By Sasha Uzunov copyright 2008

There used to be a long running joke within the Australian Army about Canada’s touchy feely military that had gone soft because of years of peacekeeping.

Canada’s National Defence Department (DND) became the butt of jokes when it employed an expensive California guru to run meditation sessions and bongo drum classes for senior bureaucrats during the 1991 Gulf War whilst Canadian soldiers were complaining about a lack of proper equipment.

Ex-Canadian soldier turned award winning journalist Scott Taylor initially drew a lot of heat from the media establishment when he published his ground breaking book, Tarnished Brass–Crime and Corruption in the Canadian Military, which exposed the guru incident as well as other scandals.

Recently in Afghanistan, we have heard of discontent from our infantry soldiers not being allowed to fight on the front lines whilst our Canadian cousins had finally got their act together. Even when Australians are permitted to fight in Afghanistan, there is no guarantee if they get wounded or seriously injured that they will be evacuated in time.

Questions were also raised over Australia’s Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon bringing a mate on a joyride into a war zone at taxpayer expense last year. A fortnight ago the Australian government after 42 years finally recognised our heroes from the epic Vietnam War Battle of Long Tan (August 18, 1966). There were wild rumours that the government was also refusing to pick up the tab for a South Vietnamese bravery citation, which costs $12 a piece.

You could make all sorts of jokes about penny-pinching and bureaucratic red tape. A lot of these so called experts in Canberra spend more on morning tea or cappuccino.

In 1998 the then Chief of Australia’s Army Lieutenant General Frank Hickling was so concerned that our army was following the Canadian path that he issued his famous back to basics directive ordering all soldiers sharpen up their war fighting skills. A year later his move had potentially saved the lives of many young Australian soldiers engaged in a conflict with pro-Indonesian militia in East Timor. General Hickling had to fight off opposition from some of Canberra’s desk warriors and self-appointed experts who “knew better.”

Let us not forget some of the hair-brained schemes to save money from the Defence budget. Highly paid academic and a former Secretary of Defence, Professor Paul Dibb, proposed in 2006 to “civilianise” some trades within the Army. He complained that there were too many Army cooks. But what he failed to understand is first and foremost cooks are trained soldiers who can be used to patrol bases, and secondly how many civilian cooks are prepared to work in a warzone. Maybe if we hired many Gordon Ramsey styled chefs, they could hurl abuse at the Taliban!

Maybe we need to employ some unorthodox methods to beat the Taliban. Here is a suggestion to the Defence Minister why don’t you commission Professor Dibb to go to England and recruit these foul-mouthed cooks who would strike terror into the terrorists.

Let us call it Dibb’s Deli. It would also be televised. Great reality television.

We cannot do any worse; consider the Canadians hired a guru and bongo drummer!


Tarnished Brass – Crime and Corruption in the Canadian Military,23739,24271772-953,00.html
Govt to pay Long Tan commander’s bill for gallantry awards
Professor Paul Dibb’s Army cooks!