By Ross Eastgate

IN a long military career one seemed to spend more time studying the profession of arms than practising it.

The old instructors’ motto was, “teach and repeat” until subjects were drummed into trainees.

Such fascinating topics as “The bayonet; they don’t like it up ‘em!” and “Mr Hand Grenade is not your friend” held a fascination beyond their droll descriptions.

“Garrotting chickens for survival” and “Chicken recipes for one” had a distinctly useful application.

Why, in the days before videos and PowerPoint there were even films on various topics, including the British classic Zulu, shown to every recruit.

In those days soldiers wore brightly coloured uniforms, went to exotic locations, met the locals and killed them. No low visibility combat uniforms then!

Like soldiers immemorial, more than a few fraternised with the local ladies, for it was an all-male environment, apart from the obligatory camp followers, and a cuddle a long way from home went a long way to boost morale.

If there was ever any cautionary advice, it was usually about incautious relationships with ladies of loose morals, and the possible consequences.

In World War I Australian troops posted to the Middle East and France suffered more casualties from sexually transmitted diseases than battle.

In that pre-COVID environment, no one thought to spray hand sanitiser wherever soldiers had been or were going, though hands weren’t the primary issue.

Sailors were a particular problem with multiple port visits, pocketsful of cash and young ladies ready to exchange it for physical entertainment.

There were similar consequences.

Loose lips sink ships if you get the drift. Now bright coloured apparel is the off duty choice for many in an ADF which is determinedly changing sexual identity rules.

The Australian Defence Force is calling for military personnel to go on a $12,000 Gender Peace and Security course that will draw on “feminist theorising” and make them “gender-sensitive, gender-inclusive and gender-responsive”.

The Monash University course is being run by two feminist professors who believe “masculinist politics” are to blame for most of the world’s political problems.

One suspects the ADF hierarchy is closely monitoring applications.

Aspirational individuals who don’t apply may be considered chicken.

All others could end up like the chickens of old.

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