Australia will join naval drills involving India, U.S., Japan

Australia will join three-way naval exercises involving the United States, Japan and India, the countries announced on Monday, in a move that could raise concerns in China, which has criticised similar joint drills as destabilising.

India, which holds the annual drills called Malabar with the U.S. and Japanese navies each year, agreed to invite Australia for next month’s exercise in the Bay of Bengal, it said, in a sign of cooperation between the “Quad” countries.

“As India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain and in the light of increased defence cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Australia will be returning to the joint manoeuvres after its participation in 2007, which drew criticism from China at the time.

Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the Malabar drills were a milestone opportunity for the Australian Defence Force, and that they showcased “the deep trust between four major Indo-Pacific democracies and their shared will to work together on common security interests.”

There was no immediate word from China on the Malabar exercises.

The United States has been pushing for a deeper collaboration with Japan, India and Australia as a bulwark against China’s growing regional influence.

These four have formed the Quad, a loose strategic coalition of the four leading democracies in the region. The joint drills will be the first concrete action of the grouping, analysts say.

 

APPOINTMENT OF INTERIM NATIONAL COMMISSIONER

The next step has been taken in the Federal Government’s efforts to combat suicide in veterans and serving members of the Australian Defence Force with the appointment of the interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester welcomed the announcement made by the Attorney-General Christian Porter today appointing Dr Bernadette Boss CSC to this important role.

“The health and wellbeing of our veterans and ADF personnel is at the heart of the National Commissioner legislation and is part of the Government’s commitment to putting veterans and their families first,” Mr Chester said.

“The appointment of an interim commissioner is a significant step forward as we work to ensure our personnel and veterans have the help they need, when and where they need it when it comes to their mental health.

“I congratulate Dr Boss on her appointment as the interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention who will start working to identify and understand the factors and systemic issues that may contribute to suicide risk and provide recommendations to improve prevention efforts.

“Dr Boss started her career as a nurse, completing a Bachelor of Science in London and later studying law. She had a distinguished military career and has held inquests and hearings into complex deaths, including suicides.

“As a current Magistrate and Coroner in the Australian Capital Territory, Dr Boss has the skills and expertise to examine these tragic instances of ADF and veteran suicides to understand practical actions to reduce suicide risk.”

This announcement builds on the Government’s ongoing commitment to support the mental health and wellbeing of veterans and their families, including funding free mental health care for any mental health condition, improvements to transition and employment support, and assistance to those veterans particularly at risk.

“The Government is providing psychiatric assistance dogs for veterans with PTSD as a supplement to clinical mental health treatment – a program that veterans and their family members are telling me is changing their lives and saving lives,” Mr Chester said.

“We continue to roll out a national program of more than 45 Open Arms Peer Workers who connect with veterans and family members who may be struggling with their mental health, bringing a lived experience of mental health issues and, importantly, of recovery.

“We have also invested in the Coordinated Client Support program to identify veterans at risk before they transition out of service and provide them with a single point of contact as well as delivering increased employment support for ADF members looking for career development and job placement support as they set up for civilian life.

“In June, the Government extended the Provisional Access to Medical Treatment program, which delivers medical treatment to veterans for the top 20 most commonly accepted conditions while their claim is being considered, and the Wellbeing and Support Program, which provides intensive face-to-face case management services for highly vulnerable veterans who are transitioning or who have complex needs.”

While legislation is currently before the Parliament to establish the role permanently, the National Commissioner will begin important work to strengthen our efforts toward suicide prevention, including conducting an independent review of past Defence and veteran suicides.

Following the passage of legislation, the National Commissioner will have enduring power, scope and resources to inquire into deaths by suicide, and will support future wellbeing and suicide prevention efforts, by identifying the need for any system-wide reforms, or new approaches to support ADF members and veterans.

“The National Commissioner will make recommendations to the Government about actions and strategies to prevent future suicides, and will report publicly on their findings to Parliament each year,” Mr Chester said.

