Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Taliban prisoner, Kandahar, Afghanistan, 2007. Photo by Sasha Uzunov.


by Sasha Uzunov

Could the recent mass break out of Taliban inmates from Kandahar prison in southern Afghanistan using a tunnel be a sign of something more sinister
and deadly to come? That is surprise attacks on NATO bases, causing many casualties.

The Guardian newspaper, UK, revealed in a report by Jon Boone, 25 April
2011 that:

"Afghan and Nato forces have launched a huge operation to try to recapture 475 prisoners, nearly all of them Taliban insurgents, who staged an
extraordinary mass prison breakout using a tunnel.

" Officials said the inmates had escaped through the tunnel, dug from a
house to the wing of the prison where political prisoners are detained in

"In an email, Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the tunnel was
1,050ft (320 metres) long and had taken five months to construct,
"bypassing enemy check posts and Kandahar-Kabul main highway leading
directly to the political prison".

"He said just three insurgents inside the prison had known about the plot.
They helped ferry the prisoners out of the jail in an operation lasting four
and a half hours."

If the Taliban can come and go as they like in and out of jail, what is to stop them from having a suicide team tunneling into a NATO base and causing
carnage as well as political embarrassment to NATO?

Canadian military expert Scott Taylor makes the following point about the
Kandahar NATO airfield:

"If they can tunnel into the prison, they could tunnel under the airfield
security fences as well.....As you know, all 27,000 NATO troops inside the
wire carry a weapon, but NONE of them carry live ammunition (only the
perimeter guards are fully armed)....a single Taliban suicide squad could do a lot of damage if they tunneled in..."


Obtain your DVD copy of TIMOR TOUR OF DUTY

go to the film link at:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

ANZAC DAY 2011 -Leslie Farren 5RAR

ANZAC DAY 2011 - This year will mark the 45th anniversary of the first National Serviceman / conscript from the state of Victoria, Australia to be killed in the Vietnam War on 10 June 1966...His name is Leslie Thomas Farren of Reservoir. Read his story.

He was killed 19 days short of his 21st Birthday by a Viet Cong mortar barrage.

A memorial plaque was unveiled in 2006, honouring Private Farren's sacrifice. The story was covered by the Herald Sun newspaper, the Preston Leader newspaper and Channel 9 news Melbourne (17 August 2006 by reporter Wayne Dyer) and Channel 7 news Melbourne (28 August 2006).

His 86 year old mother Lillian Farren was on hand to unveil the plaque. Sadly she passed away a few years ago.

Dr Frank Donovan, a well respected psychologist, author, former Western Australian Member of Parliament (ALP) was an Army medic in Vietnam and he nursed Private Farren during his last moments.

Mr Frank Donovan, 10 Platoon, D Coy Corporal Medic, the man who held Pte Les Farren as he died and uttered his last words...

"Don't let me die doc, don't let me die,"
he (Les) whispered.

source: 5RAR Association website:

A First Angry Shot Remembered

(The Melbourne Herald Sun, page 20)
by Sasha Uzunov
August 24, 2006 12:00am

Bank teller Les Farren did not live to hear Prime Minister John Howard's apology for the reception his mates received from a disillusioned public when they returned home from Vietnam.

This little-known soldier from the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir was the first Victorian National Serviceman to die in that controversial war.
But he will be remembered when his 86-year-old mother, Lillian Farren, unveils a plaque on Monday at the Reservoir Cenotaph.

Forty years after his death, Mrs Farren still grieves for her son. "It was awful to see Les go and never see him again", said Mrs Farren. This way he will be remembered."

Les was always in the shadow of another Melbourne suburbs boy when he went to Vietnam. The 1960s Australian pop legend, Normie Rowe, was one of his schoolmates at the Northcote High School before they were called up for Vietnam.

Les, two years older than Normie, was quietly spoken and looking forward to being an accountant in the suburbs. Normie, in the era of Beatlemania, was being mobbed by screaming hysterical teenage girls and had the music world at his feet.

