The following is an open letter to Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, Chief of Army, in response to his directive banning “death symbology/iconography” – see details of that directive HERE.
Thanks to the ‘digger net’, I have read with great disappointment the message and direction you have recently released with regards to what most diggers and veterans would describe as a ‘soft politically correct militarily’ stance on the wearing of what you call death iconology (on platoon PT gear, apparel etc). As a soldier that served under you at the 2nd Battalion, it only disappointments me even further to read of this. Going the next step, the fact you yourself are an Infantry Soldier…my head spins with confusion!
I have read your statement multiple times to try make some sense of it. I found it so left of field and farcical; I thought it was actually a hoax? But now, I am just left wondering as to the levels of stupidity that this order can be interpreted or enforced. Humour me for a minute Sir, and let’s use the 2nd Battalion as an example. You’re calling these images death iconology. I ask you to consider the following. Have you seen the movie Jaws, based on a big nasty evil killer shark indiscriminately eating everyone in its path? Does the proud heritage of the Bravo Company Men and their Company logo of a Circling Shark disappear forever? I was a proud member of the Zulu’s whilst I served in Delta Company and in Afghanistan. Are these vicious killer savages too much to handle for the precious modern day Army? The popular TV show, Game of Thrones features fire breathing dragons that kill small children. Are the Charlie Company men and their Company Image of a Dragon going to give you nightmares? What about the2/4RAR Delta Company Road Runner? He without remorse affected the murdered of Wiley Coyote multiple times. Is this feathered beast from the depths of hell a concern to you and the public? Are you starting see the point here Sir? Even if we duck over the road to our brothers in arms at the 1st Battalion. They proudly have The Immortals, The Rebels, The Body Snatchers, The Dirty Dozen and The Morticians.
Let’s not forget my beloved Mortar Platoon, the most senior Platoon in the Battalion. Our emblem is the Grim Reaper, with the words “Dealers in Death”. I can tell you this with great certainty…the 1000s MAGGOTS that served in that Platoon will hand over their Reaper Shirts the day the Devil snowboards down the slopes of hell. Years of pride and history, gone because it’s allegedly offensive? Other than you Sir, offensive to who? Name the offended people or the group? I will bet you every cent I own the offended are the minority! Sounds much like modern day society to me?
Finally Sir, I draw your attention to the most feared emblem of violence, death, terror and war that’s currently used in the military. It just so happens to be the most revered and coveted of them all as well! You wear it; I am very fortune along with 1000s of others to have the honour and privilege of wearing it, The Infantry Combat Badge (ICB). A badge based around the bayonet, the most feared and gruesome up close and personal weapon on the battlefield. An emblem or icon that is matched by no other and has no other purpose in its existence other than inflicting extreme pain, bone chilling physical and psychological fear in your enemy and of course horrific death. Yet as Infantrymen, not only do we wear it with pride, it’s worn as the centre of importance above our medals on our ceremonial uniforms and suits! Men have it tattooed on them, flags of it fly in man caves and sheds, shirts and hats are emblazoned proudly with it. Are you going to ask the RSM Ceremonial to ban the ICB? This is the most violent emblem of death there is in our Military? Are you getting it yet, Sir?
The Army, in particular the Infantry, are a fighting force designed to kill! We are not and never should be a reflection of society, we are trained and programmed that way. Although it seems every effort is being made at the top levels to denigrate combat effectiveness, but that’s a discussion for another time. Colonel Tim Collins, a former CO of The Royal Irish has summed it up best for me…
“The Army has been taken over by the PC Brigade and it is putting lives at risk!”
Any decision you make Sir that denigrates the morale of the enlisted, flows on and denigrates combat power! A fighting unit with low morale and less than effective combat power…I don’t need to paint that picture for you. But it goes hand in hand with writing heart breaking letters to families! At present Sir, this decision is the most talked about thing in veteran forums at the moment…and in no way have I seen any remotely close to positive feedback, either on the decision itself or you personally. Any respect you wish to garner or grow of the enlisted men and women during your tenure as CDF is gone with this terrible idea. I doubt you will ever get it back.
I have no idea if this open letter will reach you. If it does, good. I do genuinely hope my comments are not taken in offense, as that has not been my intent at all. During my service I was never known for tact or manners. I was respected by my peers and subordinates for my brutal honesty and my willingness to call a spade a spade and if needed, to call it a useless bloody shovel!
Justin Huggett MG
Former 2RAR Platoon Sgt.