M113 replacement choice under threat – ?

PHOTORheinmetall’s KF41 Lynx, left, and Hanwha’s Redback, dwarf the M113 APC one of them will(?) replace. Defence image.

The decision as to which infantry fighting vehicle currently under consideration by the Australian Army should replace M113 has been officially deferred.

Selection of the winner in the LAND 400 Phase 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle project was in its final stages of decision making, with a two-year, very-expensive Risk Mitigation Activity completed more than a year ago and Defence’s preference scheduled to have been communicated to the government earlier this year.

Today’s news will delay the announcement by perhaps a year – and may not be pleasing to Defence or the competing manufacturers when eventually handed down.

In fact, with the project so close to the final rubber-stamp stage, this delay could easily be interpreted as a threat to the whole project [Editor’s opinion].

In today’s official announcement, Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said the Albanese Government would consider the findings of the Defence Strategic Review before deciding on the tender for the project.

“The Defence Strategic Review will make recommendations on priorities for investing in Australia’s defence capability and posture, to meet the nation’s security challenges over the next decade and beyond,” Mr Conroy said.

“It is responsible for the decision on a procurement worth between $18 billion and $27 billion to be informed by the findings of the review.

“The government remains focused on Australia’s future defence capability [but] we don’t want to pre-empt the findings of the review, which is especially critical given the rapidly changing strategic circumstances facing our nation.”

The final report from the Defence Strategic Review is due to be delivered to the government early next year.

Mr Conroy thanked Hanwha, Rheinmetall and the many other companies involved in the LAND 400 Phase 3 tender process for their understanding and professionalism.

Announced by the Albanese Government in August this year, the current Defence Strategic Review is being conducted by former Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and former Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal (retd) Angus Houston.

The review will examine force structure, force posture and preparedness, and investment prioritisation, to ensure Defence has the right capabilities to meet Australia’s growing strategic needs.

According to the review terms of reference, Professor Smith and Sir Angus are expected to deliver the review and its recommendations to government “no later than March 2023”.

 

Rally ’round the banner of your country, take the field with brothers o’er the foam….

Every so often when he tires of such mundane matters as the increasing man-eating crocodile threat, far-north Queensland’s political pundit Bob Katter turns his mind to defence.

As turns go, it’s not very consequential mind you, more of an intellectual wobble in his determination to remind all Australians of his and his family’s crucial role in the nation’s military history.

Never mind Bob’s recollection of events compared with the official records of his service part company on several crucial points, it takes little encouragement to coax him to speak of his exploits.

He is after all the 49th Bn – his and his father’s regiment – official historian, a claim which was news to the battalion elders when they first heard it.

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Intelligence must prevail on patrol boats | Australian Defence History, Policy and Veterans Issues (targetsdown.blogspot.com)

VALE: 5716153 KIM CHARLES THOMAS, A COY 6 RAR, 1969/70

Sadly, we have received the following from Barry Francis regarding Kim Charles THOMAS:

Hi all. Sadly more bad news. I received an Email today from Merrilyn Thomas, advising that my old platoon mate, Kim Thomas, passed away peacefully on the 23rd, in a Hospice in the Rockingham area in WA. Kim had been battling Oesophageal Cancer over the last year or so. I remember Kim, our platoon Sig, as a quiet, considerate and respectful person well-liked by all members of our platoon. Rest In Peace Kim. Another sad loss to our A Company Family and another good man gone far too soon.

Kim’s funeral details are as follows.  Mareena Purslowe Funerals,  6-8 Robinson Place Rockingham WA, on Thursday 1st December at 10am. Any of our A Coy family nearby are invited to attend.

Regards
Barry Francis

Funeral information is:  10am Thursday 1st December, Mareena Purslowe Funerals, 6-8 Robinson Place, Rockingham WA.

Condolences to Kim’s family and friends.

Please join with us in offering our deepest sympathy to those who will mourn the passing of a loved one.  Another 6 RAR family member, taken too soon.

LEST WE FORGET

Allan Whelan, Secretary

The 106 Field Workshop in Vietnam

Units of the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME) have served Australia well in many conflicts and Vietnam was no exception. Their skill and dedication to keeping essential equipment repaired and in good working order have been well documented. The 106 Field Workshop was one of the few Australian units to be raised in theatre of war.

In 1969-70 Major Claude Palmer was Officer-in-Charge of the unit.

He said that while the first priority in Vietnam was fighting the war, an essential element of Australian operations was the winning of hearts and minds of the local Vietnamese.

