Saturday, August 29, 2009


10th anniverary of East Timor independence vote - 30 August 2009

ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political


Should Clinton get the Nobel Peace Prize for Timor?
By Sasha Uzunov - Friday, 28 August 2009

August 30 will mark the tenth anniversary of East Timor’s successful vote for independence from Indonesia after 24 years of brutal Indonesian rule. Is former United States President Bill Clinton deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize for stopping a genocide at the hands of the Indonesian military against the Timorese people?

In the lead up and in the aftermath of the historic United Nations sponsored referendum in East Timor, pro-Indonesian Timorese militia groups went on a murderous rampage at the behest of the Indonesian authorities.

The Clinton Administration was so concerned that on February 22, 1999, US Assistant Secretary of State, Stanley Roth told Australian diplomat Dr Ashton Calvert that a peacekeeping mission was unavoidable in East Timor. Dr Calvert speaking on behalf of the Australia’s Federal government said the Timorese had to sort it out themselves, in effect they were on their own.

Roth then called Australia’s reluctance to get involved as being “defeatist”. A case of Clinton tough love!

On March 7 Australia’s haughty Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, denied that it was official Indonesian government policy to support the militia groups. “But there may be some rogue elements within the armed forces who are providing arms of one kind or another to pro-integrationists who have been, you know, fighting for the cause of Indonesia,” he said.

In late September 1999, Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard sent in the troops as part of the Interfet Mission but the pretence was that our soldiers were simply keeping apart the two warring “Timorese” factions, those who wanted to stay within Indonesia and those who wanted independence.

But we now know that there was a secret war in East Timor with the Indonesian Army’s (TNI) Special Forces, the dreaded Kopassus, dressed up and pretending to be militia and attacking and killing Timorese civilians and later Australian and New Zealand soldiers.

Defence Department bureaucrat and former Fairfax journalist, Hugh White, revealed that Australia’s involvement in East Timor succeeded because of the Indonesian military’s reluctance to fight a full scale war. This is rather disingenuous. You do not find the Taliban in Afghanistan declaring a full scale war but resorting to guerilla tactics of hit and run and ambushing.

Kopassus’s objective was to inflict as many casualties on Australians and New Zealanders in the hope that their respective governments would withdraw. The Howard government used the elite Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), whose mission is normally to go behind enemy lines to gather information, in a war fighting role.

But Kopassus was not stupid because it had received training from the SASR in the late 1980s and focused on hitting the regular infantry battalions that had deployed to Timor as part of the Interfet mission: airborne infantry unit, 3RAR (Parachute), 2RAR from Townsville and 5/7RAR(Mechanised) from Darwin. In October 1999, a hundred soldiers from Charlie Company, 2RAR, were involved in the biggest shootout since the Vietnam War at a place called Motaain, close to the town of Batugade and on the Indonesian border. It was only the cool thinking of a junior commander Lance Corporal Paul Teong who helped to avert a bloodbath.

The Interfet Mission then handed over control to the United Nations Transitional Administration for East Timor (UNTAET) in January 2000, and the Australian media believed the militia had been defeated. But the militia was simply biding its time and waiting to strike at what it thought was a soft target, Australian Army reservists.

Legendary infantry battalion 6RAR from Brisbane would be the next to go to Timor. It had, over the past decade, been gutted by the cost cutting of White and another defence expert, Paul Dibb, Neither have ever served in uniform. 6RAR had to be rebuilt with reservists grabbed from other units around Australia, including reserve unit 5/6 RVR, Melbourne’s own infantry battalion. When 6RAR arrived in East Timor in early 2000 it came under ferocious militia attack but held its own.

In 1998, a year before East Timor erupted, the far-sighted Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutentant General Frank Hickling, a combat engineer who saw action in Vietnam, went from unit to unit ordering his senior commanders that he wanted all full time and reserve soldiers to sharpen up their war fighting skills. He was concerned that the army’s combat troops had gone soft because of the focus on peacekeeping missions. It was his foresight that kept Australian soldiers, both regular and reservist, alive on the battlefield in Timor despite the cutbacks from the bureaucrats.

However, the militia refused give up its mission.

On June 14, 2001 a small Australian Army patrol of eight soldiers from 4 Section, 2 Platoon , Alpha Company, 4RAR, lead by Corporal Kevin “Bambi” Campbell, a former SASR trooper, was attacked by militia near the Indonesian border. Bambi’s patrol used the radio call-sign One-Two-Alpha.

Scott Sherwin, is now a family man and tree surgeon living outside Newcastle, New South Wales, and Pete, who suffers from Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD), survives on a military pension in Melbourne’s outer-eastern suburbs.

Both remained silent for years and had bottled up emotions but were now ready to re-examine that fateful day of June 14, 2001.

In the official 4RAR Battalion book on the East Timor mission, the incident was listed as occurring on June 1, 2001. But this was a printing error. The shootout occurred during Operation Predator (June 14-16, 2001), which was a search for militia along the border areas.

The Australian Army newspaper, on August 16, 2001, reported: “On the other hand, there have been several serious incidents. One, as recently as mid June, involved a contact with five armed men and a section from 4RAR.”

At 12.50pm, in a place known as AO Sparrow, One-Two-Alpha came under gunfire and grenade attack from a militia group consisting of five to eight men, believed to be Kopassus. Pete, as a scout, was at the front of the patrol when the shooting erupted.

Scott Sherwin, as the assault machine gunner, was at the rear and had to run forwards to support his comrades. Pete initially saw a local man dressed in a white civilian shirt swinging a machete through the thick vegetation called lantana. It looked quite innocent. Seconds later his patrol was fired upon and everybody hit the ground.

“If the enemy were to fire back, I would be a visible target,” Scott recalled “So I let go of my fears of dying at the time, and just ran and fired.”

But it is this memory which keeps on replaying through Scott’s mind over the years and the thoughts of “what if the militia had fired directly upon him?”As a trained soldier, Scott went into auto-pilot on that day. The army calls it contact drills. Soldiers are taught to react in a certain way when fired upon. It helps to keep fear and confusion to a minimum.

Another troubling idea that raced through Scott’s head was remembering that New Zealand soldier Private Leonard Manning was killed by militia near the town of Suai on July 24, 2000 and his body was later found mutilated.

“I think in the back of our minds we knew that if we were caught behind or captured that we would be killed or we’d be cut up then killed,” Scott said. “So our choices were quite limited.”

It seemed on that date, June 14, 2001, fate was smiling upon the soldiers of One-Two-Alpha when Pete felt the blast of one of the militia grenades, and unbelievably suffered only a scratch and, as he said, “went back to firing”. The main (machine) gunner was thrown back when a grenade landed two metres in front of him and he too got up without injury!

During the contact, three militiamen were believed to have been killed or wounded. The others probably dragged the dead or wounded back across the border into Indonesia.

“They weren’t just locals with guns,” Pete said. “They had some form of military training. They would pepper-pot the way we were trained. That is one soldier fires whilst another moves.”

The SASR was called in to track the withdrawing militia but then, inexplicably, the search was called off. A reconnaissance patrol with a tracker dog two weeks later found trails that led all the way back to the border.

The standard operating procedure (SOP) for the Kopassus/Militia was that if it was involved in a contact with UN peacekeepers, any dead or wounded were to be dragged across the border back into Indonesia. No evidence was to be left behind. The Viet Cong during the Vietnam War also dragged away dead or wounded to deny information to US and Australian troops.

Ugly rumours began to circulate that One-Two-Alpha had staged the contact to hide a UD, unauthorised discharge, that is someone from the patrol had illegally or negligently fired. The Indonesian authorities were claiming that three innocent sandalwood smugglers, without any militia links, had been murdered and were only carrying crow-bars.

“Why you would need crow-bars to cut trees with?” Pete said. “They were the first crow-bars that ever fired shots.” A United Nations investigation was launched and the members of One-Two-Alpha were forbidden to talk about the incident but were later cleared of any wrongdoing.

Bambi Campbell was given a UN Commander’s Commendation certificate but missed out on an Australian Army bravery medal. Likewise Clinton missed out on the Nobel Peace Prize. Sometimes doing the right thing does not mean recognition! More importantly, in 2002 the long suffering East Timor became the newly independent nation of Timor Leste.


