Flat White

Angus Campbell’s Kumbaya Corps

23 April 2018

7:48 AM

23 April 2018

7:48 AM

So, let me get this straight… in the ADF now, wearing a rainbow badge is officially sanctioned, but any form of ‘death iconography’—such as The Phantom, Punisher, Sparta, Grim Reaper, or a generic skull and crossbones—is inappropriate? Next thing you know they’ll be wearing pink unicorns and genderbread men, sorry, I meant gingerbread ‘persons’.

No wonder soldiers on ‘Digger Net’ have given Lt Gen Angus Campbell, the soon to be new Chief of Army, his own personalised iconography – the pastel coloured “care-bear”. Just see the Facebook post of Justin Huggett who received the Medal for Gallantry for the highest standards of gallantry and personal courage on operations in Afghanistan in 2007. So, what’s next, getting rid of the dagger in the SAS badge?

According to Campbell, the reason for him introducing this ban was reported in The Australian as follows:

Such symbology is never presented as ill-intentioned and plays to much of modern popular culture, but it is always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the inculcation of an arrogant hubris and general disregard for the most serious responsibility of our profession: the legitimate and discriminate taking of life.

As soldiers our purpose is to serve the state, employing violence with humility always and compassion wherever possible. The symbology to which I refer erodes this ethos of service.

Well, at least we know what Campbell’s number one priority is when he takes over the leadership — to continue with the progressive Leftist politics that has so effectively undermined, infected and weakened our defence forces over recent years. As Miranda Devine wrote in The Sunday Telegraph:

It would be easier to take Campbell at his word if he weren’t such a disciple of the diversity religion promoted by former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Liz Broderick, along with fellow “Male Champions of Change” Morrison and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

Morrison and Broderick’s social experiment to stamp out the male “Anglo Saxon” warrior culture in the Army destroyed good men, damaged morale and threatens our war fighting capability.

Unfortunately, as Chief of Army since 2015, Campbell appears to have drunk the Kool Aid, bollocking Army recruiters for not hitting diversity targets fast enough and authorising a rainbow-coloured Army Pride lapel pin provided to troops at taxpayer expense as part of the official uniform in honour of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

As usual, Devine is spot on. The ADF has been politically castrated by the LGBTIQ rainbow warriors. As a mate of mine, who currently serves in the ADF, personally wrote to me about the issue said:

I am sick of our chiefs not actually pushing back against the culture instead of caving into the iconographic scruples of the chattering classes. The fact is that if we have a culture that has no way of actually confronting death, then we are inevitably going to go toward grim imagery to give some courage to face the howling that comes from the waiting abyss.

The only way one can go into battle with any sense of quietude is if the past holds no guilt, the present no fear, and the future is assured. It is only with a proper view of humanity that the taking of life will be done with any sense of appropriate humility and restraint.

Is the memory of battle so dim for General Campbell that he cannot remember the dread of death or the dark humour and imagery that almost inevitably follow? I expected more of an officer of his background (SAS regiment, with an Infantry combat badge). Perhaps he has seen some poor character accompanying the imagery he describes; however, changing icons won’t change the heart. It will on re-emerge somewhere else.      


This is what veteran Michael Ayling, writing in The Spectator, fails to truly grasp. As he himself says, “Symbols are important.” Exactly. That’s why Squadron Leader Vince Chong received a VCDF commendation in recognition of his efforts as Chairman of the Defence Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Information Service (DEFGLIS). The whole Mardi Gras is a living symbol of sexual inclusion and excess. And, apparently, the army supports this.

The thing that is sticking in everyone’s craw is that certain ones are being shoved down people’s throats, whereas others are being viewed as politically incorrect and therefore inappropriate. Campbell’s actions on banning certain symbols are as selective as they are petty, targeting those that connote defiance in the face of death’s awful reality or that extol martial virtues, but leaving other potent political symbols untouched.

The double standard on display here is just galling. Maybe the Lt Gen should consider his own past indiscretions (look at the chopper):

There is obviously something vitally important about soldiers identifying with one another in this regard, as well as coping with the existential trauma involved with warfare. But to correlate these symbols with a celebration of death is a serious miss-read of what these symbols are designed to do – to increase pride and morale amongst the unit.

The reality is, sometimes issues are only settled through the use of deadly force. And rather than personally inculcating arrogant hubris, symbols are also designed to terrify and intimidate the enemy to make sure that the mission is a success. As Daniel Cortez rightly reminds us on Facebook:

Those little emblems of colour unite soldiers and officers in ways no words can. They instil honour and pride and respect across people with different backgrounds, ages, military schools and experiences…

I say all this never having served in the military and so never having experienced the pressure or responsibility of taking another human life. But as a member of the public, I want to support our military personnel to be able to do so. And if the wearing of iconography associated with death and dying helps to cope with the psychological pressure of doing so, then so be it.

We need to heed the words of General Douglas MacArthur to the graduating officer class of the West Point Military Academy in 1962:

Your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable. It is to win our wars… Yours is profession of arms, will to win, a sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory, that is you lose, nation will be destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be duty, honour, country.

The point is clear. The reason the military has its symbols is to help them win our wars. Obviously, the traditions need to be ethical. But we need warriors, not snowflakes.

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

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