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The Forum > General Discussion > Australian War Crimes

Australian War Crimes

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After more than four years the heavily redacted Brereton report into war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan was released in Canberra today. Brereton found junior soldiers were encouraged to shoot prisoners to get their first kill. Brereton recommends that 19 soldiers be investigated by police for the "murder" of 39 prisoners and civilians and the cruel treatment of two others.

"Typically, the patrol commander would take a person under control and the junior member, who would then be directed to kill the person under control," Major General Brereton said.

36 incidents should be referred to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation, and there is "credible information" that 25 current or former Australian Defence Force personnel were involved in serious crimes, either carrying out the offences or at least being "accessories" to the incidents.

It has long be suspected that the Australian military has been guilty of war crimes, starting in South Africa in 1901, through WWI and II, then in Korea and later Vietnam, up until today in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The belief that only the bad guys commit war crimes is given the lie by this latest reporting of outrages committed by our military, in our name.
Posted by Paul1405, Thursday, 19 November 2020 11:37:38 AM
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What a surprise! Paul 1405 excited by another opportunity for self-hate. Any country that goes after its own troops - soldiers they sent into danger to fight an entirely unnecessary war - is beyond the pale and not worth fighting for.
Posted by ttbn, Friday, 20 November 2020 8:15:38 AM
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I think it would be quite hard to separate entirely the aggressive nature that is associated with being a soldier in a combat zone.

While I don't defend such behaviour, I am sure that atrocities occur in all wars by all players
Posted by Chris Lewis, Friday, 20 November 2020 9:04:57 AM
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ttbn,
Even in war, under is murder and manslaughter is manslaughter. The big difference is that in war, justifiable homicide is several orders of magnitude more common.

Any country that gives its soldiers carte blanche to murder is beyond the pale and not worth fighting for.
Posted by Aidan, Friday, 20 November 2020 10:21:16 AM
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I doubt if anything will happen to the soldiers who are alleged of such crimes apart from a severe reprimand and loss of privileges and standing.

The threat of a Chinese invasion of Australia is looming on the horizon and Australia is going to need all the military manpower it can muster when the time comes.

So you don't want to be scaring away prospective recruits with possible threats of manslaughter and murder charges.
Posted by Mr Opinion, Friday, 20 November 2020 10:55:02 AM
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Dear Paul,

Australia has about 400 soldiers in Afghanistan as
part of our US support.

I don't think that any of us are in a position to
make judgements on what occurs during the various
conflicts in which our defence forces are involved.
We should leave that up to their command to do that.

As PM Scott Morrison stated - "It is the environment
(within the ADF), it is the context, it is the rules,
it is the culture and the command ... and if we want to
deal with the truth of this, we have to deal with the
truth of that."

Do we believe that the Afghan government had tortured
prisoners and the Taliban had committed war crimes such
as the mass killings of civilians?

I'm not suggesting that as an excuse - however you can't
train soldiers to be killing machines - and then expect
all of them to be able to curb their instincts - depending
on the circumstances. It just does not work that way.
Not in the real world - that of the armed forces.

Most countries fail to properly investigate allegations of
unlawful killings by their special forces. Both the US and UK
and other armed forces in Afghanistan do respond to these
media reports but usually little comes of it.

We shall have to see what happens next. If we are able to
change the culture - well and good. Somehow I doubt though
whether it will last.
Posted by Foxy, Friday, 20 November 2020 12:29:59 PM
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Well said Foxy.

I find it disgusting that those reaping the benefit of so many fighting men no longer with us, should go out of their way to attack those defending us today.

People like me could fly around in our nice clean aircraft, killing combatants, or civilians at will, by accident, design or order of the generals, & be perfectly innocent because we couldn't see those we would kill.

However the poor bloody foot soldier after crawling around in the filth mud & flies, watching his mates killed or maimed, is supposed to suddenly become all sweetness & light if the machine gunner puts his hands up at the last moment.

Well sorry folks, human nature only works that way when you are clean, cool & well fed, watching life on the TV. After a few days or months of having these people try to kill you, frontally or from hiding behind the public, the soldier can't suddenly turn as saint like as the TV audience, or some rotten journalist looking for a prize.

If you ain't been there, you have no right to sit in judgement. Only a gutless slug would even think of doing so.