About the Author

Sasha Uzunov is a freelance photo journalist, blogger, and budding film maker whose mission is to return Australia's national defence/ security debate to its rightful owner, the taxpayer. He also likes paparazzi photography! He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1991. He served as a professional soldier in the Australian Army from 1995 to 2002, and completed two tours of duty in East Timor. As a journalist he has worked in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. His blog is at Team Uzunov.

Other articles by this Author

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


18 August 2009 - The Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Honouring those Australians who served or were killed whilst fighting in the Vietnam War (1962-72). This year is the first that all missing in action servicemen have been accounted for, after the recent discovery of the remains of the two lost airmen, Flying Officer Michael Herbert and navigator Pilot Officer Robert Carver.

PHOTO ESSAY - by Sasha Uzunov

photos copyright 2009

Australian Army infantry battalion, 5RAR - 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, led this year's march in Melbourne. 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Binh Ba, which 5RAR was involved in South Vietnam. 5RAR is known as the Tiger Battalion.

4RAR - now re-badged as 2nd Commando Regiment.

3RAR - (Parachute) - The Australian Army's airborne infantry battalion. Behind 3RAR is 7RAR.

The legendary 6RAR, whose Delta Company took part in the famous Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966. One hundred Australian soldiers were pitted against a combined Viet Cong/North Vietnamese force of over 2,000 troops.

1st Armoured Regiment (Armoured Personnel Carriers and Tanks)

Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) and Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME).

You'll never walk alone-- Blind Vietnam Veteran marches with his comrades.

THE TEAM - The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) was an elite unit raised during the Vietnam War. Its job was to train and sometimes lead the South Vietnamese Army into battle. All four Victoria Crosses won in Vietnam were by AATTV members.

"GENGHIS" KHAN - Brigadier Colin "Genghis" Khan DSO, the popular Commanding Officer of 5RAR during the Battle of Binh Ba gave the main address.
THE ETERNAL FLAME - wreaths are placed here in honour of those who have been killed in war. The honour guards are Victorian Police Officers wearing World War I Army uniform with a yellow Victoria Police badge on the left upper sleeve.

WREATHS - Federal Veterans' Affairs Minister, Alan Griffin, Vietnam Veteran Association of Australia-Victorian President, Bob Elworthy and Premier of the State of Victoria, John Brumby, who said it was time to re-claim the Vietnam War as being a part of the Anzac Legend, Australia's warrior ethos turned national legend.
South Vietnamese ally.

Centre: Major General David McLachlan AO, Victorian State President of The Returned Services League, Australia's peak veteran association.

Centre: Mr Michael Quinn, representing the Australian Peacekeeper & Peacemaker Veteran Association, an organisation for veterans of recent conflicts.

ALAN GRIFFIN: ENRICO CARUSO OF AUSTRALIAN POLITICS? Australia's Prime Minister Paul Keating (1991-96) once described himself as the Placido Domingo of Australian politics. But we believe that current Federal Veterans' Affairs Minister Alan Griffin gives Keating a run for his money when it comes to imitating male opera stars. In the first photo the Minister concentrates and gets himself in the "zone" ready to belt out Australia's national anthem with gusto!

Tony Robinson Victorian State MP (wearing glasses), Minister Assisting the Premier on Veterans' Affairs, is to the left of Minister Griffin. To the right is Bob Elworthy, Vietnam Veteran Association of Australia-Victorian President. On the far left is Ted Baillieu, Victorian State Opposition Leader.

THE MEDIA: Female newspaper photographer lines up a photo.

TELEVISION NEWS: Melbourne Channel 10 News reporter Rakhal Eberli (second from the right) and camera crew.

All photos copyright Sasha Uzunov 2009.


Order your copy of TIMOR TOUR OF DUTY on DVD
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Sasha Uzunov (left), Scott Taylor (centre) and Stefan Nitoslawski (right), Talafar, Iraq, 2005.
Nitoslawski films Taylor interviewing Iraqi Army General, Talafar, for Maziar Bahari's documentary, Targets: Reporters in Iraq. Photo by Sasha Uzunov.


by Sasha Uzunov

News has come that Canadian-Iranian film maker and journalist Maziar Bahari has been detained by the Iranian authorities.

"In a statement, Newsweek said that "on Sunday morning in Tehran, Newsweek's Maziar Bahari was detained without charge by Iranian authorities and has not been heard from since."

