is continued overuse of the tanks … which will result in the same loss of operational capability as presently exists with the ASLAVs.

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13 February 2021

New AFV Simulation Centre.

Image: Defence Connect

A few days ago, the Minister for Defence Industry stated (inter alia) that:

The close combat warfighting capability of the Australian Army has been strengthened by a $31 million Morrison Government investment in the delivery of a new, three-storey Armoured Vehicle Simulation Centre in Townsville.

The facility will support the training of 3rd Brigade soldiers at Lavarack Barracks for the upgraded M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank [LAND 907, below] and incoming LAND 400 and LAND 8160 [below] armoured vehicle capabilities.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price today announced St Hilliers had been awarded the head contract to deliver the $31 million package as part of the $235 million Armoured Fighting Vehicle Facilities Program Stage 1 works.

“The LAND 400 Phase 2 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles and the Phase 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicles will represent a generational leap in the Australian Army’s warfighting capability.  

“Together with the upgraded M1 tank and its armoured engineering variants, these vehicles will deliver a world-class close combat capability for Australia.”

New Simulation Centre boosts warfighting capability – and Townsville economy | Department of Defence Ministers

LAND 907 Phase 2 – Main Battle Tank Upgrade project – to upgrade the M1A1 Main Battle Tank, the M88A2 Armoured Recovery Vehicle and tank supporting systems.

LAND 8160 Phase 1 -Combat Engineering Vehicles project – to acquire a new armoured engineering capability with assault breaching, armoured bridge launching, armoured engineer and armoured recovery capabilities.

More tomorrow …

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12 February 2021

10 LH Regiment

Image: http://www.britishbadgeforum.com

What’s happening? In an earlier Blog I referred to the following:

From 13 Bde Facebook Page (5 Jan 21): 2021 is going to be a big year for 13th Brigade. Starting from February, the Brigade will commence its transformation journey.

A multi-year, multi-dimensional evolution, to become the backbone of a standing Joint Task Force made up of a hybrid workforce.

Think new partnerships, new capabilities, and new approaches.

The transformation train is starting its engine, so jump on board, follow our page, and join us on this exciting journey.

I emailed Derek Simpson [Corps RSM] to ask if he can you help explain what the above means and whether or not it will be a model for the ARES as a whole?

This post on the 13 Bde FB would suggest changes are imminent:

“Western Australia’s most storied Military Unit, the 10th Light Horse Regiment, will be re-raised in the second half of 2021 for the first time since 1976. Its DNA has been kept alive inside A Squadron, 10th Light Horse.

Looking to the future, it will epitomise the very best of a hybrid workforce focused on blending traditional Cavalry skillsets with emerging platforms and sensors. Delivering new methods of networked intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to the Joint Force. Stay tuned for more updates…Commander 13th Brigade, Brigadier Brett Chaloner.”

This was reinforced by the following:

13th Brigade Facebook Page (29 Jan21): · 

Welcome back to work 13th Brigade!

As you may have already picked up, 2021 is all about transformation.

Transforming 13th Brigade from a reserve Brigade into a hybrid, joint, contemporary agile force.

At a Town Hall meeting in December, Commander 13th Brigade, Brigadier Brett Chaloner, issued a challenge to all members.

To have an evolving mindset, to contribute to a competition of ideas, and to explore ways to harness Western Australia’s potential.

Are you ready for 2021?

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11 February 2021

RAAC ARES: Making us Proud: Part 2

Further quotes from the report (see yesterday) are provided below:

Late in February near the end of the fires we were able to cut away three of our LT’s to attend their last module of the ROBC at the School of Armour. All did very well on the ROBC and have made excellent additions to A Sqn.

We had only restabilised our unit and completed all of the backlog of administration when the first COVID-19 lockdown occurred. As a unit we were quite well prepared for remote parading. The 2018 reduction in Tuesday night parading, and the later use of remote on-line parading tools, had almost by chance prepared us for COVID-19. Our TP Leaders and Sqn Commanders have continued to develop online training mechanisms through the year. They have had guest speakers from the likes of the RSM Ceremonial and the Shrine speak to them via VTC. They have participated in Military Education presentations as well as using the new software developed by the Army to conduct tactical TEWT like activities. The Regiment’s ability to adapt to this environment is testament to their training and conditioning.

The Regt deployed approximately 15 people as part of the border protection operation in the North of Australia. They were a fantastic team who did a really good job.

 Many of our people have been involved in OP COVID Assist …

See the full report here:  https://lancers.org.au/C2020/PWLH.pdf

I don’t think it’s mentioned, but the Assn has stated that the CO & RSM are taking the 4LH Guidon to Beersheba this year. 

Seems to me to be a unit doing well!

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10 February 2021

RAAC ARES: Making us Proud

Image: bpcmilitaria

The quotes below are from the 4/19 PWLH Assn report to the 2020 RAAC Corporation meeting …

“2020 arrived in a ball of fire and Operation Bushfire Assist started for the Regiment on New Year’s Eve. Within a day we were preparing the first PMV section of five vehicles to deploy to Gippsland (AO Coastal). Our first team was typical of those early days of the fires. They were a very obvious presence; they were a welcome boost to morale to regional communities and did all they could to help. They were a real credit to us all. An early task for that section was the transporting Metropolitan Fire staff through very difficult terrain to conduct damage assessments that would inform the majority of the planning for the state from that time on. That first section was soon relieved by a second section who continued to make sure that the entire capability offered by the PMV was understood by both civilian agencies and some of our military planners. The effectiveness of the PMV and the crews who manned them was a key capability in the burnt-out terrain. The first vehicles to reach Mallacoota were PMVs.

The Regiment also sent sections up North into AO Alpine, they got a far North as the Murray River and as far East as Omeo. The destruction in AO North was often overshadowed in the media by Gippsland, the devastation up North was also complete in its obliteration. Our people continued to provide protected lift right through to the end of February. They experienced destruction and grief in their own country but often reported that they felt proud to be of service in their own country. Those that did not serve in the fire zones contributed in the JTF HQ ensuring that vital operational and logistic planning was conducted. Others served in the State Control Centre working with the multiple agencies supporting the overall State effort. The CO stated it was impossible not to feel proud of their efforts, the entire Regiment turned out and those that did not serve in uniform were already busy serving in their civilian roles.

One event worth mentioning is the support offered by some of our PMV crew during the search and rescue operation for a four-year-old child. The section provided vital mobility in rugged terrain, CPL Sharma reported that he was proud to be involved in such an important search effort at Waterholes, a locality 240km from Melbourne. After an extensive search operation consisting of more than 200 police and emergency service his team played a key role in finding and reuniting the toddler with his parents after spending a night lost and alone in the burnt-out terrain.

More to follow tomorrow ….

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9 February 2021

Helping Others

The following letter has been sent to the Canberra Times.  It’s not an Armouredadvocates matter per se, however, I think it an important one.  I wonder what responses I’ll get.

“Dear Editor,

Recently I was in a Canberra shopping area.  I had just taken out some money from an ATM and when I turned around, I noticed a middle-aged lady on the ground in distress.  I got her up and helped her to a nearby seat.   She told me that she had had a fall and that she would be all right. 

At this time, I noticed that there were people seating just a couple of meters away.  They must’ve seen or heard the actual fall.  Somewhat bemused, I called into a nearby Chemist shop.  I explained what happened in the hope that one of their staff might check on the lady and call a doctor if thought prudent.  If I’d been hoping for assistance for a person in distress, I was wrong.  It turned out that there was a doctor’s surgery not far away and I should go there to inform them of my concerns.

I report the above in the full knowledge of letters to the Canberra Times which have praised Canberrans for helping others.  Why is it that there would appear to be stark exceptions to this aspect of human kindness?

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8 February 2021

Organisation: 50th Anniversary Commemoration Operation Overlord

Discussion related to the above event on another forum included the following:

“Let me tell you about the Gedong presentation in Brisbane with the Duke of Edinburgh.
As you blokes all know we were presented with cards as to where we were to be corralled.
Gold cards to white all different colours.
My self  and a couple of my veteran cobbers decided to go to the gold area.
An RAAC Capt, whom when I was a soldier was a Sgt, informed us we could not enter and get back to where we belonged..
It got very heated I said to the Capt this will do your career no good having a brawl in front of the Duke of Edinburgh.
The next thing Roger Kershaw marches up he was now a colonel and he says Capt let these men in. Maybe it helped I was Lt Kershaws Saladin Driver in 1 and 2 Cav.”

My response:

For a supposedly egalitarian society, we’re hugely class conscious. Take military awards, for example.  Gallantry and distinguished service are exactly that.  Recognition should not differ on the basis of whether not you’re an officer.  This is now changing.  But the distinction remains in other areas. Miniature Army Combat Badges are only provided to those of SNCO rank or higher.  (Lower classes are not thought to have a need for formal evening wear.)  We were able to overturn the policy of not presenting ACBs to the NOK of those KIA, but the class divide still exists as far as miniatures are concerned.

The Overlord Commemoration was the idea of the CO 3RAR from the time. Battalion and tank squadron personnel have been working on our associated reunions for years.  RAAC representative organisations were not prepared to assist as the Commemoration was only a proposed one and they ‘did not want to raise members’ expectations’.  (DVA could not confirm it until their funding for the FY involved was approved.)  By investing time in contacting everyone early, it is possible to overcome “the difficulties and challenges [that] arise in obtaining firm numbers, particularly so far out from the major activity” [comment by Chairman, RAAC Corporation].

As a result, in 2019 we were able to make a booking for a dinner for 60 and secure discounted accommodation.  Presently we have 64 attendees who have paid and another 20 whose payments are awaited. Because rooms sold so quickly, a second discount arrangement has had to be negotiated. Advance planning has also meant that we’ve been able to source photos/film etc and the AV presentation will be a real feature of the evening.  Collaboration and input on the part of all has paid real dividends. I think that there is a lesson here for representative organisations and those involved in future commemorations (the next being that for the Battle of Nui Le later this year and then that for the end of the Vietnam War).

PS.  Our last decision was to agree the menu, taking account of all dietary restrictions.

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7 February 2021

Where Does Responsibility Lie?

I have written on this before.  The following article has just been published …

War Crimes? What war crimes? Nothing to see here – Pearls and IrritationsPearls and Irritations (johnmenadue.com)

My response was:

“… when they are themselves symptomatic of a more serious and more dangerous systemic failure”.  I agree entirely!

When writing a unit history related to Vietnam, I discovered that material provided by DVA to Australian schools stated (and still does) that Australian soldiers shot enemy wounded and those who were unable to defend themselves. I asked if these matters had been investigated. The answer was no. I asked the Minister at the time, if he could give an assurance to the Australian public that such things could never happen again. He did. A submission has been made to the Inquiry; happy to provide a copy to the Australia Institute.

Another comment caught my eye:

“Mr Behm: thank you, that is pretty convincing. in major transport system accidents (rail, air, ships) there is a similar issue – temptation, particularly in house or in industry to blame the driver/pilot / mechanic. in such transport there is (should be) a very clear chain of command. when things go wrong, proper investigations often – usually – ask ‘how was the driver put in that position’ i.e. training, state of mind, managerial oversight. if nobody noticed the bad apples in the barrel, there needs to be better ways of looking at apples, and that involves some sheeting of responsibility to those who were supposed to look. Regards”.

My response?   Well said!

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6 February 2021

The Tank Capability of the Future Part 3

The introduction to my article in The Cove referred to following quote:

“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/ 

Greg Chalik commented that:

“Nicholas Drummond and the Australian Army share something, a tactical mindset. However, the Australian Government knows the Australian Army is a strategic military service, and expect the operational delivery of strategic options when needed. The ‘tank’ is merely a small part of the tactical solution-set to the above, but by the virtue of the size and weight, creates operational reach constraints to the tactical mission aim success. The systems engineering design challenge is therefore very different to the ‘tank’ designers in Australia as opposed to most other countries. Nicholas Drummond fails to address this challenge.”

My response was as below:

“Thanks for your input, Greg.

Operational reach constraints imposed by size and weight, equates to the need for a capability that is readily deployable over long distances.   I agree. 