And that goes for the generals too. The general who sent the poor buggers out there are more guilty of anything their troops do.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 20 November 2020 12:58:29 PM
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Dear Hasbeen,

Dry up mate. That was just pathetic. These sociopaths have utterly trashed the proud history of professionalism of the SAS. For you to sit there defending what happened without any sympathy for those who were murdered in cold blood show you to be completely out of touch with normal moral behaviour.

I have spoken to two soldiers on this, one former and one still serving, and they both said it used to be something we attributed to the Yanks but Australians were far more professional in their behaviour. Having all that now pissed out the window has been a rude wake up for them.

Unlike yourself both have seen combat in Afghanistan and each recognised they were there supporting the Americans rather than protecting Australia from any threat.

They also recognised those they were shooting at were defending their own country against an occupying force.

Now go beat your chest somewhere else.
Posted by SteeleRedux, Friday, 20 November 2020 2:26:44 PM
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Oh god.

Sr has spoken to 2 soldiers, so knows all about it.

Just like he knows everything about everything else.

Garbage.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 20 November 2020 2:29:05 PM
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Hasbeen,
What's really disgusting is your failure to distinguish between the good soldiers and those who ultimately undermine the mission by demonstrating to the locals that we're the bad guys.

Claiming our soldiers can't do what they're trained to is an insult to those soldiers who can. By trying to excuse those who do the wrong thing, you demean the ones most worthy of our respect.

Someone has to sit in judgement. It appears the main cause of the problem was that nobody was.
Posted by Aidan, Friday, 20 November 2020 2:41:22 PM
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It must be very disturbing for the families of
the soldiers who it now appears could face prosecution
and have their medals stripped. An SAS squadron is to be
disbanded.

The Age has an article that tells us that -
"Australian Special Forces soldiers allegedly committed
39 murder in Afghanistan and 19 current or former soldiers
will face possible prosecution and the stripping of their
medals after the findings of an exhaustive defence inquiry
exposed a culture of cover-ups and deceit".

What will all this achieve?
Posted by Foxy, Friday, 20 November 2020 4:27:42 PM
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cont'd ...

Here's the article:

http://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/australian-soldiers-could-face-prosecution-and-medals-stripped-as-an-sas-squadron-is-disbanded-20201119-856g53.html
Posted by Foxy, Friday, 20 November 2020 5:10:24 PM
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Sorry I once again made a typo. Here's the link again:

http://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/australian-soldiers-could-face-prosecution-and-medals-stripped-as-an-sas-squadron-is-disbanded-20201119-p56g53.html
Posted by Foxy, Friday, 20 November 2020 5:19:34 PM
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All this puts the profession of troops literally trained to kill in a bad light.

To paraphrase "Apocalypse Now" - is it like handing out speeding tickets in the Bathurst 1000?
Posted by plantagenet, Friday, 20 November 2020 5:43:32 PM
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Aidan,

I disagree with you. If I thought the way you do, I would have said so. If I want your advice, I'll let you know.
Posted by ttbn, Friday, 20 November 2020 5:44:15 PM
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I've got a few questions.

Does anyone know something about Australia's
military justice system? I'm unclear as to who
prosecutes ADF members for serious criminal
conducts?

Are soldiers tried by a system of military tribunals?
By their peers? Or are they tried in Commonwealth
Criminal Courts?

How does it all work?
Posted by Foxy, Friday, 20 November 2020 5:44:25 PM
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Once again this behaviour by Australians shows the senseless nature of war. Australia is far too eager to please, with our sycophantic cow-tailing to the United States. The on the ground culprits who carried out these murderous acts, and their manipulars, of course need to be punished, but just as guilty are the warmongering politicians who committed Australians to such an unjustifiable war. I ask why are we there?

I don't believe this is a one off, one war aberration, Australians just like others, have carried out all kinds of atrocities, in all wars we have slavishly involved ourselves in. Time to rethink our foreign policy direction, tear up ANZAS and go it alone.
Posted by Paul1405, Friday, 20 November 2020 6:34:02 PM
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So, ttbn, when China invades Australia and its soldiers shoot unarmed civilians, you won't fuss if the Chinese government does nothing to stop this? After all, you think that any country that goes after its own troops sent into danger to fight a totally unnecessary war is beyond the pale.
Posted by Cossomby, Friday, 20 November 2020 6:44:57 PM
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Hi Foxy

Re your "Australia's military justice system?" questions I don't know all the specifics, but here's the relevant Department of Defence website:

"Military Justice System: What is the military justice system?" etc

at http://www.defence.gov.au/mjs/mjs.asp
______________________________________________

This is such a high profile matter that there will also be:

TRIAL BY MEDIA

and

FORCED RESIGNATIONS (I'd say up to Colonel then Brigadier levels)

There may have been detailed knowledge of goings-on in Afghanistan above Brigadier.