"Mr. Bahari is a Canadian citizen and a renowned journalist and filmmaker, who has been living in and covering Iran for the past decade." "

I briefly met Bahari in Turkey in 2005 as a photographer working for Canadian journalist Scott Taylor, who was held hostage in Iraq in 2004. I followed Taylor and cameraman Stefan Nitoslawski into Talafar, Iraq to retrace Taylor's steps for a documentary by Bahari .

"In fact, Bahari directed a 2005 documentary film on the effects the killing and kidnapping of journalists was having on reporting in war-torn Iraq.

"Peter Svatek, who produced the film "Targets: Reporters in Iraq" with him, described Bahari as quiet, serious and cautious.

"In the documentary, Bahari interviews people like fellow Canadian journalist Scott Taylor, who was kidnapped and held for five days by insurgents in northern Iraq."

Book excerpt: 'Unembedded: Two Decades of Maverick War Reporting'
by Scott Taylor Updated: Fri. Feb. 27 2009 8:14 AM ET

Among the Mujahedeen

Sasha Uzunov had agreed to accompany me on this trip, and Stefan Nitoslawski was filming the entire venture for a cbc documentary entitled Targets: Reporters in Iraq. I had already signed a contract and begun participating in Targets before receiving the call from Dangerfield. The producers had wanted me to venture to Iraq on my own for the movie, but after two sleepless nights of anxiety at the prospect I told them I could not do it. I was prepared to travel right up to the border but not beyond it. The offer of flying in by helicopter changed all that.


Targets: Reporters in Iraq (2005)


by Sasha Uzunov
Online opinion,
Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Fairfax newspapers self-appointed defence expert Paul Daley has a potential best selling, but controversial, book called Beersheba about World War I out on the market in time for Father’s Day. In doing so he has joined the pantheon of Anzac legend bards, of which legendary newsman Les Carlyon is the Zeus, God of Gods.

The Anzac legend has become a literary goldmine for Australian writers and journalists in the past few decades. To their credit they have preserved a slice of Australian history that might have been lost with the passing of a whole generation of war veterans. Some have focused on World Wars I and II, sidestepping Vietnam completely.

At the top of the Anzac legend chroniclers list sits Carlyon, an award winning journalist. Born in 1942 Carlyon, in an extraordinary feat, went onto become editor of both major Melbourne daily newspapers, The Herald Sun and The Age, which sit diametrically opposed to each in their politics. He is described as the “Damon Runyan”, an American 19th century newsman, of Australian journalism.

His books, Gallipoli and The Great War, have been hailed as both critical masterpieces and commercial successes in military history. This is all the more remarkable when you consider he is not a trained historian but an old fashioned newspaperman, horse racing writer, turned military expert. He is also a board member of the Australian War Memorial, considered holy ground by war veterans and established by Carlyon’s journalism hero, Charles Bean, the main proponent of the Anzac legend.

In a book review of The Great War, Garrie Hutchinson, the anti-Vietnam War activist turned Anzac legend preacher, believes that Carlyon has outdone the master, Charles Bean, in retelling the Anzac story:

“Carlyon has walked the terrible beauty of the battlefields of France and Belgium and orchestrated the stories for a new generation. Bean accommodated the Australians on the Western Front in four stout volumes totalling some 4000 pages - too thick perhaps with detail: just about every casualty is accorded a footnote.

“But no one except the truly dedicated reads Bean today. Carlyon gives us the essential story in lucid prose over 800-plus pages.” (Sydney Morning Herald, November 13, 2006).

A reporter with the left-leaning The Age newspaper wrote in gushing terms (“Carlyon, a character-driven gem”, by Gary Tippet, December 4, 2004):

“Even among journalists, who often are rated down below the used car salesmen, venal politicians and annoying telemarketers, there are occasional living treasures. Or, if you like, one or two pearls among the swine.

“One such jewel, according to strong consensus among his colleagues and - more importantly to him - his readers, would certainly be long-time reporter, turf writer, editor, author and educator Les Carlyon.”