The tank is merely a small part of the tactical solution-set, equates to a need to structure future operational forces in such a way that direct fire support can be provided in a deployable ‘all arms’ context.  I agree. 

As you point out …  the Australian Army’s operational requirements are driven by different priorities to other countries.  In this respect, developments of things like the APS might benefit Australia to a greater degree than other countries.”

There is a time lag re comments about Cove articles, nevertheless, I worry about the seeming lack of interest by those in this space today.  In 1973, as a 24yo at the Royal Armoured Corps Centre at Bovington. I was tasked with leading a team to design a tank for use outside NW Europe.  The task taught those involved so much about the tings that are important in AFVs.

I wonder if such critical thinking has a place today?

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5 February 2021.

(What happened to 4 February? … technology! Telstra were very helpful, but some things just do one’s mind in!)

The 1AR Assn Going Forward: Part 2.

Following on from yesterday …

The 1AR Assn President stated at the last AGM that:

“On a personal note, I do wish to address the continued attacks being made against the 1st Armoured Regiment Association and specifically some committee members. For all members, I as the President am disheartened and disgusted that people will continue to deride and accuse the committee of improprieties whilst knowing there is no ability to respond or challenge the allegation. The committee will continue to serve the members best interests, but will not react to bullying and inuendo”.

This is a worrying matter.  What is the C’tee being accused of?

This brings to mind the situation of the 1AR Assn’s ‘dark period’.  During this time, the C’tee were responsible for matters which were contrary to the regulatory requirements for an incorporated association.  Members were misled in this respect.  It was only when these things were brought into the open, that changes were made.

Is the same thing happening again?  Surely if the C’tee is accused of an impropriety, then it has every right to respond openly.  How can it be said that the C’tee has ‘no ability to respond or challenge the allegation’? 

As the saying goes: “sunlight is the best disinfectant”.  It is the worst possible thing to do, to sweep such allegations under the carpet.  Address them head on.  Then everyone knows that they are baseless; not to do so, results in doubt lingering.

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3 February 2021

The 1AR Assn Going Forward

Many of the shortcomings which have been highlighted previously, have been remedied; for example, financial management has been put on a sound footing and financial reports are prepared in accord with regulatory requirements; a Constitution has also properly developed and put in place in accord with these requirements (and has made available for members to view), minutes of C’tee meetings are now provided to members; AGMs are conducted in accord with regulatory requirements; and criteria for the Honour Roll has been investigated.  Congratulations to the C’tee for these and other matters!

However, the Association doesn’t serve former members of the 1st Armoured Regiment per se; it only exists to serve those who are members of the Assn. 

Many will say that this is self-evident, as proven by: “Certificates of Acknowledgement of their participation in Coral/Balmoral were sent to 34 Association members in late May/early June prior to the 52nd anniversary of those battles”.  These certificates weren’t sent to other members of 1 Armd Regt who fought in the battles of Coral-Balmoral.  This follows from the fact that the purposes of the Association apply only to members.  https://www.paratus.org.au/constitution

I thought that this ‘focus’ was changing; e,g. ‘Vale’ notices are now being posted on the 1AR Assn website for all members of 1 Armd Regt who have died, not just 1AR Assn members.  This is as it should be; but shouldn’t acknowledgement also be given to ALL those who served with distinction (whether or not they are Assn members)?  If it was, such action might well encourage greater membership.

Complete openness and transparency were also called for … more tomorrow.

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2 February 2021

Future AFVs

The following article was published recently: ‘Russia Field-Tests its Armoured ‘Terminator’By Nolan Peterson | December 03, 2020 https://coffeeordie.com/russian-terminator/

An extract is quoted below:

The Russian military is testing its first batch of “Terminator” tank support fighting vehicles.

Built on the chassis of Russia’s T-72 tank, the heavily armored Ramka-99 BMPT-72 tank support combat vehicle — colloquially known as the “Terminator” — is equipped with a lethal suite of weapons capable of destroying tanks, armored fighting vehicles, infantry, helicopters, and some aircraft. It’s also designed to protect its five-man crew from radiation after a nuclear blast.

A video posted by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation on both Facebook and Twitter on Monday shows several Terminators in a live-fire exercise alongside tanks from the 90th Tank Division in the Chelyabinsk region of the Urals. Under overcast skies, the armored formation advances across a snowy field while intermittently firing various weapons. Infantry are seen moving on foot behind the line of armor.

The video can be seen here: https://youtu.be/YVxACMZfnJK

In my article on the ‘The Tank of the Future’, I referred to the “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”.  “One argument is that a new grouping of complementary force capabilities is needed to capitalise on future capabilities, rather than relying on traditional organisational structures.”

It looks like Russia’s development of a Tank Support Vehicle is well along this path.

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1 February 2021

The Tank Capability of the Future Part 2

Following on from yesterday…

The article was published on 27 Jan 21.  One would’ve hoped that any comments would have been published by now.  Quite disappointing really.  On the other-hand … I posted the article to the RAAC Facebook page and encouraged quite a few comments.  Some of which are copied below.

John Cottis: G’day Bruce, can we say that the T-14 is [shown above] evidence that moving the crew into the hull resulted in weight and size savings? The T-14 is larger in every dimension in any comparison I’ve seen. It’s guaranteed to be heavier by around 10000kg than an earlier T-Series.

Bruce Cameron: Hi John, I’ve seen estimates of Armata ranging from 48 to 55 tonnes (maybe some confusion between tons and tonnes). Given that Leopard 2 and M1A1 Abrams are about 62 tonnes … the question is, how much extra protection has been able to be achieved by placing the crew in a cocoon below the gun (rather than protecting them in their own turret)? The point is … if you maintain traditional concepts, there is no way protection could be increased and weight reduced without APS (which the T-14 has).

Leonardus Ben Groenendijk: Some valid points. Restraints in size have always been based on rail movement, size of tunnels and bridging ability. In regard to attack from above that has been a problem from WW2. The Germans added additional spaced armour on top of the turrets and engine compartments. Along with mobile AA guns mounted on full and half tracked vehicles … something which Australia has never done even though the Gepard was available during the Leopard era. As for weight in armour protection it is a matter of inventing new forms of armour. Australia during WW2 invented a new armour for the Sentinel series of vehicles so why not now? Like everything it about money and sometimes not having a jungle fighter (infantry) mentality. Something akin to turning the Bushmaster into a tank/gun truck even though it was intended to transport troops in a/c comfort a 1000km up to the FEBA. At some point we are going to be on our own (again) so invent it and build it in Australia. And yes, I am an inventor and manufacturer so I have put my money where my mouth is… 

Bruce Cameron: Hi Leonardus, re your suggestion “As for weight in armour protection it is a matter of inventing new forms of armour” … the alternative is to invent new forms of protection, this is where the APS comes in. You may consider commenting on the post in ‘The Cove’, this will attract the attention of those who manage such things for the future.

Bruce Cameron: Thanks to you guys above for the comments above … interestingly there have been no responses from “The Home of the Australian Profession of Arms”. I wonder what this says about the state of affairs?

Shane Danau: See you all miss the main problem facing the army and that is we cannot deploy tracked AFV in number to most part off the country in time to be of any use. And if we did get them there. we do not have the resources to keep them in the field. So, do we need to look at a wheeled vehicle that can self-deploy or do we per deploy vehicle in most part off the country. Like we need some over here in the west. To deploy a track force to the N/W from the east coast would take a month or longer and them how to we seaport them

Russell Bird: We need to build 100s of thousands of drones with explosives. Deploy them all over the country. If Australia is invaded conventional weapons will be useless. We all know it.

Bruce Cameron: A comment from a former US Marine:

“Armor has always been a determining factor since WWI. Drones and tech can only take the battle so far and in the end, it is the rifleman, his weapon, will to win, and a damn big tank to back him up, that always gets the job done. Semper Fidelis.”

Just about says it all really.

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31 January 2021

The Tank Capability of the Future

The following article (by me) was recently published on The Cove (https://cove.army.gov.au/article/the-tank-capability-the-future) …

“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/ 

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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30 January 2021

HOC Briefing: 2020 RAAC Corporation AGM

The Corps RSM, Derek Simpson gave the briefing (https://raacansw.org.au/News.php).

Among the things he mentioned:

RAAC support for bushfires and COVID 19; the Army Skill at Arms Meeting; training being conducted remotely by SoA; the 50th Commemoration of Operation Hammersley; the driver training being conducted by 2/14 LHR (QMI) on Boxer; the upgrade to the Abrams; the possibility that the RAAC ARES might be involved in operating new surveillance equipment; the new Service Category (SERCAT) groupings; and work being done on sustaining the force structure into the future.

What didn’t he mention:

1.  The pressing need to right size the Abrams tank fleet (ie. acquire at least 30 more tanks);

2.  The role of the RAAC ARES and the platform (if any) it might be equipped with;

3.  Army’s operational capability gap brought about by the serviceability problems with the ASLAV and wait for the Boxer; and

4.  The coming 50th Commemoration of Operation Overlord.

I’ve asked if he had any comment re these points.  (I wonder if he was asked any questions about these matters at the AGM?)

PS.  He also raised the question: Do we need to maintain separate tank and cavalry crewmen’s ECNs?

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29 January 2021

Role of the RAAC ARES

Image: Dutch Army

I’ve thought that there was complete apathy as far as the RAAC ARES was concerned.  The following posts from the Black Beret Facebook page shows that this isn’t completely true:

Garry Wait: Sadly I suspect you are correct about the condition of the LAV’s but that hasn’t stopped giving Reserve units dated equipment previously. For better or worse Canadian reserve units had the 6 wheeled AVGP, Grizzly’s for the mech inf and Cougar’s (scorpion turret) for the “Lt Armoured” and later the 8 wheeled Bison which enabled them to at least to train in the matching rolls of their Regular equivalents with the advantge of not having hand me down vehicles.

In a similar vein bushmaster should have been slated as the Analog APC for all relative units especially after the debacle of the parent troop carriers. In the same way a wheeled AFV (successor to the Saladin?) would have been more appropriate for RAAC reserve units. Imagine being able to drive out the gate in a relevant wheeled vehicle do a route recce or 2hr road run to Pucka spend the weekend training then run home at the end. Not so easy in tracked vehicles

Matthew French And what is their role now? I know do you?  That’s the point you’ve missed, reserve units have to provide a certain capability now that is very different to what it might have been back in the 70’s and 80’s. Just because what it used to be, doesn’t mean is what it should have been, or what it can be…….

Terence O’Dowd: Tony [Geyer], I am pleased that someone else sees the solution, even it is one we were forced into using years ago. The Reserve Recon Regiments were indeed able to perform their tasks even with L/R, this was proven time and time again. The role was recon and that was not dependent on what veh you should have but what was on hand. Training could effectively be carried out from troop, squadron and Regimental level and a base for further detailed training was maintained.

Paratus Derek : Follow 13 Brigade as that brigade transitions. 9 Brigade will also go through some significant change over the coming years.

From 13 Bde Facebook Page (5 Jan 21): 2021 is going to be a big year for 13th Brigade. Starting from February, the Brigade will commence its transformation journey.

A multi-year, multi-dimensional evolution, to become the backbone of a standing Joint Task Force made up of a hybrid workforce.

Think new partnerships, new capabilities, and new approaches.

The transformation train is starting its engine, so jump on board, follow our page, and join us on this exciting journey.

I have emailed Derek Simpson to ask if he can you help explain what the above means and whether of not it will be a model for the ARES as a whole?

Summary:  There is concern about the ARES ability to maintain complex vehicle platforms, especially if they’re outdated; there is also confusion as to the role for the ARES.  Recon is one such role and there is a number of suitable platforms, but the provision of armoured mobility (using the PMV) is another valid role.

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28 January 2012

The Distinguished Conduct Medal Part 2.

Image: militaria.co

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and the right to express them.  Interestingly, when I posted yesterday’s blog on the RAAC Facebook page, there were 56 ‘likes’ and 26 comments.  Of those who commented there were three who thought that my post was inappropriate.  See below.

