Chief of Army (new CDF) bans ‘death symbology and iconography’

Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell has issued a directive to commanders that they should stamp out all instances of ‘death symbology and iconography’ in the Australian Army immediately.

In a minute (formal military letter) dated 10 April 2018 – a copy of which is circulating on social media – Lieutenant General Campbell said he believed the use of such symbology/iconography was not widespread and that the overwhelming majority of force elements were ‘on the right path’ – but that commanders should take immediate action to remove such symbology/iconography from all formal and informal use within the Army.

“I refer in particular to the use of what could be termed ‘death’ symbology/iconography: for example the pirate Skull and Crossbones (maritime outlaws and murders), the Phantom or Punisher symbols (vigilantes), Spartans (extreme militarism) or the Grim Reaper (Bringer of Death),” Lieutenant General Campbell said, in the minute.

“Such symbology… is always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the inculcation of an arrogant hubris and general disregard for the most serious responsibility of our profession – the legitimate and discriminate taking of life.

“This is not where we need to be as a national institution.

“As soldiers, our purpose is to serve the state, applying violence with humility always and compassion wherever possible.

“The symbology to which I refer erodes this ethos of service.”

Lieutenant General Campbell said he realised that without explanation [and CONTACT suggests that regardless of explanation] some will rile at this direction.

“But, be clear, I am adamant that this is right for Army.

“I seek your immediate attention to addressing this issue.”

 

CONTACT asked Defence to confirm or deny whether the minute circulating on social media was legitimate. They said – “The Chief of Army issued an internal minute to all Commanders on 17 April 2018 to reinforce that all symbols, emblems and iconography used across the organisation must align with the Army values of courage, initiative, respect and teamwork. Death symbology demonstrates a general disregard for the most serious responsibility of the Army’s profession: the legitimate and discriminate taking of life.”

Photo by Brian Hartigan
Sea Hawk ‘Punisher’ on operations in the Middle East. Photo by Brian Hartigan.

 

Lieutenant General Campbell was this week announced as the new Chief of Defence Force, taking up the position in June.

CONTACT can only speculate that the new Chief of Defence Force’s concern over this issue may see the directive widened across the ADF later this year?

 

Meanwhile, commanders all across the country are frantically consulting dictionaries, thesaurus, Google translate and Wikipedia in an attempt to convert “inculcation of an arrogant hubris” to a form of English that might actually be understood by the types of ‘outlaws and murders’ most likely to wear the offending death symbology/iconography’.

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A former 2RAR platoon sergeant wrote a passionate ‘open letter’ to Lieutenant General Campbell, spelling out his dismay, disappointment and disbelief.
Read that letter here.

 

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Executive Officer HMAS Dechaineux Lieutenant Commander Darren White raises the 'Jolly Roger' on Collins-class submarine HMAS Dechaineux at Fleet Base West. Official Defence photo by Chief Petty Officer Damian Pawlenko.
Executive Officer HMAS Dechaineux Lieutenant Commander Darren White raises the ‘Jolly Roger’ on Collins-class submarine HMAS Dechaineux at Fleet Base West. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Damian Pawlenko.

It is worth noting, however, that the “pirate Skull and Crossbones (maritime outlaws and murders)” symbol was a widely used symbol in military forces through the ages – and still is.

The Royal Navy in WWII commonly flew the Jolly Roger on completion of successful combat missions, as a mark of bravado and stealth rather than lawlessness.

Today, the Jolly Roger remains the official emblem of the Royal Navy Submarine Service.

Other navies too fly the Jolly Roger, especially in submarine fleets – including the Royal Australian Navy.

On land, even the The Queen’s Royal Lancers in the British Army – a modern cavalry regiment that was formed as recently as 1993 – uses the skull and crossbones in its official (and presumably sanctioned or at least tolerated – by the Queen) unit emblem.

