Brereton’s Backup


Note: this article was written in January of 2021, after publication of the Brereton report. It didn’t find a publisher at that time. Cats may appreciate this and a companion article. Note that the Brereton report has been moved.

The most interesting, and in many ways the most useful, part of the Brereton report is Annex A, the Whetham Report, to Part 3, Strategic, Operational, Organisational and Cultural Issues. It’s written by Dr. David Whetham. Among (many) other things, he’s Director of the King’s Centre for Military Ethics at King’s College, London. He was made Assistant Inspector-General of the ADF for the purpose of this very report. Here’s his bio from King’s.

David Whetham is Professor of Ethics and the Military Profession in the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London. He is the Director of the King’s Centre for Military Ethics and delivers or coordinates the military ethics component of courses for between two and three thousand British and international officers a year at the UK’s Joint Services Command and Staff College. Before joining King’s as a permanent member fo staff in 2003, David worked as a BBC researcher and with the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] in Kosovo, supporting the 2001 and 2002 elections.

David saw front-line service in the BBC, before finding his purpose in life. Don’t hold that against him, though. He has a Pullman carriage on the gravy train generated by the West’s addiction to police actions all over the place, and the incessant moral posturing that goes with it. For moral posturing, think Tony Blair. If that’s too distant a memory, try ScoMo.

Military ethics is a boom industry. Have a look, for example, at the “key people” at the Centre. There are 19 of them; just the key people, mind you. King’s seems to have just about cornered the market. Find the active service. There is only one that I can see. Lt. Col. Tom Mcdermott DSO MA, formerly of the British Army, now with the ADF.

At the beginning of his report, Dr Whetham demonstrates his firm grasp of ethical concepts.

…the extensive interview transcripts consulted for this report were derived from a process in which the normal rules of evidence do not apply – for example, hearsay evidence was acceptable. This reflects an inquisitorial process, aimed at finding the truth rather than necessarily providing evidence to the standard required to secure a criminal conviction (ie, beyond reasonable doubt). …I have also had access to…the extensive anonymised, candid, and lengthy conversations carried out by Dr Samantha Crompvoets…I am satisfied that they represent ‘multiple authentication points’, providing a sufficient evidential base to be able to draw some reliable conclusions within those caveats. [My emphases.]

All skepticism aside, read it for some very interesting background on the situation of SASR in both Afghanistan and Australia. The picture that emerges is of a gradual ginding down of SASR over the course of a long and demanding campaign which was increasingly purposeless.

[T]here was…an acknowledgement that they were ‘more relaxed’ about…rules which were considered to be just ‘minor infringements’. For example, there was supposed to be no alcohol, but there was a pub in the base – the Fat Lady’s Arms – ‘somewhere there where we can do certain stuff but we’re not going to get caught and it’s not going to be regarded as misconduct because that’s who we are and that’s what we do’. Although unauthorised, the pub managed to get resupplied through the system. A Sergeant with 10 operational tours said, ‘I have seen alcohol consumed on every operation since 1999 by every rank on every operation since 1999, by every rank and including JTF and unit commanders’. While alcohol on deployments was linked to ‘risky or unacceptable behaviours’, it is ‘difficult to conclude that almost everyone in the SOCOMD chain of command was not aware of this’.  Alcohol was widely justified as a coping mechanism for stress, grief and high tempo operations and the unit was basically given a pass because it was ‘special’, reinforcing a perception of entitlement, with the ‘logic of exceptionalism warranting the application of different rules and behaviours…’.

Insufficient sleep and fatigue leads to poor judgment, lack of self-control, and impaired creativity as well as increasing the likelihood that people will engage in unethical behaviour. A factor that must have increased the challenge of getting any psychological rest was the lack of safe space, even in Camp Russell…Past that four-month mark in a rotation, and you can physically see guys sort of slowly degrading as far as, you know, just alertness and things like that.

There was a perception among some that … the shift to day operations instead of night in response to pressure from the Afghan government added to the risks for SOCOMD personnel…The disenchantment caused by ‘catch and release’ also added to that sense of fatigue…

Read the whole thing.


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Zulu Kilo Two Alpha
Zulu Kilo Two Alpha
June 7, 2023 11:53 am

A Sergeant with 10 operational tours said,

Says it all!

jupes
jupes
June 7, 2023 11:56 am

the extensive anonymised, candid, and lengthy conversations carried out by Dr Samantha Crompvoets

The ADF has paid Crompvoets, a feminist academic, over $4 mil for various studies. Astoundingly, the Special Operations Commander hired her to write a report on the relationship between SASR and the Commandos, in which she wrote an annex on war crimes. This is where all this shit started.

Just try wrap your head around that. The SF Commander hired a feminist academic to look into the culture of his two top units. What the fuck did he think would happen? It only makes sense when, to quote Greg Sheridan in the Australian ” [There is an] overwhelming desire of the defence establishment, and the governments it served, that the ADF should never go into combat or even be capable of combat.”

For example, there was supposed to be no alcohol, but there was a pub in the base – the Fat Lady’s Arms

Haha! Sure was. Good times. But here’s the point. The ‘crime’ is not that there was an illegal place to have a drink after an op, but that drinking was banned at all. Drinking was allowed in every other war Australia was involved in, why the 21st century wowserism?

The bozos running the ADF are nothing but criminally incompetent public servants with absolutely no idea or will to carry out their primary task: winning battles. It is they who should be in the dock for destroying the ADF. I have nothing but contempt for them.

