Flat White

ADF: the Australian Defence Farce

9 December 2017

4:42 PM

9 December 2017

4:42 PM

If you still have any uncertainty as to whether or not the Australian Defence Force has been ideologically hijacked by the Left, then just consider the following. Captain Sally Williamson was recently reported making the ludicrous suggestion that, “Prostitutes should be sent to the front line to ‘service’ Australia’s combat soldiers and help them relieve stress.” She also wrote that if the front line was too dangerous for prostitutes, troops could be given sex toys instead.” If only Bill Leak were still here…could you imagine the cartoons he would produce? Actually, on second thought, maybe it’s better that he’s not.

I recently contacted Andrew Hastie, the Liberal Member for Canning, and I asked him what his thoughts on Williamson’s suggestions were, especially seeing that he had served as a SAS troop commander who had personally experienced the stresses of armed conflict. His immediate response? “Ridiculous. I experienced stress relief when the bad guys died on the battlefield.” He went on to say:

The prevailing culture of the Australian Defence Force should be centred on the delivery of lethal force against those who want to undermine Australian security. Everything else must be secondary to this purpose. All policy must be measured by this aim. The idea that we should provide masturbatory facilities for deployed troops is nothing but an academic thought-bubble that has no real appreciation of the crucible of war.

Hastie then relayed to me – from memory – a quote by Ernest Hemingway which, he had mentioned in his maiden parliamentary speech, and said continued to be especially pertinent: “I have seen much war in my lifetime and I hate it profoundly. But there are worse things than war, and all of them come with defeat.”

This is not the first time that Hastie has been critical of the direction that the ADF is heading. Back in October, when it was revealed that over the past five years, $1.05 million had been spent on seventeen ADF personnel receiving sex-change surgery, Hastie said: “I do not see how these surgeries enhance our war-fighting capability as a nation. It’s a bad joke. Why is the ADF now a vehicle for radical social engineering?”

The reason why this has become such a focus for the Left is because our military personnel function as a ‘warrior class’ to protect our nation. As such, they have the respect, support and admiration of the entire country. Therefore, to infiltrate their ranks and push any alternative social agenda is an attempt not to improve their role but to give something else a certain social legitimacy. The problem is that our Defence Forces should be above all this. They are there to defend our freedoms, rather than to be a vehicle to re-define them.

Another case in point is the work of Elizabeth Broderick, whom Miranda Devine has described as a “sex discrimination commissioner-turned misogyny hunter.” After the 2011 Skype Scandal at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Broderick was commissioned to review the ‘Treatment of Women at ADFA and in the ADF.” Now not only did it cost the government a massive $5.66 million – approximately $5,000 per page – but the proposed solutions were the tired old feminist adages of “sexual ethics training” and increased female quotas.

But herein is the whole problem: It’s not about gender inequality. Simply having ‘gender targets’ to recruit, and then promote and place in senior roles of the ADF more women, is not the solution to our warfighting capabilities. Even if they are trained in “sexual ethics” – whatever that’s supposed to mean – the role of the military is to fight rather than to fraternise. Now if you think that this is all just a tabloid beat-up, then think through the suggestions made by Captain Sally Williamson.

In an article entitled: “Sex and War – A Conversation Army Has To Have” – Williamson proposes that, “the Army could contract Australian male and female sex workers to service troops in forward operating bases and air bases” much like the French military did in the 1950s with their “Field Mobile Brothels.” Hmmm, I wonder what ‘sexual ethics’ course that might come under?

Williamson did recognise that there were serious “moral, legal, practical, medical and logistical barriers” to her idea. But it was not for those in the military, but the male and female prostitutes themselves! (So we’re commodifying sex workers now, are we?) And so, Williamson suggests that “Another option the ADF could consider is facilitating safe and regulated sexual satisfaction through other means such as providing masturbation facilities by issuing sex toys.” Just imagine trying to fit that into your pack when you have to go on patrol along with your toothbrush?

Williamson’s rationale is that “Improved intimacy and sexual interaction can help combat veterans with PTSD recovery.” I wonder if Williamson has ever formally interviewed any of them? Has she even asked any army wives, or fiancées, how they might feel about it? Is she aware of just how acutely distressed many of them are who are suffering from PTSD? And sex is probably the last thing on their minds if they have that condition. And yet, her solution is to have meaningless sex with strangers–or just perhaps yourself–to compensate for the “loneliness or prolonged absence from family, friends, partners and spouses.”

I guess Williamson is too young to have heard about the infamous “Knights of the Jedi Council,” a couple of years back (i.e. 2011), and in particular of Lieutenant-General David Morrison’s ultimatum to “respect women or get out.” But then, because this proposal is coming from a woman it won’t be perceived, let alone critiqued, in the same way as if a man has stated it. And yet it’s just as stupid, but even more dangerous.

In another article, the Australian Human Rights Commission, based on a survey designed to “measure the Army’s culture,” involving 700 frontline soldiers, found that many of them were tired of the “cultural reform fatigue” as well as the “political agenda that is being pushed upon us.” Even they are saying that this foray into identity politics has gone on long enough.

What people forget is how important morality is to shaping character and respect, especially in the ADF. As an institution, our Defence Force is based on virtues such as personal self-discipline and especially sacrifice. Officers, in particular, have ethical responsibilities that even those serving under them do not carry. As Samuel P. Huntington says in his book, The Soldier and the State:

It must be remembered that the peculiar skill of the officer is the management of violence not the act of violence itself… The enlisted personnel have neither the intellectual skills not the professional responsibility of the officer. They are specialists in the application of violence not the management of violence. Their vocation is a trade not a profession.

What is required of our military, and in particular our officers, is the self-discipline to master their physical and emotional desires in the pursuit of a specified objective, namely, the protection of our nation through lethal force, if necessary. This task requires them to be people of conscience and superior morality. Thus, the idea that they should supervise and manage the release of stress through promiscuous forms of sexual conduct of their troops is frankly, objectionable.

Hence, the presence of sex workers on the field of battle is a profoundly retrograde and demoralising idea. The enemy doesn’t care if we have “gender quotas.” Indeed, people can, and will, potentially have their lives and relationships put at risk due to the stupidity of suggestions like this.

Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield. 

Cartoon: Ben R Davis.

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