Such was the day
for our regiment
Dread the revenge we will take.
Dearly we paid for the blunder
A drawing-room General’s mistake……. Private Smith, December 1899
Australia finally has a svelte Defence Minister in the person of Peter Dutton. Someone who is what is commonly referred to in the Army as at “fighting weight”. Someone who looks like a Defence Minister and not a politician with their snout in the trough. It’s a pity he’s not the Prime Minister, but I guess we should all be happy that he’s at least appearing to support the diggers.
That’s right. The troops. Remember them? They’re the guys who will be expected to hold off any aggression from China if or when it comes.
But wait a minute… are these the same troops who’ve been gripping their ankles for the past few decades while they get their prostate exams from the government using a large, blunt instrument?
Let’s go back to the veterans of 4RAR who were patrolling the Malay-Thai border to keep the Communist Terrorists on the Thai side of the border. Recognition for their service in a hostile environment? Not a word.
How about the 9,000+ Army and 20,000+ RAAF personnel who operated and defended the Air Base at Butterworth against Communist aggression from 1970 – 1989. The Malay government wants to shower us with gratitude for our contribution. The Australian government? Nothing. They don’t even concede that the counter-insurgency war in Malaysia even took place.
How about the many peacekeepers and peacemakers who through good training and good luck have managed to minimise the number of casualties they have suffered in decades of deployment to hotspots around the globe? Move along. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Is it any wonder that the American Psychiatric Association, the publishers of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is contemplating publishing its latest volume this year so they can include moral injury to the existing raft of disorders currently catalogued in their tome.
Moral injury? That’s what happens when troops are required to refrain from doing what they are trained to do by political fiat. When they are forbidden to allow their training to take over and perform any number of military or humanitarian tasks to achieve an objective.
What do you think is one of the reasons that veterans take their own lives? Would it be because they are carrying the guilt of not doing something they know they should have done? At whose behest? Our government’s. It is only reasonable that the government should agree to a Royal Commission into veteran suicide and thank goodness Peter Dutton has announced the much-delayed Royal Commission’s formation.
So now, what’s looking like competing for the attention of the public from an ADF perspective? Oh yes, that’s right………. War crimes allegations against our special forces by senior officers who have never spent a day in combat. A slur that will hound a lot of good soldiers out of the Army and perhaps to their death at their own hand.
Shit. What’s that? We should be preparing for a stoush with China? No problem. We’ll just call the diggers up and get them on their way. Hello? Hello? Hmmm………… it’s going to voicemail…….
“God and the soldier, all men adore,
In time of danger and not before,
When the danger is passed and all things righted,
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.”