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The rainbow, the cross and the crescent clash in the Australian Defence Force

By Bernard Gaynor - posted Friday, 31 January 2014


The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has tackled determined opponents over the past 15 years in Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. While weary, it is now battle-hardened and enjoys strong public support. However, these achievements are at risk from a more insidious threat: political correctness. If defeated, the ADF will be weakened morally and mentally and lose the support of ordinary Australians.

Australia cannot afford this. Global security is uncertain while ASIO continues to report a high internal security threat. Yet under the former Labor Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, the ADF turned its focus from protecting Australia’s national interests to radical social change.

In the process, it was politicised.

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I can provide informed comment on these matters. As an Intelligence Officer, I served in a full-time capacity from 1999 until 2011, deploying to Iraq on three occasions. From mid-2011 I have continued serving in the Army Reserve, but now face the loss of my commission.

My crime was to express personal opinions, based on my Catholic beliefs, regarding homosexuality and the Islamic religion.

In doing so, I did not breach any Defence laws or policies. In fact, Defence hierarchy tried charging me, but all 12 counts were discontinued when they reached the Director of Military Prosecution’s desk. He found that there was no prospect of conviction. Prior to this, the ADF Investigative Service reported that I had not breached any military laws. A second high-level administrative investigation with extensive powers examined whether I was anti-homosexual, anti-woman, anti-transgender and racist. It also concluded that allegations against me were unsubstantiated. However, despite being cleared in every investigation, the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF), General David Hurley, has proceeded with administrative action to terminate my commission.

This sets a dangerous precedent that is detrimental to ADF capability, internal discipline and retention of public support. This can be seen with the ADF’s approach to the controversial subject of Islam.

I believe that the Islamic religion is inherently violent and a predominantly political ideology with a well-developed legal rationale justifying armed conflict. This fits the actions of those who battle the ADF or seek to impose terror within Australia. As such, my view is that it is not in Australia’s interests to have a rapidly increasing Islamic population. This contrasts with the politically-correct belief that Islam is a peaceful religion and that a growing Islamic minority benefits all Australians. It is not illegal to hold either view but it is illegal for any Australian employer to discriminate on the basis of religious belief. Furthermore, just as it is not illegal to campaign to change laws regarding marriage, it is also not illegal to support changes to laws regarding immigration.

It is undeniable that Islam plays some kind of role in recent military conflict, hence it is in the ADF’s and the nation’s interest to understand it. Unfortunately, I was investigated for racism at the behest of the Defence Force Gay and Lesbian Information Service (DEFGLIS) simply for expressing this view on my blog. Even though I was cleared, the continued pursuit of termination based on ‘evidence’ of ‘unacceptable behaviour’ because I blogged that those with the same belief as the Taliban should not be allowed in the country sends a very clear message: ADF members cannot express opinions about Islam or critically examine its ideology, even as private citizens.

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This is absurd. The ADF is placing the religious beliefs of its enemies above scrutiny, ignoring the principles of war. Successful commanders understand every aspect of the threat.

Even if one assumes that Islam is peaceful, this politically-correct approach prevents the ADF from developing any coherent plan to use those teachings on the battlefield. If Islam is peaceful, its teachings would provide the most powerful weapon against misguided but violent Islamic groups, undermining their confidence and ideological beliefs. Even if this did not destroy the will to fight, it would provide a potent means of separating threats from local Islamic populations and starving them of support.

It is impossible for the ADF to understand Islam if soldiers must believe it is beyond reproach. Furthermore, as a practising Catholic, I know what it means to be religious. I understand why religious people will do things that are not rational in a secular sense. It is a useful insight for any Intelligence Officer. Defence loses this understanding when it pursues policies that force devout Christians from service.

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About the Author

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of seven children and formerly served as an officer in the Australian Regular Army, deploying to the Middle East on three occasions. He was recognised with the United Stated Meritorious Service Medal for his service in Iraq. He strongly defends conservative family values at his blog, www.bernardgaynor.com.au. Bernard is the founder of the Defence Force Conservative Action Network and a member of the Cherish Life Qld Inc. Executive Committee.

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