Here is the Army Rank Structure http://www.army.gov.au/our-people/ranks/commissioned-officer-ranks

But, it will become plainer, that, Scott Morrison is good friends of some.
Posted by plantagenet, Friday, 20 November 2020 6:55:33 PM
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How many soldiers have been convicted?

What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Foxy,

When I studied military law the general rule was that military offences were tried by the military but crimes of a serious civil nature such as major theft, assault occasioning serious bodily harm, rape, attempted and actual murder were handed to the civilian authorities and upon conviction, the soldier was dishonourably discharged.
Posted by Is Mise, Friday, 20 November 2020 7:03:26 PM
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Issy, I recall us having a conversation some time back, about Australiana committing war crimes in Korea. You demanded evidence, and I supplied an account from a Pommy soldier who was involved in that conflict. Not much has changed.
Posted by Paul1405, Friday, 20 November 2020 8:50:08 PM
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This seems like such a complicated matter.
So many questions, so much to debate.

In the past it was the ones who lost the war
that were put on trial. The victors were not
called to account for their actions.

I still feel uneasy about judging our military.
And I'm not sure that our courts are equipped
to do that. And as I stated earlier - what will
all this achieve. Will it really ensure that these
atrocities will not happen again? On the other side
of the coin - should we just turn a blind eye to
atrocities?

So many questions - I have no ready-made answers.
This is in the "too hard basket" for me.
Posted by Foxy, Friday, 20 November 2020 8:56:51 PM
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Dear Pete and Is Mise,

Thank you for the information.

It is not an easy subject to deal with
that's for sure.
Posted by Foxy, Friday, 20 November 2020 8:58:56 PM
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cont'd ...

Trial by media is not going to help things.
Posted by Foxy, Friday, 20 November 2020 9:00:23 PM
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Cossomby,

You are a bigger fool than most people have always thought you were. The CCP murders many of its own people on a regular basis; they don't care about foreign enemies, civilian or other.
Posted by ttbn, Friday, 20 November 2020 10:06:02 PM
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Paul,

Remind me of your evidence that Australian soldiers committed war crimes in Korea, as I recall you had none.
Posted by Is Mise, Saturday, 21 November 2020 8:27:39 AM
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I have to give credit to Foxy on this occasion for wisely indicating that she "doesn't know what should be done".

War is hell son...

When the SAS are sent in they shoot to kill. Spies and elite forces have similar secretive roles that all countries use. If discovered they probably face execution in their operational domain. They are often the ones that protect the domain of peace. A violent peace- sort of like anothers comment on the Intolerant Tolerance of Popper- another paradox of the human condition.

OTOH Trotsky appears to believe that equality being more important than freedom- and being incompatible with it- it is necessary to ruthlessly and eternally suppress free thought- through the mechanism of "Permanent Revolution". (Big Tech- Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and to perhaps a lesser extent Microsoft- appears to be doing this very effectively). One effective communist tactic see book "Low Level Conflict" is to stir up resentment against the authorities. For example when the military uses check points to control terrorism- communists cause civilian deaths at checkpoints to discredit the military- making the region ungovernable. The public needs to help the authorities to root out the insurgents at these times.

Many conflicts have operated in the context of cold war West vs Communist global geo-politics.

The context of the War In Afghanistan is interesting.

1. The link of the Taliban (the students) with Al-Qaeda (the cause) and international terrorism (and probably international communism). Ironic that Al-Qaeda was formed originally to fight Communism when the Afghani peoples were being wiped out by Russian Communism in the 80's.

2. The link with the oil and the US strategy paper on the pipeline by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitze of the 80's.

The underlying problem that is causing the conflict in the middle east with the west is world energy- oil - if the west doesn't control the energy other international powers control it and use it in a way that harms the world.
Posted by Canem Malum, Saturday, 21 November 2020 9:47:50 AM
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Sadly world stability is based on control of strategic resources.

It is difficult to find a replacement for oil and any replacement will have effects on the stability of the world- often in unexpected ways.

It's amusing The Age stating the bleeding obvious- "SAS has a culture of secrecy"- no... The Age editors must be tactical geniuses- maybe they should go out front on military missions.

