QED

A Blur of Khaki Spin

The ADF public relations flaks have been making merry with Brigadier Susan Coyle’s appointment as the first female to command a brigade, which for some might conjure images of  a blood-and-guts fighting femme. Good luck to her, but do bear in mind that this isn’t an old timer’s idea of a brigade

aif hat badgeSome time ago I wrote an article in Quadrant Online giving my view on women in combat, which I’m against – not primarily on the grounds of fitness (as I concede that there are some females – a few – who might be able to cut the mustard), but more because it further blurs the lines between the roles of men and women in our society.  Yes, I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that “menfolk do the fightin’ and wimminfolk do the nurturing”.    And yes, I acknowledge that many courageous women have given their lives in the service of their country.  I just think it should be the exception rather than the rule.  As a consequence of that belief, I also believe that woman should not be given high command.

So I was startled to hear on the news last night that Brigadier Susan Coyle had made history by being  appointed the first female to command an Australian Army brigade, the 6th Brigade.  (In fact it turns out Brigadier Coyle was appointed to this command some time ago.  It is also true that she was Deputy Commander of Australian forces in Afghanistan).  Command of a Brigade is one of the most coveted jobs in our small Army, one that prepares the holder for high command.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, the Army is divided into three main groupings. First, we have units which are usually designated battalions or regiments, and usually commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel.  They are self-contained entities with a permanent structure.  For example, in my day, an Infantry Battalion comprised a headquarters, four rifle companies, a support company and an administration company.  These sub-units are permanently assigned, and are integral, to the unit.  It would be very similar today.

Above this level we have tactical formations which may be Brigades, Divisions, Corps and Armies. Brigades and Divisions also have defined structures but the units that are placed under their command vary from time to time and in different circumstances.  Thus, a Brigade, in my day, would normally have under its command three Infantry Battalions, an Artillery Regiment, a Combat Engineer regiment (or part thereof), cavalry elements, a Signals squadron and logistics elements. It is designed to provide a cohesive fighting force capable of executing planned military operations.

Outside this structure there are other units not normally attached to Brigades but available for deployment wherever needed.  For administrative purposes they are usually combined into what are termed Groups.  These groups are not intended, nor indeed structured, to deploy, as such, on operations.

So it was with some relief that I discovered the Army’s 6th Brigade is, in fact, the 6th Combat Support Brigade comprising:

  • 1st Intelligence Battalion
  • 16th Air Land Regiment (anti-aircraft artillery)
  • 19th Chief Engineer Works
  • 20th Surveillance and Target Acquisition Regiment
  • 6th Engineer Support Regiment
  • 7th Signal Regiment (specialist EW)

In my time, this would have been called a Combat Support Group.  The cachet and professional standing that accrues to an officer in command of a tactical formation such as a Brigade would not apply to an officer in command of such a group, which is no more than an administrative command. It debases the appointment of Brigade Commander. I have no real objection to this conglomeration being commanded by a woman.  I just don’t like the name, which does not reflect its support function.  (I should add that the term Brigade is also used in other contexts, such as The Brigade of Guards, in which case it refers to a collection of like units.)  So, the appointment of Brigadier Coyle to this position is not particularly noteworthy.  Could the fuss being made about a woman in command be the whirring of the gender-equality spin machine? I’m guessing that to be the caase.

Yes, in the grand scheme of things this is no more than a minor deceit.

Still, what can you expect from an Army that bans warlike iconography by combat units or gave us Lt Gen David ‘walk a mile in my high heels’ Morrison?

17 comments
  • Peter OBrien

    I would like to add the following clarification of my position.

    This is an ideological question and, as such, has no right or wrong answer. I can accept that others have an arguable case, generally premised on the basis that women have a ‘right’ to serve in combat and to serve in high command. The problem with their argument is that the ‘right’ to serve in the armed forces is not universal and inalienable. If society believes, as I do, that it is best served if women and men fulfil certain roles that are in line with their physical and emotional characteristics, it has the capacity to curtail those ‘rights’, which, in this case, at least, are really no more than aspirations.

    • lloveday

      I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this, but it seems right, seems what Gowdy would say:

      Question: How can President Trump claim to represent all U.S citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, when he banned transgenders from joining the military? Isn’t that discrimination?

      Trey Gowdy’s Response: “Nobody has a ‘right’ to serve in the Military. Nobody. What makes people think the Military is an equal opportunity employer? It is very far from it….and for good reasons–let me cite a few.
      The Military uses prejudice regularly and consistently to deny citizens from joining for being too old or too young, too fat or too skinny, too tall or too short. Citizens are denied for having flat feet, or for missing or additional fingers.

      Clearly annoyed by the reporter’s attempt to trap him with the question….he went on to explain: “By the way, poor eyesight will disqualify you, as well as bad teeth. Malnourished? Drug addiction? Bad back? Criminal history? Low IQ? Anxiety? Phobias? Hearing damage? Six arms? Hear voices in your head? Self-identification as a Unicorn? Need a special access ramp for your wheelchair?

      Can’t run the required course in the required time? Can’t do the required number of push-ups? Not really a ‘morning person’ and refuse to get out of bed before noon? All can be legitimate reasons for denial.”

      “The Military has one job: Winning War. Anything else is a distraction and a liability. Did someone just scream ‘That isn’t Fair’? War is VERY unfair, there are no exceptions made for being special or challenged or socially wonderful.
      YOU must change yourself to meet Military standards…..Not the other way around.

      I say again: You don’t change the Military… you must change yourself. The Military doesn’t need to accommodate anyone with special issues. The Military needs to Win Wars….and keep our Country safe….PERIOD!

      If any of your personal issues are a liability that detract from readiness or lethality… Thank you for applying and good luck in future endeavors.

      • whitelaughter

        The question that should be asked is – do your differences provide advantages that can make the military more effective? Frex women are on average smaller than men, would this be advantageous in for example submarines?

        OZ will always be outnumbered in any serious war, we’ll need every edge we can get.

        • lloveday

          There will be some roles a typical woman’s attributes can be an advantage – away from war, one could think jockeys, but it is clear that small men are better than average (well these days below average) sized women, at least of those who choose that career.
          Again, away from war, what girls are being taught these days is, in my opinion, making them less safe. My daughter at 14 came home from school where they had been taught “self-defence”, telling me how she could take down a man. “Show me”, so she grabbed my left hand with both her hands and twisted it downwards. Yes I said, it’s very painful, but I am not disabled, and see this (my right fist) – you have seen me hit the heavy punching bag, what do you think would happen if I walked through the pain and smashed it into your unprotected face? At best a fractured cheekbone.
          I’d taught her to “punch like a man”, but that was to defend against the ever more physically aggressive girls, not men, not even a sexagenarian.
          I said scream non-stop, bite, kick, run, but never think you can outfight. For home, I gave her a dazzling torch (first step shine it in his eyes), with an electric “stun” (second step, touch him with that while dazzled), heavy (3rd step smash him in the face with it while out of sorts from the electric shock) and finally RUN.

          =”https://youtu.be/JfAYyZoVy5o”>Even big, strong men run

      • [email protected]

        If you want a very comprehensive response to a question ask Trey Gowdy.
        None of the respondents ever rebut his arguments/points made because he not only closes that door – he slams it shut.
        Instead – without exception – they studiously ignore his reply , and fly off on yet another tangent.
        Anyone who wishes to “do a Morrison” please make an attempt to rebut even one of the many points Gowdy makes about the necessity of discrimination in the military.
        Please start on the undisputed premise that the primary purpose of an army is to kill those who threaten us.
        Waiting…..

  • en passant

    Peter,
    The Combat Power of the ADF has been so gutted that you need not worry. Apart from a tiny proportion they are now a non-lethal force – a few lions lead by treasonous sheep

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    As long as she were selected on merit there should be no conflict of interest.
    Many women are involved in our society.
    I note that the lead task is in Intelligence, one of the most exacting tasks in her service in Afganistan.
    She comes from Manilla.
    Good yeoman stock.

    • Peter OBrien

      I am not sure what point you are trying to make, Lewis, since 3 of your 5 bullet points appear to have no relevance to the discussion and the last 2 prompt the thought ‘so what?’

    • Lewis P Buckingham

      Sometimes it is time to pause to reflect on the past.
      Manilla was one place that earned respect for its contribution to our wars.
      It maintains that in its campanions before, as well as those that followed.
      https://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/5360366/footprint-of-war-small-towns-big-contribution-to-battle-gallery/?cs=159
      She comes from Manilla.
      Yes, I have changed the conversation.
      I think women with ability are capable of running intelligence and other support units.
      Particularly when selected on merit.
      As long as that is what occurred, then ‘So what’.

      • Peter OBrien

        I never claimed that women should not command support units. As far as Manilla, or any other place is concerned, that is irrelevant to the discussion.

  • [email protected]

    What annoys me most is that these policies are being driven by the cultural Marxists who have colonised our institutions and who have absolutely no skin in the game. I was outraged when Steven Smith threw the Commandant of ADFA under the bus over the ADFA sex scandal as a cynical means of deflecting media attention away from the Rudd-Gillard nonsense going on at the time. (What annoyed me most was how the then Service Chiefs appeared to decline to publicly defend Commodore Kafer who was being so unjustly pilloried in the media.)

    The aim of these people to whom the Government kowtow so willingly is simply to “destroy the joint”, and they’ve pretty much achieved that with the modern military.

  • [email protected]

    Good article Peter. Imagine the costly and time-consuming administrative and training contortions that have to be gone through to force woman into the front lines and then to make bunking and toiletry arrangements for them in the field. It’s far simpler and accords with biology and our tradition to give men front line roles and women support roles. Armies are expensive to maintain. Their job is to kill the enemy. All else is embroidery and damaging embroidery when it takes away from effectiveness.

  • gardner.peter.d

    I wonder what the Israelis think of women in the forces? How do they employ them? I am sure they would only do what works

    • Peter OBrien

      If you read my original article, which looks briefly at the situation in Israel, it seems they don’t use women in combat roles to any great extent, except that they have a specialist battalion 70% female patrolling the Egypt Israel border. I suspect this is more in the nature of a border force to intercept illegals, since Israel and Egypt are not engaged in hostilities, but would be quickly withdrawn and replaced with a more conventional force should hostilities break out. I also suspect that employment of women in combat roles in Israel owes as much to PC as it does here and is not at all driven by military imperative.

    • whitelaughter

      on Israeli women in the forces: http://www.wnd.com/2001/08/10269/

  • Clive Bond

    Fighting and killing is not women’s work.What happens to them if they are captured by the enemy? How do they go in hand to hand physical combat? Better than in domestic violence I hope. Are the Broncos signing any up for lucrative contracts.

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