COMMENT: Torture-Resistance course weakens Army

This article is so inaccurate, so based on the writer’s personal perspective and not on investigative journalism I find it offensive. The title of it “Torture-Resistance Course Weakens Army” is a prime example of click-bait journalism – “Now I’ve got your attention, read me.”

Who is Damien de Pyle? What are his qualification and/or experience that, supposedly, gives him credibility? Has he attended the course or is his “insight” or rather lack of it based on a conversation with a failed attendee or on some nebulous government report?

“SAS hero Stuart Bonne” What has he done that entitles him to the epithet “Hero”

In the early 1960s, a couple of years after graduating from OCS into Infantry as a Second Lieutenant I completed a two week Code of Conduct course at the School of Military Intelligence on Middle Head, Sydney. The aim and purpose of the course was comparable with that of the CAC course conducted by SMI now based at the School of Military Warfare at Canungra, QLD.

The purpose of the Code of Conduct course was to create mental awareness of what was possible in warfare. It was a replica of the prisoner of war camp at Hoa Lo in North Vietnam in the 1960s. The POWs therein endured miserable conditions, including poor food and unsanitary conditions. The prison complex was sarcastically named the “Hanoi Hilton” by the inmates.

The Code of Conduct course syllabus and conduct were based on examples of such installations. The day to day conduct of the curriculum was unsparing and uncompromising in discipline and application. Accommodation of “POW” inmates was frugal; food was basic and limited; the application of personal hygiene was considered to be indulgent; and, intimidation of individuals resulted in lack of sleep and inability to collaborate with “cell mates” for mutual support.

Extreme distress of body and mind by the deliberate, systematic, and wanton infliction of physical and mental struggle by one or more persons in an attempt to force prisoners to yield information or to make a confession or for any other reason was the aim. Physical torture and pain were not inflicted during the Code of Conduct.

The cell doors were not locked and we were informed why. Provision was made for individuals to self-exit the course if the mental burden became too much to bear.

US Navy pilot John McCain spent five and a half years in the “Hanoi Hilton.” On return to the USA he was elected a Senator and became the Republican Presidential nominee.

I suggest “SAS Hero” Stuart Bonne should re-assess his employment preferences and look around for alternatives.

“I’m happy that many veterans have already indicated support for our campaign. I want to call on politicians and the public to now do the same, because for the sake of our country’s Army, we need to change this course.” I suggest also that Damien de Pyle, the author of the dubious article, should go back to the School of Journalism.

Bill Giles Lieutenant Colonel (retired)


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