Sadly the SAS - as they will always be - have been dragged into a global political situation.

Iraq under Hussein played both sides of this global conflict as did Vietnam- I'm sure all players do this. It may be important to remember when seeking the best deal for ourselves that at some level the stability of the world requires cooperation- even if it is to stay on our own side of the fence.

The battle against the robots has already begun in the form of the fight against Communism
Posted by Canem Malum, Saturday, 21 November 2020 9:49:09 AM
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Some further information on the military concept of "Low Intensity Conflict"...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-intensity_conflict#Three-phase_Maoist_model

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-intensity_conflict#Low-intensity_counter_operations_or_counter-guerrilla_warfare
Posted by Canem Malum, Saturday, 21 November 2020 10:02:54 AM
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Issy, just for you, I wouldn't do it for anyone else. I read the book.

"In Scorched Earth, Black Snow: Britain and Australia in the Korean War, 1950, Second-Lieutenant Owen Light, who was an officer with the Argylls in the conflict, describes ordering his men to kill wounded North Korean soldiers lying among the dead on the battlefield because they allegedly had live hand-grenades concealed beneath their bodies."

Full story Issy; Could have a paywall.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/australian-and-british-soldiers-have-been-accused-of-committing-war-crimes-against-civilians-and-soldiers-in-korean/news-story/2dd36f3faf7275bc3f846ac8e4a50dbd

I'm sure Afghanistan isn't unique, could find the same for the Boar War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam etc etc. One thing, if you were an Australian soldier over the last 120 year you get about a bit to do your killing, Turks, Afghans, Dutch, Vietnamese, Koreans, Arabs, etc etc, we don't discriminate, do we. Did we bump off any Mexicans, if not, why not?
Posted by Paul1405, Saturday, 21 November 2020 3:06:13 PM
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Paul,

"In Scorched Earth, Black Snow: Britain and Australia in the Korean War, 1950, Second-Lieutenant Owen Light, who was an officer with the Argylls in the conflict, describes ordering his men to kill wounded North Korean soldiers lying among the dead on the battlefield because they allegedly had live hand-grenades concealed beneath their bodies."

That's not a war crime it's just common sense.

The Argylls are not Australian soldiers, surprised?
Posted by Is Mise, Saturday, 21 November 2020 5:18:37 PM
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Hi Issy,

The book I refer to is available, I obtained a copy some time back from my local library. At the time I gave you more excerpts detailing atrocities committed by Australians in Korea. Until the advent of body cams and mobile phones, much of theses things came down to one persons word against another. Read it if you wish and judge for yourself.
Posted by Paul1405, Sunday, 22 November 2020 7:35:19 AM
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Paul,

The book is not evidence, it is 'hearsay', likewise your link to the Australian which was nothing but allegations; allegations are not evidence.

If you won't get a spellcheck at least get a dictionary.
Posted by Is Mise, Sunday, 22 November 2020 8:17:07 AM
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Hi Issy,

What you claim as hearsay, others might claim as uncorroborated evidence. As we know the lies and the cover-ups often prevent these things from being tested in a court of law. Many a criminal has gotten away behind the shroud of secrecy that exists within the army.
Posted by Paul1405, Sunday, 22 November 2020 3:24:15 PM
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Paul,

"Many a criminal has gotten away behind the shroud of secrecy that exists within the army."

More hearsay; don't you know what the word evidence means?
Posted by Is Mise, Sunday, 22 November 2020 5:03:20 PM
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We provide best quality food and Halal Meat Delivery.

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Posted by Vikki Lyon, Wednesday, 25 November 2020 3:25:02 PM
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Why should Australian soldiers be any different to any soldier around the World ?
Posted by individual, Wednesday, 25 November 2020 8:12:25 PM
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http://youtu.be/oL2U6QX49DQ
Posted by plantagenet, Monday, 30 November 2020 12:10:00 AM
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Hi Planty,

'Redgum' produced a song "Only Nineteen" which summed up the Vietnam War for many Australians participants.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gmgwx77osw&ab_channel=SkinniousChinnious
Posted by Paul1405, Monday, 30 November 2020 5:44:40 AM
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Hi Paul

Yes "I Was Only 19" was featured in my OLO article "Some Anzac Day songs" of 24 April 2009 at http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=8819

The vast majority of SAS troopers are blameless and should be honoured, rather than group pilloried, due to the actions of a few.

