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Thought you all might be interested to read Justin Huggett’s ‘Open Letter’ response to Lt Gen Angus Cambell’s ‘PC’ directive (Scroll down)
Chief of Army bans soldiers from wearing 'arrogant' death symbols
by David Chen
Australia's Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, has issued a directive that prohibits the wearing of 'death' symbols. Lieutenant General Campbell said the practice was arrogant, ill-considered and that it eroded the ethos of the Army. The directive was circulated as an internal minute on April 17, and later posted to unofficial social media pages for commentary.
Several symbols were specifically prohibited because of their violent, murderous and vigilante symbolism including the Grim Reaper, the Skull and Crossbones, Spartans, and the Phantom or Punisher.
Lieutenant General Campbell, who this week was named as the next Chief of the Defence, stated in his order that he had come across the symbols worn as patches or badges while visiting army units in Australia and overseas. He reiterated that such symbols were at odds with Army values while acknowledging this was not the intention of those who wore them.
"Such symbology is never presented as ill-intentioned and plays too much of modern popular culture," Lieutenant General Campbell said. "But it is always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the inculcation of an arrogant hubris and general disregard for the most serious responsibility of our profession; the legitimate and discriminate take of life. "As soldiers our purpose is to serve the state, employing violence with humility always and compassion wherever possible. This symbology to which I refer erodes this ethos of service."
In the directive, Army officers were ordered to take immediate action to remove any formal or informal symbols from within their command. Lieutenant General Campbell acknowledged the decision would upset a minority of soldiers. "I appreciate that without explanation some will rile at this direction, so please ensure my reasoning is explained but be clear that I am adamant that this is right for the Army." "I wish to reiterate that the use of symbology/iconography is uncommon within Army. The overwhelming majority of force elements are very much on the right path," he said. When approached by the ABC the Department of Defence issued the following short statement: The Chief of Army issued an internal minute to all Commanders on 17 April, 2018 to reinforce that all symbols, emblems and iconography used across the organisation must align with the Army values of courage, initiative, respect and teamwork. Death symbology demonstrates a general disregard for the most serious responsibility of the Army's profession; the legitimate and discriminate taking of life.
ATTENTION....could my army and veteran mates please share this in your Army groups!
OPEN LETTER TO GEN. ANGUS CAMPBELL.
Thanks to the ‘digger net’, I have read with great disappointment the message and direction you have recently released with regards to what most diggers and veterans would describe as a ‘soft politically correct militarily’ stance on the wearing of what you call death iconology (on platoon PT gear, apparel etc). As a soldier that served under you at the 2nd Battalion, it only disappointments me even further to read of this. Going the next step, the fact you yourself are an Infantry Soldier...my head spins with confusion!
I have read your statement multiple times to try to make some sense of it. I found it so left of field and farcical; I thought it was actually a hoax? But now, I am just left wondering as to the levels of stupidity that this order can be interpreted or enforced. Humour me for a minute Sir, and let’s use the 2nd Battalion as an example. You’re calling these images death iconology. I ask you to consider the following. Have you seen the movie Jaws, based on a big nasty evil killer shark indiscriminately eating everyone in its path? Does the proud heritage of the Bravo Company Men and their Company logo of a Circling Shark disappear forever? I was a proud member of the Zulu’s whilst I served in Delta Company and in Afghanistan. Are these vicious killer savages too much to handle for the precious modern day Army? The popular TV show, Game of Thrones features fire-breathing dragons that kill small children. Are the Charlie Company men and their Company Image of a Dragon going to give you nightmares? What about the2/4RAR Delta Company Road Runner? He without remorse affected the murdered of Wiley Coyote multiple times. Is this feathered beast from the depths of hell a concern to you and the public? Are you starting to see the point here Sir? Even if we duck over the road to our brothers in arms at the 1st Battalion. They proudly have The Immortals, The Rebels, The Body Snatchers, The Dirty Dozen and The Morticians.
Let’s not forget my beloved Mortar Platoon, the most senior Platoon in the Battalion. Our emblem is the Grim Reaper, with the words “Dealers in Death”. I can tell you this with great certainty...the 1000s MAGGOTS that served in that Platoon will hand over their Reaper Shirts the day the Devil snowboards down the slopes of hell. Years of pride and history, gone because it’s allegedly offensive? Other than you Sir, offensive to who? Name the offended people or the group? I will bet you every cent I own the offended is the minority! Sounds much like modern day society to me?
Finally Sir, I draw your attention to the most feared emblem of violence, death, terror and war that’s currently used in the military. It just so happens to be the most revered and coveted of them all as well! You wear it; I am very fortune along with 1000s of others to have the honour and privilege of wearing it, The Infantry Combat Badge (ICB). A badge based around the bayonet, the most feared and gruesome up close and personal weapon on the battlefield. An emblem or icon that is matched by no other and has no other purpose in its existence other than inflicting extreme pain, bone-chilling physical and psychological fear in your enemy and of course horrific death. Yet as Infantrymen, not only do we wear it with pride, it’s worn as the centre of importance above our medals on our ceremonial uniforms and suits! Men have it tattooed on them, flags of it fly in man caves and sheds, shirts and hats are emblazoned proudly with it. Are you going to ask the RSM Ceremonial to ban the ICB? This is the most violent emblem of death there is in our Military? Are you getting it yet, Sir?
