Opinion – A Fatal Lapse in Safety

Last week the Defence Dysfunctionettes who run the ADF media and PR organisation scored an unusual orchestrated coup.

ROSS EASTGATE, Townsville Bulletin – 22 September 2016

BUDDHISTS believe karma is the sum of one’s actions in thought, word or deed in successive states, which decide one’s fate in the next. Put another way, bad karma may suddenly return to affect you in totally unexpected ways.

Last week the Defence Dysfunctionettes who run the ADF media and PR organisation scored an unusual orchestrated coup.

The Weekend Australian’s defence editor had been taken to the Middle East Area of Operations to observe RAAF F/A-18 aircraft in action against Daesh, ISIL or whatever it is being called this week.

The resulting article was well presented, but nonetheless conveyed the intended corporate message to Australians that the RAAF was observing all the conventions of “civilised” war with overriding safety mechanisms to ensure they would not engage targets which might result in unintended casualties.

Except that night, Australian-time, RAAF aircraft participated in a coalition strike which mistakenly attacked a Syrian army position resulting in multiple casualties – an own goal. Subsequent reporting suggested those safety mechanisms failed.

The Australian Government was backed into the embarrassing position of having to apologise to the Syrian government for these unintended though – according to the Defence Dysfunctionettes’ message – perfectly avoidable deaths.

It’s not as if Iraqi and Syrian skies are unknown to the ADF.

The Australian Flying Corps first deployed to Iraq, or Mesopotamia as it was then known, in March 1915, one month before the Anzacs landed on Gallipoli. RAAF helicopters deployed for UN peacekeeping to the Sinai in the early 1970s, and have been there almost continuously ever since.

For Australians deployed as UN military observers or other peacekeeping roles, the local protagonists are not enemies.

The peacekeepers’ role is to observe and impartially report to the UN Security Council so that greater intellects can attempt to solve the never-ending problems.

There is generally affection throughout the Middle East for Australians based on a century’s military involvement, but that will have been sorely tested by last weekend’s events.

The Defence Dysfunctionettes have other pressing issues – many internal – including the ongoing consequences of the flawed anti-malarial trials which have left sufficient individuals with adverse residual issues to raise serious questions as to their conduct.

Surgeon General Tracey Smart’s assurances to the Townsville Bulletin the same day The Australian’s RAAF story appeared have done nothing to convince those most immediately affected that those trials and their consequences were, have been and are now being treated appropriately.

No amount of attempted intimidation by those entrusted by the Defence Dysfunctionettes with enforcing an opposing view will sway those who have experienced otherwise.

Perhaps they should pause to ponder the advice offered by current Australian of the Year, former Chief of Army David Morrison: “The standard you walk past is the one you accept.”