Saturday, July 18, 2009

Military Madness Miscellany

"One of the habits of our national life is to glorify all aspects of the military. I have always assumed this gushing, out-of-proportion praise could only come from those who have never met our soldiers and experienced first-hand their limited intelligence and primeval interests in life." Mark Latham (Latham berated for attack on Diggers, The Australian, 12/6/09)

"They may not legally be able to join the armed forces yet, but that hasn't stopped a group of Tasmanian students from getting right into the defence of Australia. Four pupils have received Defence 2020 National Youth Challenge awards... 'We had to do all these assignments'... Bothwell District HS' Gemma Lovell explains... 'We had to speak to someone who's been in the army... I learnt how all the army people help everyone overseas, like in Afghanistan. A lot of people are very poor and don't have any food or anything like that, and the way [the Army] help is really good. It's not all fighting... The most challenging thing I did was when we went down to Holsworthy in Sydney, which is the army base. Me and this guy from Queensland had to ask questions of the army people that had come back from Afghanistan a few weeks back... We got to hold these machine gun things [which] was pretty cool and it all got filmed and goes on a website'." (Defence insight secures win,, 11/2/09)

"Soldiers in Afghanistan will carry cash to pay civilians whose family members are killed or injured or whose property is destroyed as a result of Australian Defence Force operations.... Defence believes allowing tactical commanders the discretion to make on-the-spot payments will help it win the 'hearts and minds battle'." (Troops give cash to Afghan victims, Cynthia Banham, Sydney Morning Herald, 2/7/09)

"REMEMBER THEM Military History Tours 2009/10: Military History Tours (Aust) Pty Ltd, the operators behind the successful battlefield tours to Villiers-Bretonneaux, is proud to present 3 new tours to battle sites significant to the Anzacs and to Australians as a whole. Each tour includes accomodation, most meals, all transfers and Australian tour guides fully trained in military history." Advertisement, The Australian, 7/7/09)

"And I will be going to Israel on a Yachad Scholarship to study disability issues and the role of women in the Israeli military." (Senator Mitch Fifield, Adjournment Speech - Gilad Shalit, 25/6/09, [See my 11/7/09 post Hot on Gillard's High Heels]

"We ought to pay close attention to what preoccupies our military. While defense officials hold discussions on buying the F-35 combat jet at $200 million per plane, the IDF is mostly busy with miserable, pointless police work that befits an occupation army... In the dead of night, soldiers in elite and not-so-elite units break into the homes of Palestinians... and needlessly awaken and frighten women and children. Their comrades spend their service standing at checkpoints, occasionally shooting and killing needlessly. Other soldiers chase after children throwing stones or Molotov cocktails and shoot at them... We saw it, of course, during Operation Cast Lead, the war that provoked almost no opposition. As reported last week by... Human Rights Watch, our drones bombed helpless Gaza residents... Our jets and helicopters, among the most sophisticated in the world, are bombing residential neighborhoods. They may be preparing for an operation that fires the imagination in Iran, but meanwhile they are circling the Gaza sky as if it belonged to them. If that were not enough, we now have the most advanced system of all: female soldiers who are lookouts trained to shoot live fire after completing 'precedent-setting training'. The army newspaper Bamahane reported it with great enthusiasm: 'This is the first time female soldiers will shoot automatic gunfire from within a WR, noted the CO of the TB', whatever those initials mean. In simpler language, it means that 19-year old girls are playing with joysticks in an air-conditioned room and 'taking down' people. This then is the great progress of the 'people's army' - to train women to kill, while their comrades, soldiers and Border Police, are routinely sent to shoot live fire at unarmed demonstrators at Bil'in and Na'alin. This, for the most part, is the IDF's balance sheet. This is what largely preoccupies the best, most moral army in the world. Pilots who have never fought in an air battle and soldiers with no army against them now spend most of their time maintaining the occupation in a kind of pathetic combat, and they are our protective shield. When the day of reckoning comes, we will remember this." (Our IDF, Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 6/7/09)

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