“The Government will be required to report on the progress of these recommendations, and the National Commissioner will have an ongoing role in monitoring the implementation of the recommendations it makes.”

For more information on how the Australian Government is supporting veterans and their families, visit dva.gov.au.

Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling provides free and confidential support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Help is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au.

For further information on the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, visit www.nationalcommissionerdvsp.gov.au.

TASMANIAN VETERAN SUPPORT SERVICES ONE STEP CLOSER

TASMANIAN veterans, their families and interested community members will be able to have their say on how they are supported into the future as part of the feasibility study looking at an integrated, nationally connected service for the state.

Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced today that the University of Tasmania would lead the feasibility study into the potential for a localised health and wellbeing support service for veterans and their families in Tasmania.

“The University of Tasmania will be engaging with veterans, their families and interested community members across the state to undertake this important research to understand what services are available to veterans and their families in Tasmania,” Mr Chester said.

“They will also look at what service gaps there may be and the best way to provide long-term benefits to the veteran community through a potential new service model, including implementation.

“The findings from this study will assist the Australian Government to make future decisions by providing a better understanding of veteran’s changing needs and service delivery in Tasmania.

“I thank and acknowledge the Tasmanian Government and Mr Barnett for their commitment to veterans and their families. I also thank the Member for Braddon and Army veteran Mr Gavin Pearce MP, and Member for Bass Mrs Bridget Archer MP who have both strongly advocated for veterans and their families in Tasmania.”

The Australian Government and the Tasmanian Government jointly invested $120,000 in this study and will shortly be inviting veterans and their families, and interested community members to have their say on how they can be best supported across the state moving forward.

Tasmanian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Guy Barnett welcomed the announcement and said the Tasmanian Government is contributing $60 000 to the study.

“This is great news and confirms our strong support for Tasmania’s veterans,” Minister Barnett said.

“I encourage veterans, ex-serving organisations and other interested stakeholders to have their say and help shape the provision of services to Tasmania’s veterans.

“We thank the Australian Government and Minister Chester for their leadership and commitment in supporting Tasmania’s veterans and their families.”

The consultation process will also seek the views of the community with respect to the support needs of first responders, noting the respective funding responsibilities of the State and Federal Government.

This study builds upon the six Veteran Wellbeing Centres that are already being established across Australia by the Federal Government to support veterans and their families with connected and coordinated local services. For more information on how to be involved in the consultations visit the DVA website.

NOT QUITE YET … BUT.

Britannia waives the rules

The Royal Navy is proud to announce its new fleet of Type 45 destroyers.  Having initially named the first two ships HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless, the Naming Committee has, after intensive pressure from Brussels, renamed them HMS Cautious and HMS Prudence.  The next five ships are to be HMS Empathy, HMS Circumspect, HMS Nervous, HMS Timorous and HMS Apologist.

Costing £850 million each, they comply with the very latest employment, equality, health & safety and human rights laws.  The Royal Navy fully expects any future enemy to be jolly decent and to comply with the same high standards of behaviour.

The new user-friendly crow’s nest has excellent wheelchair access.  Live ammunition has been replaced with paintballs to reduce the risk of anyone getting hurt and to cut down on the number of compensation claims.  Stress counsellors and lawyers will be on board, as will be a full sympathetic industrial tribunal.

The crew will be 50/50 men and women and will contain the correct balance of race, gender, sexuality and disability.  Sailors will only work a maximum of 37hrs per week as per Brussels Rules on Working Hours, even in wartime.  All the vessels are equipped with a maternity ward, a crèche and a gay disco.

Tobacco will be banned throughout the ship, but recreational cannabis will be allowed in wardrooms and messes.

The Royal Navy is eager to shed its traditional reputation for; “Rum, sodomy and the lash”; so out has gone the rum ration, replaced by sparkling water.  Sodomy remains, now extended to include all ratings under 18.  The lash will still be available on request.

Saluting of officers is now considered elitist and has been replaced by the greeting “Hello Sailor”.

