‘Ashamed of wearing their Australian uniform’

Australian troops ‘scorned’ for low-risk missions: officer

Australian infantry soldiers are ashamed of their low-risk missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and are scorned by troops of other nations, two seasoned officers charged in comments published Tuesday.

“The restrictions and policies enforced on infantrymen in Iraq have resulted in the widespread perception that our army is plagued by institutional cowardice,” Major Jim Hammett wrote in the Australian Army Journal…

In a separate article, Captain Greg Colton said infantry troops were increasingly frustrated because special forces appeared to be favoured for offensive operations while they were set “second-rate operational tasks”.

I don’t think anyone really questions the capability of the Australian troops. However, much like we saw with the comment about the British Army I pointed out this morning, Sitting back due to political concerns while there’s real fighting to be done is not going to reflect well on your military and certainly won’t contribute to morale.

Security, peacekeeping, and general rebuilding duties are critically important to our war effort. But they’re not going to keep your typical infantryman satisfied for very long. These are guys who have trained to fight, and they’ve proven that they’re more than capable. To be sitting on the sidelines won’t sit well with most of them.

Comments

  1. I have to wonder how much the recent change in government may have had an effect on the political side of this – is the new government trying to keep the soldiers out of action, or has it been this way all along? I also have to wonder how much this is a real issue and how much it’s just that they’re very gung-ho. After all, if violence is winding down, there aren’t going to be so many changes for engagement anyway. Just because they want some action doesn’t mean there’s action for them to have. Then again I don’t have a hard time believing they’re being purposefully kept out of the hot zones or restricted in when they can engage.

  2. I wonder how much of that is unofficial policy on the part of the US. Don’t remember where I read it, but Bundeswehr soldiers in the ‘G were frustrated because the US wasn’t giving them any tasks at all. So American soldiers see these Germans just kind of hanging around doing nothing and getting a little assed up about it, but the Germans are like, ‘Hey wait a minute, leadership isn’t giving us anything to do!’

  3. You both raise interesting points; it might be quite educational to see over the shoulder of the myriad coalition policy makers for some insight into where, why, and how decisions are really being made. The standing joke amongst American Mil Specs (in SE Afghanistan) was ISAF stood for ‘I Suck At Fighting’ (amongst other colorful phrases). I never met any ‘other troops’ in our SE region who weren’t ready to mix it up with the bad guys. The temptation to blame the troops for their policy makers decisions is pretty normal, even if frequently incorrect; just look at the way US troops are slagged by the left, now and back in the day in Nam.

  4. Never heard anyone who served with the Aussie or Brits say anything critical about their willingness to fight. (Just don’t try to keep up with them at the bar.) The Spanish and Italian troops who deployed to Iraq early on – they were a different story. Sounds like they went home with every round of ammo they brought.

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