Who Needs Warriors?

From the Australian Parliament House website, dated November 9, 2020:

Responding to rumours and internal accounts of misconduct, the then Special Operations Commander, Major General Jeff Sengelman, allegedly commissioned Canberra-based sociologist Dr Samantha Crompvoets in 2015 to write a report on ‘Special Operations Command culture interactions’. Crompvoets report was provided to Sengelman in early 2016 and then briefed up to then Chief of the Army (CA) Lieutenant General Angus Campbell.

You would wonder, wouldn’t you if we didn’t’ live in today’s cockamamie world, why a senior commanding officer would not deal directly, and through his immediate subordinates, with rumours of misconduct in the ranks. Apparently, among other things, there was disquiet about reported friction between the Commandos and the SAS. I have seen the movies about this sort of thing and it goes on. Even at my lowly working-class school I recall we were put into houses and invited to compete vigorously. I don’t dare imagine what biffo went on in those public schools (English variety) attended by the sons of gentlemen.

Unfortunately, we do live in today’s world and, in this world, a female sociologist is ideally placed to report on the culture of special forces. Why do I say this? It’s simple really. Our Western society has become lopsidedly feminised. I wrote about this for Quadrant some time ago, “The Trumping Factor,” June 2010. My essay came shortly after Michael Evans wrote in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue on stoicism and the military, commenting that, “radical feminism” is one of a number of developments since the 1960s representing the “greatest challenge to the Western profession of arms.” And after Patrick McCauley in the September 2008 issue noted that for some years, “Australian Rules football has been in the hands of feminine social engineers who wish to establish equity and social justice in the football community”.

It is necessary to think of feminism and masculinism in rather different ways than the obvious. My reference is an article in the Encyclopedia of Sociology (Macmillan, 2000). Two sociologists, Stets and Burke, characterise the masculine temperament as aggressive, competitive, and instrumental (the latter meaning social interaction designed to achieve goals) and the corresponding feminine temperament as passive, co-operative, and expressive (social interaction arising out of affection or kinship). Men and women share both temperaments but generally not in equal measure. Vive la difference!

This brings me to special forces. I am going to take a guess here. Men in the Commandos and the SAS will have heavily-skewed masculine temperaments. They’re the kind of men who will pass the tests and be selected. They’re the type of men that will kill an enemy who wants to kill our kind. They are warriors.

This in turn brings me first to Crompvoets and then to the report of Major General Brereton.

In her report dated January 2016 (“Special Operations Command (SOCOMD) Culture and interactions: Insights and reflection”) Crompvoets wrote this, having first quoted Charles Darwin:

SASR and Commandos are not products of natural selection. They are carefully and deliberately selected for a discrete set of characteristics. How they behave, how they are(mis)represented, and how they are rewarded raises a number of questions about the organisation values, and, critically, the potential need to broaden the genetic pool from which they are drawn … On thing that is apparent beyond doubt is that the current path of evolution, through selection, is an anathema to their desired future.

One wonders, exactly, how Crompvoets believes special forces should “evolve”. What kind of people does she think should be included in their “genetic pool”? Gentler, more temperamentally feminine kinds of people perhaps? As the Duke of Wellington purportedly said: “I don’t know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me.” A petticoat brigade won’t frighten anyone. Selection for special forces is there to weed out those who will wilt under sustained adversity, travails and fire. That includes nearly all of us.

Brereton (paragraph 34) wrote this:

A substantial indirect responsibility falls upon those in Special Air Service Regiment who embraced or fostered the ‘warrior culture’ and the clique of non-commissioned officers who propagated it. Special Forces operators should pride themselves on being model professional soldiers, not on being ‘warrior heroes.’ Some domestic commanders of Special Air Service Regiment bear significant responsibility for contributing to the environment in which war crimes were committed, most notably those who embraced or fostered the ‘warrior culture’ and empowered, or did not restrain, the clique of non-commissioned officers who propagated it. [My emphasis]

A model professional soldier whose job is to be in the thick of the action, unlike some armchair generals, needs to be a warrior. The two are not mutually exclusive. Ideally, they go together. Who are these people who believe in some fanciful world within which diversity training and inclusion will be instrumental in defeating the enemy? When the tyres hit the road, we will need temperamentally masculine men — warriors.

You will note, I have steered away in all of this from what Crompvoets and Brereton said about alleged ‘war crimes’ in Afghanistan. Brereton recommended that 19 soldiers be subject to investigation by the Australian Federal Police. That’s where the matter should be left. The soldiers are entitled to the presumption of innocence and to due process and, hopefully, will be provided with the means to obtain expert legal representation.

It would round things off if the Prime Minister were to apologise (and fulsomely) for his intemperate remarks in parliament; disgracefully referring to untested allegations as “brutal truths.” And if someone, anyone, in government or in the defence forces would express a clear understanding as to why taxpayers fund an army. A clue: it’s not to ensure women’s aspirations are met or to provide a home from home for those suffering the modern malady of gender dysphoria.

11 thoughts on “Who Needs Warriors?

  • Lewis P Buckingham says:

    ‘I don’t dare imagine what biffo went on in those public schools (English variety) attended by the sons of gentlemen.’
    In a conversation with one who was involved in officer training the conversation turned to ‘Why do men join the army’ Answer ‘to fight’.
    So they need to be professional and just to their enemy.
    At the same time we need to be professional and just to them.
    Feminism does need not come into it.

  • Simon says:

    I’m interested in the sullen silence that has followed the criticisms of Morrison etal. in jumping to their ‘brutal truths’ here.

    Isn’t it typical of the left?

    Here’s an idea PM – instead of acting like a two-year old why not just admit and apologise for the rush to judgment? People will actually admire you for owning up to mistakes (within limits of course), and it’s very cathartic.

    Give it a go sometime.

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    Feminism has been the Trojan horse for most of the very nasty equity and diversity policies that have infected the entire western world. From football to the ADF – from universities and education to employment quotas – from the funding of the Arts to the control of Queensland stock routes – we have women with brutal feminist agendas instituting the hatred of maleness. In the US election debacle you can see that most of the hatred of Trump and the Republicans – is due to his ‘attitude to women’ and the lack of priority given to ‘the environment’ ( the ‘environment’ is considered to be female). The Greens are an overwhelmingly feminist party with some of the most destructive policies know to humankind. We are now required to watch football on free to air television even when the football is of such a low standard that it can’t make up even a small audience on its own merits. A virtual ‘patricide’ has taken place in marriage during the past fifty years whereas now almost half of all children do not have a father living at home. Outrageously funded campaigns against domestic violence demand that all DV is male violence against women, even when clear statistics prove otherwise. This outrage against our SAS is only the latest outrage against men – perpetrated by the misguided feminist hatred of maleness. If you wish to see how these women act once they have the power you only need to look at the Queensland Premier and her Chief Medical Officer who had no trouble in preventing citizens from attending the funerals of their loved ones whilst allowing AFL footballers and movie stars free reign. The entire Gay and Transexual indulgence of the last fifty years is inspired by feminist nonsense about sexual liberation. Feminism is not only the enemy of the people … it is the enemy of order and the champion of chaos.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Being a few years too old for the National Service lottery, I chose the RAAF deliberately, partly because it was my father’s wartime Service, partly because it offered a career with skills readily transferable to civvy street, but mainly because the comforts of the RAAF’S permanent bases and relatively luxurious officers’ messes meant a significant improvement over batching in the wilds of the then TPNG whence I came.
    The prospect of grubbing around in the bush with its dust, mud, flies and creepy crawly things – far too close to the rural life of my childhood – meant the Army did not attract. Little did I know that within fairly short order I’d spend two detachments to Shoalwater Bay with battalions working up for Vietnam. An aggregate of six or eight weeks was bearable, but mixing in close contact with soldiers who actually enjoyed that sort of thing was a strange but enlightening experience. Army latrines, even brand new ones, are not a highlight of my life. Air Force control towers are properly plumbed, fully air-conditioned, and the readily available coffee doesn’t taste of God only knows what had been living in the water in that jerry can.
    As seems to have been completely missed by the various civilians, including those in uniform, who have been appointed to tell the three Services how to run their own businesses, a simple Venn diagram of three intersecting circles demonstrates what every soldier, sailor and airman (?) learns within days, if they didn’t already know, that it’s diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks.
    There are a majority of those who will volunteer for only one of the three Services. There are a significant minority who will happily volunteer for one or another of the three. But there is only a very small minority, that cocked hat in the centre of the diagram, who will happily volunteer for any of the three.
    My view might be distorted by limited exposure, but at the peak of their elites, the Army has its special forces consisting of that rarest of rare breeds, genuinely tough, self-reliant, multi-skilled expert warriors. the Navy has, say, its submariners, ditto. The RAAF has its aircrew operating state of the art aircraft to the limits of their performance. At the peak of that elite are those lovingly referred to as “knuckleheads” or “knucks” – the ones doctors prefer to operate on because they only have two moving parts. Single seater fighter pilots don’t come cheap and, although there are some few women who have proven themselves to be more than capable, there will always be doubts about their general cost effectiveness.
    The ADF is inherently an organisation of specialists. But its leaders must be generalists, capable of seeing and understanding the big picture with all its nuances. Inevitably, the organisation must have the confidence of the nation’s political leadership, and vice versa, so it must bend with the mores of the times. In the final analysis, it is a matter of politics whether we have an effective ADF, or even if we have one at all. As things seem to stand at the moment, we might be lucky to retain the Federation Guard, a band or two and the VIP squadron.