“Since the earliest deployment in Sudan, the Australian Digger has always opened his heart and his wallet to the local children – “especially those disadvantaged by war,”

“So members of 106 Field Workshop readily adopted the Ba Ria Orphanage and, later, the Long Tan primary school. There were regular runs with “surplus” rations, sweets, building repairs, well cleaning, and even playground equipment.”

These activities were gratefully acknowledged by the local populace.
At Christmas 1969, Major Palmer received a card from the local school.

Dear Major,

We. All the teachers, wish you, the benefactors of our school, A MERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Signed

Representative Nguyen van Huy.

Claude said 106 Field Workshop was extremely proud of its work in the field. It not only repaired damaged vehicles such as tanks and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), often under extreme conditions but worked on making improvements to existing equipment.

Concern about casualties caused by vehicles hitting mines led to 106 Field Workshop being asked to design and construct armour kits. After a number of trials using VC mines and damaged APCs, their modifications were approved.

This additional armour became a universal modification for Australian APCs and proved so effective that it saved many young soldiers from death and serious injuries.

In 1977, Claude Palmer was a member of a Duntroon Entry Selection Board convened in Sydney, and accommodated in the Kings Cross area. The Board had adjourned and members were walking to dinner along Darlinghurst Road, near the famous El Alamein fountain, when a young man rushed up to Claude.

“I know you – your unit designed that anti-mine kit that was fitted to my APC in Vietnam,” the young man said. He then shook Claude’s hand firmly, saying, “I’ve wanted to thank you personally for years. Soon after your boys re-armoured my APC, it hit a mine. Thanks to your work, my mates and I survived in one piece.”

On one occasion, a Centurion tank was badly damaged when it struck a Viet Cong mine during clearing operations near Nui Dat. It was essential that the tank be back in operation as soon as possible. Following closely behind the tank were members of the 106 Field Workshop, travelling in their specially adapted armoured mobile repair unit. The tank’s track assembly was a complete write-off but the team managed to repair the tank, replacing the complete front suspension unit, front idler wheels and track in only eight hours.

Claude said there was an intense but friendly rivalry between the various units and this manifested itself in many ways.

“The Centurion tank being used by the Australian Army was powered by a V 12 petrol engine originally designed and built by Rolls Royce for the Spitfire fighter aircraft. Tanks repaired by 106 were adorned by a stencil which read: Serviced exclusively by Vietnam’s Rolls Royce dealer, 106 Field Workshop”.

Not to be outdone, the APC Repair Section somehow obtained Detroit Diesel insignias and attached them to their overalls. (The M113A1 APC had a Detroit Diesel engine matched to an Allison transmission.)

Australian soldiers have always had a strong sense of humour under the most arduous conditions. The Task Force rubbish dump some 500 metres distant received much daily traffic. The local VC observed this, and logically, but wrongly, assumed that the Headquarters must be there, and so launched a rocket attack at what they thought to be a prime target. When it became apparent that 106 was not the target, 106 soldiers within sight of the dump could be heard cheering at each impact, rather like a crowd at a darts game.

Officially unacknowledged though it may be, Diggers of the first and second AIF were known to creatively interpret regulations to achieve what had to be achieved.

Following in the great tradition, men of 106 did likewise, and to this day, no one will reveal the true identity of a certain Sergeant E. Kelly whose signature is said to have appeared on certain requisitions at the US Depot at Long Binh.

Resourceful 106 craftsmen would often scrounge unserviceable equipment, which had been written off by the US Army, from salvage dumps, and then repair it to operational use, thus saving the Australian taxpayer many thousands of dollars.

Claude was full of praise for the work of voluntary organisations such as the Salvation Army.

“Australian forces are fortunate in always having the Salvation Army and/or Everyman Organisation representatives. These courageous philanthropic souls provide welfare and spiritual advice, cold drinks, hot beverages, and biscuits to troops in action – sometimes literally,” he said. “The local “Sally” as he was affectionately known, had a rather battered Land Rover. When he was due to return to Australia for his well-earned week of R&R, he asked if 106 could perform an oil change on his vehicle while he was away. The men of the vehicle and general engineering platoons voluntarily completely rebuilt and repainted the vehicle so well that when he returned, the owner could not recognise his Land Rover which was waiting for him at the airstrip.”

The unit adopted its own mascot, a young monkey known as Charlie Goloski. He spent much of his “working” day in Recovery Platoon and would often go on recovery missions. In the evenings he developed a taste for certain beverages and was seen swooping from the rigging of the mess tent to swipe an unattended can of beer which he proceeded to drink.

