The great betrayal of our diggers in Afghanistan

‘Stop firing’ screamed the Afghan interpreter metres away from a suspected Taliban leader as he emptied his magazine towards a small band of Australian commandos. As the walls exploded the insurgent responded by clipping on a fresh magazine and unloading it at them.  The Australians returned fire and lobbed a grenade into the dark room.  The firing ceased.  As they crept into the room they noticed a sight that will haunt them forever.  The suspected Taliban leader lay dead amongst a human shield comprising women and children.

Three of the commandos in the raid, doing what they were sent to do by the Australian government, now face charges of manslaughter.  These young men have been double-crossed by our political leaders who have exposed them to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Membership of the world court is a gold plated pass to the finer things in life for the international legal fraternity.  First class travel, 5-star hotels, fine cuisine and vintage wine are standard fare for the elite in the justice system.  The court provides a forum for eminent legal minds from Australia, Albania, Botswana, the Central African Republic, Romania, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Tajikistan and others to discuss a new world order for law and justice.   

Our major ally, the United States, is not a signatory to the world court.  Neither are China, India or any of the major Middle Eastern nations.  The conventions of the court are not recognised by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

 The United States has enacted an American Service-Members’ Protection Act to protect their troops against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court.  Australia has failed to offer the same protection to our troops. 

We have also failed to provide them with a system of justice that recognises and respects the unique nature of their role in combat i.e. to close with and kill the enemy.  The enemy has a similar role.  This was reflected in General George Patton’s address to his troops in Europe in WW11.  ‘You don’t win wars by dying for your country,’ he urged. ‘You win wars by making the other bastard die for his country!’

Combat is not about group hugs and counselling sessions with your opponents.  It’s about training, discipline, fear, courage, sacrifice, mateship and leadership.  Only those who have experienced combat understand these human complexities. Strategies to prepare soldiers for combat operations have evolved over the centuries. 

Soldiers also understand, better than most, that modern wars are not won on the battlefield. They are won within the hearts and minds of civilian populations.

The historic decision to charge our commando’s with manslaughter as the result of a night combat operation in Afghanistan is a shameless act of betrayal by the Australian government.  The decision will have far reaching consequences on the command and control of combat operations which require split-second decisions to meet changing or unforeseen circumstances.  Soldier’s lives will be at risk if commanders hesitate as they weigh up the implications of their decisions against the laws of the International Criminal Court or the prejudice of an all-powerful Director of Military Prosecutions.

The traditional system of conducting military prosecutions by courts martial allowed for servicemen and women to be judged by peers with an understanding of the complexities of combat in a hostile environment. This system was replaced by a botched Australian Military Court in 2007. 

The botched system sought to institutionalise the betrayal of our servicemen and women by our political leaders who would have been subject to trial by a civilian judge without a jury. The decision to prosecute was delegated to a new supremo, the Director of Military Prosecutions, who is not answerable to either the military high command or Parliament.

Whilst the Australian Military Court was found to be unconstitutional in 2009 the Director of Military Prosecutions, Brigadier Lyn McDade remains as a supreme independent authority. Whilst McDade was awarded the title of ‘Brigadier’ and gets to wear a uniform she has never had to earn the rank and has no experience in combat. 

Her military-political sympathies were revealed in an interview where she believed David Hicks had been badly treated because he trained with terrorists in Afghanistan.

Uniform and rank are an integral part of the military system.  Both have to be earned and respected.  Soldiers are comfortable with specialist officers such as medical doctors, nurses and padres wearing the uniform because they enlist to save lives and souls. They are more sceptical of the legal profession who often use their association with the military to enhance their status within their own fraternity.

They have forfeited their right to wear the Australian military uniform with the decision to charge our combat soldiers with manslaughter.  

The Australian government should move swiftly to disband the Office of Military Prosecutions and withdraw from the International Criminal Court to protect the integrity of our command and control system.  If our political leaders do not have the will or the fortitude to do this they should be banned from attending military funerals and not bother with meaningless motions of condolence in Parliament.

