Armed Forces

Veterans running for Congress in 2018

4479C5AF-6D10-4685-AB5A-CFE5261FB5B4.png

Army Times reports that 172 veterans are running for Congress in 2018. 104 of the 160 men are representing  the GOP. 9 of the 12 women are representing the Democrats. One male is running as an independent in CA

So 65% of the veteran men are representing the GOP. 75% of the veteran women are representing the Democrats.

Their military service spans from the 1950s to Afghanistan/Iraq and includes time spent in the active-duty ranks, reserves as well as the Coast Guard.

Sayonara Japan

8AEE1221-CD13-4A2E-B139-7A3114826FC8.jpeg

Today CM leaves Japan after 20 years. This was the first time I’d actively seen passport control beg me to keep my permanent residency. For 5 minutes she painstakingly asked her senior colleagues and tried to reason with me. My comment to her was “don’t worry, I’m not drunk” after repeatedly checking whether I was sure about the decision. She asked what were the reasons. “Where do I start?”

First of all I want to thank the Japanese for their custom, politeness and privilege to stay in their country. It has been truly amazing and life changing.

Sure the honest service drives one batty with its inflexibility but to those who whine about it can always choose to live somewhere else. Respecting a culture is true of any land one visits. Note to Western civilizations. It’s up to others to fit in with the host, not the other way around. Japan has this nailed.

What was the lasting memory of Japan? Simple really. The earthquake, nuke explosion  and tsunami of 2011. What it allowed was a clear cut look at a society that is so well bonded. People didn’t loot. Nor did they greedily hoard essentials. People just took what they needed. Had this been HK or anywhere else it would have been pandemonium. Keep calm and carry on typified Japan.

The lasting photo memory was during a motorcycle trip to MinamiSanriku. This image of a tsunami darkened Minnie Mouse sent chills down my spine. Staring up at the trees on the hillside, the leaves had turned purple because of the sea water which had risen almost 20 metres high. Car wrecks ragdolled in the rip. Windows smashed out of all levels of a 5 storey apartment block. Mother Nature was angry.

When my kids begged to go to Hawaii, they protested about my suggestion to see the devastation first hand. To see with their own eyes. Video and pictures do no justice, I told them. It turns out they appreciated the experience. I gave my younger daughter – then 7 years old – my camera because I wanted to capture images through her eyes. Amazing results.

There is too much to write about with 20 years under the belt.

As the sun sets in the land of the rising sun for me personally journey it shines brightly 9,000km south.

The next stage was a no brainer. So much for dealing with alpha types in finance, many of who’d sell their grandmother given half a chance. I’m overwhelmed with excitement about the prospects of saving the lives of people who know sacrifice and have protected our freedoms. The small team I will work with are as dedicated, hungry and inspired as I am.

My life needed a reboot. Sometimes there is a touch of Tom Cruise in Risky Business in our lives where we must make hard decisions and simply say, “what the f”

Writing this novel about my grandfather’s experiences in WW2 has inspired me to think of living life to the full. How most of us have got it so easy even though some pretend we’ve never had it so bad.

I will always have a soft spot for Japan. Handing back a permanent residency might seem mad in the overall scheme of things but it was the right decision. You can’t make a new start holding onto the past.

Sayonara Japan.

Shamebridge University

3555EFA9-98D0-4426-9D6E-E8461A24EFBE.jpeg

It’s amazing how social justice warriors constantly find new things to protest. The victim industry is in full swing. While a lack of access to WiFi or a flat cell phone battery is as big a hardship as these Cambridge University union students have or probably ever will face, they deem Rememberance Day as something that glorifies war, not about respecting the dead and. Those who served with distinction.

It is amazing they have the intelligence to be at university to begin with given the inability to critically think about why the day is absolutely about trying to avoid such tragedy again. Maybe Jeremy Corbyn is right – free education is justified because it is obviously worth nothing if the simplest things have to be made so complex.

