Equipment cycles are faster than attitudes

A small story we ran this week called ‘Not-so-grim Reaper on trial’ caused a storm of majority negative comments on not just our Facebook page, but the Australian Army’s too.

Typically comments included…

“Surely this isn’t for real?…what a bloody joke”
“God dam if you can’t hold that Minimi up you should give up”
“Even IF this lasts more than 10mins in the field, the boys will never use it”
“This most likely hasn’t been tested on Infantry, rather fat, useless, washed up POGs who need an excuse for their existence”
“No doubt a hopless POG officer will get OA or some shit for this”

While it was rather entertaining, and surely will be taken on board as ‘valuable user feedback’ (or, more correctly, ‘valuable, no-fooken-way-I’ll-let-the-boyz-catch-me-using-that-shit feedback’), it did remind me of similar attitudes I came across ‘back in my day’.

I joined the Army in 1990, corps-enlisted to RAEME as an aircraft fitter and posted to Townsville.

I was one of those sad, annoying, ‘green’ pogues who loved guns and shooting and bush trips and mil skills comps.

But I was also RAEME and therefore a little bit smarter and a little bit inventive.

So this one day, on Subject 1 for Corporal, I was on patrol with my section, carrying the machine gun as usual (because I’m a big bloke), when the proverbial poo hit the fan and we broke into ‘fire-and-movement’ drills.

At least one instructor noticed the valiant to-hell-with-my-knees gusto I put into my bounds, going to ground with gay abandon despite rather rough terrain, and I was praised and complimented on my efforts.

But, when I confessed that I had sown rubber knee pads into my uniform, I was ridiculed and almost thrown off the course for ‘cheating’ and being a softc*#k.

Today, of course, field uniforms come with knee pads already built-in.

On several other occasions I was ridiculed for daring to suggest that we should wear hearing protection while on patrol out bush.

“How can you hear the enemy with hearing protection in, ya dick#@*d?”

“But we never hear the enemy until the shooting starts,” I said – and nearly got back-squadded to civilian.

Today, after I just got issued my Department of Vet Affairs White Card to go buy hearing aids, I am pleased to see that the Australian Army is buying electronic Combat Hearing Protection for standard-issue to soldiers (see Soldier Combat Ensemble spread here).

So, while equipment may change and evolve, the reaction to Reaper surely shows that soldier attitudes are a little slower to catch up.






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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

5 thoughts on “Equipment cycles are faster than attitudes

  • 16/05/2016 at 10:23 pm

    If nothing else, I thought that the reaper system would be good for training soldiers in the mechanics of effective weapons handling in that position. And while I share the thought that the system would have severe limitations in bush/ jungle settings, the recent defense white paper noted that most likely future combat scenarios would be in urban settings where spatial characteristics would probably favour a standing engagement, at least initially, and where the reaper system would provide a better base for (reasonably) accurate shooting, limiting, if not eliminating, stray rounds impacting non-combatants.

  • 16/05/2016 at 7:25 am

    Very valid points. The troglodytes think that being tougher is better than being smarter. Of course, it’s always the trogs, 20 years later, complaining and blaming everyone but themselves for their shattered knees and roaring tinnitus.

    • 25/05/2016 at 10:45 am

      Yes of course. The epic number of current and former infantry guys arguing against the practicality of this system, many of whom are former section gunners or heavy weapons, are all troglodytes. No depth of experience there at all. Development requires interaction with potential users. If you aren’t prepared to accept feedback, negative or otherwise, the product you develop will remain unfeasible. I remember trialling zip tie webbing, Velcro bandoliers and umpteenth terra boot that still ate my feet. I bought my own boots, Danners, only for a ban to come In on using non ADF boots. So we were forced to use the crap, as usual. Interaction with soldiers only improves gear. If you can’t handle it, you don’t belong in a development role. I also find the people who have so much angst against the guys critiquing the gear are those who don’t ultimately use it. REMF’s.

      • 25/05/2016 at 10:54 am

        I’m not arguing with you Stitch, but, by definition, the vast majority of those guys who are critiquing this particular item of equipment are people who have never seen it, never handled it or never used it in any environment – yet are more than happy to critique it negatively and strongly based on one photo or video they saw on social media.

        • 25/05/2016 at 11:53 am

          No dramas mate. Not having a crack at you specifically, just don’t like being referred to as a troglodyte by the other bloke posting.


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