He met an untimely end when he discovered a bottle of sleeping tablets which he promptly opened and ate. Despite desperate efforts from a US Army vet, Charlie never recovered. Later, he was replaced by another monkey, a female known as Suzie Goloski. She remained with the unit until it returned to Australia, at which time she was given to the children of the Ba Ria Orphanage.

So 106 Field Workshop continued the proud tradition of the RAEME throughout its tour of duty in Vietnam.

The material for this article was supplied by Claude Palmer of Queensland.

U.S. Veteran Describes Being Prisoner of War in Vietnam

During the Vietnam War many United States soldiers were captured and held as prisoners of war (POW). Many soldiers reported being regularly tortured, and some were used for military propaganda. This segment from Iowa Public Television’s Iowans Remember Vietnam includes archival footage and interviews with Iowa veteran Harold Johnson. Johnson describes his role as a military jet pilot, his experience being captured, his days in captivity and his eventual release.

Australian Military Police in Vietnam

The first Australian Military Police to enter South Vietnam was a section of the 1st Division Provost Company (1 DIV PRO COY), arriving in Saigon, South Vietnam, on 12 May 1965. They were part of the Australian Force Vietnam HQ (AFV HQ), Saigon.

The Military Police in South Vietnam were all members of the Royal Australian Army Provost Corp (RAA PRO) and belonged to the only Australian Military Police unit in South Vietnam, known as the Australian Force Vietnam Provost Unit (AFV PRO).

The following is a summary of the AFV PRO organisation in South Vietnam:

The AFV PRO were in three locations that were the Australian presence in South Vietnam:

  • Vung Tau,
  • Nui Dat
  • Saigon.

 VUNG TAU

Vung Tau was AFV PRO HQ for the Australian Military Police (Provosts) in South Vietnam.

Vung Tau also contained 2MCE (2nd Military Corrective Establishment) which was the “Army’s Jail”. Soldiers who committed offences against Australian Military Law were often sentenced to a period of “detention” at 2MCE. 2MCE was staffed by members of the Provosts Corps as well as selected CPLs from Arms Corps units like Infantry, Artillery and Armour to assist with running the facility.

Vung Tau comprised two Sections of MP with a WO2, 2 SGT and 10 CPL per section. There was also a detachment from the Royal New Zealand Military Police based with the Australian Provosts, sharing the tasks of policing the soldiers serving in South Vietnam.

Vung Tau was also the home to 1ALSG (1st Australian Logistic Support Group) which was the Australian Army logistic support base for all troops in South Vietnam.

Vung Tau also contained the Australian R&C Centre (Rest & Convalescence Centre) for Australian troops who were entitled to “short leave”. Vung Tau was a major area for the Provosts, especially having their HQ and the force R&C centre based there.

The MPs worked shift work whilst at Vung Tau and comprised a 0600 to 1800 hrs shift or 1800 to 0600 hrs shift. This was done for 27 days straight, then had one day off and changed to the opposite shift of night or day for another 27 days.

A typical day shift would be to commence the maintenance of the unit area at 0600 hrs then proceed on patrol of Vung Tau or patrol of highway to ‘checkpoint charlie’ and return or tasks as directed.

A typical night shift would begin at 1800 hrs. The MPs would commence patrolling Vung Tau until the curfew of Australian troops at 2200 hrs. Then they would round up any “curfew breakers” until 0200 and return them to 1ALSG, then commence patrol of town until 0600 hrs

Some of the tasks that the Provosts provided at Vung Tau were:

  • Discipline Patrols
  • Armed vehicle escorts to ‘Check Point Charlie’ halfway between Nui Dat and Vung Tau
  • Escorts on US LCM (Landing Craft Mechanised) from Vung Tau to Saigon and return
  • VIP escorts
  • TAOR (Tactical Area of Responsibility) patrols. These patrols were made by the Military Police (Provosts) to check the perimeter and defences of the Provosts allocated area at Vung Tau. They were looking for breaches of security, possible enemy “booby-traps” or signs of enemy activity in their areas.
  • Military policing support as required

 

NUI DAT

Nui Dat was the area that 1ATF was based at. 1ATF (1st Australian Task Force) was the combat element of the Australian Army in South Vietnam and comprised a Brigade size force of Infantry, Artillery, Armour, Signals, Transport and other support units typical of a “fighting brigade”.

The Provosts had a detachment of Military Police based here with a WO2, 1 SGT and 10 CPL MP that belonged to the AFV PRO, and also the 1ATF PW (1st Australian Task Force Prisoner War) compound.