Going through the letters of a veteran who served in WW2 Lt Peterson wrote of the honour of the Anzac Day ceremony in Beersheba. In 1940. It was to pay respect to those who bravely served their country not those who were mildly burnt while serving a coffee at Starbucks.

Only last week the University of Manchester’s student union voted to say “applause” is not inclusive and can distress people. Jonathan Pie’s video on the oppression obsession speaks directly to the grievance industry which ends up serving no one.

War widow Taya Kyle’s message to Kaepernick & Nike

AF3E7336-A865-4EAB-9B25-D8817199BAE1.jpeg

Taya Kyle, widow of legendary military sniper, Chris Kyle, said of Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Posted without comment.

“Nike, I love your gear, but you exhaust my spirit on this one. Your new ad with Colin Kapernick, I get the message, but that sacrificing everything thing…. It just doesn’t play out here. Sacrificing what exactly? A career? I’ve done that both times I chose to stay home and be with my kids instead of continuing my business climb… and it wasn’t sacrificing everything. It was sacrificing one career and some money and it was because of what I believe in and more importantly, who I believe in.

At best, that is all Colin sacrificed… some money and it’s debatable if he really lost his career over it. Maybe he sacrificed the respect of some people while he gained the respect of others. Or maybe he used one career to springboard himself into a different career when the first was waning. I don’t know. What I do know is, he gained popularity and magazine covers he likely wouldn’t have gotten without getting on his knees or as you say, “believing in something.” I’m also thinking the irony is that while I am not privy to the numbers, it’s likely he gained a lucrative Nike contract. So yeah… that whole “sacrificing everything” is insulting to those who really have sacrificed everything.

You want to talk about someone in the NFL sacrificing everything? Pat Tillman. NFL STARTING, not benched, player who left to join the Army and died for it. THAT is sacrificing everything for something you believe in.

How about other warriors? Warriors who will not be on magazine covers, who will not get lucrative contracts and millions of followers from their actions and who have truly sacrificed everything. They did it because they believed in something. Take it from me, when I say they sacrificed everything, they also sacrificed the lives of their loved ones who will never be the same. THAT is sacrificing everything for something they believe in.

Did you get us talking? Yeah, you did. But, your brand recognition was strong enough. Did you teach the next generation of consumers about true grit? Not that I can see.

Taking a stand, or rather a knee, against the flag which has covered the caskets of so many who actually did sacrifice everything for something they believe in, that we all believe in? Well, the irony of your ad..it almost leaves me speechless. Were you trying to be insulting?

Maybe you are banking on the fact we won’t take the time to see your lack of judgement in using words that just don’t fit. Maybe you are also banking on us not seeing Nike as kneeling before the flag. Or maybe you want us to see you exactly that way. I don’t know. All I know is, I was actually in the market for some new kicks and at least for now, I’ve never been more grateful for Under Armour.”

They’re a weird mob

8F9A2F29-1AE8-4C2F-A132-40475F2EBE72.jpeg

Lt. Norman Martin Peterson may have served 6 gruesome years in the Australian Field Ambulance during WW2, yet after the war he ended up being a character (Peto) in John O’Grady’s (pseudonym Nino Culotta)  “They’re a weird mob” which sold over 1,000,000 copies over multiple print runs since the 1957.

Norman’s best mate Lionel Addison (Addo) was also a character. O’Grady wrote,

So we went to the club, ‘just for a little while’, and Addo and Peto and Simmo and Old Vic were there. It was getting late, and Kay and I said we had to dgo, because our neighbour was ‘minding the monster’ and she would be wanting to go to bed. And Addo said that in any case they would all come to my place and I could make coffee…And Peto paid her a lot of attention with exaggerated gallantry, and gave her whiskey and beer.

O’Grady wrote that Addo & Peto were among the last people on earth anyone would want to control the freedom of suggesting if it was done they’d be the first to tell the wowsers where to jump. Seems pretty accurate, even  for a fiction novel.

Do arms suppliers have a moral compass?

