Battle of Yongju, also known as the Battle of the Apple Orchard.

On the 22nd of October 1950. C Company 3RAR along with elements of the US 89th Tank Battalion participated in the Battle of Yongju, also known as the Battle of the Apple Orchard. This battle formed part of the UN offensive towards the Yalu River and occurred during the Korean War.

At approximately 0900, 3RAR came under fire from a KPA rearguard position in an apple orchard near Yongju whilst attempting to link up with US paratroopers from the 187 RCT. 3RAR carried out an aggressive quick attack on the enemy position, with US tanks in support, forcing the KPA to withdraw from the high ground after suffering heavy casualties. The Australians suffered only four wounded to 70 Koreans killed in the initial engagement.

Now attacking the retreating KPA from the rear, 3RAR continued advancing, with the KPA caught between the advancing Australians and the surrounded troops of 187 RCT. A number of KPA attempted to hide in the straw stacks and but were brutally cleared out by the advancing Australians, who proceeded to kick the stacks of straw and shooting any KPA soldiers as they attempted to flee.

At 1100 that day the two forces linked up. Approximately 150 KPA were killed, 239 wounded and 200 captured. The Australians suffered just seven men wounded.

1RAR Association Reunion 2021

To Current Members of 1RAR Association,

We had a cracker of a week, for those who were able to make it despite COVID.

A letter from President Jim Masters, OAM is here. Photos of the week received so far are on the Gallery here. If you have more, send them to [email protected] and we’ll post them ASAP.

We also held an AGM. The Minutes are here.

We’ve had a great response to the self-management of subscriptions. It’s great to have accurate records of members which improves targeted communications, and especially to support location gatherings. Paid member numbers have gone up. However, some members from last year have not re-registered and we suspect they are having difficulties with their PCs. If anyone needs help, let [email protected] know and we’ll help. One of the biggest problems detected is that not all dates of birth came across from old records before we went online, so some DOBs were ‘made up’ as the field is mandatory. Except to update the members’ list from last year, available here, this will be the last email to those who haven’t renewed. Renewal is as easy as clicking here; hitting the RENEW button; and entering surname and DOB and selecting membership type.

We hope everyone is well and looking forward to the end of lockdowns and border closures.

Duty First,

President and National Executive
1RAR Association

2 SQN SAS PETITION

This time it’s personal, for me and all my mates in 2SQN SASR! The petition below is now live and will remain open until 17 November. I’m asking as many of my fellow Australians as possible to read, go to the website:

https://www.aph.gov.au/e-petitions

Search for EN3407 and add your signature if you agree. You will not be identified publically by adding your name. With thanks.

Petition number: EN3407 (Please quote in future correspondence)

Date submitted: 25/09/2021

Terms:

Reason: The decision in November 2020 to extinguish 2SQN from the Army’s Order of Battle (ORBAT) in an early response to the Brereton Report inflicted group punishment on all past and present members of that proud unit for alleged crimes that are yet to be tested in a court of law.

Group punishment is invariably an abhorrent and arbitrary measure, tainting the entirety for the alleged crimes of the few. The repugnant nature of group punishment is compounded in this case by being applied prematurely and selectively against the rank and file while failing to censure the senior commanders who had a personal responsibility for oversight when alleged crimes were committed.

Worse still, the punishment has been applied retrospectively. 2SQN’s removal from the ORBAT casts doubt on the honour, sacrifice and reputation of 2SQN veterans dating back to the unit’s establishment in 1964. Hundreds of former members who have served in the squadron since that time are now forever shamed and linked to untested crimes allegedly committed by the few in the past decade. We are firmly in favour of punishment where wrongdoing is proven, but the disproportionate sweep of this group punishment is an overreach. The shaming of innocents through the generations is no way to address the matters raised in the Brereton Report. 2SQN SASR must be restored to the ORBAT as a matter of natural justice for all.

Request:

We, therefore, ask the House to restore 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment, to the Australian Army’s Order of Battle.

Your petition was considered by the Standing Committee on Petitions at a recent meeting and was found to meet the petition requirements. It is now available for signature online.

Signatures open: 20/10/2021

Signatures close: 17/11/2021

Your petition can be viewed here:

https://www.aph.gov.au/e-petitions

You can locate your petition by searching for your name or the petition number in the search bar.

Following the close of the signature period, your petition will be presented in the House and may be referred to the relevant Minister based on the subject of your petition terms. We will let you know when this happens.

 

SOMALIA CONFLICT ANNIVERSARY

On the 20th of October 1992, the first Australian soldiers were deployed to Somalia as part of the ADF Movement Control Unit (MCU) to assist with the United Nations Operation to Somalia (UNOSOM). UNOSOM was initially formed to monitor a ceasefire between the two main militia groups, one led by Ali Mahdi Mohamed and the other by Mohamed Farah Aidid, who were fighting for control of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

On the 20th of October, the Australian government decided to send a thirty-person Movement Control Unit (MCU), drawn from the three services, to Somalia to coordinate transport for the UN mission. The unit was commanded by Major Greg Jackson and troops began arriving in the country from the end of October.

In November the US government announced it would lead a force to Somalia to enable aid agencies to distribute humanitarian relief. The UN Security Council gave the force, the Unified Task Force – Somalia (UNITAF), the mandate to use “all necessary means” to carry out this task. At its peak UNITAF consisted of 37,000 personnel, 21,000 of whom were American and the rest from twenty other countries. The first American troops arrived in Mogadishu on 9 December.

Australia contributed an infantry battalion group to UNITAF. The group totalled 990 personnel and was based around 1RAR, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel David Hurley. In addition to troops from 1RAR, the group included the Armoured Personnel Carriers of B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment; a civil and military operations teamed based on 107th Field Battery; engineers from the 17th Field Troop of the 3rd Combat Engineering Regiment; signallers from the 103rd Signals Squadron; Intelligence personnel; the 7th Electronic Warfare Squadron; and a support unit based on the 3rd Brigade Administrative Support Battalion.

The Australians were based in Baidoa Humanitarian Relief Sector, west of Mogadishu. The Australian contingent in Baidoa had four main roles: maintain a secure environment in Baidoa; maintain a presence in the surrounding countryside; protect aid convoys; and assist in the equitable distribution of aid. Tasks were rotated between the four rifle companies every nine days. The troops also gathered intelligence by talking to the locals and used this knowledge to disarm aggressive groups. There were a number of skirmishes with bandits.

The RAN played an important part in the deployment, transporting the battalion group equipment, vehicles, and some troops, to Somalia on board the training ship HMAS Jervis Bay and the heavy landing ship HMAS Tobruk. Tobruk subsequently remained in the area in support, providing logistic support to the Australians and UNITAF, and conducted surveillance off the Somali coast. Its helicopter was used in ship-to-shore transport of personnel. Tobruk was also used by the land forces for rest and recreation.

With UNITAF’s strong military presence, humanitarian relief organisations were able to distribute food in safety, bringing an end to the Somali famine. Conditions had stabilised to such an extent that attention shifted to ending the conflict which had exacerbated the famine. On 4 May 1993 UNITAF was replaced by expanded UNOSOM II, which had an extensive mandate to rebuild the Somali state.

With the hand-over, the 1RAR battalion group was transferred to UNOSOM II until 13 May when it was withdrawn from Baidoa and returned to Australia the following week. The MCU remained in Somali with UNOSOM II and was joined by a group of air traffic controllers. UNOSOM II nation building mandate brought it into conflict was the militia leader Mohamed Farah Aidid. In October the situation further deteriorated after a team of US Army Rangers and Delta Force unsuccessfully tried to remove Aidid from power. This was a well publicised and embarrassing defeat and many countries subsequently began to withdraw their national contingents from UNOSOM II.

The Australians, however, stayed. In April 1994 a ten-man patrol from the SASR was flown to Mogadishu to protect the contingent, which by then was down to 67 people. The Australian contingent remained in Somalia for another seven months, finally withdrawn in November. After suffering significant casualties and unable to restore order or peace, the last UN troops were withdrawn from Somalia in March 1995.

Image: An Australian soldier provides assistance to a Somali who was injured in an axe fight during food distribution to the village of Sahmandeera.

 

Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide to open in Brisbane

We are pleased to announce the commencement of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide hearings and other updates regarding the work of the Commission.


Hearings

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide will hold its first public hearing at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Friday November 26.  More details will be announced in the coming weeks. The hearing will explain how the Commissioners will conduct the inquiry. The first block of public hearings where participants will give evidence begins in Brisbane on Monday November 29, 2021.

The ceremonial hearing will be open to the public if COVID restrictions allow. It will also be webcast.


Private sessions

People are being invited to share their experiences and register for a private session. This is an opportunity to meet a Commissioner as they consider any changes that are needed to help veterans and their supporters. These sessions will begin in November and continue for the duration of the Royal Commission.


Submissions

Anyone wishing to make a submission to the Commission can do so on the Commission’s website. The Commission will accept submissions until at least the end of March 2022. The closing date will be confirmed later this year.

Sharing your experiences will help the Commission understand:
• Systemic issues among Defence and veteran deaths by suicide
• Risk factors, and
• The availability of support services

The Royal Commission cannot decide or resolve individual cases or award compensation.


Minister’s Announcement

Last week the Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel announced the appointment of consultants McKinsey & Company to take action to improve the claims system for supporting veterans, administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The Minister is reported to have said that McKinsey & Co would be consulting with bereaved families of veterans who have died by suicide.

The Royal Commission looks forward to learning more about the scope and nature of the actions McKinsey & Co will be taking, and to working with the Department to ensure the interests and wellbeing of bereaved families are protected.

The Commission Chair Nick Kaldas said: “We are mindful that with both organisations seeking to work closely with Defence members, veterans and their families, our processes should support those involved and avoid being duplicative, conflicting or otherwise overwhelming.”


Support 

The Royal Commission acknowledges that coming forward to share your experience is a big step. We want to make it as easy as possible. Please tell us about any support you need. For more information, visit the Royal Commission website.


From the Commissioners

Hearing from people touched by the tragedy of suicide and suicidal behaviour is critical for Australia to learn and improve the lives of veterans and their families.

Your story can help others. We’re encouraging anyone who wants to share their experiences to come forward.

The experiences of veterans, families, support people, organisations and the broader community will help us understand the problem and make recommendations that may reduce the number of deaths by suicide.

Aussie war machine ready to take on the world

A secret operation to build a uniquely Australian combat support vehicle for national and foreign militaries can now be revealed – in all its camouflaged glory.

Queensland-based company Rheinmetall Australia will today launch its Lynx Combat Support Vehicle – which the firm’s managing director Gary Stewart declared was “the most sophisticated and capable armoured vehicle ever to be designed and built in Australia”.

“It is uniquely Australian as a workhorse vehicle, even taking on the distinct function of a ute,”

Mr Stewart said.

With a crane and digger-type attachments, the combat support vehicle is designed to provide logistics support to fighting vehicles on the battlefield.

It will be based on the existing Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle, which Rheinmetall hopes will win the next phase of the Australian government’s Land 400 military vehicle procurement program.

Mr Stewart said the Lynx Combat Support Vehicle had been developed and built separately to the government’s requirements but said it had already garnered “a lot of interest from a lot of armies around the world” and would be built and exported from the company’s factory in Ipswich.

A stop-gap undersea warfare solution

21 OCTOBER 2021

By: Charbel Kadib

With the construction of Australia’s new nuclear-powered fleet expected to begin later within the decade, unmanned ‘Orcas’ can shore-up the Royal Australian Navy’s undersea war fighting capabilities ahead of the delivery of the next-generation fleet.

The Commonwealth government’s recent decision to scrap Naval Group’s $90 billion SEA 1000 contract has raised new questions regarding the delivery timeline for a new generation of undersea warfare vessels to replace the ageing Collins Class fleet. Naval Group’s original contract to deliver 12 Attack Class submarines over the coming decades had been heavily scrutinised, with full operational capability not expected until 2054.

However, it remains unclear whether the new trilateral AUKUS alliance — which will see nuclear-powered submarines built in South Australia as part of a knowledge sharing arrangement —will shorten the wait for a new fleet.

Further details regarding the fleet’s capability, cost, project logistics, and the delivery timeline are to be fleshed out over the next 18 months. Defence sought to address potential capability gaps by expanding planned upgrades of the Collins Class vessels.

In June, Minister for Defence Peter Dutton confirmed that approximately $6 billion would be invested in a life-of-type extension (LOTE) for all six of the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins Class submarines.

Defence had initially planned to upgrade just three of the platforms.

But some observers have proposed alternative stop-gap solutions to ensure the Navy’s undersea warfare capability can match and deter evolving threats.

Michael Shoebridge, director of the defence, strategy and national security program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), argues that the government should consider procuring the ‘Orca’ — an extra-large unmanned undersea vehicle developed by Boeing and Huntington Ingalls Industries for the US Navy.

Five Orcas are scheduled to be built by the end of 2022 as part of a US$274 million ($354 million) contract signed in 2019.

“The unmanned submarine has a range of about 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 kilometres) and can perform dangerous, dirty and dull work like intelligence-gathering, surveillance and deployment of other systems (such as smart sea mines), with a development path up to and including deployment of other weapons to attack adversary ships, submarines and other systems,” Shoebridge writes.

“They will probably work best as part of a manned–unmanned undersea team, less closely tethered but a bit like the rapidly developed ‘Loyal Wingman’ unmanned aerial vehicle that the Royal Australian Air Force is developing and testing with Boeing Australia.”

Shoebridge concedes that there would be “plenty to work out” to ensure the Royal Australian Navy can operate Orcas effectively, but notes there’s a “practical limit” to how much planning and preparation can be done with experiments and demonstrations.

“Concepts for use and ways to resolve difficult problems like tasking and controlling undersea systems will be resolved much faster once navy personnel get their hands on live systems; that’s what’s happened throughout the history of warfare,” he writes.

The ASPI analyst proposes that the RAN collaborates with US Navy, along with US and Australian industrial partners, to develop the Orca, adding that this would “bring the most undersea combat power most quickly to Australia’s military”.

He continues: “It’s also the best way for Defence to create new challenges for adversaries that are thinking of coercing Australia or increasing their military presence in Australia’s near region.”

Shoebridge goes on to write that Orcas working with upgraded Collins Class submarines would “change the calculus around Australian defence” ahead of the delivery of the next-generation fleet.

This, he claims, would also ensure the Future Submarine and its crews are “designed and prepared” to operate with unmanned systems. Shoebridge argues that Defence has an opportunity to negotiate an attractive deal for the Orca with Boeing, with its commercial business severely impacted by travel restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Combine this with the confidence that working with Boeing Australia on the Loyal Wingman must be giving both the government and Defence,” he adds.

Shoebridge concludes: “The US Navy’s example of spending US$274 million to acquire five Orcas that are all being delivered within three years of contract shows the affordable, rapid change that Australia joining this program could bring to our own naval capability.

“Wouldn’t it be welcome to have some fast-moving good news out of Defence when it comes to submarines? It’s time to push Defence to move faster than it will left to itself.”

 

Pulmonary Fibrosis Inquiry

Ray,

I’m wondering if you could post to your Veteranweb Network a request for me, please.

I have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis which becomes worse with no known cure as time passes. I firmly believe it was caused by being sprayed to the point of my uniform being saturated by a helicopter spraying pesticide. At the time I thought it a big joke on me as did the helicopter crew and the pesticide wasn’t washed off me or my uniform until much later by which time it had dried on my uniform and skin.

Would it be possible to ask if any other members who served in Vietnam are or have experienced pulmonary fibrosis and would they please get in touch with me?

Many thanks, Ray,

Lee

Lee O’Neill

[email protected]

Supporting those who serve

If you are facing financial hardship and need to pay off bills before Christmas 2021. Now is the time to call Bravery Trust. They do not operate 24 hours and they take the national Christmas and new year’s public holidays. I will prewarn you when the cut off is for the last applications.

Bravery Trust support veterans and their families when they need it most. If you’re an Australian veteran who is seriously injured as a result of service and needs financial assistance to get back on your feet, we want to hear from you.

https://www.braverytrust.org.au/contact-us/

#australianveteransandfamilies #pleasereachoutforfinancialhelp

 

In conversation with Kate Munari

20 OCTOBER 2021

By: Nastasha Tupas

As Australia’s only female Navy helicopter pilot to fly in Afghanistan three times as part of Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) in the role of aircraft captain and formation commander, Kate Munari led teams in some of the toughest conditions any workplace can present.

Q and A with Kate Munari, aircraft captain and formation commander (Ret’d), RAN

The veteran navy pilot joins Defence Connect journalist Nastasha Tupas to discuss leadership and teamwork, critical decision making, how she has capitalised on her military experience to forge a successful career in the civilian corporate space, to empowering women for whatever comes across their professional or personal paths. Munari joined the Royal Australian Navy at the age of 18, through the Australian Defence Force Academy and completed a Bachelor of Science degree. Qualifying as a helicopter pilot in 2006, her skill and dedication to flying led to her being selected for a four and a half year posting to the Royal Navy, UK. There, Munari flew as part of Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) who fly in support of the Royal Marine Commandos.

Defence Connect: Let’s rewind and start from the beginning, what got you interested in joining the ADF?

Kate Munari: I guess as a kid, I was into everything, but then I wasn’t into any one thing in particular. I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do. I knew that I did not want a nine-to-five job, that was never going to suit me. Interestingly, the Defence Force recruiting team came to my school when I was in year 11. I attended that presentation, and I was just hooked from the moment I saw it. It looked exciting, there were adventures to be had and it definitely was not going to be a nine-to-five job.

DC: When you initially applied for the ADF, did you experience any roadblocks?

KM: When I first joined, I wouldn’t have said there were any roadblocks. However, there were still a couple of areas within defence that were off limits to females, which has since changed. I guess [for me] it was just the normal challenges of joining to be a pilot.

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There are so many tests, so many interviews, such a lengthy process, but then again, I’m quite happy with that challenge. That’s what I wanted to do. I was quite motivated to step through all those challenges to get in.

DC: How did you navigate a male dominated workplace and advance your career?

KM: Job competency is key. Focus on your skills, your abilities and your gender should never be viewed as a limiting factor. There is nothing about your gender that will stop you doing a job. You’ll be trained to fulfil whatever role comes up, and you’ve just got to back yourself, if it’s something you want to do, and you believe you’ve got the ability to do it, then go and give it a go.

DC: What was your experience like as a pilot and leader during your military career?

KM: I loved being a military pilot. Part of the job fundamentally comes with a lot of responsibility, like straight up, you’re responsible for the lives of your crew, the passengers on board in this multi-million-dollar helicopter. So, I found that was a motivation for me to do better and work harder, to just try and be the best pilot I could be because I had that level of responsibility — so that was a real positive. For me, even in light of recent events in Afghanistan, my three operational deployments are still without a doubt the highlight of my military career.

DC: What has stuck with you the most during your deployments?

KM: My deployments as part of Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) were the pinnacle of my career. Most spend years training for the possibility of going operational. When I got that opportunity, it was what I’d wanted. You are working at your peak mental and physical performance while you’re out there. I enjoyed rising to that challenge and meeting the everyday challenges that came whilst we were out there in Afghanistan.

From a bit more of personal perspective, it was an adventure with my mates. The people I worked with are the only people who ever really understand what it was like being out there and what you were faced with, what you had to deal with to achieve your mission. Some of my closest friends are still the people who I deployed with to Afghanistan, so I take that away as well.

DC: How do you tackle making tough decisions quickly under enemy fire?

KM: There’s a lot that goes into making decisions in those sorts of moments. First off, focus on what you can control, and let go of the rest. Don’t waste your time thinking about the ‘what ifs’ or the ‘I wish,’ [scenarios] in relation to the things that are outside of your control. I just think there’s no point in even wasting your time and effort on them. Focus on what you can control and make the best of those situations. Those decisions that you can make and put your input into, those things that you can control. That’s really important. I guess, another one is always work hard and give everything your best effort because sometimes you don’t get a second chance.

This is actually something I cover during my motivational speaking, which I also do as another job. The short version of it, is, during those moments, focusing on the here and now and what needs to be done in the here and now is key. Maintaining situational awareness of everything around you that goes into making that decision, and then making a decision, and making it the best decision you can in that moment.

I don’t mean to simplify. When I speak about it, there’s a whole lot more behind it, but they are the things in that moment that you’ve really got to do. I often get asked that sort of question when I’m doing speaking engagements, because a lot of people are like, how can you possibly switch off all the all those crazy thoughts that could run through your head in those sorts of moments, and actually make a good decision?

I’ve had years of training, and it is about focusing on what needs your attention in that moment. That really is key. The moment you start thinking about the people down the back, or what happens if something goes wrong?

As soon as you go down that path, you get distracted from making that decision, and it will affect your ability to make that decision. So, you just got to stop yourself when your mind runs away — and it takes practice.

DC: Which of your military skills have been the most transferable to your career now?

KM: If you put me in a box for my service, I was a helicopter pilot. However, I’m now a motivational speaker and an air accident investigator. None of those jobs were on the list of the standard things you can do when you leave the military. When people transition from the military, they’ve probably had years of training, acquired skills, and experiences, but military personnel don’t know exactly how their skills translate. So, I think veterans transitioning into a civilian career do need help in that sense.

It’s not that we don’t have the skills, we just know them by a different name, or we had just used them in a military environment — but the skills are just as relevant, we just need to translate that into civilian space. I feel everyone who leaves defence can find something that’s relevant to their experiences.

The military equips people with so many different skills. For me, everything from my leadership skills, and my personnel management skills to communication, decision making, and even critical thinking apply in my current roles as a motivational speaker, and as an air accident investigator.

It is good to see that Defence has done some work in this space and worked with numerous civilian organisations to educate them as to what military personnel can bring to the party, but I also think there’s still work to be done in that space.

DC: There has been a national conversation about bolstering support for veterans that are transitioning out of the ADF in the areas of mental health and job opportunities, do you think this should have been as prominent in the past as it is now?

KM: I guess it’s topical now with all that is happening in Afghanistan.

It just needs to be said that for those individuals who served in Afghanistan, what’s happening now, it doesn’t diminish your efforts at the time. As military personnel, our service was called upon to go, try and fulfil the mission. I think it’s worth noting that every defence service person is going to be different. They’ll be dealing with mental health challenges differently; some may need support when they get out; and some don’t need any support when they get out.

When personnel are still serving in the military, that’s when I think more effort, perhaps, could also be put into looking after people’s mental health… whilst they’re still in defence, still surrounded by all their normal support networks and their normal routine and structure. To me that’s a better time to be dealing with any issues.

Like I said, it’s very tough. Veterans’ mental health was topical before the Afghanistan situation shifted as much as it has. The best way to put it is, the current situation is not in the control of the individuals who once served in Afghanistan. As individuals we did the best job that we could at the time and just because the ultimate mission may now have failed, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth trying for at the time, and it doesn’t diminish the efforts that were put in at the time.

It needs to be remembered that we were out there doing a job, the job that our countries had asked us to go and do, to support a mission that we believed would make a positive impact. The efforts we put in are not diminished by the outcome at the end, because we went there, did our best, we tried, and it was worth trying for.

DC: What would your advice be to women who want to apply for roles at the ADF, those who are currently in the ADF who want to advance in their careers, and women aspiring to be leaders in their industries?

KM: I had a really positive experience throughout my military career. Then, I was outnumbered heavily by men, but my gender wasn’t a limiting factor for me. It didn’t really enter my mind, it didn’t stop me trying to be a pilot, even though when I joined, there was only one female pilot in the whole of the Navy. I never let it stop me, I never let it hold me back because I didn’t focus on gender as being an aspect that would limit me.

It’s better to go for something than cross yourself out for something that perhaps isn’t a factor at all. That’s how I always looked at it. Like I said, job competency is key. Often, the reality is that it’s not actually gender that’s going to stop you doing anything, it might be something else, like not having the right skills to do whatever job you’ve gone for.

Rarely is gender a factor on its own, it shouldn’t stop you from doing something — unless you let it.

This article originally appeared in the Defence Connect maritime special edition, which can be viewed here.