From the other side, the late Lyle Turnbull, then managing editor of the Herald & Weekly Times (publisher of the Herald and The Sun), wrote of Carlyon in 1982:

“First of all, he can write; he has worked at all levels from reporter to editor, and has proved his skills to his peers; he has objectivity, but does not lack the right passions; he is perceptive; yet his ego does not get in the way of those perceptions, a quality not universally to be observed in the newspaper business.’’ (Quoted in Les Carlyon - 2004 by Andrew Rule - Melbourne Press Club citation for award.)

The prose that Carlyon uses in the book Gallipoli makes you feel as though you are actually there. Not many writers without actual combat experience are capable of such empathy with their subject.

On April 25, 2005, the 90th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, Carlyon was interviewed by legendary war reporter Peter Harvey, the man with the trademark gravel voice, on television current affairs program 60 Minutes. Carlyon summed up the Anzac legend as thus:

“Every nation needs a foundation myth and Gallipoli turned out to be ours. These men who went ashore on the wrong beach in a hopeless position and are literally caught defending cliff ledges, up on escarpment there and somehow they endured, they hung on there when they had no right to for eight months.”

Harvey, who spent two years as a reporter for Newsweek magazine in Vietnam but did not serve as a soldier there, in a sombre and moving manner said: “Les Carlyon wrote the book Gallipoli, which should be compulsory reading for every Australian student.”

Harvey concludes his moving sermon on the Mount of Gallipoli: “It's been said that Captain James Cook didn't discover Australia, Australia found itself at Gallipoli. Don't forget - Australia had only been a nation for 14 years. We were just into our teens, like so many of the boys who lied about their age to get here.”

Considering such passion and such empathy for the Anzac Legend, Carlyon was asked why he had never volunteered to fight in the Vietnam War (1962-72). But he has declined to answer despite numerous polite requests.

Tom Hyland, a journalist at The Sunday Age newspaper, hints that it is sacrilegious or even misguided to ask such a question of Carlyon. Those who do so, according to Hyland, are on some “curious crusade”.

Carlyon, in his unique position of having been editor of both major newspapers remains a force to be reckoned with. If Carlyon is the Damon Runyon of Australian journalism, then surely Martin Flanagan and Patrick Lindsay are Australia’s equivalent to the American Will Rogers - famous for his homespun humour.

Flanagan, born in 1955 and a senior writer with The Age newspaper, sees himself as a “Tasmanian yarn teller”. Time Magazine in 2003 described him as a “legend of Australian journalism”. Flanagan has co-authored a book with his father, Arch, a World War II prisoner of the Japanese, called The line: a man’s experience; and a son’s quest to understand.

The man responsible for updating the Anzac legend by writing about veterans from recent conflicts is Patrick Lindsay, former TV reporter and author of books on World War I, Fromelles and The Spirit of Gallipoli; and World War II, The Essence of Kokoda. His The Spirit of the Digger book brings the Anzac legend up to date with accounts of Australian soldiers under fire in recent conflicts such as East Timor and Iraq and has become a best seller.

Lindsay, in that typical Australian manner for blunt honesty, much appreciated by war veterans, tells of his own awakening to the importance of the Anzac legend:

“My old man fought in the Middle East and New Guinea and Borneo in WWII. My grandfather fought in the Boer War and WWI for the Kiwi (New Zealand) army and in WWII for the Australian army.

“I was in one of the last call-ups for Vietnam but my number didn't come up. At that stage I was just a young dope who didn't think about much besides cricket, football and girls. By the time I woke up to the importance of the sacrifices made by our Diggers down the years I was too old to be of any use to them, even if I'd been good enough to become one. So now I'm content to try to keep their stories alive.”

No list of Anzac legend chroniclers would be complete without mentioning the silver haired, dapper John Hamilton, author of Gallipoli Sniper, and the late but great Peter Charleton and Patsy Adam-Smith. All three are rarities in that they actually served in uniform: Hamilton in the Navy, while Charleton balanced a career with being an Army Reserve officer in command of a semi-regular infantry battalion; and Adam-Smith in the Women‘s Army during World War II. Adam-Smith was a remarkable woman ahead of her time.

The questions now remain will Paul Daley replace Les Carlyon as the new Zeus? Will Tom Hyland become Hermes, the messenger of the gods? Should all correspondence intended for these three be addressed to Mount Olympus?