5586044B-AEA3-4E1F-9A1F-01784601BD0C.jpeg

40 murdered children in Yemen.  The Saudi logic behind the attack was that the Houthi rebels were training these kids as soldiers. A far-fetched claim. Yet where has the condemnation of Saudi’s role on the UN Human Rights Council been? Countless civilian deaths in Yemen at the hands of the Saudi military are nothing new. Where was the outrage then? The decades long proxy war has only accelerated since the assassination of former Yemeni dictator President Ali Abdullah Saleh in December 2017.

CNN looked to put the blame of this latest tragedy at the feet of US defence companies. Surely the Europeans are just as blameworthy for selling the Tornado or Eurofighter aircraft that likely dropped the American ordinance on these kids? Mattis has openly criticized the Saudi attack in this instance.

Arms deals are a dirty business. Let’s not pretend otherwise. Unfortunately these dangerous toys rarely come with a “please use responsibly” section inside the box of instructions. Some might argue that in certain cases users are not of the appropriate age bracket to play with them. Bribery scandals (aka incentives) are often more notable than the weapons deals themselves. Yet have there been incidences of arms suppliers turning down multi-billion dollar contracts?

If we go back in history, the Americans refused to release the source codes to the Saudis in a potential multi-billion dollar US jet fighter sale that would have allowed certain weapons (the US weren’t prepared to supply) to be fired. Even if the Saudis bought the US jets and sourced the banned weapons on the black market they wouldn’t be able to be fired.  Instead the Saudi’s bought the Panavia Tornado because the Europeans were happy to sell a similarly capable platform that the US refused to sell. UK defence contractor BAE Systems won a long term maintenance contract known as Al-Yamamah as a result of this Tornado deal. Why not bash the Brits for taking advantage of the US putting regional security ahead of arms sales in Saudi Arabia?

Perhaps we could question the moral fibre of the US refusing to sell the F-22 Raptor attack fighter to the Japanese. The Japanese top brass pleaded for the plane but US Congress refused to approve it claiming the billions required to redo all of the computer systems and source codes to ensure it had a lower capability than the USAF plane. The reality was more likely to prevent a leakage of its capability (something that had occurred when the Japanese ordered Aegis destroyers). The result was Japan didn’t get them even given its peaceful history post WW2.

Should we bash the Russians for supplying military hardware has been behind the deaths of over 100,000 Syrians? Or Ford for making the car that ran down people in Westminster?Or should we question the operators of these tools?

If we really want to get petty the Paveway Mk-82 bombs responsible for killing these kids were sold to the Saudi’s in a deal made in 2013 under the Obama administration. Was it Obama’s fault in allowing the sale? CM doesn’t believe he is but interesting that CNN left the period of sale out. Easier to attack the $110bn arms sales going forwards.

40 dead children is a tragedy. Arms deals are far from if ever holy. The instruments of death are sadly not always deploy in manners which are either moral or ethical. The Iranian backed Houthi almost sunk a French made Saudi frigate in the Red Sea at the beginning of last year. Several Emirati patrol boats have been severely damaged by the Houthi in the same area, the most recent incident occurring  last month. There are countless skirmishes along the Yemeni/Saudi border.

Unfortunately the Saudis and several other gulf states are key allies of the US in the proxy war against Iran/Russia. Do not expect a wholesale change in US arms deals with Saudi Arabia for the foreseeable future.

In closing perhaps people might question China’s new interest in the Middle East? Many may have missed it has deployed 5,000 troops (including special forces) in Syria since 2017. Geopolitics seldom look to protect the rights of anyone other than the home side. Don’t pretend it does otherwise.

Sniping a VC winner with ambush journalism

3278978D-B844-41C6-91AE-875FA97D5422.jpeg

How ridiculous could Fairfax Media be to attack and smear Benjamin Roberts-Smith VC – a decorated Victoria Cross winner – as a war criminal, a “callous, inhumane” murderer and a bully? Winning a VC is nigh on impossible without heroics which change the course of a battle with complete disregard of self preservation.