General Campbell's removal of an SAS Unit Citation may be "protesting too much". As if to separate Campbell from his own years in the SAS. Years which necessarily involved his allegiance to the SAS, at one time.

See Campbell's bio at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angus_Campbell_(general)

"he later passed selection for the Special Air Service Regiment, with which he served as troop and squadron commander"
Posted by plantagenet, Monday, 30 November 2020 10:49:37 AM
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http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2020/11/30/china-adf-afghanistan-war-crimes/

I TOLD YOU THAT IT WOULD ONLY GET WORSE.

And stupid Birmingham is still mumbling on about how he will get China to negotiate.

But who is this new form of hate news by China being directed at?

Is China trying to stir anger and hatred towards Australia, both externally and internally.

But it'll be right! Soot and Dazza's gal have got plans to keep bringing in lots of cashed up Chinese. 60 today, a thousand next week, and who knows how many by the end of next year.

The pro-China camp on The Forum must be shedding tears of joy!

I'm just happy to be able to say I TOLD YOU SO.
Posted by Mr Opinion, Monday, 30 November 2020 12:27:34 PM
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Hi Paul

Could be Defence takes notice of the OLO "Pub Test" on Government intentions.

Re my comment of Monday, 30 November 2020 10:49:37 AM above, when I said:

"The vast majority of SAS troopers are blameless and should be honoured, rather than group pilloried, due to the actions of a few.

General Campbell's removal of an SAS Unit Citation may be "protesting too much"."
__________________________

Fortunately hours later, on Monday at 8:47pm, the ABC reported http://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-30/defence-says-no-decision-yet-on-meritorious-citation-afghanistan/12935302

"Defence steps back from move to strip veterans of military decorations after war crimes inquiry"

In "Key points:

- General Campbell had said he would recommend meritorious unit citation be stripped from the [special operations task group (SOTG)]

- He has since faced public criticism from politicians and veterans about the move

- General Campbell said on Monday "no decisions" had yet been made on how to implement the Bereton report recommendations"
Posted by plantagenet, Monday, 30 November 2020 11:38:30 PM
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Hi Planty,

As a pacifist I find war totally abhorrent, I see no glory in the actions of killing fellow human beings. I oppose the issuing of medals, citations and alike, they are the trapping that perpetuate a false image of war. Those forced into the front line are mostly the naive and the mislead. The real criminals are far removed from the battlefield, these warmongers in business, and the politicians that do their bidding of in sighting the people and justifying the unjustifiable, they are the ones that should be facing courts and inquires.

Australia has a long history of participation in wars that no reasonable person could agree with, Afghanistan is just another example. I attend ANZAC Day dawn services every year, but not this year, not to glorify war, but to remember all those, ours, theirs, solders and civilians who have suffered because of war. I see the reminders of the past as a way to remind me of the folly of future wars, and how they must be avoided at all cost.
Posted by Paul1405, Tuesday, 1 December 2020 5:54:17 AM
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Hi Paul

I'm of 3 generations totally integrated in the homegrown side of military intelligence:

One Grandfather developed Australia's first army field X-ray machine and then manned it as a sergeant at Gallipoli. Then in WWII he may have been involved in UK/US sigint and certainly helped develop bridges for tanks for use after D-Day.

The other Grandfather was Australia's first orthodontist whose "military" service was by way of being close-enough to US int to be fly-in/fly-out orthodontist for Pine Gap in the 1970s.

My late Dad spent 40 years in Army rising to Chief and very close to US mil intel.

I rose to private in the Army Reserve but was/am far better at self-generated military intelligence with help from US and South Asian buddies. More see http://gentleseas.blogspot.com/2019/08/submarine-matters-at-moment.html

I went to school with now General Campbell at Holsworthy/Moorebank early 1970s and we were next door neighbours. His older brother was also a good guy who used to mow our lawn for free when Dad was in Vietnam and I was only 10.

So needless to say the military (including its costs and sacrifices) are in my family DNA.

Regards

Pete
http://gentleseas.blogspot.com/
Posted by plantagenet, Tuesday, 1 December 2020 10:59:21 AM
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Here's a very good article:

"Ground-breaking Australian study creates world-first tool to help veterans transition to civilian life" of 1 December 2020

at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-01/veterans-mental-health-qld-transition-civilian-life-mcarm-tool/12930128
Posted by plantagenet, Tuesday, 1 December 2020 11:15:25 AM
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