The Australian Defence Force is shooting itself in the foot over political correctness. But venturing opinions on PC is reminiscent of complaining in the old Soviet Union. It’s a glance over each shoulder before saying a word – to see if the Thought Police are listening; a ‘career-limiting move’.
The recent announcements by both Air Force and Navy that they will consider ‘gender’ in offensive operations is merely the latest bit of virtue-signalling foolishness. Announcements such as ‘The Royal Australian Navy Deputy Fleet Commander has ordered that “all operations and exercises” be conducted with consideration of a “gender perspective”’ are ridiculous. For it’s obvious to anyone with the slightest bit of knowledge of military operations that there is always consideration of the target before offensive operations commence.
I spent a while some years ago in Baghdad being shot at by various groups who hated us. We had large pieces of artillery linked up to radar which saw the rockets the second they launched. Did we indiscriminately fire back? We did not. We conducted an assessment – in a moment – of the target area where the enemy had launched from. If it was, as it often was, a primary school playground, or a hospital roof, we did not fire back. It was ever thus. Did the British use their nuclear weapons in the Falklands War? These recent announcements are merely a way to show how much in tune with the screaming minority ADF ‘leaders’ can be. But it’s not helping the armed forces – it’s damaging them.
Anyone who’s served for years in the forces knows what it used to be like. Opinions were forthright, sometimes with salty language. But one of the best aspects was that it was a big family – and family fights are common. But it was shoulder to shoulder against the enemy. Serving in a combat zone with the ADF then made you realise how good they were: united with the best in Aussie ingenuity and mateship. That cohesion is disappearing.
Political correctness is setting one member against another. A small coterie have determined to use PC agendas to advance their careers, a habit becoming all too common. One male general decided to wear women’s high heels so he could experience walking a woman’s mile.
Their argument has often been that to meet recruiting targets the forces has to be ‘fully inclusive’ of the community. This is rubbish. Armed forces always have attracted a small part of the communities they represent: people who can cope with the physical and mental demands of deployment to harsh environments, where they will be subject to fierce mental and physical needs. You simply take anyone who can do the job.
One irony of the present PC situation is that traditionally the armed forces have been the place where everyone was treated equally. It didn’t make any difference whether you were Aboriginal, Greek or short. You were expected to soldier. When society allowed females to be recruited, then they were gone after with enthusiasm. Why not expand your recruiting base by 50 per cent? But Western society then went too far: it insists that there is no difference between females and males in demanding trades such as the infantry – when there clearly is.
Years ago, the Australian Defence Force Academy used to be one of the jewels in the Defence crown. It was everything you expected a university-level entrance to being a young officer to be. Squads of students marched everywhere, heads held high. No officer-instructor was safe from an ‘eyes right’ from the class and a salute from the squad leader. Even though the ranks held all sorts of multinational types: they’d all made the decision to serve their country.
Now, insiders report this university campus is more interested in recruiting students from China and the Middle East; from countries that do not share Australian values – ironically against the ‘inclusion’ mentality of PC. Uniformed staff report habits such as spitting on the formerly sacrosanct grounds, or in the military-manned pools, is now normal. Civilian students talk in overseas languages, walking on the grass in whatever shoddy clothes they like, whilst young officers wear uniform and march on the pavement.
The university has lost its way, coming to be disinterested in Defence and fascinated by the $32 billion international education market. The university is distancing itself from Defence in word and in deed. Where once the slogan was ‘The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy’, now it is ‘UNSW Canberra’.
Outside, the PC madness continues. Recent obsessions include making all toilets on defence bases ‘gender-free’. This actually costs money, with buildings altered and new signage installed. The money of course, comes at the expense of military hardware, operations, and training. As do gender reassignment operations, and breast enlarging and reducing. Muslim advisors are needed; when for a hundred years we never had such people. Then again, nor did we have the ridiculous situation where the 40-year veteran at general rank does the same compulsory ‘awareness’ training in relation to suicide, or that you really shouldn’t use a Defence credit card for a holiday to Vanuatu – as one soldier did – as the newest recruit.
We hear of bans on the wrong words, or badges, which might suggest that the business of Defence is to kill the enemy. I assume the RAAFs new C-27J ‘Spartan’ aircraft will have to change its name therefore, and the winged dagger of the SAS will be re-designed.
The expense of all of this foolishness is the destruction of unit cohesion, with the force splintering into groups, with many resentful of what some get at the expense of others. Time was when essential words in the ADF were ‘teamwork’ and ‘leadership’. Now, to get promotion, or cushy jobs, such concepts matter much less. And so the all-important morale, what Napoleon said was the equivalent in power as three is to one, is cast aside.
Most of the public are no fools. They see such attitudes are traitorous. Many see our country as being unable to fight if war comes: we will be too under-equipped, and too lacking in fierce warrior types. So when you want an aggressive focused leader like the American General Patton, or our own WWll Navy’s Harry Howden, or the Air Force’s Clive Caldwell, they will have been hounded out – and it will be too late to get them back.
Tom Lewis, Columnist Spectator Australia Magazine –
13 April 2019
Is the warrior class on the slippery slope to being politically incorrect term?