The Army, in particular, the Infantry, are a fighting force designed to kill! We are not and never should be a reflection of society, we are trained and programmed that way. Although it seems every effort is being made at the top levels to denigrate combat effectiveness, that’s a discussion for another time. Colonel Tim Collins, a former CO of The Royal Irish has summed it up best for me...
“The Army has been taken over by the PC Brigade and it is putting lives at risk!”
Any decision you make Sir that denigrates the morale of the enlisted, flows on and denigrates combat power! A fighting unit with low morale and less than effective combat power...I don’t need to paint that picture for you. But it goes hand in hand with writing heartbreaking letters to families! At present Sir, this decision is the most talked about thing in veteran forums at the moment...and in no way have I seen any remotely close to positive feedback, either on the decision itself or you personally. Any respect you wish to garner or grow of the enlisted men and women during your tenure as CDF is gone with this terrible idea. I doubt you will ever get it back.
I have no idea if this open letter will reach you. If it does, good. I do genuinely hope my comments are not taken in offence, as that has not been my intent at all. During my service, I was never known for tact or manners. I was respected by my peers and subordinates for my brutal honesty and my willingness to call a spade a spade and if needed, to call it a useless bloody shovel!
Justin Huggett MG
Former 2 RAR Platoon Sgt.
Ray Payne OAM
Veteran Angus Sim challenges Department of Veteran’s Affairs with own satisfaction survey
PAUL TOOHEY, News Corp Australia Network-May 30, 2017 12:30am
THE Department of Veterans Affairs’ latest glowing report on its own performance helping veterans has been challenged by an Iraq war vet who has produced his own comprehensive survey showing it continues to fail them miserably.
Angus Sim, (below) who suffers post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) after serving in Baghdad’s deadly red zone at the height of the war, conducted his own surveys of more than 700 veterans after the DVA published results in 2014 and 2016 showing high satisfaction among vets accessing claims and services.
Iraq veteran Angus Sim.
Mr Sim’s detailed surveys show a complete reverse to the DVA results, which in 2014 claimed 89 per cent of clients were satisfied or very satisfied with DVA, and the 2016 results, which showed a drop to 83 per cent satisfaction.
Mr Sim’s surveys, networked on Facebook with the assistance of Brisbane barrister Greg Williams, showed that in 2015, 72 per cent of veterans were either unsatisfied or extremely unsatisfied with DVA, which rose to 82 per cent in 2017.
“No one believes it,” said Mr Sim of the DVA surveys, conducted on its behalf by market research company Orima, for which taxpayers paid $174,500 in 2014 and $220,320 in 2016.
“It’s done to make the department and the minister look good.”
DEVIL IN THE DETAIL
In 2016, Orima surveyed 3002 DVA clients, almost two-thirds of whom were over the age of 65.
They were asked specifically about issues dealing with the DVA in the last 12 months — even though most of this cohort would have long since settled claims with DVA and had little contact with the department.
Nineteen per cent of that group were widows or widowers, meaning they had seen no service.
“That just shows they’re surveying people that are happy,” said Mr Sim. “They are 65 plus, the settled majority who’ve had their claims done and dusted.”
The high suicide rate among younger veterans is currently subject of a senate inquiry, which will examine complaints that DVA adds to stress with its slow processing of claims. A separate 2015 Senate report into DVA found its services lamentable.
Mr Sim, 32, believes DVA’s antiquated and unwieldy bureaucracy drives troubled vets further to despair.
In comments to News Corp, DVA agreed that “older clients have a higher satisfaction rate than younger veterans”.
It said targeting younger veterans who had experienced recent “warlike” service, to gauge their satisfaction, was not one of the sampling criteria.
“Connecting with younger veterans is a high priority for DVA, which includes the commitment to improve business and technology systems to be more client focused, responsive and connected,” it said.
With overall satisfaction among clients dropping six points between 2014 and 2016, it was examining the results “to better understand why there was a decrease”.
Mr Williams said DVA should conduct surveys that isolated different veteran age groups so a true picture of the satisfaction levels among recently returned vets could be understood.
“The books are cooked,” said Mr Williams.
“They’re cooked because the sampling was very biased to more elderly people and widows who are more than happy to take calls from Orima, because they have no dramas.