(i) David Paterson  At a time of personal loss, not sure this sort of pedantic administrative focused post isn’t tone deaf? Thank you John Carter for your service, sympathy to your family for their loss.

Bruce Cameron  Simply wanting to ensure that John Carter is recognised appropriately by our Nation. If you think that it’s a pedantic administrative matter, then I apologise.

David Paterson: Bruce, on RAAC pages that you don’t see, John Carter has been wonderfully remembered as a soldier, mentor and friend by those who he trained and those he served with. The order of awards didn’t seem as important to them as the quality of their relationships. This is not about order but the respect and honor for another who was loved.

Bruce Cameron: On Facebook pages that I see, John Carter has been wonderfully remembered as a soldier, mentor and friend by those who he trained and those he served with. My purpose was to highlight the bravery demonstrated by him (that might not be appreciated by all who knew him). It was not to do with the order of awards, per se.

Peter Purcell: Re the above: To be honest I found this very interesting. Pedantry appears to have been directed towards you Bruce

Bruce Cameron:  Everyone has their own perception/motivation, I just wanted to highlight the bravery demonstrated by John Carter (that might not be appreciated by all)

(ii) Jays Short:  Why does it matter? Are we really arguing over what is better, an instance of heroic galantry or a lifetime commitment to treating sick kids or furthering legal reform. Can’t we just recognise it all without having a pissing contest over which contribution matters more just because of the position of letters on a list?

Bruce Cameron: I don’t know about you … I’m just putting forward a case that Australians should understand what the criteria for the awards are, ie. whether it be for helping sick kids or displaying exceptional gallantry in action.

(iii)  Simon Mason: Why bring this up? Well apart from the whole ‘ look at me I know more than you’.

Not worth the time responding!!  But someone else did.

Anthony R Williams:  Because some adults can have a discussion without being tools.

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27 January 2021

Distinguished Conduct Medal

Sadly, John Carter, OAM, DCM passed away just recently.  The 1AR Assn referred to him as John Carter, DCM, OAM.  This might be thought to be correct, but it’s not.

The DCM was introduced in 1854 by Queen Victoria for extraordinary gallantry in action by other ranks.  It was second only to the VC in this respect.  The equivalent award for officers was the DSO for Gallantry (for which Major Harry Smith was recommended for Long Tan.)

The Australian Honours System was introduced in 1975.  In terms of its order of precedence, the DCM ranks below the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) and the Public Service Medal (PSM).  Supposedly for us, therefore, gallantry isn’t rated all that important in the scheme of things.

Of course, if you were an officer and were awarded the second level award for gallantry, you’d be way higher in our order of precedence.  Is it right that gallantry is assessed on the basis of what rank you held?  Of course not, and this has been rectified in the revised British award scheme.  All ranks in the British Army are now eligible, for example, to be awarded the MC (and awards can now be made posthumously, whereas previously only the VC and mid could be so awarded). 

In the British order of precedence, the DCM is way higher than the MC.  This is only right as the DCM was the second level of award and the MC was the third (after the VC and DSO). Whereas in our system, the opposite is the case; the MC has precedence over the DCM (the officer thing again).

Seems to me that the Brits have got it right in terms of recognising what constitutes acts of gallantry … whereas we allocate more importance to administrative efficiency in the public service.  How did this come about, and more importantly, how can it be fixed?

John Carter’s award needs to be seen in the context of the Imperial awards at the time it was made; ie, second only to the VC in terms of “DECORATIONS, MEDALS FOR GALLANTRY AND DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT”.

PS.  It’s been suggested that all Imperial awards are rated less that Australian awards as they are ‘foreign’, but this doesn’t hold true, as the MC is given higher precedence than the MG. 

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27 January 2021

RAAC Matters

A Google search for RAAC ARES brought up an article that I wrote for Contact magazine in 2018.  I thought it worthy of copying below, as the ‘issues’ still exist.  Two of the comments made are copied at the end.

Armour in the Australian Army: Is There Something Wrong? Part 3

How does a mechanised infantry battalion work?

Let’s start with a single IFV … three crew (driver, gunner and commander), plus eight dismounts.  So this is an infantry section, three IFVs plus the platoon HQ IFV.  It is assumed that the section commander is also the IFV commander, as is the platoon commander.

The concept of the IFV is that it is able to accompany Abrams tanks onto an enemy objective.  What happens at this point?  The tanks pursue the retreating enemy or defend against a counter-attack; the IFVs dismount their troops to secure the position.

Does the IFV commander dismount to command his section?  If he does, presumably there is a spare IFV/section commander among the dismounts.  If the section commander/IFV commander needs to remain in the IFV to control supporting fire, presumably the spare commander dismounts to command the infantry section on the ground.

One would imagine that a mechanised battalion has its own career progression, separate to a non-mechanised battalion, i.e. you start off as a dismount, promoted to dismount section commander, then become an IFV driver, gunner, crew commander; then platoon sergeant etc etc.

But wouldn’t it be much more effective, if the inf sections dismounted and came under command of their platoon commander …basic infantry tactics then occurred, with fire support from the AFVs being provided by AFV crews, i.e. RAAC personnel.

How do you integrate basic RAAC tank* skills, D&S, gunnery crew commanding etc, with infantry fieldcraft, to make them a single employment code?  If this is not possible and it’s necessary to have two separate employment codes … why not have ECN Infantry and ECN Armour; allowing the two arms to specialise in and develop their respective strengths?

Is it possible that we are to see another failure in terms of planning, similar to that which allowed the RAAC ARES to be relegated to a dismounted role (as the new AFVs are too complex for them to operate)?  How incredible is the thinking here?  Turn ARA infantry into RAAC personnel and ARES RAAC personnel into infantry.  Why not allocate relatively easy to operate vehicles such as HAWKEI to the RAAC ARES to enable them to develop reconnaissance skills and allow them to integrate with ARA cavalry squadrons (not only as ‘dismounts’).

*P.S.  The IFV in the British Army is referred to as a ‘medium tank’.

Comments::

(i) “Some ARES Cav units ( i.e. 4/19 PWLH) currently operate the Bushmaster PMV already so your concept of giving them simpler vehicles such as the Hawkei is already occurring.

The mechanised battalion structure had the section 2IC or a PTE soldier commanding the section vehicle and a Mech CPL commanding the PL COMDs platform. Once a platoon is in the assault, the section and platoon commanders dismount to control the fight. The vehicles are coordinated by the Mech CPL under direction of the PL commander.

Career progression included normal infantry progression but members could specialise as driver/commander the same as you could specialise as a sniper, mortar number or reconnaissance patrolman. A mechanised specialist will still need to maintain rifleman skills so that they can transition as required by unit manning.

Armoured corps operates differently to infantry and integration in an infantry battalion has its challenges including command structures when mounted or dismounted. By maintaining infantry crew members, it negates those integration difficulties and command structures are clearly defined. Additionally, having 343 qualified crew aligns thought processes so they keep their “dismounted hat” on while operating vehicles. They know from experience what is happening on the ground from experience.

(ii) “Bruce Cameron makes a very relevant comment – but I think we are all missing the point of what the Army’s planners are trying to achieve – without stating it – they want Mechanized Infantry units with wheeled armoured vehicles operated by Infantry personnel, and the Armoured Cavalry Regiments with tracked armoured vehicles operated by RAAC personnel – not much has changed in that regard. Infantry will retain their Skills based ECN and Armour will retain their Skills based ECN.
Bruce’s point about ARES Armoured units being issued with Hawkei – a very sensible suggestion – makes you wonder why it came from someone based in Canberra actually….”.

Note: I find the suggestion above interesting … ie. the pl comd dismounts to control the ground attack, while simultaneously controlling the direct fire support from the IFVs.  Surely, these are two very different tasks, requiring the complete attention of whoever is responsible for either.

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RAAC ARES: Something’s Going On (or is About to)!

Image: Army Technology

The following report is included on the RAAC NSW website.  It relates to an address at the 2020 Cambrai dinner (https://raacansw.org.au/News.php):

“Those who gathered appreciated a briefing by Major General Krause [former member of the Corporation advisory board] on the Corps’ future. The possibility of 10LH regaining Regimental status and that the Hawkeye will be both a Regular and Reserve RAAC platform were welcome pieces of intelligence.”

The reference to 10LH is reflected in the unit’s presentation to the RAAC Corporation AGM. This is great news, but the reference to Hawkei being provided to the RAAC ARES is something even bigger; something that has long been awaited.

This has meant that the Armouredadvocates goal 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”, has been moved to ‘Pending’

The above site provides access to the reports of all RAAC units, as well as a video update by the Corps RSM.

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24 January 2021

Where does Responsibility Lie?’ Part 2

An earlier post ‘Where does Responsibility Lie?’ addressed failings in Government in relation to effectively training the ADF for the operations it was to be deployed on.  The email below has been received from DVA; my response follows:

“Dear DVA,

Thank you for your response. Interestingly, I see the AFP mentioned below … when I rang them to report the alleged murder of an enemy soldier in Vietnam, they said “It’s nothing to do with us”.  When I rang the Defence whistle-blower number, they said it’s a Department of Defence matter.  When I contacted Defence, they said it’s a DVA matter.

Anyway, I see changes have been made.  Whereas previously DVA’s educational material to Year 10 students stated that Australian soldiers in Vietnam were guilty of “killing the badly wounded, shooting enemy who had surrendered or who were clearly no threat”; now the material adds that “these are isolated and not typical incidents”.  What difference should this make?  Should not EVERY murder be investigated and measures introduced into ADF training to stop such a thing happening again?

How does DVA know about the allegations above?  No investigation was ever conducted (despite my requests that this be done).  It seems to be just hearsay.

The worst part of it all, however, is that, despite knowing that these atrocities had allegedly been conducted … nothing was done to prevent the same thing happening in future wars, despite the fact that the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs stated that measures had been put in place to assure this.”

Email from DVA:

“The issue you raise (war crimes) sits outside the remit of the Commissions and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  The Department is supportive of Government’s efforts to address the issues raised by the Brereton report.  As you may be aware, Government has recently announced the establishment of the Office of the Special Investigator in the Department of Home Affairs portfolio, to investigate matters arising from the report.  I note from your correspondence that you have previously corresponded with a number of agencies and ministers, including the IGADF Inquiry, in relation to your concerns.  I also note that you have contacted the Safe Zone Support number, I hope you found the service useful.

If you have not already done so, you may wish to raise your concerns with following agencies:

  1. The Defence Ombudsman (see Defence Force Ombudsman, call: 1300 362 072);
  2. Department of Defence, Military Justice (see https://www.defence.gov.au/mjs/, call: (02) 6265 2999); and
  3. The Australian Federal Police (see https://www.afp.gov.au/contact-us/report-commonwealth-crime).

Thank you again for your email and taking the time to raise your concerns with the Department.”

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23 January 2021

Capability Gap: ARA Recon/RAAC ARES Part 4

Image: RAACA NSW

Finishing the series of posts reflecting the discussion on the Black Berets website … one contributor said:

“Not withstanding the lack of support, funding etc for our local reserve forces, pretty much every piece of equipment we have is or has been used by reserve/ territorial units elsewhere in the world.

It really depends on what the ADF wants from the GRES, including Navy and Airforce.

The CMF/GRES was formed back in 1948 to fulfill a defence requirement. For many years that has been to mirror the roles of their Regular counterparts. In the last 3-4 decades that requirement has obviously has changed due to changes internationally but more often simply funding constraints.

As eluded to by others more knowledgeable than myself, there seems to be a lack of insight or direction what to do with the almost 29,000 tri-services personnel “on the books”.

Should they be disbanded? How many are ineffective and more importantly why? I admit a tech bias having been around a RAAC ARES unit since the early 70’s (around 9yo).

There has been a lot of restructuring of the Regular ADF, the development of the ACR’s for Army, the LHD’s and AWDDG for Navy and F-35’s for Airforce.

Now that those are pretty much sorted maybe it’s time to deep dive into the GRES and come to terms with do we still need them and if so what roles can they fill and are there capability gaps they are particularly suited for.