All information on notice boards will be in 37 different languages and Braille, with the option for more if personnel from other ethnic groups join the ship’s company.

Crew members will now no longer have to ask permission to grow beards and/or moustaches.  This applies equally to the female and transgender crew.

The MoD is inviting suggestions for a “non-specific” flag because the White Ensign may offend minorities.  The Union Jack must never be seen.

The newly re-named HMS Cautious will be commissioned shortly by Captain Hook from the Naval Group Committee of the Finsbury Park Mosque who will break a petrol bomb over the hull.  She will gently slide into the sea as the Royal Marines Band plays “In the Navy” by the Village People.  Her first deployment will be to escort boatloads of illegal immigrants to ports on England’s south coast.

The Prime Minister said, “Our ships reflect the very latest in modern thinking and they will always be able to comply with any new orders or legislation from Brussels.”

His final words were, “Britannia waives the rules.”

NEW OPEN ARMS OFFICE IN MELBOURNE

Veterans and their families in Melbourne will have easier access to Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling (Open Arms) with the office relocating to 303 Collins Street.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said despite the current coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne, work had continued on outfitting the new office space so veterans and their families would have improved access to support when face-to-face counselling resumes.

“Open Arms’ Melbourne office has seen a 25 per cent increase in clients in the last 12 months, and this increase is expected to continue throughout the pandemic,” Mr Chester said.

“With this in mind, the new location at 303 Collins Street, Melbourne is conveniently close to Flinders Street Station, tram and bus routes and offers veterans and their families a modern, well equipped and family friendly site with additional counselling rooms and large open office spaces to ensure they are well-looked after.

“It is incredibly important that this relocation to improved office space is completed so our Victorian veterans and their families can access the right facilities and services when they need to.”

Open Arms is Australia’s leading provider of high quality mental health assessment and clinical counselling services for Australian veterans and their families.

“If you are a veteran or family member who may be struggling or in need of additional support, I encourage you to call Open Arms 24/7 on 1800 011 046 or visit OpenArms.gov.au to find more about services available.”

Open Arms was founded by our Vietnam veterans and is their enduring legacy of ensuring all veterans and their families can access free and confidential mental health support.

The Melbourne Open Arms office is one of five in Victoria. For further information on Open Arms locations, visit OpenArms.gov.au.

THE SPIRIT OF THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN REGIMENT

THE SPIRIT OF THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN REGIMENT

I was asked if I could provide some scribbles in regards to the military spirit which embraces our beloved Royal Australian Regiment (RAR). Given my personal observations of troops in the field in recent time, there is no doubt it is very much alive and as vibrant as ever

Our tribal genesis is the genes of the originals who were the battle-weary veterans of WW2. Many of them were still soldiering on and wearing the infant RAR regimental badge during the Korean War. Some were still there during operational service in Malaya, Thai Border, Borneo and to remind all of us that old soldiers never die, there were still a few barking orders and setting examples in Vietnam.

A very critical and mostly forgotten phase of soldiering was during the Great Peace where there were those who guarded our standards and regimental spirit. They did it well, as demonstrated in subsequent deployments including Butterworth (Malaysia 1970-1989), Rwanda and Somalia. Once the Great Peace ended, it seemed traffic jams were inevitable as yet more generations of the Regiment travelled to and from Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other deployments for hazardous peacekeeping duties.

What of that regimental spirit? We were not born with it, nor was it issued, given as a magical birthday gift or presented by some senior officer from Canberra. It was developed slowly but surely on parade grounds, sentry duty, facing danger, enduring incredible hardships together, caring and sharing with each other, including the fear often hovering close by. Such spirit will always be a huge and powerful weapon. It gives strength, and helps keep the team united, motivated and always ready to grit teeth, roll up sleeves to do what has to be done. The following text says it for all in our tribe of what we breathe, speak of, and believe. “The spirit, which grows up in a Battalion (Regiment) when it has been …… is a comradeship almost spiritual in its strength and intensity. It springs from hardships shared equally, risks run by all in common and its power exceeds most of the emotions that an ordinary man will ever know. The care of soldiers for one another, their sure and calm dependence on each other are hard to understand by anyone who has not known it.” – Osmar White

Today, the cycle of soldiering continues; the old teaching the new so many qualities not recorded in textbooks and which are waiting to be mastered. Lessons which reach out from barrack-room routines, parade grounds, guardrooms, sports arenas, messes, canteens and in the field. The proud history to be read understood and confirmed by the deeds of yesterday etched on the sacred cloth flying high. Above all, the NCO Corp is watching; screaming orders as new recruits to the family blend with the old as they join the column. All are in step, marching into its tomorrow with purpose, and always with a proud indefatigable regimental spirit and ready to do its duty.

No matter where the column marches, all those yesterdays’ march with it. Its legacy is a proud one and has been tested in the most adverse conditions. The Regiment’s spirit has been demonstrated on many occasions, and to mention a few include the defiance at Kapyong, Samichon, Long Tan and Coral-Balmoral; the daring and aggressiveness at Maryang Sang and Binh Ba and the perseverance so demanding in insurgency operations, seemingly forever and ever. Always has been the high standard of battle discipline. No matter when or where the ANZAC humour still thrives, and above all, is the trust and faith in each other. All of this and more, was, is and always will be linked to the spirit of the Royal Australian Regiment. It is a powerful treasure that can never be bought or stolen.

At Enoggera Barracks where many of the fallen once trained, there is The WALK which honours the Regiments fallen with a tree and plaque for each of our heroes. The custodians of The WALK who devote their time to constant maintenance are old soldiers of the Regiment. They are clear evidence that the Spirit exists beyond serving warriors to the whole RAR family, embracing mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouses and children.

To claim it, to feel deeply its great pride, you must be part of it

COMMEMORATIVE MEDALLION AND CERTIFICATE RECOGNISE SECOND WORLD WAR VETERANS

A special commemorative medallion marking the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War is now available to every living Second World War veteran to say ‘thank you for your service’.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester today launched the medallion and certificate in the lead up to the end of the Second World War commemoration on 15 August, awarding the first medallion to Sale veteran Rose Jackson.

“As we approach this special anniversary, we recognise that it will be one of the last opportunities we have as a nation to publicly acknowledge the remaining veterans of the Second World War, of which there are around 12,000 still with us today,” Mr Chester said.

“These brave Australians served our nation in the far corners of the world, fighting in theatres of war from Europe to North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, to Asia and the Pacific, with the conflict also reaching Australian shores.

“Australia can never fully repay the debt we owe these amazing men and women but, to mark their service, the Federal Government is producing this Commemorative Medallion and Certificate of Commemoration for the remaining living Second World War veterans.

“I am delighted to be in Sale today to present the first of the Commemorative Medallions to an Australian Second Word War veteran, Rose Jackson.

“Rose served in the Australian Army during World War Two and rose to the rank of private. She was posted to Bandiana, Victoria after undertaking training and worked in a clerical role.

“Thank you for your service, Rose.”

The medallion, available to all living veterans who apply, will be presented in a display case and is a gesture of appreciation from a grateful nation to those veterans who fought to protect our way of life in the terrible conflict that ended 75 years ago.

Second World War veterans, or their families on their behalf, can apply online at dva.gov.au/medallion or, for those without internet access, by phone on 02 61918217 during business hours. The Commemorative Medallions and Certificates will be distributed during August.

HISTORY IS HISTORY

THE facts of history are immutable, the recording and interpretation of those facts increasingly less so.

The ABC’s latest act of moral rectitude has been to accuse Australian soldiers in Afghanistan in 2012 of posing with a US Confederate States (CSA) battle flag, an act of apparent moral turpitude symbolic of the ADF’s ethical decline. Unwise perhaps, but hardly a war crime except eight years after the event, that flag has become a symbol of American political protest.

In the political correctness which infects discourse particularly in the ADF, the display of aggressive symbols is described as triumphalism.

Australian official military heraldry is replete with iconic symbolism, not all of it politically correct.

The CSA flag, once a symbol of states’ rights, remains a potent symbol in America, just as it was in the bloody political secession and civil war which spawned it. Respected US historian, the late Shelby Foote wrote, “Any understanding of this nation has to be … really based on the understanding of Civil War … (which) defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became — good and bad things.”

Banning and removing symbols such as the statues of CSA leaders and flags do not change what occurred.

Adding unsubstantiated material to accounts of that period only serves to muddy the truth.

Australia and the US had quite different beginnings but there are those who try to draw parallels between their formative histories.

American colonists fought several wars to make their nation what it now is. The CSA fought a war not principally over the right to keep slaves, but against centralist governments which taxed and regulated without, they believed, listening to their concerns.

It was a grievance which found and still finds common cause here, such as when entrepreneurial miners revolted near Ballarat over fees and licences imposed by governments in which they claimed not to be represented.

Far from a symbol of workers’ aspirations, their Eureka flag was a symbol of opposition to external, centralised control.

It is a theme which cuts deep in Australia’s north, though its cutlery rattling local proponents tend to be talk and little action.

Until recently the Eureka flag and General Lee’s battle ensign were not uncommonly seen together on Australian militant building sites.

Not Australian certainly, but an obscure protest symbiosis to some. That the CSA flag has fallen into disfavour is a US problem, not ours.

YES, WE ARE VETERANS

We Are Veterans.

We left home as teenagers or in our early twenties for an unknown adventure.

We loved our country enough to defend it and protect it with our own lives.

We said goodbye to friends and family and everything we knew.

We learned the basics and then we scattered in the wind to the far corners of the Earth.

We found new friends and new family.

We became brothers and sisters regardless of colour, race or creed.

We had plenty of good times, and plenty of bad times.

We didn’t get enough sleep.

We smoked and drank too much.

We picked up both good and bad habits.

We worked hard and played harder.

We didn’t earn a great wage.

We experienced the happiness of mail call and the sadness of missing important events.

We didn’t know when, or even if, we were ever going to see home again.

We grew up fast, and yet somehow, we never grew up at all.

We fought for our freedom, as well as the freedom of others.

Some of us saw actual combat, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us saw the world, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us dealt with physical warfare, most of us dealt with psychological warfare.

We have seen and experienced and dealt with things that we can’t fully describe or explain, as not all of our sacrifices were physical.

We participated in time honoured ceremonies and rituals with each other, strengthening our bonds and camaraderie.

We counted on each other to get our job done and sometimes to survive it at all.

We have dealt with victory and tragedy.

We have celebrated and mourned.

We lost to many mates along the way.

When our adventure was over, some of us went back home, some of us started somewhere new and some of us never came home at all.

We have told amazing and hilarious stories of our exploits and adventures.

We share an unspoken bond with each other, that most people don’t experience, and few will understand.

We speak highly of our own branch of service, and poke fun at the other branches.

We know however, that, if needed, we will be there for our brothers and sisters and stand together as one, in a heartbeat.

Being a Veteran is something that had to be earned, and it can never be taken away.

It has no monetary value, but at the same time it is a priceless gift.

People see a Veteran and then thank them for their service.

When we see each other, we give that little upwards head nod, or a slight smile, knowing that we have shared and experienced things that most people have not.

So, from myself to the rest of the veterans out there, I commend and thank you for all that you have done and sacrificed for your country.

Try to remember the good times and forget the bad times.

Share your stories.

But most importantly, stand tall and proud, for you have earned the right to be called a Veteran.