Friday, August 07, 2009


Scott Taylor (left) and Dr Yashir, local Iraqi-Turkoman leader (right). In 2005 Taylor went back to Talafar, Iraq after being held hostage in 2004 to retrace his steps for a Canadian TV documentary. Photo by Sasha Uzunov


My colleague, Canadian journalist and war reporter Scott Taylor was speaking on CNN's Larry King show about his experiences as a hostage in Talafar, Iraq in 2004.

I went with Taylor to Iraq in 2005 when he was retracing his steps for a Canadian TV documentary.

King did a story about the 2 journalists recently held in North Korea and released after the intervention of ex-US President Bill Clinton

Here's the link:

Larry king ( Freed Journalists are Reunited with their Families ) AWESOME !!! 8-5-09.
The 2 journalists Larua Ling and Euna Lee who were held hostage in North Korea for nearly 5 months were freed and now reuniting with their families. Thanks to the Obama administration, Al Gore, the state dept. and the brilliant diplomacy of former President Bill Clinton. AWESOME !! AWESOME !!! Part -- 2 of 3

Taylor's book
Douglas & McIntyre
Unembedded: Two Decades of Maverick War Reporting
Scott Taylor
from Chapter 9: Among the Mujahedeen
On June 16, 2005, I received a telephone call from Zeynep Tugrul asking me to have a look at the photograph on the front page of the International Herald Tribune. In the photograph, four Iraqi men, identified as insurgent suspects captured in the city of Tal Afar, were huddled together in the back of an American vehicle. The individual on the left of the photograph—even with B-5 scrawled on his forehead in grease pencil—was instantly recognizable as one of the mujahedeen who had beaten me during my captivity the previous September.
On the morning of June 18, I was still trying to figure out whom to provide with this information when I received a phone call from Major Gary Dangerfield of the U.S. 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tal Afar, inviting me to make an “all-expenses-paid visit” back to Iraq. As a result of the regiment’s commanding officer having read my book Among the Others: Encounters with theForgotten Turkmen of Iraq, I was being asked to come and provide a briefing to the 3rd Armored Cavalry. After accepting the proposal and being assured that I would have “more fucking protection than the president,” I pointed out to Dangerfield that his regiment had arrested one of my tormentors.
Although he was aware of my having been taken hostage, Dangerfield was not aware that prisoner B-5 had been involved. As a result, B-5 was relocated and isolated from the other prisoners until I could arrive to give a 100 per cent identification and statement. True to their word, the Americans sent a Black Hawk helicopter and an Apache gunship to pick us up at the Iraq-Turkey border. Sasha Uzunov had agreed to accompany me on this trip, and Stefan Nitoslawski was filming the entire venture for a cbc documentary entitled Targets: Reporters in Iraq. I had already signed a contract and begun participating in Targets before receiving the call from Dangerfield. The producers had wanted me to venture to Iraq on my own for the movie, but after two sleepless nights of anxiety at the prospect I told them I could not do it. I was prepared to travel right up to the border but not beyond it.
... the confusion at the Iraq-Turkey border when we had shown up at the American military office and said we were expecting a helicopter pickup. The U.S. soldiers had been amused and had explained that American helicopters were not authorized to operate in this airspace. Their smugness had turned to awe when an Apache suddenly swept in over the border checkpoint, and a Black Hawk landed at a nearby soccer field. There were plenty of curious stares from the Kurdish and Turkish border guards as Sasha, Stefan and I strutted out to the Black Hawk, carrying a briefcase and camera bags.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Overland hypocrisy on terror raids

By Sasha Uzunov

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland is on the warpath over the publication of a story in The Australian newspaper on 4 August 2009 hours before a major raid on suspected Melbourne based terrorists who allegedly planned to attack Holsworthy Army Barracks in Sydney. . He has claimed that the leaked story had placed his officers in danger.

But the Chief Commissioner’s anger, or more like a case of protesting too much, is misplaced. The reporter of the article is Cameron Stewart, a well respected journalist and who according to his website profile is a former “spook” with the super secret Defence Signals Directorate (DSD).,25197,22653583-5014045,00.html

I am sure that Stewart would realise the magnitude of his story and I would personally as a journalist trust his news sense in running the story.,25197,25879554-601,00.html

The story was given the go-ahead by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), of which Commissioner Overland once served with.