Obviously, funding will be raised as an issue somewhere but, as was shown in the taxed pay and limited paid man-days of the 80s, people will still turn up for parade if they have a focus.

Anything like the current indifference by all levels of DoD and ad hoc short-term attempts to re-role personnel because “what else do we do?” isn’t really going to work in the end.”

I replied to say:

“The following is from my response to Eamon’s article on The Cove: “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 instill 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. “

The response to which was:

“And there is the problem. No one in senior levels of authority (civilian or military) wants to do their job and designing what and where the reserve contingent fits into the defence structure overall. They can’t even sort out exactly what they want from the regular formations either. The on again / off again 155 SPG acquisition shows that as well as others.”

It is great to see such discussion taking place.  If only the RAAC Corporation could take up the gauntlet (but this will never happen, given the fact that they cannot advocate a position which is not in line with that of the HOC.  Interestingly, this is not the HOC policy.  One might wonder where such direction came from.

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22 January 2021

Capability Gap: ARA Recon/RAAC ARES Part 3

Image: The Cove

Following on from earlier, other posts on the Facebook page were:

“Problem is the ASLAV is stuffed. One year on ops was the same as five years peace time training. These are actual figures based on kms driven. They are beyond useful life just like the M113.”

“1AR are trialling LRVs with Hawkei using both to see if it’s viable”.

My response:

“Thanks … the concern is why this has to happen. If Boxer had replaced the ASLAV on time, there would be no problem for the ACR recon sqns; but these have had to be reduced to less than half strength, so an interim option has had to be investigated. A gap in the ADF operational capability has been exposed which should never have happened (and won’t be admitted). It’s not the fault of one person or one area, but the system as a whole (including the Defence Minister). Those working in CASG have worked their butts off, but have been let down. Sadly, this is something which had been predicted.”

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21 January 2021

One of the Greatest Challenges for the ADF

The following article was published on Army’s Cove recently: ‘effective-communication’ by Kyle Myers (see below).   https://cove.army.gov.au/article/effective-communication

My response is copied below:

Hi Kyle, Well done in tackling what is probably one of the most important challenges in the ADF. If there is confusion and no opportunity to clarify, it’s likely that the objective won’t be achieved. Seems to me that the issue of consultation is critical.

I went for a job interview post the Army and one of the questions was: “Well you’ve been in the Army, so you wouldn’t know anything about industrial democracy (ID) … would you? I surprised the panel by informing them that the Army is one of the most ID experienced of all organisations: before planning a task, the participants are canvassed for their ideas; before commencing, the plan is fully explained to all involved; on completion, feedback is sought from participants.

I explained that effective two-way communication is seen as fundamental to success. (I got the job.)

PS. I had to Google ‘HOTO’.

Kyle Myers is a Warrant Officer Class Two in Royal Corps of Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME

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20 January 2021

Capability Gap: ARA Recon/RAAC ARES Part 2

Following on from yesterday … posts re the RAAC ARES included the following:

“I attended many RAAC Corps Conferences in the late 1990’s and had 1st hand exposure to the lack of support for the ARES RAAC units.”

“Always wondered about the commitment and support by SOME in high places and the RAAC to Reserve.”

“As the guy who got the job to introduce light cav I can tell you exactly why it happened. It was either re role to some interim platform or disband all of the Reserve RAAC units. There was very little support from ARA RAAC pers so in short the reserve units are lucky to still exist. Our thoughts in doing this was one day a new platform might come along. If it does it’s easier to convert from light cav than have to try and justify creating a unit from scratch. We were then able to sell the capability to Defence Force Renumeration Tribunal and achieve pay group 5.

One of the problems was the fixation some COs had on using bushmaster as a recon vehicle. They missed the whole point of light cav and the PMV which is only an armoured truck.

Also army just doesn’t have enough equipment to go around. Not enough radios not enough B veh and there will now never be enough A veh. Ares crews can operate LAV Abraham and their replacements. The problem is maintenance. The US use civilian tradesman to keep their reserve equivalent equipment going but this is never going to happen is Aust.”

There is no doubt, the RAAC has dropped the ball with respect to the ARES (as has been pointed out in past Blog posts)!

More to follow on this.

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19 January 2021

Capability Gap: ARA Recon/RAAC ARES Part 1

Image: ASPI

Following a discussion on the Black Berets Facebook page, I posted as follows:

“It’s been a fascinating discussion and great to see the interest. Firstly, the LAV situation … we have a serviceability situation which has reduced our recon sqns to two troops of four vehicles each. There is undoubtedly an Army capability gap and this will continue until sufficient vehicles are available to equip squadrons at their full entitlement (and then retrain their members accordingly). The Boxer was to have been in service and units deployable by the end of 2020. There is likely to be a three year lag here.

Secondly, the RAAC ARES … there have been some good articles on Army’s Cove website re the situation. As has been well put here, unless they have a platform which enables them to develop and maintain mobile warfare skills, the capability gap in our defence preparedness will be unprecedented. The Hawkei would be a satisfactory vehicle [once the reliability/safety issues are resolved]… is there any connection here with regard to the report that 1 Armd Regt is involved in user trials (?).”

A response to my question threw new light on the capability gap which exists.  Edited version below:

“I Armd Regt are trialling a light cavalry squadron mounted in G-Wagon SRV [Special Reconnaissance Vehicle]. My hope is that it’s similar in structure to how British light cavalry are operating and I look forward to being part of it.

A six car troop with troop HQ mounted in two Hawkeis and the “gun cars” in SRV appears to be the option at the moment.  2CAV have also been using the SRV .

I’m of the opinion that the fundamentals of mounted manoeuvre don’t change, regardless of platform.

I’m also very much of the opinion that the British Army concept of reserve/Yeomanry in a light cavalry role is very workable in an Australian construct (while reserve units with A Vehicles is not something we can support).

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18 January 2020

Rubbish Articles That Influence Public Opinion

Image: The Diplomat

The following articles appeared one after the other in my inbox.  The worry is that the segments of the population being targeted … believe their content.

‘If China Invades Taiwan, Taipei Plans To Throw A Thousand Tanks At The Beachhead’.  Ian Easton, a Taiwan expert with the Project 2049 Institute in Virginia. https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2020/12/09/if-china-invades-taiwan-taipei-plans-to-throw-a-thousand-tanks-at-the-beachhead/?sh=171c51ae6f93

“If China invades Taiwan and succeeds in landing troops on the island country’s southwestern beaches, expect brutal tank battles to help decide the outcome.

The Taiwanese army on paper possesses around 1,200 main battle tanks—480 American-made M-60A3s plus 450 CM-11s and 250 CM-12s. The CM-11 pairs a modified M-48 turret with an M-60 chassis. The CM-12 is an M-48 with the same modified turret as the CM-11.

These tanks are old. The youngest, the M-60s, date from the 1970s. Taipei recently bought 108 new M-1s from the United States for $1.3 billion in order to begin replacing some of its oldest and weariest tanks. The first M-1 isn’t due to arrive until 2023.”

My response: how would China invade Taiwan?  Leading with an amphibious landing … surely not.  The preliminary moves would be orchestrated by ‘agents’ to sabotage Taiwanese infrastructure such as electricity generation; water supply; telecommunications; and roads by which Taiwanese forces would deploy to landing sites.  Electronic hacking would be used to disrupt command and control centres, radars and anti-aircraft systems (all of which would have been pre-planned and tested).  Commandos would come ashore during the night prior.  Explosives are set against coastal defences adjacent to selected landing points.  

The attack would likely be made via an assault landing at a Taiwanese airport, with a diversionary coastal attack.  Airborne forces might also be employed.  Missiles and drones would be used against political and military headquarters.  ‘A thousand tanks’? … they are almost redundant.

No sooner had I drafted the above than another email lobs into my inbox (obviously written by a contemporary of the author above).  It states much as I have above.  Extracts copied below.

‘Here’s What Could Happen If China Invaded Taiwan: That scenario, while still remote, is being taken more seriously these days.’ By Samson Ellis 8 October 2020. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-10-07/here-s-what-could-happen-if-china-invaded-taiwan

“I am increasingly concerned that a major crisis is coming,” said Ian Easton, senior director at the Project 2049 Institute who wrote “The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan’s Defense and American Strategy in Asia.” “It is possible to envision this ending in an all-out invasion attempt and superpower war. The next five to 10 years are going to be dangerous ones. This flash point is fundamentally unstable.”

Beijing’s optimistic version of events goes something like this: Prior to an invasion, cyber and electronic warfare units would target Taiwan’s financial system and key infrastructure, as well as U.S. satellites to reduce notice of impending ballistic missiles. Chinese vessels could also harass ships around Taiwan, restricting vital supplies of fuel and food.

As Chinese ships speed across the strait, thousands of paratroopers would appear above Taiwan’s coastlines, looking to penetrate defences, capture strategic buildings and establish beachheads through which the PLA could bring in tens of thousands of soldiers who would secure a decisive victory.

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17 January 2021

The Blog

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.

If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. ” (Old African saying)

It’s been six years, starting February 2015.  A post every day, apart from a few days R&R.

I’ve just had cause to review the Blog as it appears to readers (which is something I hardly ever do).

The first postings were to a series of topics (such as Association News; People; History, Equipment, etc).  Daily posts then would advise which topics had been updated.  In some ways, I wish that I’d been able to stick with this concept. 

It would have enabled better value to be accessed from the various topics.  Unfortunately, it was somewhat confusing for the reader and unwieldly for the blogger.  I appreciate that the solution was to do a daily blog with subjects being indexed.  I’ve started, too late unfortunately, to do the indexing.

Nevertheless, when I look back over six years, there is a lot of RAAC history and social commentary that has been recorded if one scrolls through the Blog.  Maybe it will be archived, maybe not.

I intend to finish the Blog and make the last post, following the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of Operation Overlord on 7 June 2021.

Hopefully, by then I will have finished my autobiography and will be free to devote some time to metal detecting.  I’ve had about two day’s experience detecting on the south coast beaches, but I think the quest for buried treasure has got hold of me.  ‘Pixie’ Webster’s book might have something to do with this. 

If anyone would like to take over the Blog (under a different title possibly), I’d be happy to talk.  It seems such a pity that there is no other forum to openly discuss RAAC issues on an informed basis. 

Tank crews were sent to Vietnam inadequately trained because of a shortcoming in encouraging the open debate of ‘set’ ideas at the time.  The more that such discussion is closed down, the more likely it is that the same thing will happen again.

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16 January 2021

Future Tank Planning in the UK

New Rheinmetall Tech Demo Tank with 130mm Smoothbore turret.

A recent Blog examined the future for tanks and what the next tank might look like.  It’s of interest to see the British Army’s planning as set out in https://www.iiss.org/blogs/military-balance/2020/08/british-army-tank-upgrade-weighing-the-prospects

Rather than a new tank, they plan to upgrade the Challenger 2.  The Challenger 3 is intended to serve until at least 2035.

Extracts from the article follow:

… the army plans to replace one of the 3rd Division’s armoured infantry brigades in 2024 with a strike brigade equipped with medium armoured vehicles. As a result, the UK tank fleet will then reduce by about one-third, cutting the number of tanks to around just 145 vehicles.

The army is believed to be particularly concerned about the potential threat from the yet-to-enter-service Russian T14 Armata tank, which has a 125mm gun that fires both kinetic-energy anti-tank rounds and a guided missile. The Russian MBT also has a remote turret and active protection.  

Media reports and statements by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) all indicate that the programme includes fitting a Rheinmetall 120mm smooth-bore gun, compatible with ammunition for the US and German tanks, and allowing further firepower improvements. The British also require a gun-launched anti-tank missile. RBSL has developed a new turret to accommodate this, displayed at the September 2019 Defence and Security Exhibition International in London. Survivability of the tanks is also to be improved with the fitting of a ’soft kill’ active protection system. [Soft-kill refers to electronic or laser like systems, as distinct to conventional munitions.]

The reference to a 120mm smoothbore is countered by another publication:

“Rheinmetall’s 130mm smoothbore technology for MBTs embodies a significant lethality leap in times of increasing threats. Combined with a state-of-the-art auto-loader, this system is the latest evolvement in Rheinmetall’s MBT Advanced Technologies competence.” 