Vicki
Vicki
June 7, 2023 12:50 pm

Well, I haven’t yet read the whole of the Whetham Report. But I was surprised by the early acknowledgement by Whetham of the following from a US study:

One US studysuggests that members of the military are twice as likely as the general public to have some sort ofAntisocial Personality Disorder, and there is no reason to think that this ratio would be exclusive tothe US military.84 Reference 4 – P Rowe, ‘Military Misconduct during International Armed Operations: ‘Bad Apples’ or Systemic Failure?’, Journal of Conflict and Security Law, 13.2 (2008): 165-189. 5 Reference 5 – Darr

If he is starting from a premise that the everyday member of the voluntary armed forces is likely to have an Antisocial Personality Disorder…..well……of course he is going to find what he is looking for…..!

Chris
Chris
June 7, 2023 1:02 pm

If he is starting from a premise that the everyday member of the voluntary armed forces is likely to have an Antisocial Personality Disorder…..well……of course he is going to find what he is looking for…..!

Academics and Public Health types have published insightful concepts like ‘The gun as pathogen’ – a ‘weapons effect’ that people become psycho just by holding a gun for a few seconds, or even being present in the same room. True, ‘studies have shown’.
Experimental design: Take five uni student volunteers. Place in room with colouring books, soft toys and an AR15 on the table. Watch for signs of unease or out of character behaviour.

Bruce
Bruce
June 7, 2023 2:08 pm

@ Jupes:

“The bozos running the ADF are nothing but criminally incompetent public servants ….”

Never ascribe to “incompetence”, that which is CLEARLY MALICE (or worse).

Per Marcus Tullius Cicero:

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear”

Kingsley
Kingsley
June 7, 2023 3:20 pm

I note it seems the Judges decision from media reports seems to rest on his view that BRS and his mates were unreliable witnesses with incentive to be dishonest whilst the defence’s witnesses apparently had no conflicts or vested interest . However I am sure I saw Pete Credlin say in her show that the chief defence witness had an almighty grudge against BRS.
I just can’t help but wonder if this had been at least a panel of 3 judges the outcome might have been quite different.

Vicki
Vicki
June 7, 2023 4:25 pm

Per Marcus Tullius Cicero:
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.

I love the way the Cats know (and love) their classics! Henry Ergas appears to live and breathe Roman and Greek history and philosophy. The true patriots are standing guard for the survival of the ideas of our western civilisation!

Lee
Lee
June 7, 2023 4:45 pm

It only makes sense when, to quote Greg Sheridan in the Australian ” [There is an] overwhelming desire of the defence establishment, and the governments it served, that the ADF should never go into combat or even be capable of combat.”

The ADF is not some sort of social service run by and for peaceniks.

Its prime reason for existence is to kill the enemy and prevent the enemy from killing us.

billie
billie
June 7, 2023 6:50 pm

Lee:
The ADF is not some sort of social service run by and for peaceniks.
Its prime reason for existence is to kill the enemy and prevent the enemy from killing us.

Ah, but our media are self imposed arbiters of justice and easily outraged.

One might even say, they have an offendable hair trigger when presented with anyone from a nationalist profession, like the military, (or police or whateva!).

I vaguely years ago, some reporter inserts with a US military unit, might have been Marines or Army. One of the soldiers fired at the enemy and wounded one of them, so he resighted and shot the enemy combatant dead. The reporters were outraged that this awful soldier, had shot a wounded man! To be honest, the soldier had buggered his first attempt and was correcting it. I believe that was when inserting reporters with USA military units ceased.

Pattmclit
Pattmclit
June 7, 2023 7:57 pm

Unbelievable that somehow the brain dead bosses at ADF have been allowed to breathe.

How dare they impugn those they overloaded with rotations which were too bloody long, too bloody often and not supported by the high ups.

These soldiers were forced to deal with ultra radical enemy who have zero compunctions about terror, torture of women, boys and infidels. Oh, and goats.

What a FKN disaster. Just like going unarmed into conflict.

Boambee John
Boambee John
June 7, 2023 9:06 pm

Pattmclitsays:
June 7, 2023 at 7:57 pm
Unbelievable that somehow the brain dead bosses at ADF have been allowed to breathe.

How dare they impugn those they overloaded with rotations which were too bloody long, too bloody often and not supported by the high ups.

These soldiers were forced to deal with ultra radical enemy who have zero compunctions about terror, torture of women, boys and infidels. Oh, and goats.

What a FKN disaster. Just like going unarmed into conflict.

Any of them charged with anything should plead PTSD, and sue every media outlet that mentions their name, not for defamation, but for exacerbating their PTSD. Watch the media fall over themselves to apologise and pay out.

Take the “mental ‘elf” route.

Crossie
Crossie
June 7, 2023 9:39 pm

Read the whole thing.

No, the included excerpts are poisonous enough.

Crossie
Crossie
June 7, 2023 9:43 pm

Kingsley says:
June 7, 2023 at 3:20 pm
I note it seems the Judges decision from media reports seems to rest on his view that BRS and his mates were unreliable witnesses with incentive to be dishonest whilst the defence’s witnesses apparently had no conflicts or vested interest . However I am sure I saw Pete Credlin say in her show that the chief defence witness had an almighty grudge against BRS.
I just can’t help but wonder if this had been at least a panel of 3 judges the outcome might have been quite different.

Cardinal Pell’s case went to appeal before three judges and still ended badly. Our legal system is broken when a just verdict is an exception and not a rule.

  1. Exactly. You’re either a j’ismist or a participant. Someone should have La Tingles ex Alan Ramsey.

  2. A good mate of mine was a National Serviceman in Vietnam – he was wounded early in his tour, told…

  3. Imagine KRuddy is working on his packing boxes (again). He’ll be lucky to have a phone call returned after November.…

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