If any blame is to be apportioned perhaps the Chief Commissioner should realise that the media is a double edged sword. Leaks usually occur for a number of reasons. Governments or the opposition release information in advance to test the waters. If the reaction is unfavorable, then the information is disowned.

To put it simply Commissioner Overland cannot have his cake and eat it too. Last month a “leaked” Office of Police Integrity (OPI) report was published in The Australian newspaper by Stewart which alleged a “shoot to kill culture” within the Victoria Police. It was noticeable that the Chief Commissioner did not jump up and down and condemn the leak but used it for political mileage.

The Australian newspaper story ran on July 13 2009 titled 'No Tasers' for deadly police, by Stewart quoted a soon to be released report from the Victorian Office of Police Integrity (OPI),25197,25770795-5006785,00.html

There is a long running battle between the watchdog OPI and the Victorian Police Association, the union, over the introduction of the Taser Gun. The Victorian Police Commissioner Simon Overland is opposed to the non-lethal weapon being handed out to all police.

Senior Sergeant Davies of the Victorian Police Association quite rightly has expressed skepticism at the leaked OPI report.“We do have some issues with the fact that reports are released-leaked from the OPI and then nobody butters up to answer questions about it," he said.

More to this story can be found at my article SHOOTING FROM THE LIP ,


Tuesday, August 04, 2009


News that Holsworthy Army Barracks, Sydney, Australia was about to come under terrorist attack but plot foiled by the Australian security services and police forces... see link

Read my 2006 artice in the Herald Sun newspaper which touches on the subject.

There are still 2 high powered sniper rifles that were stolen from Holsworthy Barracks in 1999 that have never been recovered. read,21985,20979777-5006029,00.html

"Army finds a smoking gun"
Herald Sun newspaper
Sasha Uzunov
December 28, 2006

SASHA Uzunov writes: AN ASIO investigation into Defence Force security follows reports of stolen weapons falling into the hands of drug dealers, hardened criminals and terrorists.

There are fears criminals have obtained shoulder-fired 66mm rocket launchers, which the Australian Army will now restrict to specifically authorised operations.

Couple this with the Private Jake Kovco scandal and our frontline troops in Iraq receiving inadequate equipment.

More scandals are likely to follow as the decades of damage done to the Defence Force by desk warriors comes to the surface.

Desk warriors are the highly paid experts with no hands-on military experience who have created the mess within the Defence Department.

The irony is that these powerful people label those who investigate them as loose cannons or trouble-makers.

But they are the ones who are creating dangerous mischief. The ordinary soldier on the frontline is now suffering because of inadequate equipment and the public is facing security concerns because of missing weapons.

Some media organisations are listening, but others appear to ignore what is happening.

If so-called medical experts are to be questioned as to whether they have medical training, why not defence bureaucrats?

I had experience with instances of stolen weapons when I was a soldier serving with an infantry unit based at Holsworthy Barracks in NSW.

Two sniper rifles were stolen from the unit in 1999.

In 2001, a soldier, who was a storeman at the barracks in Liverpool and suspected of taking the sniper rifles, was caught stealing a 9mm pistol.

Military police raided his home in the neighbouring suburb of Moorebank and found an enormous amount of missing equipment in his garage.

He was thrown out of the army. But the sniper rifles are still missing.

Other equipment, such as night-vision goggles, GPS, or global positioning systems, and firearms would regularly go missing from the unit.

Drug dealers, outlaw bikie gangs and even possible Middle-Eastern terrorists were under suspicion.

There was thought to be a racket to steal weapons from Holsworthy Barracks by supplying soldiers with drugs and then blackmailing them.

Another method was for young, attractive women of Middle-Eastern background to meet soldiers on internet dating sites.

Young soldiers, being young soldiers, would meet these women and take them back to barracks for sex.

The unit's commanding officer found out and banned women from being brought back to barracks.

In Darwin, bikie gangs obtained night-vision goggles from soldiers serving with 5/7 RAR in exchange for drugs.

For too long security at our army bases has been lax. And for too long desk warriors in the Defence Department have not been held to account.

I only hope the Australian public does not have to pay the price. Taxpayers have already had to foot the salaries of these experts.