This would seem in keeping with a new tank concept, rather than an upgrade.

PS.  Just heard that my article on the ‘Tank of the Future’ (an earlier blog post) is to be published on the Army’s ‘Cove’ later this month.  It will be interesting to see what discussion it may generate.

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15 January 2021

The RAAC/RAEME Partnership

It will be seen from the email below to the RAEME National Assn that I had hoped that RAEME might be officially represented at the National Commemoration of Operation Overlord on 6 June 2021:

“This is the enquiry I made to DVA:

Just wondering what might have been decided re DVA’s position in relation to my suggestion that a RAEME rep be invited as an official guest to the Commemoration (my proposal explained that my tank troop which attacked the enemy position comprised three tanks and an ARV … the RAEME crew on ARV having exactly the same responsibilities as the tank crews).

This is the answer I received:

DVA would not normally extend an official invitation to each individual Corps that served within the units from Operation Overlord or the Battle of Long Khanh. However we would anticipate their attendance clearly at the service as a former members of that particular unit or sub unit.

Sorry that I couldn’t do more.  I had hoped that the RAEME HOC might have been invited

PS.  My mother is the WAAAF you feature in the Assn header.”

I thought to myself … at least I tried; but the surprise was on me.  As seen in the last line, one of the images used by the RAEME Assn in their header, was of my mother.  I never knew her in terms of my memory (she died when I was three), however, I was aware that “she had been chosen to be the face of WAAAF recruiting posters”.

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14 January 2021

Defence Strategy: The Fundamental Problem as Far as the Australian People Are Concerned (Part II)

The article below was published on 11 Jan 21. 

What do our political leaders stand for? – Pearls and Irritations Pearls and Irritations (johnmenadue.com)

It raised similar issues to those I referred to on the Blog on 7 Jan 21.

My response was:

“We need leaders and institutions that make clear what they stand for on key values and principles which are then translated into policies and programs.” [Quote from Article]

‘I agree completely … but there is another facet to this.
Australians today, distrust what their leaders and institutions tell them.
A major challenge is to improve this level of trust so that commitments made attract the confidence and backing of the nation as a whole.
How to successfully achieve this is well beyond my pay grade.’

Two other readers responded to my comment, one of whom said:’’

“Ask yourself why Jacinda Ardern became a leader with so much support from her people as revealed in the last NZ elections. And not only from her own country, but also world-wide over her compassionate reaction to the Christchurch terrorist attack.

It revolves around authenticity in my view, and showing the people you actually genuinely care about them.”

My response was: “I think we are pressing the same button. As Jack Waterford mentioned today … it’s about restoring faith in the people we vote for. I said ‘trust’; I think these are interchangeable. Jacinda achieved this, ie. the personal qualities that make her a leader, shone through. I believe we are in need of more leadership and less politicisation.”

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13 January 2021

RAAC History: The Future

I just had reason to look into the circumstances of the death of one of those on the 1AR Assn Honour Roll. As a result, I emailed the Secretary to say: 

“I’ve just been given cause to visit the circumstances involving one of those on the Honour Roll (Killed Accidently).

It occurred to me that it won’t be long before there is no-one who is aware of the nature of their deaths.

I would be prepared to help provide ‘official’ verification of these events; so that a short note could be ‘attached’ to the Roll”.

While I haven’t had a response from the Secretary, this made me wonder as to what the ‘transition process’ might be for website based RAAC ‘history’; given that those who served in Vietnam are nearing their use by dates.

There is an enormous amount of RAAC history tied up in these websites (as a result of the tremendous efforts of those involved over the years) … but should it just fade away? 

I mentioned to the RAAC Historian (John Baines) that I believe that such websites can be preserved by the National Library for future historical reference.

John responded to say that he would appreciate this info as “sadly, I have observed the loss of many records over the years from both civil and military institutions as staff change over”.

Those interested might like to go to: pandora.nla.gov.au .  It will be seen that under Defence, there is a sub-category: ‘Unit Associations’.  Archives are being collected for Assns such as the Australian Army Band Corps, but absolutely nothing for any RAAC unit associations.

I like the following story from the 3 Cav Forum:

“The curator of the Light Horse Museum in Armidale received a letter from an old Light Horseman some years ago.

It turned out that this gentleman was the last man standing from his Sqn.

He had an amount of Sqn funds from his old unit and could not see any way of spending the money, so he asked the curator if he would it for the Museum.

The donor was thanked and the money used for the betterment of the museum.

There will always be a last man standing, but will it be the right man?”

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12 January 2021

LAND 400 Phase 2 Part II

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Image: Defence

Yesterday’s post made me wonder where things were at in terms of the Boxer variants to be procured.  We have 121 recon vehicles fitted with the Lance turret … what are the remaining 90 variants made up of?

It took a while and I was only able to ascertain that the 196 to be built here will comprise 121 recon, 10 recovery; 15 command; 29 joint fires and surveillance; and 11 repair.  There is also an option for 11 ambulance variants.  (As mentioned yesterday, the 25 being delivered from Germany comprise 12 recon and 13 ‘multi-purpose’ variants.)

I was surprised that there were no APC variants.  Does this mean that the Phase 3 IFV will fulfill this role, or will recon troops operate without assault troopers (or as per the ARES role, ‘dismounted cavalry scouts’)?

It’s been mentioned in an earlier Blog that the current organisation (Plan Keogh) is for two recon troops per squadron and four ASLAVs per troop.  The former CO 2 CAV refused to base troop training on four vehicle troops, insisting that six vehicles must be used (achieving this by reallocating vehicles for specific training periods).  He is, of course, quite right, ie. false lessons would otherwise be learnt. 

Why four vehicles per troop etc?  One has to presume that this is related to ASLAV serviceability.  The CRV capability was to have been in service and capable of deployment NLT end 2020.  It would seem that the capability gap will extend for at least three years.

It makes you wonder why there is not more public debate regarding RAAC matters.  I’ve heard what there is, being referred to as a ‘wasteland’.  Pity that the RAAC Corporation will not entertain any such role. 

Leaving this aside … it would appear that LAND 400 Phase 2 will provide sufficient recon vehicles to equip three troops per squadron with six vehicles per troop (plus repair pool, SOA, RTC etc).  Pity about the capability gap (shuush!)  This will be extended by the time taken to effectively retrain units to a level of proficiency using ‘real’ vehicle numbers.

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11 January 2021

LAND 400 Phase 2: Where are we?

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Image: Defence Connect

Personnel.  There is no information that I could find regarding the replacement of Brig Greg McGlone (successor to Ben James) as DG LAND 400.  Readers will recall that he left the position suddenly last August (one defence magazine referring to him as having ‘been removed’, but there is no basis to assume this).  He was reported to have been temporarily replaced by Sarah Myers, an asst sec in CASG. Who has been appointed (if anyone) seems a mystery.

Two RAAC officers currently hold important positions: Alan Hamley (Project Director) and John Holloway (Project Manager).  John was CO 1 Armd Regt 2018-2020.

Delivery. Five of the 25 German built vehicles (12 turreted and 13 multi-purpose) have been delivered to 2/14 LHR (QMI) and crew training is underway.  The project covers the procurement of 211 vehicles, 186 of which will be constructed here (commencing in 2022). 

Configuration.  The Lance 30mm two-man turret is to be fitted to the 133 reconnaissance variants.  Electro Optics Systems have been selected to provide the Remote Weapons Station which will be fitted to the multi-purpose variants,

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10 January 2021

1 AR Assn Honour Roll (Cont)

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Continuing from the previous two posts … another email:

“Dear Secretary,

Following on from my earlier emails, the 1AR Honour Roll currently lists:

Killed In Action: WO2 J.A. Bond, WO2 J. Stone, TPR J. Kerr

Died of Wounds: TPR M. Hannaford, WO2 T. Phillips

DOW Post-Vietnam: WO1 L. S. Swarbrick, WO2 N. Lowes, TPR P G. Barwick, TPR R. S. Bellott

Killed Accidentally: LT A. J. Massey, SGT R. Morrison, SGT R. G. Murray, TPR A. M. Jordan, TPR A. Patterson, CFN B. Silver (LAD)

If the AGM decides to continue listing former members of 1 Armd Regt; those who DOW post-Vietnam; and those who were killed accidently, the following matters should be considered:

Title: The current title ‘Dedicated to those 1st Armoured Regiment Soldiers that made the ultimate sacrifice’ suggests that all those listed were serving in 1 Armd Regt at the time of their death.  The following would be more correct: ‘Dedicated to former members of 1st Armoured Regiment who made the ultimate sacrifice [possibly include: ‘as a consequence of engaging the enemy’].

Died of Wounds: WO2 N Lowes should be included.  He did not die ‘post-Vietnam’, but within the prescribed period of the War.  This is why he is listed on the ROH at the AWM.

DOW Post-Vietnam:

(i)  CPL A M Anderson, mid (1 Armd Regt) should be included.  He was WIA at the same time as Tpr P G Barwick; his wounds were as extensive and contributed significantly to his death (as recognised by DVA); and

(ii) Sgt J Stones (3 Cav Regt) should also be included.  He suffered very significant wounds in 1969 and these undoubtedly contributed to his death (as recognised by DVA).

Bruce”

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9 January 2021

1 AR Assn Honour Roll (2 of 2)

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Following on from yesterday, the second email to the Secretary, 1AR Asssn:

“You have written to members to advise that they will be required to select one of the following options at the AGM:

The three options including additional information in italics) are as follows:
Option 1 – to include only those officially recognised as either KIA or DOW and those that were killed accidently, whilst serving with the 1st Armoured Regiment. 
The Honour Roll would include James Kerr (KIA), Mick Hannaford (DOW) and Noel Lowes (recognised by DVA and AWM as having died as a result of his service in Vietnam and within the two [2] year period.  IN addition, the following six (6) members who were killed accidently whilst on military activity with the Regiment:  Cfn B Silver (1961), Tpr AM Jordan (1962), Sgt R Morrison (1965), Lt AK Massey (1982), Tpr A Patterson (1984) and Sgt RG Murray (1986).
Option 2 – as for Option 1 but also to include a separate listing for former members of the Regiment who were either KIA or DOW whilst serving with other unitsThis includes Cpl P Clements (KIA with 1 APC Sqn [1966]), WO2 TD Phillips (DOW with AATTV [1966]), Cfn D Borlace (KIA with 3 Cav Regt [1968]), Cpl P Malone [KIA with 3 Cav Regt ), WO2 JA Bond (KIA with AATTV [1969]0, Sgt J Stones (DOW with 3 Cav Regt [1971]) and Lcpl J McCarthy (KIA with 3 Cav Regt [1971). It is possible that there may be additional members who were either KIA or DOW with other units in Korea, Vietnam or any other conflict since that period in time.
Option 3 – as for Option 2 but also to include a separate listing for all those who had been entitled to a DVA official commemorationHowever, the inclusion of such members would be subject to the approval of their NOK.  Known additions include WO1 L Swarbrick, Tpr R Barwick, Tpr R Bellott and Cpl A Anderson. However, there are many hundreds of Vietnam veterans, as well as veterans from other conflicts who have died from conditions such as cancer, etc that the DVA have acknowledged that their deaths may be attributed to their accepted conditions.  DVA Official Commemoration does not mean that they died of their wounds. [Neither does listing on the AWM ROH, as discussed.]

A different ‘take’ on these three options is provided below for information:

Given that those members of 1 Armd Regt listed on the Honour Roll at the AWM are those who died either from any reason during their active service (enemy action, illness, accident) or from service-related consequences within the prescribed period, it makes sense for those who members who died as a result of an accident during training to be listed in the same way on the 1AR Assn Honour Roll.

Two questions remain.  The first is whether or not members who died as a consequence of their active service, but after the prescribed period for the War in which they served, should also be listed.  These people are recognised by DVA by virtue of an entitlement to an Official Commemoration.  Given, the extent, it might be decided that listing all those who suffered from PTSD or cancer (for example) goes beyond the purpose of the Honour Roll.  It might, therefore, be found that the Roll should only list those who sustained wounds while engaging the enemy which subsequently contributed to their death (like the US Vietnam Wall). 