Watch Out for Dragons and Wooden Horses

 Watch Out for Dragons and Wooden Horses

The sleeping dragon which our forefathers warned us about, is now wide awake, hungry and clearly on the prowl. To discourage its appetite, Canberra recently announced its intention to enhance our defence capability with more space age weaponry. Unfortunately, such measures do not counter a large Trojan horse already in our own backyard which threatens our precious way of life.  It feeds on violence, bullying, threats and lies. To add to such woes is our lack of national sustainability and self- reliance. One could argue that this is our Achilles heel this very day. No matter the cost, and despite increasing debt, we must begin to convert that weakness into being our most powerful weapon. 

Within that wooden horse are self -ordained ministers preaching political correctness; WOKES distorting history, Brown Shirts demanding a new world order. All three sleep in the same bed and their intent is to destroy our way of life. Their unruly public demonstrations show contempt for our law, science, culture and history. For them, free speech is toxic to their cause and their weapons to counter truth are abuse, lies, threat and violence. Their platform has no room for second opinions. Their strategy includes infiltration of schools where their distortion of truth begins in the very early phases at primary levels and refined in universities. They pursue their ultimate goal with immunity, despite our laws and need for disciplined social behavior.  Both State and Federal governments simply ignore the violations, or use velvet gloves when chiding, and wet tram tickets as deterrents in once respected courts of law. The consequences provide further incentive for social disobedience as well as a growing unrest within the law abiding community.

The Trojan horse within our castle walls is hell bent on creating a new world built on ignorance, collective fantasies and greed for power as well. The internal threat is sinister and real. Thus, as well as purchasing space age weaponry and other budget shattering defence needs, (but please God, not obsolete submarines 25 years hence) we should reassess where all the keys to security lie, and act accordingly.  After all, it would be pointless to establish an impregnable fortress, if in time our treasured way of life is to be destroyed by the enemy within. Simply put, it’s time to confront brown shirts, political correct preachers and WOKES, with the full force of the law. 

We have been asleep at the wheel and complacent with the belief that in times of peril, Uncle Sam will come to our rescue. In this troubled and rapidly changing world, such assumptions could well be a dangerous and foolish assessment. We have to understand and prepare for the worst scenario. With sound planning and energy, we can become a nation with sustainability and self-reliance and which will be the sharpest of our spears. 

 There must be goals which are understood and pursued as a nation. The task list is not new, and must include discipline and education of our youth, busy factories, infrastructure, dams, cheap power including hydro, nuclear energy and much emphasis on science. Above all, to enhance unity and a proud belief in who we are and what we can do as one people. Time is the essence. It cannot be delayed with broken promises and excuses. Now is the time to act.  Falter, and there will be no safe and bright tomorrow. 

History records our past and its immense challenges which were overcome with strong purpose, and all as one.  All of us, united, must do this once more and vow never again to be so stupid as to ignore lessons of history. Our future kin will read of this and understand why in their time, they too will live in a happy, free and vibrant nation.

 

    Watch Out! The Brown Shirts** and other bullies are on the streets   

Screaming and chanting in the streets

Space age puppets driven by mindless feet

In the mob’s wake is the litter of hate

Spray cans, burnt flags and torn pages of rules of debate

Proud images of our past, broken, toppled or painted with vandal spite

Fools who scorn our history of courage, faith and a fair go forever so right  

 

They smear sacred walls etched with names of our fallen who gave all

Brave men and women who joined war’s columns to answer the call 

Nurse, butcher, baker, drover, clerk, teacher and shearer, all as one to fight

They too walked in the park where in time their memorial would be on site

Perhaps on the spot itself, to joke, laugh and dream of what would never be  

They were young, the world was theirs, and they lived in a land so free 

 

Today the street is crowded by a noisy few chanting hypocrisy as their call

To distort our past, and new rules to slowly strip freedom from all 

Our way of life to be stolen, replaced by persecution, and Piety branded taboo

No compass to guide us into tomorrow; only the ignorance of a demented few  

Beneath scarred sacred names of heroes, is our unbeatable spirit they’ll never know

Love of country, freedom, blood, sweat, tears, and pain of chains and lash from long ago

George Mansford ©June 2020

**Brownshirts were Hilter’s  thugs and bullies who in violent ways aided Hitler’s rise to power