  • Alistair says:

    From the Sydney Morning Herald, August 23, 2012.

    “Broderick wants ADF to temper its warrior culture By Deborah Snow
    The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, wants the ADF to fundamentally rethink the way it selects its leaders. She wants to temper the warrior culture that traditionally sees the most senior officers in army, navy and airforce come from backgrounds in combat or command. And she wants to open up more ”gateways” to the top Defence jobs from other areas within the military such as logistics, human services and health, where the 14 per cent of the ADF who are female tend to be clustered.
    ”Senior leadership positions in all three services are traditionally appointed from categories in which women have been precluded, or in which they are under-represented,” she says.
    So the ADF will have to create ”pathways [for leadership] through non-war fighting categories”. To this end, she has raised the idea of positive discrimination for women in a few key areas, such as entry to the senior defence colleges, which is one well-trodden path for promotion to the most senior roles.
    It is an idea that will meet bitter resistance from the traditionalists inside Defence – and not only from men.”

    Professor Quigley (The Evolution of Civilizations) described this as the “institutionalization of the instruments of expansion” When a organisation fundamental to the success of a civilization gets so large and unwieldy that the “goal” of the most politically influential section of the organisation becomes at odds with the goals of the organisation as a whole. He argues its a bad place to be. His type example is the various Cavalry Corps which had the prestige to dominate various military organisations right up until the second world war – even though the American Civil War had shown categorically that the day of the decisive cavalry charge was past tense. The problem is that the ADF is now a political organisation – not a military organisation. For example, its more about getting Christopher Pyne re-elected and maintaining good relations with the Bordeaux region of France than fighting a war.

  • DG says:

    I get the impression that the average modern civilian thinks of warfare as a type of sport. My grandparents and uncles, who endured service in two world wars told very different stories. As any soldiers reading will know, it is unrelentlingly bloody, ferocious and kill or be killed (when it is not boring, of course, when you are ordered to ‘wait’ yet again). It is full of split second decisions that will decide which bits of you go home, if any. It is not nice. But within your unit there is a camaraderie of mutuality unmatched in any peacetime activity. You don’t know ‘team work’ until you’ve been in battle. Nor do you know care, compassion or self-sacrifice. Warriors know all these.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Peter, you are right about the emasculation of our ADF. I have written about it before and will do so again shortly. The quote from Crompvoets is almost beyond belief or would have been in my day, in which incidentally, one never heard the term warrior used self referentially. Or ‘culture’ for that matter.
    As a bit of background, the tension between SASR and Commandos, the extent of which I don’t know, is probably grounded in role conflict. The SASR was established to provide long range reconnaissance – not offensive operations. That’s why it operated (and probably still does) as small patrols commanded by junior NCOs. Non conventional offensive ops was the province of the Commando Regiments. Somehow in the last 30 years SASR has moved into the offensive role – probably to the chagrin of the Commandos. Also, the SASR was always Regular Army whereas until relatively recently, Commandos were Army Reserve.


    Ooh boys. Not so rough, you might hurt their feelings. Shake hands and say sorry.

  • Occidental says:

    Peter Smith
    If the purpose of your article is to deride the current woke mantra who can argue? My view is that the feminisation of our society has far greater effects on liberalism and liberty than it does on the profession of arms. Feminism combined with single person households must create a demand for more government. If I were a single woman, why would I vote for any party that did not promise bigger government and more state protection. I mean any single woman living without a male partner must feel more comfort from the left side of politics than from the right. Inevitably the world is trending (as a result of feminism) toward bigger government and greater regulation, and I can not see any circuit breaker. The space for the individual is shrinking.

    I think your concerns about Brereton’s criticism of a “warrior culture” are misplaced though. Modern armies and by that I mean any military since the greek phalanx relies not on warriors but on soldiers. Bushido was about the warrior, and it collapsed in the face of a volley of musket balls. My point is Brereton is referring to the warrior as an individual hero, – as he described them, the demigods of the SASR. Modern armies don’t rely on them and never have. They are handy from time to time, but they don’t win wars. A model professional soldier is more like Dusty Miller than John Rambo.

  • Peter Smith says:

    Occidental , it might come down to your a definition of a warrior. I take it to mean those whose courage, nerve and skill endures again and again under the most difficult of circumstances and who, accordingly, steel and inspire those around them. The Chinese are reportedly trying to develop super soldiers. I suppose they think of them as enhanced warriors. Of course, it goes without saying, we need well-equipped professional soldiers. However, it doesn’t hurt if they are warriors too or have among them warriors.

  • Lawrie Ayres says:

    I spent 28 years in the Army Reserve, full and part time, and I believe DG above has a good grip on what is required of soldiers and what they believe they should deliver. Soldier mateship is probably stronger than marriage vows and protection of loved ones. The one thing I learnt was that you will only receive what you are prepared to give.

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