The final question is … should former members of 1 Armd Regt who died as a consequence of their active service with another unit, be listed on the 1AR Assn Honour Roll (as above being limited to death from enemy action)?  The answer to this question might be considered in light of the fact that 1 Armd Regt has not been on active service since 1971.  But former members have served with other units on active service.  While the majority of the current membership is unlikely to know those who served with other units in Vietnam, they are likely to know their contemporaries who served in more recent conflicts.

You also advised members in the last newsletter that:

“The following members, listed on the Honour Roll were not serving with, or posted to, 1st Armoured Regiment at the time of their death: a. WO2 JA (Chesty) Bond (RAAC) – KIA whilst serving with AATTV b. WO2 TD (Tom) Phillips (RAAC) – DOW whilst serving with AATTV c. WO2 J Stone (RAINF) – DOW whilst serving with AATTV There also appears to be some confusion as to whether the listing for ‘Stone’ should actually be for Sgt J Stones RAAC who may have DOW after being Wounded in Action (WIA) whilst serving with B Sqn 3 Cav Regt. It should be noted, however, that the AWM Roll of Honour does not have a listing for Sgt Stones and therefore he was not either KIA or officially categorised as DOW. In fact, James Stones did not pass away until 1991, which is well outside the two (2) period used by the DVA”.

I’m sure if you were to ask for advice, the apparent confusion between WO2 Stone and Sgt J Stones could be explained.  It is my understanding that the former Corps transferred to go to Vietnam with AATTV. The latter, who is referred to [at top] as having served with 3 Cav in 1971, was actually wounded on 22 October 1969 (and did not return to Vietnam).”

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8 January 2021

1AR Assn Honour Roll (1 of 2)

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I’ve been lobbying for the Honour Roll to be corrected for a long time.  To their credit, the current C’tee is working to this end.  Unfortunately, they’re not aware of all the facts.  The following email is self-explanatory:

“Dear Secretary,

I was too quick re my earlier email as there are other factors involved. I will try to explain in this and the following email.  You’ve advised members that:

It should also be noted that the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour includes around 101,000 names of members who were either killed in action or formally recognised by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) as DOW.  DVA have recognised over 300,000 members for official commemoration.

This is wrong. The names of the AWM Honour Roll are those of the soldiers whose death met the criteria determined by the AWM Council.  It means that anyone who died while posted to a unit on active service, or subsequently died as a consequence of their service within the prescribed period of the conflict, is included on the ROH. 

It also means that someone who is killed in a traffic accident while on R&R is listed, as are those who died of illness or accident during active service are listed.  It is incorrect to suggest that KIA or DOW are the sole criteria for the AWM ROH.

DVA had nothing to do with the above criteria.  Those who are entitled to official commemoration by DVA have (i) died subsequent to the prescribed period of the conflict in which they served and (ii) been assessed to have died either directly or indirectly as a consequence of their service.

The US Vietnam Memorial Wall takes a different approach.  To be listed, you have had to have been KIA or DOW sustained in action.  Anyone who dies of service-related illness or accident, is listed on a separate roll held within the Wall.  I have spoken with those who administer the Memorial and it takes an enormous amount of time to verify that someone sustained wounds and these subsequently contributed to their death.  They are committed to accurately recording the human consequences of the War, however, particularly those who gave their lives engaging the enemy.`

Finally … the AWM state that the ROH lists “Over 102,000” names.

Bruce 

(Time spent here is more than justified … as I’ve stated previously, this is the one thing that the Assn must get right.)

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7 January 2020

Defence Strategy: The Fundamental Problem as Far as the Australian People Are Concerned

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Image: ASPI

The following article was recently published: https://johnmenadue.com/continuing-strategic-dependence-on-the-us-or-strategic-independence-for-australia/

Submissions are invited regarding the topic: “Continuing strategic dependence on the US or strategic independence for Australia?”.

I couldn’t resist a response:

“Australia is too closely beholden to America with respect to its Defence and Foreign policies.  There’s no need to refer to ‘apron strings’ … everyone knows the topic.  But why would such a view be so common?

The reason … everyone is expected to trust our politicians, intelligence agencies and senior defence officers.  But we only see some of them some of the time and when we do, we don’t get to ask questions.  Our ‘trust’ has seen Australia involved in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Will this be the same in the future? 

The structure of our society is flawed and unless the fundamental problem is addressed, things will continue as they always have.

There is a logic to decision making related to Defence strategy: intelligence staff identify the threat and estimate the warning time; military planners determine contingency plans and consequent force structure, readiness states, and need for the support of allied nations; defence staff determine manufacturing and stocking policies in accord with lead times. This is all done on trust as far as Australians are concerned. Should this be any different? 

Intelligence briefings, warning times, contingency plans, lead times etc are all highly confidential (top secret even). Such information can’t be made public.  But, a nation’s commitment to war requires the support of its people. 

How can ‘trust’ be improved to the extent necessary so that our military commitments have the confidence and backing of the nation as a whole?  This is the fundamental question that has to be answered.  Traditional responses such as requiring greater oversight of decision making by Parliament, have not worked to date.  It is hard to imagine a solution which fits within the democratic framework that currently exists and would be supported.

What if it was to be suggested that a panel of eminent Australians be chosen to act as an interface between politicians and society … would this work?  Undoubtedly not (just imagine the arguments related to the selections of panel members!).  This is interesting, I can nominate many Australians who I would trust completely in such a role.

So, we have democracy on one hand, but are hampered by it on the other.  Could a referendum on any proposed military commitment be the answer?  How could it, given the national security implications associated with the arguments for and against?

We could ask that the PM, Minister for Defence etc to brief the Australian people fully on the circumstances involved … more so than has happened in the past; but in the end, it’s the Government which has to be able to act decisively.  The fundamental issue remains … how to create a level of ‘trust’ in those who act on our behalf?

I think it’s a task well above my pay scale.

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6 January 2021

Government Responsibility for War Crimes II

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Image: Canberra Times

It was reported on the ABC on 4 Jan 21 that:

“A former New South Wales magistrate who once served as a war crimes prosecutor at The Hague says those higher up the Army’s “chain of command” must be investigated over alleged unlawful killings in Afghanistan.

Graham Blewitt has told the ABC [that] securing convictions over the disturbing findings of last year’s Brereton inquiry would not be easy because Australian police did not currently have the appropriate expertise.”

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-04/office-of-special-investigator-afghanistan-war-crimes/13028884

They got it wrong before and they’re getting it wrong again. Talking about the difficulty of securing convictions is way off the mark.  A focus on this will miss the point completely. 

The following letter has been sent to the Canberra Times:

It was reported on 4 January 2021 that the Federal Government’s new Office of the Special Investigator has formally begun its work.  References were also made to the difficulty of securing convictions.

It is my belief that a focus solely on convictions is wrong.  Equally (probably more) important is identifying why the Government failed to introduce meaningful measures in Army units’ preparation for war in Afghanistan to ensure that what was known to have happened in Vietnam (as evidenced by the Government’s own information to our schoolchildren), was not able to occur again.  In 2005, I received assurance from the Minister for Defence that this was the case. Will the Minister today give the same assurance?

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5 January 2021

Government Responsibility for War Crimes

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“God knows the truth, but waits” (Tolsoy) … ‘until honest men speak’ (Cameron)

An article by Graham Cornes was published in the Adelaide Advertiser/ SA Weekend on 4 Dec 20.  It is copied at the end, as the Advertiser requires a subscription fee to read on-line.  My response is as per that below:

“It was the “no prisoners” order which led to the murder described in this book: https://regimental-books.com.au/product/contact-wait-out-a-vietnam-diary/)  This was also 7RAR [the unit Cornes served with].

When I queried this account, the ‘regimental brotherhood’ went into action and I was invited to meet.  I pointed out that I was not trying to bring the battalion into disrepute, simply trying to get the Government to commit to revising training so that such things could never happen again.  The Minister for Defence assured me that this had been done.  I’ve provided all this to the current Inquiry.

DVA provides information to our children’s schools which states that these things happened in Vietnam.  Without any doubt, the Government is culpable for not having acted responsibly once it was aware of the facts. 

But there is an inherent weakness in the way our society functions.  I first realised this while writing the history of Australian tank operations in Vietnam.  We were sent to Vietnam inadequately trained because of failings in the nature of the Army’s structure and ability to learn and adapt. 

The Rule of Law is paramount to a civilised society.  One of its tenets is that an individual cannot be held accountable for failings of the State in which he belongs. I share the guilt referred to by Graham (ie. I feel that I should have done more to ensure action by Government), but there is only so much that an individual can do in a society such as ours.  It has failed its citizens before and continues to do so today.”

Article:

An incident in Vietnam 50 years ago left Graham Cornes wracked with guilt, and he says soldiers accused of war crimes must be judged differently than civilians. 

Inaugural Adelaide coach Graham Cornes has revealed he witnessed members of his platoon hatch a plan to kill an unarmed, elderly man who had inadvertently strayed into a free-fire zone in Vietnam. In a column for SA Weekend magazine, he uses the incident to explain why soldiers accused of breaking rules of engagement should not be judged by civilian laws. Here is his column: 

‘Make sure you bury the ID card”. The words have stayed with me ever since, and will forever more. My platoon commander was a good man; an intelligent man, a full lieutenant and a graduate of the military academy at Duntroon. They selected only the best to lead infantry platoons in South Vietnam. The voice inside me screamed, “Noooo, you can’t do that.” But he was an officer, I was a private soldier, a minion in the system. You had no voice. I stayed silent. 

It was late in the afternoon and our platoon was setting up its perimeter for a night harbour – inside an overgrown rubber plantation. We were operating just inside a free-fire zone, an area from which civilians were excluded and anyone encountered could be regarded as enemy. Unfortunately, there were no lines on the ground to mark the boundary. In the distance, across a clearing adjacent to the rubber plantation, was an old man and his water buffalo who had strayed into the free-fire zone. He clearly posed no threat but his presence excited our section commander, a career soldier who had progressed to the rank of corporal. 

Somehow he convinced the platoon commander that the old man was indeed a threat and as he was technically inside the free-fire zone, we were within our rights to “dispatch” him. He hastily assembled a small squad and as he eagerly led them through the perimeter, the platoon commander gave that order: “Make sure you bury the ID card.” The absence of a weapon and the presence of an ID card would make it difficult to claim he was an enemy combatant. Now, this story did have a happy ending because the old man, perhaps sensing the danger, slipped away out of the free-fire zone and the squad, somewhat disappointedly, returned to our defensive position. I feel guilty now as my response at the time was internal only. The army bludgeoned you to blind obedience and compliance. I didn’t think to protest outwardly. 

What makes good men do bad things? This barbaric underbelly of our character is never more evident than when soldiers go to war. The ADF inquiry into the allegations of atrocities committed by elements of our special forces in Afghanistan will rake over the scars that many combat veterans try hard to conceal. In some cases, the wounds have never healed and the waves of guilt have never subsided. If the same ethical microscope had been placed over our actions in Vietnam, or indeed any other conflict, how would we compare? 

We knew right from wrong and understood the rules of engagement. Why then did the order filter down one day from our company commander that we were not to take prisoners? It followed that one of my closer army mates was leading a section in pursuit of an enemy group with which they had just engaged. 

When he eventually radioed his sitrep (Situation Report) back to company headquarters he was stunned by the response: “We have one enemy KIA (Killed in Action) and two captured,” he reported. The company commander immediately grabbed the handset. “No you haven’t. You’ve got three KIA,” he barked. Fifty years later, how can any civilised person make sense of or rationalise that. “Take no prisoners,” we were ordered. It’s a great battle cry for a footy team but much more serious when it’s a real war and real lives are involved. 