Some of the tasks that the Provosts provided at Nui Dat were:

  • Armed convoy escort to ‘Check Point Charlie’ and ‘Horseshoe’
  • Collection of VC (Viet Cong) prisoners captured after fierce fighting with Australian troops. The Provosts would often fly out to the “contact”, take control of the PW (Prisoner War) and return to Nui Dat for care and interrogation at the PW compound (unofficially referred to as “The Playboy Club”). The PW was interrogated by members of the AUST INT CORPS (Australian Intelligence Corp) and ARVN (Army Republic of Vietnam). The PW did not spend long at the 1ATF PW compound and was processed quickly through to other agencies both American and Australian for more thorough interrogation and intelligence gathering.
  • Joint mobile patrols from Nui Dat to Bien Hoa. The patrol comprised an MP from AUST,USA, NZ and ARVN forces and was conducted in an armoured vehicle called a VT100. The patrol was to check that the road was safe and secure, provide escorts to any convoys or troops and refurbishment of road signs if required.
  • On occasions some MPs were sent from Nui Dat for patrols with the Infantry or Armoured units to provide PW support.
  • VIP escorts.
  • TAOR (Tactical Area of Responsibility) patrols. These patrols were made by the Military Police (Provosts) to check the perimeter and defences of the Provosts allocated area at Nui Dat. They were looking for breaches of security, possible enemy “booby-traps” or signs of enemy activity in their areas.
  • Military Policing support as required.

 

SAIGON

Saigon was the Capitol of South Vietnam and home to COMAFV (Commander Australian Force Vietnam). Saigon also contained the FWMAO (Free World Military Assistance Organisation), which housed the various countries HQ/liaison for operations in South Vietnam. The Provost Corp had a detachment of Provosts from AFV PRO based in Saigon throughout the conflict. The Provosts had an office in the FWMAO building and delivered Provost support to Australian troops when in Saigon. Some of the tasks that the Provosts provided in Saigon were:

  • Discipline patrols
  • Liaison
  • VIP escorts
  • Military Policing support as required.

 

DFWA – Defence and Veterans Family Support Strategy Survey

Good afternoon,

I am writing today to tell you how you can contribute to the Australian Government’s development of the Defence and DVA Family Support Strategy. This strategy, once released, will guide how the Government provides support to families of current and former serving ADF members.

The Department of Defence (Defence) and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) are working together and consulting widely to develop the Strategy, due for release in 2023. Action Plans will also be developed to implement the Strategy, with specific actions each Department will take.

Right now, views from families in the veteran community are being sought on how that Strategy should look. The Government is seeking input from anyone in the community aged 18 years or older who is the family member of a current or former serving ADF member. This includes those who have passed away, a partner, ex-partner, child, parent, or connection by kinship.

This is a chance to have your say on the issues that are important to you and your family. It is also a chance to tell us about how you would like to engage with Defence and DVA.

All you have to do is fill out the survey at (https://dva.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6SfSmyzNMWE5guq). The survey should only take 10-15 minutes to complete and will remain open until Sunday 1 January 2023. All responses are anonymous and will only be used to develop the Strategy.

This is a great opportunity for our community to shape the future of how Government support is provided. No one knows better about the type of support and services you need when you need them, and the best way to receive them than you, the people who rely on these services and support every day.

You have a unique perspective, and we need to hear it.

I encourage you to take the time to fill out the survey and ensure that your voice is heard. Together, we can build a Family Support Strategy that works for every family.

There will be further opportunities to provide feedback as the strategy is developed. I will keep you updated on opportunities for you to provide input and be part of the consultation process in the new year.

Warmest regards,

Gwen

Gwen Cherne

Veteran Family Advocate Commissioner

Repatriation Commission

E: [email protected]

DFRDB – Correspondence for the Minister

Hi All,

Attached is our response to a recent letter from the Minister. The Minister’s reply to earlier correspondence and a face to face briefing was very disappointing, just a collection of cut and paste responses that most of us would have received. We have no intention of giving up our fight on the issue of DFRDB.

Still no word on the Federal Court case, it will happen one day after all we have been at this since 1973.

Electronic petition No EN 4548 is still open but will close next week the details of the petition can be found here https://www.aph.gov.au/e-petitions. There are just over 6000 signatures which is not enough, please sign up and get your family and friends to do the same. Anyone over 18 with an email address can support the petition.

Regards

Jim Hislop

CLICK LINK

Letter to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel