The government will ‘fully implement’ the Brereton Report

Minister for Defence Richard Marles says that the government will “fully implement” the Brereton Report to the extent it can. “It is our intent to try and implement Brereton to its fullest possible extent,” Mr Marles said during Question Time on Monday.

My question is … will they grow a set and follow it to the top?

US to send anti-drone machine guns, air defence ammunition to Ukraine

By Stephen Losey

The Pentagon said it will send Ukraine up to $400 million in artillery ammunition, weapons and supplies in its latest drawdown package to help the nation defend itself against Russia.

The security assistance package announced includes more ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, high-speed anti-radiation missiles, or HARMs, and 200 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds, the U.S. Department of Defence said in a statement.

It also includes 150 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights that Ukraine could use to shoot down Russian drones, the Pentagon said, as well as 10,000 120mm mortar rounds and additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, air defence systems developed by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace and U.S. firm Raytheon Technologies.

“With Russia’s unrelenting and brutal missile and [unmanned aerial systems] attacks on Ukrainian critical energy infrastructure, additional air defence capabilities remain an urgent priority,” the Pentagon said. “The additional munitions for NASAMS and heavy machine guns will help Ukraine counter these urgent threats.”

The package also includes 150 Humvees, more than 100 light tactical vehicles, more than 200 generators, spare parts for 105mm Howitzers and other equipment and more than 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition.

This drawdown will be the U.S. military’s 26th for Ukraine since August 2021. The Pentagon said the U.S. has provided about $22 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, with more than $19 billion of that coming since Russia invaded the country in February.

 

Commemoration for AB Thomas Welsby Clark and crew of HMAS Sydney (II)

Photo: Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, Commander Maritime Border Command Rear Admiral Justin Jones and Lieutenant Commander Jared Webb salute as the Last Post is played at the memorial service to commemorate Able Seaman Thomas Welsby Clark (inset) and the rest of the crew of HMAS Sydney (II), which was sunk off the coast of Western Australia on 19 November 1941. Photo by Petty Officer Bradley Darvill.

The ceremony honoured all 645 men who lost their lives after the Australian ship was sunk during World War II.

Months after the sinking of HMAS Sydney (II), the body of an unidentified sailor washed up on the shore of Christmas Island in a life raft.

For years, Able Seaman Clark’s unidentified body remained in an unmarked grave on the island until it was exhumed in 2006 and DNA samples taken.

Previously referred to as the HMAS Sydney (II) unknown sailor, Able Seaman Clark was formally identified after extensive DNA research in 2021.

Able Seaman Clark will forever represent his shipmates who lost their lives on that fateful night of 19 November 1941.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh said Able Seaman Clark and his fellow crew members made the ultimate sacrifice in service to Australia.

“We remember them and pay tribute to the families who were left behind when HMAS Sydney (II) was tragically sunk,” Mr Keogh said.

“I would like to thank the Christmas Island community for affording Able Seaman Clark the dignity he deserved and supporting the search for his resting place.”

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mark Hammond said that for a ship the size of HMAS Sydney (II), which was so widely admired across the country, to be lost with all hands was simply unfathomable.

“I thank the Christmas Island community for the care and respect they provided to a very brave sailor on his journey home,” Vice Admiral Hammond said.

Senator for the Northern Territory and Christmas and Cocos Keeling Islands Malarndirri McCarthy said that as a Yanyuwa Garrwa woman, the commemoration was very sacred and the death of a loved one in war was a huge price to pay for family, the community and the nation.

“Through the story of Able Seaman Clark, we remember all of those who lost their lives making the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country,” she said.

Lest We Forget.

 

THE EAGLE

Photo: Freedom and Jeff

This is the kind of story you need when it seems like the world is spiralling out of control. Not many people get a picture of this proud bird snuggled up next to them!

Freedom and I have been together for 11 years this summer.

She came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken wings. Her left wing doesn’t open all the way even after surgery, it was broken in 4 places.

She’s, my baby. When Freedom came in, she could not stand and both wings were broken. She was emaciated and covered in lice. We made the decision to give her a chance at life, so I took her to the vet’s office. From then on, I was always around her.