Since 1861, 3,502 Congressional Medals of Honor have been granted to US military personnel. The VC has seen 1,358 winners since 1856 to soldiers of Her Majesty. That isn’t to say a VC is twice as hard to get. It’s to say it takes someone doing pretty special deeds to win either.

Here is what Roberts-Smith won his VC for:

“For the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril as a Patrol Second-in-Command with the Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.

Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 1996. After completing the requisite courses, he was posted to the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, where he saw active service in East Timor. In January 2003, he successfully completed the Australian Special Air Service Regiment selection course.

During his tenure with the Regiment, he deployed on Operation VALIANT, SLATE, SLIPPER, CATALYST and SLIPPER II. Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his actions in Afghanistan in 2006.

On the 11th June 2010, a troop of the Special Operations Task Group conducted a helicopter assault into Tizak, Kandahar province, in order to capture or kill a senior Taliban commander.

Immediately upon the helicopter insertion, the troop was engaged by machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from multiple, dominating positions. Two soldiers were wounded in action and the troop was pinned down by fire from three machine guns in an elevated fortified position to the south of the village. Under the cover of close air support, suppressive small arms and machine gun fire, Corporal Roberts-Smith and his patrol manoeuvred to within 70 metres of the enemy position in order to neutralise the enemy machine gun positions and regain the initiative.

Upon commencement of the assault, the patrol drew very heavy, intense, effective and sustained fire from the enemy position. Corporal Roberts-Smith and his patrol members fought towards the enemy position until, at a range of 40 metres, the weight of fire prevented further movement forward. At this point, he identified the opportunity to exploit some cover provided by a small structure.

As he approached the structure, Corporal Roberts-Smith identified an insurgent grenadier in the throes of engaging his patrol. Corporal Roberts-Smith instinctively engaged the insurgent at point-blank range resulting in the death of the insurgent. With the members of his patrol still pinned down by the three enemy machine gun positions, he exposed his own position in order to draw fire away from his patrol, which enabled them to bring fire to bear against the enemy. His actions enabled his Patrol Commander to throw a grenade and silence one of the machine guns. Seizing the advantage, and demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry, Corporal Roberts-Smith, with a total disregard for his own safety, stormed the enemy position killing the two remaining machine gunners.

His act of valour enabled his patrol to break-in to the enemy position and to lift the weight of fire from the remainder of the troop who had been pinned down by the machine gun fire. On seizing the fortified gun position, Corporal Roberts-Smith then took the initiative again and continued to assault enemy positions in depth during which he and another patrol member engaged and killed further enemy. His acts of selfless valour directly enabled his troop to go on and clear the village of Tizak of Taliban. This decisive engagement subsequently caused the remainder of the Taliban in Shah Wali Kot district to retreat from the area.

Corporal Roberts-Smith’s most conspicuous gallantry in a circumstance of extreme peril was instrumental to the seizure of the initiative and the success of the troop against a numerically superior enemy force. His valour was an inspiration to the soldiers with whom he fought alongside and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.“

Having spent time with a veteran in recent weeks, it is clear the majority of us have never had to face live fire in war. We aren’t across the mental and physical stresses of being in battle and seeing mates killed or severely wounded. Soldiers and veterans quite rightly don’t take kindly to people they’ve put their lives on the line for  calling into question their dedication and service of country.  Even letters CM has read from WW2 veterans show the pressures they faced. Does the SMH know some 46% of people that serve in the military come out with some variant of PTSD? Why not show some dignity rather than sift through trash to besmirch a hero?

Fairfax Media taking potshots at the bravest of the brave looks daft. Is it any wonder Benjamin Roberts-Smith is fixing his legal bayonet to skewer those who tried to impugn his valor? He made a point of his fighting was to ensure freedom of the press but equally they have to be responsible for reporting accurately.

The Sydney Morning Herald just took a potato peeler to a gun fight. Having said that, the VC special forces veteran could probably force the paper into surrender with an unpainted pinky finger. Roberts-Smith would be the first to admit he killed in battle then again as General Patton once said, “you don’t win wars by dying for your country but making the other son-of-a-bitch die for his!