 

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Brian Hartigan

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

13 thoughts on “Chief of Army (new CDF) bans ‘death symbology and iconography’

  • 29/12/2019 at 5:13 pm
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    The whole Defence Force creedo has changed. All brought about by the powers that be,I suspect they all sit down to piss. Give the troops something to believe in,because defence doesn’t do it for the troops of any arm in the service. I get the impression that that our new leaver Lt Gen Campbell has missed the bus by banning a few icons,like skull and Crossbones,the Punisher and any others that exist. Let the troops have something to believe in. Not the limp wristed tripe I am reading about. Lest the enemy walk all over our troops. Defence grow a set.

    Reply
  • 21/01/2019 at 10:49 pm
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    This is just more dumming down of the adf. Just issue them with handbags and they csn belt the enemy until they go away. I thought Campbell has some gonads but obviously he has had the operation.

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  • 24/04/2018 at 10:21 am
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    When do the embroidery and cooking classes start?

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  • 23/04/2018 at 5:15 pm
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    If your surname is Walker…does this mean you need to drop Phantom and look for a new one….maybe Jay

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  • 23/04/2018 at 10:32 am
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    Am I to take that the C-27 will be re-named from “Spartan”, and the 35 SQN patch (that is already sanctioned) will be banned???

    Our mental state is bigger than mere pictures / iconography … leave tradition be!!

    Reply
  • 23/04/2018 at 8:16 am
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    I Served in B Coy 6 RAR who have a long and proud history of being the Phantoms and later in Pioneer Platoon of the same battalion whose symbol was a skull these emblems in no way reflected an attitude of undisciplined lawlessness or glorification of death. I believe that the Australian Soldier is far to well trained and led to be affected in any adverse way by this symbolism but rather it sets them apart from the society that they have volunteered to protect and reinforces the grim reality of their trade, which no matter how politically correct it is tried to be portrayed is Death.

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  • 23/04/2018 at 2:36 am
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    It will be interesting where the line will be drawn on these symbols. For instance, the SAS has a Bayonet unsheathed pointed down through a set of wings. Will they have to get rid of the dagger? Many units use Phantom as a radio call sign, so will they have to change to something less symbolic of impending harm? Remember the old jungle saying “Phantom is rough with roughnecks” or “If you look upon the Phantom’s face, you will die a horrible death.”
    Dozens of units use crossed swords or bayonets on their insignia, all purveyors of death or harm. And what of our aircraft? We used to have Phantoms. They were a great asset in their time, but now we have Hornets, Hawks and Warthogs. But these are all predators too.

    Obviously our role is not to frighten or give our enemies any form of duress. But, truly, did these symbols ever create fear before? Is there a written record from an opposing force, that says they ran away as soon as they saw the swords on our unit badges?

    I can see a time when our forces will be made to carry smaller weapons, so they don’t impose a threat on our enemies.

    Reply
  • 22/04/2018 at 2:49 pm
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    To take the Skull and Crossbones and the Jolly Roger away from the Navy after 7 Centuries is a very miss-guided thought and will never happen no matter what Mr Campbell says.

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  • 22/04/2018 at 1:41 pm
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    Next will be the banning of all weapons because they cause harm!

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  • 22/04/2018 at 1:05 pm
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    Gee, Facebook, Twitter, makes everyone a critic.i can’t believe the criticism the Chief is getting from the troops.nothing is in-house anymore.troops used to follow orders once.If you get your drive your passion your willingness to serve in the Army from something like skull and crossbones maybe you should be in the bikie’s

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  • 22/04/2018 at 11:13 am
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    Boys and Girls you will have to surrender your Phantom comics and Phantom ring, I’m afraid.

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  • 20/04/2018 at 9:43 am
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    What next?? Will all Soldiers be issued a parasol (umbrella) to shade their enemies with from that harsh desert sun? The wearing of lipstick and makeup instead of cam cream, so that people of ‘delicate sensibilities’ don’t feel on the outer? Maybe instead of going to war zones with weapons, we should just take flowers and love our enemies?
    Campbell may be ADF Commander, but he should keep his own warped ideas to himself.

    Reply
    • 22/04/2018 at 2:48 pm
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      Use of death symbols in the ADF are an immature copy of Mickey Mouse American ideas (and we know what tools some of those people are)

      Grow the hell up.

      Reply

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