“The more pertinent issues relate to people who have been to Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Wish my remembering was a s good as my forgetting
During the 2016 meeting of the National Council of the RAR, which was held in Melbourne Hori Howard caught up with several members of his old company at the home o,f Noel Huggins, including Peter Fraser, John Stretch, and Paul McCrohan. Together they decided that they would try for a reunion in Canberra in early 2017. While the notice was short, limiting the numbers who could make it, the event was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, 7-8 March at the Accor Hotel on Limestone Avenue.
There was a get together at the hotel on the first evening which by the noise was very successful. It was good to see both Harry Clarsen and Doug Dick, the platoon commanders of 3 Platoon and 1 Platoon able to make it, and of course Peter Fraser was there as he was one of the main organisers. “Spider” Williams was the only platoon sergeant able to make it, but he made up for the others by his typical enthusiasm. Graeme Hendrickson our MFC was his usual friendly self and was clad in distinctive disruptive pattern trousers. Ian Hill and Jim Austen made it all the way from Tasmania and of course Jack Davis was front and centre. It was good to see so many wives and partners attending. Ian Thompson’s parents joined us and were made very welcome. Ian was killed in action.
Bob Dabinett, who is now the President of the 3RAR Corporation, gave us some details of the plans for 2018, which is of course the 50th Anniversary of the battles of Coral and Balmoral. We understand that there will be a formal commemoration in Canberra on 12-13 May and that 3RAR intends to commemorate the battle of Balmoral later in the month in Townsville. Details of both events will be promulgated when available.
Most of us took the opportunity to visit the Australian War Memorial on 8 May and everyone was particularly impressed by the new World War 1 Galleries.
We held a small service at the Vietnam War Memorial on ANZAC Parade in the afternoon, paying tribute to our six who were killed in action and the 42 who have died since. Poppies were laid on behalf of the fallen and a bugler from the RMC Band played the Last Post. Ian Hill recited a poem entitled “A Family I Didn’t Know, which he wrote.
We decided to attend the 1700 hours service at the War Memorial and it was most impressive. We were honoured by Dr Brendon Nelson, being given a special position for the service and Hori laid a wreath on behalf of the fallen. As it was International Womens’ Day, the Catafalque Party, narrator, bugler and piper were all girls and they were most impressive.
The reunion wound up with a buffet dinner on the evening of the 8th, and once again a good time was had by all. We declared the event a success and are looking forward to a bigger and better reunion next year.
IN HONOUR OF
Pte Tom De Vries van Leeuwen
L/Cpl Roger Fisher
L/Cpl Alan Cooper
Pte Bill Thomas
Pte Ian Thomson
L/Cpl Paul Van Rijsewijk
A Thank You to all Vietnam Vets from a Soldier in Iraq
A guy gets time to think over here and I was thinking about all the support we get from home. Sometimes it's overwhelming. We get care packages at times faster than we can use them. There are boxes and boxes of toiletries and snacks lining the center of every tent; the generosity has been amazing. So, I was pondering the question: "Why do we have so much support?"
In my opinion, it all came down to one thing: Vietnam Veterans. I think we learned a lesson, as a nation, that no matter what, you have to support the troops who are on the line, who are risking everything. We treated them so poorly back then. When they returned was even worse. The stories are nightmarish of what our returning warriors were subjected to. It is a national scar, a blemish on our country, an embarrassment to all of us.
After Vietnam, it had time to sink in. The guilt in our collective consciousness grew. It shamed us. However, we learned from our mistake. Somewhere during the late 1970's and on into the 80's, we realized that we can't treat our warriors that way. So .... starting during the Gulf War, when the first real opportunity arose to stand up and support the troops, we did. We did it to support our friends and family going off to war. But we also did it to right the wrongs from the Vietnam era. We treat our troops of today like the heroes they were, and are, acknowledge and celebrate their sacrifice, and rejoice at their homecoming ... instead of spitting on them.
And that support continues today for those of us in Iraq. Our country knows that it must support us and it does. The lesson was learned in Vietnam and we are all better because of it.
Everyone who has gone before is a hero. They are celebrated in our heart. I think admirably of all those who have gone before me. from those who fought to establish this country in the late 1770's to those I serve with here in Iraq. They have all sacrificed to ensure our freedom. But when I get back home, I'm going to make it a personal mission to specifically thank every Vietnam Vet I encounter for THEIR sacrifice. Because if nothing else good came from that terrible war, one thing did. It was the lesson learned on how we treat our warriors. We as a country learned from our mistake and now we treat our warriors as heroes, as we should have all along. I am the beneficiary of their sacrifice. Not only for the freedom they, like veterans from other wars, ensured, but for how well our country now treats my fellow Diggers and I. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.
From an Unknown Australian Digger in Iraq.
From the Presidents Report
Another thing that was discussed with the Battalion Reps was
how do we get our newsletter to members, the internet seemed to be the option of the future, this is the way the younger generation operate, also the crippling cost of printing and posting newsletters out is making it hard for the Associations. We will not go down this path immediately, but I would like you to think about it and let us know if you have any suggestions.
Snippet From InTouch