162 Responses to “The great betrayal of our diggers in Afghanistan”

  1. J. J. Moore says:

    I commend the action taken by Clarlie Lynd in this matter, and offer some additional comments.

    There have been many rumours offering a base and reasons for the action taken to prosecute three Australian soldiers.

    While I am nor privy to any of the sustantive reasons – those reasons on which a decision to proceed is based – all the stories circulating have one common basis and that is, that of political influence. Having woorked in Government, having worked in the defence environment, I am cognzant of political intrusion, and this matter smells to high heaven of such intrustion despite the much proclaimed “inependance” of the Army’s judicial system.

    Some of the immediate questions which raise their head include:

    Would this process have proceeded if the soldiers were “regular” soldiers rather the “reservists”? I doubt it!

    Will this action reflect a favourable image for the Federal Government who is desperately attempting to establish its self as a Government with credibility to second tier nations, and aid its efforts of obtain a UN Security Council seat?

    Does it not help project an “image” internationally for our globe-trotting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and will it assist him to obtain his coverted UN appointment?

  2. Phil Buttigieg says:

    Dear Charlie,

    I’m a infantry veteran and also one who taught military law in the course my duties spanning close to 22 years in the army. It puzzles me and disgusts me that someone without any military experience can have such a power over our soldiers. Thanks for standing up for our soldiers. Sounds like they’re going to need every bit of political help they can get.

  3. marty robbins says:

    the media and our politicians,the greatest asset the enemy have and they use it to undermine our morale.

  4. Ernie Kiely says:

    I come from a family that has had it sons in the miletary and served their country in a WAR zone. I bewilds me that those that are elected into power to “Serve an Proted=ct” the people of Australia take in great lenghths to undermine our serving service personell. As others I am no privy to all facts only what is released in the media. These are the people that lead hipe to stories. We (and I speak as a veteram) are sent to countries to reprent our people (NOT LABOUR OR LIBERAL) our people in a state of war. As our troops do now and in the past we pride ourselves on our ability to perform our duties to the best of our abilities. In countries that we serve where there is danger to ourselves we have been train (and well at thet) to protect ourselves and our commrades in arms to the best of our abilities. We do this without thought as that is who we are. WE cannot and do not have the time to second guess ourselves, that is how we servive. We do not go out to slaughter, murder or commit crimes against humanity. We go to protect a way of life. We do not conduct war on civillians (though at times they do get caught in the crossfire). For politians and those that where not at a point at that particular time to have the ordasity to bring charges against our troops for doing their job litterly astounds me and under mines those service personal that we (YOU POLITICIANS) send into any conflict. As a result of these actions you could find that our services personal could now go into comat second guessing themselves as to being charged and trialed for something they are sent there to do. This can only result in unexceptable casulties cause by people who have no concept of what actually happened. When a battle takes place it is impossible to get a complete picture as to what took place as you don’t think of that you thiunk only of servival of yourself and your commrades. For christ sake leave the disipline to those that are there at the time. Do not let it get to the point that when things go wrong that people in Australia are deciding. Surely the military in the country where are service personal are have the brains and power to deal with it there. If this is to proceed and our troops are found guilty (WHICH OUR DOBT VERY MUCH) wouldn’t that be a good propaganda issue for our enemies. Summary would be that they would inform their loyal people to make more acussation about Australian Troops. WHO NEEDS TO WASTE TIME AND LIVES TRYING TO KILL OUR PEOPLE LET THEM DO IT THEMSELVES!!

  5. Aavo Koiv says:

    Dear Charlie,

    You have my full support in your effort to root out nonsensical idiocy by leftist political hacks in your military system. This assault on basic military conduct is merely leftist political correctness running amok, it cannot stand! Political correctness has already negatively impacted the United States society and military, so please don’t let it happen to the last refuge of common sense and honor, Australia.

    As a former US Marine I understand warfare and the unfortunate aspect of civilian casualties. The ugly truth is that there cannot be war without civilian casualties especially if the enemy uses civilians as shields. Soldiers would become ineffective and risk their and fellow soldier lives if they are shackled with those ludicrous constraints.