We had her in a huge dog carrier with the top off, and it was loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to lay in. I used to sit and talk to her, urging her to live, to fight and she would lay there looking at me with those big brown eyes. We also had to tube-feed her for weeks.

This went on for 4-6 weeks, and by then she still couldn’t stand. It got to the point where the decision was made to euthanize her if she couldn’t stand within a week. You know you don’t want to cross that line between torture and rehab, and it looked like death.

She was going to be put down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in on that Thursday afternoon. I didn’t want to go to the centre that Thursday, because I couldn’t bear the thought of her being euthanized; but I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone was grinning from ear to ear.

I went immediately back to her cage; and there she was, standing on her own, a big, beautiful eagle. She was ready to live. I was just about in tears by then.

That was a very good day. We knew she could never fly, so the director asked me to glove-train her. I got her used to the glove, and then to jesses, and we started doing education programs for schools in western Washington. We wound up in the newspapers, radio (believe it or not) and some TV. Miracle Pets even did a show about us.

In the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I had stage 3, which is not good (one major organ plus everywhere), so I wound up doing 8 months of chemo. Lost the hair – the whole bit. I missed a lot of work. When I felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey and take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would also come to me in my dreams and help me fight cancer. This happened time and time again.

Fast forward to November 2000. The day after Thanksgiving, I went in for my last check-up. I was told that if the cancer was not all gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they did the tests; and I had to come back on Monday for the results. I went in Monday, and I was told that all the cancer was gone.

So, the first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her up, and we went out front to the top of the hill.

I hadn’t said a word to Freedom, but somehow, she knew. She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back (I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she touched my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes, and we just stood there like that for I don’t know how long. That was a magic moment. We have been soul mates ever since we came in. This is a very special bird.

On a side note: I have had people who were sick come up to us when we are out, and Freedom has some kind of hold on them. I once had a guy who was terminal come up to us and I let him hold her. His knees just about buckled, and he swore he could feel her power course through his body. I have so many stories like that.

I never forget the honour I have of being so close to such a magnificent spirit as Freedom!!

 

 

Veterans demand ADF chief General Angus Campbell return his medal

By Cydonee Mardon

Veterans are demanding that General Angus Campbell hand his Distinguished Service Cross back — with one calling for the Australian Defence Force chief to resign.

 

A retired army major has called for Australian Defence Force chief General Angus Campbell to hand his Distinguished Service Cross back — and said if he doesn’t “the government should take it from him”.

The call by Stuart McCarthy, a two-tour veteran of ­Afghanistan, comes amid growing anger among elite special forces troops after Gen Campbell demanded his senior officers surrender their own medals or show proof of why they deserve them.

The move against his top brass follows the release of the Brereton report in November 2020 into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan by Australia’s Special Forces.

None of the top officers were believed to have been implicated or included in the adverse findings against 39 soldiers who are the subject of police investigation.

But the move signals all those in leadership positions have to bear some form of accountability for the behaviour of some of Australia’s elite forces.

PHOTO: Stuart McCarthy completed two tours of Afghanistan.

Mr McCarthy’s sentiments are echoed by former special forces commando Wes Hennessey, who says he will be writing to MPs next week requesting Gen Campbell’s resignation.

“Here we are, two years after the release of the Brereton Report, and the CDF makes another attempt to force our Special Operations personnel to relinquish Afghanistan honours and awards,” Mr Hennessey said.

“Based upon what? That all decorated officers were complicit with purported allegations? That is absolutely absurd.”

Mr Hennessey said the officers in question were some of the “finest and experienced” he’d worked with.

“They hold the majority core of the current combat experience within the ADF,” he said.

“If we were to become involved in a regional conflict, or support combat operations of a third country, we will very much need the experience of these officers.”

A military law academic specialising in command responsibility for war crimes, who spoke to The Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity due to his current work overseas, described Gen Campbell’s response as “shallow” and “ill-informed”.

“Deterring war crimes starts at the top, and war crimes cases since World War II recognise that,” he said.

“In Australia’s case, the top includes commanders of Joint Task Force 633.”

The academic, an Afghanistan veteran, said Gen Campbell’s reported justification of his actions in demanding medals be returned “so he could be seen to be doing something about discipline issues … entirely misses the point”.

There is no suggestion Mr McCarthy or Mr Hennessey have been asked to return medals.

 

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”.