My heart aches for the all families of the young soldiers who have been shot in cold blood in Afghanistan by so-called ‘friendly’ killers. What has this bloody and useless conflict come to, when the army has to post ‘guardian angels’ (in effect, armed guards) to watch over allegedly friendly troops in case they murder one of our soldiers trying to do his job? Our troops are volunteers, young men coping with all the shit that war brings, now afraid to turn their backs on so-called allies. Their mates, watching carefully, alert for the possibility an attack by a ‘green soldier’ will open fire. What a responsibility for the ‘angel’. What if he misses a sign, or shoots ‘a green’ only reaching for a sweat-rag from his pocket? Australian troops are now opposing the distribution of grenades to the green soldiers, due to the additional carnage a grenade could cause, if turned upon friendly troops. Do you blame them?
War words are full of euphemisms: green and blue, guardian angels, collateral damage, died in the line of duty. That’s because we can’t face using the real words: Australians and Afghans, armed guards, unnecessary slaughter and murdered as they relaxed after a long day. That’s what is really happening.
Lest you think I am a bleeding heart pacifist for making this protest, let me say that I am what is known in ADF parlance as an ‘army brat’. This means I grew up moving every couple of years from house to house, school to school, no long-term friends, good at reading and playing with my pets. Although I attended a lot of parades when I was young, watched my dad out the front and learned to spit and polish his size 11 boots to a mirror finish, I was never quite sure what to say about his job when ‘all the other girls’ had dads who were graziers, lawyers, bankers and doctors, rather than ‘soldiers’. What does a soldier DO, after all?
My father, who became a Brigadier before his retirement, was awarded a Military Cross for Gallantry in WWII. (He was only 20) . His older brother, also reaching the rank of Brigadier, was awarded an OBE for his services to the ADF.
Their father and their grandfather fought in the Boxer Rebellion, the Boer War, WWI and the Indian Uprising; they (one or other or both) saw active service in WWII, the Malaysia Emergency, Korea and Vietnam. In ‘peacetime’, my father led men in 1RAR and 3RAR and the Royal Australian Armoured Corps. All frontline troops. My uncle was in the Infantry, training hundreds of young men known in ADF-speak as the ‘Grunts’, who carry huge weights of equipment on their persons and who grunt each time a foot hits the ground. And they walk everywhere.
Two of my four sons joined the Army. One served as a medic, wearing a side arm only and trained to administer aid and carry a stretcher under fire. The other served in specialist forces, training visiting troops from countries friendly to Australia in techniques for which our soldiers hold the admiration of the world.
Five generations of our family have been engaged in seven major military conflicts.
When my sons were in the army I wished every night they would not be called upon to do their duty and face being killed by enemies of Australia. Or sent to support allied troops in combat. Of course, they would have gone, without question, if our country and the way of life my forefathers sweated through all those wars to protect was threatened. That’s what they signed up for. Our family has been lucky. No one died in battle. At least they would not have been shot in the back if they had died. Not killed in the prime of their youth by people they were on a daily mission to protect and serve.
I support the recently published comments by Major General John Cantwell. I say let’s bring our soldiers home. They are not being appreciated fighting another country’s war. In fact they are being shot and killed by those they are risking their lives daily for. Those people don’t deserve our brave sons and fathers and brothers and husbands. Let them shoot each other.
Bring Australians home from Afghanistan now!