There was another disturbing incident, involving a platoon from our company which also resulted in an enemy soldier’s tragic demise. The forward scout, advancing stealthily and carefully, as was his special skill, came across a lone Vietcong soldier asleep under a tree, his AK47 weapon in his lap. Quietly, the section lined up, then called on the soldier to rouse him. As soon as the unfortunate wretch stirred the soldiers opened fire with full and gruesome effect. The M60 machine gun, M16 and SLR rifles of an infantry section can inflict deadly and withering fire. So it was: another dead enemy soldier for the battalion’s tally. 

The difficulty facing any soldier in a conflict in which the enemy does not wear a uniform and can melt inconspicuously into the local populace, is identifying from where the danger will come. The rules of engagement are distorted and the lines of morality are blurred. Who to trust? Who, though seemingly innocent, presents a deadly threat? The tragedy of innocent victims and civilians caught in the crossfire of liberating forces and insurgent terrorists is played out every day in war-torn regions throughout the world. 

It is to these regions that we send our Australian troops. These are elite forces, carefully selected through the process of rigorous testing and psychological analysis; warriors in the true sense of the word. Tough and hard, it is the system that has made them ruthless and, whether they operate at home or abroad, they make Australia safer. Australia has shaped and created these fighting machines. If they have transgressed the rules of war, as soldiers in all previous conflicts surely have, Australia must share their guilt. 

The allegations of our soldiers’ actions in Afghanistan, before any defence has been mounted, have drawn widespread condemnation. Our leaders, both military and political, have been quick to wade in with damning and self-righteous accusations but some do so without fully understanding the pressures under which combat soldiers operate, and the mind-turning impact those pressures have. 

It’s 24 hours of heightened alert and ever present danger, either real or imagined. There’s no relief except for those few days of respite at the end of an operation but even then there’s a dark cloud at the back their mind. Then, all too often, they lose a mate under violent circumstances or are severely wounded themselves. 

We prepare soldiers for war with rigorous, sometimes tortuous training. They pass all the courses but can anything prepare them for real combat? You can’t replicate, or predict even, the real dangers or the constant pressures. Depending on the length of an operation, the combat soldier is always tired through sleep deprivation, always dirty and always hungry. 

In summer, thirst is a constant; in winter it’s the cold or wet. Sometimes, it’s even worse than cold. Such privation adds to the stress and goes some way to explaining why poor decisions can be made. 

The Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, [could not have been more damning or accusatory in his public apology](https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/national/war-crimes-brereton-inquiry-into-australias-special-forces-in-afghanistan-to-be-released/news-story/e571103ef599672907225e91b0486acb). No names were mentioned but the impression is the accused soldiers have been found guilty before any further investigation. An elite soldier, General Campbell cuts an austere figure. He wears the Infantry Combat Badge on his left breast, was a troop and squadron commander in the SAS and led 2RAR in its deployment to East Timor. 

He has had a stellar staff career, culminating in his promotion to General and appointment as Chief of the Defence Force. Even though East Timor was not the torrid deployment that those in the Middle East were, he should know the pressures under which soldiers operate. 

The report by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security said: “None of these alleged crimes was committed in the heat of battle.” That is a trite comment which exacerbates the accusations. These soldiers don’t punch a clock and knock on and off. The term “fog of war” is a term often used to explain soldiers’ brutal behaviour towards their enemy or to explain the atmosphere that surrounds soldiers on operation in hostile environments. The Inspector-General may dismiss it but the fog of war is real and does not swirl only in times of battle. The fog of war never lifts. 

Yes, good men do bad things and they will be punished, deservedly so, but who are we to judge if we haven’t been exposed to the same dangers? The escalating rate of veterans affected by post-traumatic stress and suicide is fast becoming a national emergency, and can be directly linked to their combat experience. It is a worthy, honourable profession of which any combat soldier should be justifiably proud, but soldiering comes at some psychological cost. 

Further, revelations of their behaviour and the excoriation of those troops from Afghanistan will continue to assail the self-esteem of all veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs does a great job and has significant resources, but not every veteran has the acumen to access them. 

I’ve read the redacted report and seen some of the vision, but, as confronting as that may be, I cannot yet bring myself to condemn those soldiers. 

They will surely face a court martial, and very possibly be dismissed from the army. If they have already retired they may face criminal charges. However, it is far too simplistic for staff officers back in Canberra to assign blame, to pass judgment and deflect responsibility. If war crimes have been committed, the frontline troops who have committed them cannot be made solely responsible. The system that shaped them and then empowered them must share some of that responsibility. 

A notorious soldier once said: “Soldiers at war are not to be judged by civilian rules.” His name? Harry “Breaker” Morant, who was executed by firing squad in 1902 after a British court martial convicted him of war crimes committed during the Boer War. Our Australian soldiers who stand accused of similar transgressions of the rules of engagement must not be treated with the same summary disdain.

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4 January 2021

An Autobiography (Not a Memoir) II

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True story typed on a vintage typewriter ** Note: Shallow depth of field

Image: Networlding.com

Following on from yesterday where I mentioned the sub-title of my autobiography (‘Time Spent Trying to do the Right Thing’) … what will the subjects of the final part of my book be; ie. the period of my retirement? 

It was while writing the history of Australian tank operations in Vietnam, that I first realised the inherent weaknesses in the way our society functions.  We were sent to Vietnam inadequately trained because of failings in the nature of the Army’s structure and ability to learn and adapt.

My driver should never have been wounded.  Three squadrons had served before us and other drivers had been wounded in exactly the same manner. Yet those of us in C Sqn in 1971 weren’t aware of this.  Nobody had taken the time to connect the dots … to identify weakness, highlight it and ensure training embraced it.  We all had to learn from our own experience, without any benefit from that of others who had gone before.

So, some of the experiences I will recount will include:

Writing the history of 1 Armd Regt in Vietnam and my dealings with the AWM (the good and the not-so good);

Getting the Coral-Balmoral Battle Honour emblazoned and the error on the 1 Armd Regt Standard corrected;

Overturning the cold-hearted restriction which meant that the Army Combat Badge could not be presented to NOK of those KIA;

Campaigning for the withdrawal of the:  RSL’s proposal for an MOU with the Vietnamese Communist Party; and DVA proposal for lapel badge with crossed Australian and Socialist Republic of Vietnam flags (unless, in both cases, Vietnam was to improve its inhuman treatment of our former allies who served in the ARVN and their families);

Lobbying to have a Centurion tank exhibited at the AWM;

Taking action with respect to the Conflict of Interest created when Rheinmetall ‘donated’ $25,000 to 1 Armd Regt (by masking the payments through the 1AR Assn) at the same time it was tendering for LAND 400 Phase 2 (vehicles which 1 Armd Regt would operate);

Helping with efforts to have failings of C’tee members and breaches of regulations governing the management of the 1AR Assn acknowledged and corrected; resulting in a new Constitution, revised annual reporting standards, and full advice to members re C’tee decisions (and my expulsion); and

Striving before the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal to have supporting arms involved in Operation Hammersley included with 8RAR in terms of the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation.

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3 January 2020

An Autobiography (Not a Memoir)

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Who are you typed on an old typewriter concept for self belief, positive attitude and identity

I’m not sure that it will be accepted by a publisher, but we’ll give it a go. An early draft pf my preface is copied below:

“Not Enough Self-Sacrifice for a VC!”: Time Spent Trying to do the Right Thing.

Preface

“Each person’s life is important, so why should I think that anyone would be interested in mine?  Everyone’s experiences hold value for those going forward, but not all have the opportunity to record them. I consider myself lucky in this respect.

Those of us who do, must ensure that we are not writing to enhance our own egos, but because there is an essential benefit for others in making our story known.

Some of the narrative deals with my time as a tank troop leader in Vietnam and my later service in the Army (as the title suggests); but this is not the focus of the account.  The sub-title probably expresses my intent more than anything else.

It was while writing the history of Australian tank operations in Vietnam, that I first realised the inherent weaknesses in the way our society functions.  We were sent to Vietnam inadequately trained because of  failings in the nature of the Army’s structure and ability to learn and adapt.

If I was not to record my experiences, I would not meet my personal expectations in terms of ‘doing the
right thing’ (something which I believe is central to self-respect).

My tank driver should never have been wounded.  Three squadrons had  served before us and other drivers had been wounded in exactly the same manner. Yet those of us in C Sqn in 1971 weren’t aware of this.  Nobody had taken the time to connect the dots … to identify weakness, highlight it and ensure
training embraced it.  We all had to learn from our own experience, without any benefit from that of others.

The Rule of Law is paramount to a civilised society.  One of its tenets is that an individual cannot be held accountable for failings of the State in which he belongs. I feel guilt for not having done more to
achieve social justice, however, there is only so much that an individual can do in a society such as ours.  It has failed its citizens before and continues to do so today. Maybe this narrative will help change things for the better.

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In anticipation of research associated with the above, I’ve been doing an Index for each day’s post (found at the end of Doing the Right Thing VI and VII).  Every post since 16 March 2020 is indexed by topic.

I hope that my memoir doesn’t provide too much justification for defamation action; but I have a lot of stories to tell and I intend to do so!

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2 January 2020

Code of Conduct Versus Whistle-blower Policy

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Image: Linkedin.com

What if we have an Association has a Constitution which states that any member who brings the Assn into disrepute will have his membership cancelled.  The member becomes aware of Assn practices which are unlawful.  The member raises the issues with the C’tee, but they decline to respond.  The member reports the issues to the Regulator and the Assn is compelled to change its practices.  The member’s life membership was not renewed..

I’ve been advised that I have grounds to take action, however, this would not fix the matter.  The problem is that whistle-blower provisions are not required to be included in the Constitutions of associations incorporated in Australia.

Seems to me that this is something long overdue.  Example of provisions which have been incorporated in company policies are copied below:

This Code of Conduct and Whistle-blower Policy aims to: • provide a framework of principles applicable to all officers, employees and agents for conducting business and fostering relations with other employees, shareholders, customers, the community and other stakeholders; • promote a consistent understanding of, and approach to, the standards of ethical behaviour, including the ethical approach to actual or apparent conflicts of interests between personal and professional relationships; • raise awareness of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and through this endeavour to avoid any real or perceived misconduct; • promote prompt internal reporting of violations and suspected violations; and • outline how the Company will deal with violations and suspected violations.

The following principles apply to Whistle-blowing: 1. The Company will provide employees and contractors with the infrastructure by which they can safely disclose reportable conduct 2. All employees and contractors making disclosures must act in good faith – acting honestly, ethically and in the best interest of the Company. 3. The Company encourages former employees, contractors and Auditors to make a disclosure under this policy if they chose but the protections under this policy will be limited to protecting identify only 4. The Company will ensure employees and contractors who disclose reportable conduct, as well as those assisting or participating in an investigation are not victimised or disadvantaged. 5. The Company will regularly review all disclosures to ensure that no adverse consequences have been applied as a result of making a disclosure. 6. All employees and contractors have the right to communicate with regulators at any time, in relation to any concern within the scope of this policy. 7. All investigations undertaken under this policy must be conducted in accordance with the principles of fairness and natural justice. 8. Investigations must be timely, conducted impartially and comprehensively documented. 9. Each disclosure will have a unique identifier which will be provided to the whistle-blower so they can liaise with the relevant WPO or seek feedback. 10. Where possible the outcomes of all disclosures will be provided to the whistle-blower.

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1 January 2021

Looking After Each Other II

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Image: Daily Mail

Welcome to 2021! 

What would be appropriate for the first post of Doing the Right Thing VII?

Following on from the Blog on 30 December 2020, I believe that there could be no better aspiration for the year ahead, than that of helping each other.  There are many opportunities. 

I’m organising a dinner for those in C Sqn 1 Armd Regt in 1971 (Vietnam) in June 2021.  This corresponds with a National Commemoration for Operation Overlord, being organised by DVA. 

Financial assistance for those organising functions such as mine is available from DVA.  Recipients have to be members of Incorporated Associations.  I asked DVA how an individual could qualify.  No probs they said, just ask an Incorporated Assn to ‘sponsor’ you.

I asked the 1AR Assn.  They said that a LAD Reunion had recently been proposed and they were sorry, but they felt that they could only help with one such application each year.  (This, despite being assured that there would be no work needed on the part of any member of the C’tee.)