    The World Court is a sham with only one agenda in mind, dominated by a socialist world order. Please, protect your soldiers and your citizens by extricating radical leftism and applying your traditionally sensible Australian governance!

    Aavo Koiv, Jupiter, FL, USA

  6. Ross Miller says:

    Good Morning Charlie … this from ‘across the ditch’. I am a contributer to the (mainly) political blog ‘No Minister’ where I write under the by-line of ‘The Veteran’. I decided to do a post on the decision of Brigadier McDade which may go down as a seminal moment in Australian military history. It has attracted some thoughful comment including those of Professor Paul Buchanan, an ex member of the CIA who now lectures at the University of Auckland.

    THe link is

  7. Mal Price says:

    My 23 years service background is very similar to Charlies’ – we are old mates. Based on the evidence available to the general public I too believe it is a travesty to charge these soldiers. However lets remember a couple of facts. It was the previous Liberal governemnt that introduced the new system – not the Rudd government. If the introduction was not “stuffed up” these soldiers would not be tried under a courts martial arrangement but rather a court where procedures are quite different. If they must be charged better a courts martial. The idea of the Director of Military Prosecutions was introduced to give a separation of powers approach so that neither the military chain of command nor government could interfere. I assume this was meant to protect those charged from unfair interference. My understanding of the new system is that, whilst on the surface it seems very fair & modern, the old system was much better. The old system allowed our generals to own it. Leadership, that is good leadership, would ensure those charged are given the necessary protection whilst ensuring justice is done.
    Soldiers on active service should never be considered above reproach & therefore anything goes. If we did that we would be no better than say the Russians, Chinese or any of a dozen or more countrys – we are better than that as are are allies the US.
    No, I think in this instance there appears to be little evidence that they should be charged but possibly we have not all the facts. However now they have been charged (and offered any barrister they want no matter what the cost) we should now allow the process to continue. More than likely something will come out of this to improve the system. I certainly doubt they will ever be convicted.

  8. terry gott says:

    I’m also ex inf digger and we had a saying. shoot first, attend the court martial later cause you can.
    What a load of bull this all is. Political correctness gone mad in another area of our way of life. Stuff em I say

  9. Michelle Jones says:

    This is so wrong on many levels. Our troops are over in Afghanastan doing their jobs and now this. The government should be ashamed of themselves for what they are doing. Thank you to all troops who go on deployment overseas you should keep your head down, stay safe and come home to your families. Thank you for my freedom

  10. Mike anty says:

    The ‘Fog of War’ has long been taught as being the human experience of combat when normal society’s rules and everyday experiences break down due to the inability of politicians to achieve consensus. Now it becomes a case of those politicians wanting a piece of the action themselves; but in their case undoing the grateful but non-comprehending viewpoint of the public. There have been enough ‘ordinary’ citizens drafted into the front line to see throught this. Allow war to be what it is – an obscene aberration of human behaviour. How dare the politicians and the legal people attempt to gain political mileage from highly trained soldiers doing what they have been taught to do, despite confused situations – the Fog of War.

  11. Robert says:

    “Tom Fletcher says:
    October 7, 2010 at 12:39 am
    Charlie – Whilst I am diametrically opposed to you in the political arena, I certainly agree with you wholeheartedly in this matter. I served in an Infantry unit in the Army Reserve for a number of years and most of the time was the Corporal Company Clerk. So all I can say is “There but for the grace of god, go I”.

    As a company clerk You must be joking. God’s grace had nothing to do with it

  12. Jorg Backhaus says:

    It is an absolute disgrace, we are fighting a war because we want to show how valuable our freedom is, that we don’t want to be dictated to as what we can do in our Country and how we should live and we also feel that the freedom we enjoy is the Right of every human being and our Soldiers are prosecuted! Every Politician who was for the War in Afghanistan and other Situations where our troops are deployed need to stand up and protest and do what ever is necessary to have the court hearing overturned!

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