What funding was being sought?  Four hundred dollars for two wreaths to be laid at the AWM in honour of Andy Anderson and Phil Barwick and some assistance with printing costs for menus, name tags etc.  I asked the RAACA NSW, but they responded to say that ‘it’s not our responsibility!’.  (I was a member up until this time.)

I then asked the TPI Assn.  Too easy, they said … and the application was forwarded to DVA through them.  It might not be approved, but at least we’ve had the opportunity to ask.

Why is it that some people can’t see their real responsibilities?  There are probably plenty of RAAC personnel that hate my guts, but why refuse to offer assistance for a function intended to benefit 100 former RAAC veterans that they don’t even know?  Is it too hard to distinguish between the two?

Hopefully 2021 will be a bit different.

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INDEX

1 Armoured Regiment Association

1 Jan 21: ‘Looking After Each Other II’

2 Jan 21: ‘Code of Conduct Versus Whistle-Blower Policy’

8 Jan 21: ‘1AR Assn Honour Roll (1 of 2)’

9 Jan 21: ‘1 AR Assn Honour Roll (2 of 2)

10 Jan 21: ‘1 AR Assn Honour Roll (Cont)’

3 Feb 21: ‘The 1AR Assn Going Forward’

5 Feb 21: ‘The 1AR Assn Going Forward: Part 2.’

13 Mar 21: ‘1 AR Assn : Anonymous Threat’

25 Mar 21: ‘ The Honorary Colonel/Patron Quandary ‘

26 Mar 21: ‘ The 1 AR Assn: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’

27 Mar 21: ‘ Operation Overlord/Battle of Long Khanh: 1AR Assn ‘

23 Jul 21: Caring for Those Less Fortunate’

30 Jul 21: ‘For the Good of the RAAC?’

‘Armouredadvocates’

31 Mar 21: ‘Index’

Autobiography

3 Jan 21: ‘Autobiography (Not a Memoir)’

4 Jan 21: ‘Autobiography (Not a Memoir) II’

Australian Defence Force (ADF)

21 Jan 20: ‘One of the Greatest Challenges for the ADF’

17 Jan 21: ‘The Blog’

9 Apr 21: ‘ The Australian Army: The Parlous State of its Organisation (Part 1) ‘

10 Apr 21: ‘ The Australian Army: The Parlous State of its Organisation (Part 2) ‘

11 Apr 21: ‘ The Australian Army: The Parlous State of its Organisation (Part 3) ‘

12 Apr 21: ‘ The Australian Army: The Parlous State of its Organisation (Part 4)’

29 Apr 21: ‘ Army Recruitment in Times Past ‘

30 Apr 21: ‘ Getting History Right ‘

2 May 21: ‘ Getting History Right: Part 2 “

27 Aug 21: Weekly Musings Eight: How to Show Respect

3 Sep 21: Weekly Musings Ten:  Zoom Meeting Vietnam/Afghanistan

24 Sep 21: Changes (?) in Today’s Army

Australian War Memorial (AWM)

1 Mar 21: ‘The Australian War Memorial’

3 Mar 21: ‘The Australian War Memorial Part 2’

14 Mar 21: ‘AWM Redevelopment: AFV Exhibits’

20 Mar 21: ‘ANZAC Day’

21 Mar 21: ‘ AWM Redevelopment Part 2 ‘

28 Mar 21: ‘ Uniting Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians ‘

1 Apr 21:’ ANZAC Day or Anzac Day? ‘

13 Apr 21: ‘ Meeting: AWM Redevelopment Team (14 April 2021) ‘

14 Apr 21: ‘ Meeting: AWM Redevelopment Team (14 April 2021) Part 2’

15 Apr 21: ‘ AWM Redevelopment Team Meeting: How Did it Go? ‘

16 Apr 21: ‘ Meeting with the AWM Redevelopment Team: My Follow Up ‘

17 Apr 21: ‘ An Attempt at Virtual Reality at the AWM: Bushmaster ‘

25 Apr 21: ‘ We Will Remember Them ‘

23 May 21: ‘Vietnam : Background for Requiem ‘

24 May 21: ‘ Vietnam : Background for Requiem Part 2 ‘

25 May 21: ‘ Vietnam : Background for Requiem Part 3 ‘

1 Oct 21: ‘Rifle Volleys’

Defence Strategy

7 Jan 21: ‘The Fundamental Problem as Far as the Australian People Are Concerned’

14 Jan 21: ‘The Fundamental Problem as Far as the Australian People Are Concerned (Part II)’

18 Jan 21: ‘Rubbish Articles That Influence Public Opinion’

15 Feb 21: ‘Defence Preparedness’

16 Feb 21: ‘Defence Preparedness 2’

17 Feb 21: Defence Preparedness 3′

18 Mar 21: ‘The Echidna Strategy’

3 May 21: ‘ Armed Neutrality?

14 May 21: ‘ Armed Neutrality? Part 2

15 May 21: ‘Armed Neutrality: Part 3’

16 May 21: ‘ Armed Neutrality: Part 4 ‘

19 May 21: ‘ Armed Neutrality: A Myth’

20 May 21: ‘Armed Neutrality or Mutual Defence Agreements? ‘

26 May 21: ‘ The Army in a War With China ‘

6 Aug 21: ‘AFVs and Australia’s Defence Strategy ‘

Ethics

9 Feb 21: ‘Helping Others’

25 Feb 21: ‘Feather in the Envelope’

26 Feb 21: ‘Feather in the Envelope’ Part 2′

2 Mar 21: ‘Leadership’

5 Mar 21: ‘Caring for Those who have Served’

10 Mar 21: ‘Wounded or Injured : Does it Matter? ‘

11 Mar 21: ‘Leadership 2’

12 May 21: ‘Military Values’

22 May 21: ‘Military Values 2 ‘

LAND 400

11 Jan 21: ‘LAND 400 Phase 2: Where are we?’

12 Jan 21: ‘LAND 400 Phase 2 Part II’

16 Mar 21: ‘LAND 400: Who’s in Charge?’

RAAC

13 Jan 21: ‘RAAC History: The Future’

15 Jan 21: ‘The RAAC/RAEME Partnership’

16 Jan 21: ‘Future Tank Planning in the UK’

19 Jan 21: ‘Capability Gap: ARA Recon/RAAC ARES Part 1’

20 Jan 21: ‘Capability Gap: ARA Recon/RAAC ARES Part 2’

22 Jan 20: ‘Capability Gap: ARA Recon/RAAC ARES Part 3’

23 Jan 21: ‘Capability Gap: ARA Recon/RAAC ARES Part 4’

26 Jan 21: ‘RAAC Matters’

27 Jan 21: ‘Distinguished Conduct Medal’

28 Jan 21: ‘The Distinguished Conduct Medal Part 2’

31 Jan 21: ‘The Tank Capability of the Future’

1 Feb 21: ‘The Tank Capability of the Future Part 2’

2 Feb 21: ‘Future AFVs’

6 Feb 21: ‘The Tank Capability of the Future Part 3’

13 Feb 21: ‘New AFV Simulation Centre.’

14 Feb 21: ‘$235 million Armoured Fighting Vehicle Facilities Program’

18 Feb 21:’Laser Weapons’

20 Feb 21: ‘The Tank Capability of the Future Part 4’

21 Jan 21: ‘Seniority of RAAC Units: Part 3’

23 Feb 21: ‘The Seniority of RAAC Units Part 4’

24 Feb 21: ‘Seniority of RAAC Units Part 5’

28 Feb 21: ‘The RAAC Family’

6 Mar 21: ‘Our Present Tank Capability’

7 Mar 21: ‘School of Armour Modernisation’

8 Mar 21: ‘In Simple Terms, How Does an APS Work?’

9 Mar 21: ‘Vale: Kevin John Rowe, 21 July1935- 5 February 2021’

12 Mar 21: ‘Tongala Centurion’

15 Mar 21: ‘RAAC Members Doing What They Do Best’

17 Mar 21: ‘The RAAC in the Public Eye’

19 Mar 21: ‘ Charitable Act by 3 Cav (Vietnam) Assn ‘

23 Mar 21: ‘ WO2 Tom Phillips, mid, RAAC ‘

24 Mar 21: ‘ Roger Tingley MC: The Book ‘

29 Mar 21: ‘ Restructure Affecting 1 Armd Regt and ARES ‘

30 Mar 21: ‘ Restructure Affecting 1 Armd Regt and ARES: Part 2 ‘

3 Apr 21:’ Capability Gap: ACR Reconnassiance ‘

4 Apr 21: ‘ The Future of AFVs’

5 Apr 21: ‘ The US Army’s OMFV Program ‘

6 Apr 21: ‘ Battlegroups and Combat Teams ‘

5 May 21: ‘ The Australian Tank Fleet ‘

17 May 21: ‘ The ADF of the Future. ‘

18 May 21: ‘ The AFV of the Future Part 2’

27 May 21: ‘ Ironsides 2020: News ‘

28 May 21: ‘ Ironsides News: Part 2 ‘

29 May 21: ‘ Ironsides News: Part 3 ‘

30 May 21: Ironsides News: Part 4

9 June 21;’ C Sqn (1971) Reunion: Canberra 6/7 June 2021 ‘

15 June 21: ‘RAAC Commemorations in the Future’

17 Jun 21: ‘RAAC Commemorations 2’

19 Jun 21: ‘RAAC Commemorations 3’

21 Jun 21: ‘RAAC Commemorations 4’

22 Jun 21: ‘ RAAC Commemorations 5’

23 Jun 21: ‘RAAC Commemorations 6’

24 Jun 21: ‘ RAAC Commemorations 7’

25 Jun 21: ‘ RAAC Commemorations 8 ‘

10 Sep 21: ‘Right Sizing the Tank Fleet’

18 Sep 21: The Future of the Tank

8 Oct 21: Tank Operations in Vietnam

RAAC ARES

25 Jan 21: ‘RAAC ARES: Something’s Going On (or About to)!’

29 Jan 21: ‘Role of the RAAC ARES’

10 Feb 21: ‘RAAC ARES: Making us Proud’

11 Feb 21: ‘RAAC ARES: Making us Proud: Part 2’

12 Feb 21: ’10 LH Regiment’

22 Mar 21: ‘ The Role of the RAAC ARES’

2 Apr 21: ‘ RAAC ARES Platform to Maintain Skills’

18 Apr 21: ‘ RAAC ARES: Role and Resourcing ‘

RAAC Corporation

8 Feb 21: ‘Organisation: 50th Anniversary Commemoration Operation Overlord’

4 Mar 21: ‘The RAAC Corporation’

8 Apr 21: ‘The RAAC Corporation 2’

19 Apr 21: ‘The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All’

20 Apr 21: ‘ The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part II ‘

21 Apr 21: ‘ The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part III ‘

22 Apr 21: ‘ The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part IV’

23 Apr 21: ‘ The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part V ‘

24 Apr 21: ‘ The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part VI ‘

26 Apr 21: ‘ The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part VII’

27 Apr 21: ‘ The RAAC Corporation and the Hypocrisy of it All:  Part VIII ‘

21 May 21: ‘ The RAAC Corporation Limited: Glacial Speed ‘

20 Aug 21: The RAAC Corporation: Established to Provide Welfare Assistance

The Republic of Vietnam

28 Mar 21: ‘ Black April Day 2021 ‘

3 May 21: ‘ Black April Day Part 2’

4 May 21: ‘ Black April Day Part 3 ‘

20 Jun 21: ‘ The Veterans of the Republic of Viet Nam Armed Forces Day’

9 Jul 21: ‘Vietnam Today’

16 Jul 21: ‘All Volunteers in Vietnam

War Crimes

5 Jan 21: ‘Government Responsibility for War Crimes’

6 Jan 21: ‘Government Responsibility for War Crimes II’

24 Jan 21: ‘Where does Responsibility Lie?’ Part 2’

7 Feb 21: ‘Where Does Responsibility Lie?’

22 Feb 21: ‘War Crimes Revisited: Part 2’

27 Feb 21: ‘The Rule of Law?’

2 Jul 21: ‘Weekly Musings 1’

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