But Vietnam changed their lives. Pte Leslie Thomas Farren was conscripted in 1965 and posted to 10 Platoon, Delta Company, 5th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Infantry Corps.

He was also a keen amateur photographer and the only son of Thomas and Lillian Farren.

On June 10, 1966, while on patrol in South Vietnam, Pte Farren was severely wounded by Viet Cong mortar fire. He was 19 days short of his 21st birthday. Cpl Frank Donovan was the army medic who tried to help Les.

"Les Farren actually died in my arms from massive lower body wounds," said Cpl Donovan. The extent of his wounds and loss of blood made survival impossible.

Trooper Norman J. Rowe got the call up in 1968 and went to Vietnam in 1969 with A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Armoured Corps.
He survived but it almost ended his musical career.

I took an interest in Les Farren after reading about him in a newspaper more than 15 years ago. I was surprised no one had acknowledged his service. Les was one of the unsung people who do their duty without fuss or fanfare.

Len Barlow, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia helped me to lobby Darebin Council for the commemorative plaque that will be unveiled by his mother.
To its credit, the council quickly approved the proposal.

Les Farren has not been forgotten but it has taken too long to acknowledge his service.

Following the Prime Minister's words on Vietnam Veterans Day last Friday, the sacrifice of these veterans' might now be better remembered.

Memorial Plaque Ceremony for Private Leslie Farren (10 Platoon, D Company, 5 RAR) First Victorian National Serviceman to be killed in Vietnam War on 10 June 1966.

MONDAY 28 August 2006, Reservoir Cenotaph, Reservoir, City of Darebin, Victoria.


Mr Bob Elworthy, President of the Victorian Branch, Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, speaking at the commemorative plaque ceremony for the first Victorian National Serviceman to be killed in Vietnam, Private Leslie T. Farren, D Company, 5 RAR. Date: 28 August 2006, marking the 40th anniversary of his death on 10 June 1966. Reservoir (City of Darebin), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Part of Mr Elworthy's moving speech:

Leslie Farren ... for he was young once and he was a soldier. Vietnam was his time and he did his duty ...
Lest We Forget.

(View the video clip Here- 1.2Mb).

Mr Frank Donovan, 10 Platoon, D Coy Corporal Medic, the man who held Pte Les Farren as he died and uttered his last words...

"Don't let me die doc, don't let me die," he (Les) whispered.
(View the video clip Here- 920Kb).

Bob Elworth President of the VVAA-Vic talking to 5RAR veterans'

Mr Frank Donovan who was the medic assisting Pte Farren

Pte Leslie Farren's mother at the dedication ceremony
Councillor Stanly Chiang Lays a wreath at the ceremony
The commemoration plaque to Private Leslie Farren

Sasha Usinov with the Plaque

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Politics of Procurement

Canadian journalist Scott Taylor's new doco about the F-35 fighter jet: The Politics of Procurement

Canada needs a new fleet of fighter jets to replace the decades’ old CF-18s, but which aircraft at what cost? The government has already decided that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the only one that can meet the military’s needs. The opposition is fighting the purchase because it's being made without a competition from aircraft makers. When completed the acquisition will be the largest military equipment purchase in Canadian history. Respected military journalist Scott Taylor will hear from all sides of the debate and gets exclusive access to some of the most advanced aerial fighter machines on the planet as he examines F-35: The Politics of Procurement.
SCOTT TAYLOR LOOKS AT THE F-35 To buy or not to buy? For Canadian defence, this has been key procurement question over the past year. And it’s caused a political firestorm on Parliament Hill and along the campaign trail.


The story TEAM UZUNOV reported 2 years ago, now back in the news...


There are those who strongly oppose it. Both sides present strong arguments. Women in combat will probably become a reality more by default than by a political commitment to equal opportunity or grandstanding.

read on...

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America, 1981-89

Was Reagan's policy of taking a gun to a gunfight the right one after all?

On Line Opinion: Australia's e-journal of social and political debate.

Was Reagan right?

By Sasha Uzunov - posted Thursday, 7 April 2011

As a teenager growing up in 1980s Australia, my generation was constantly bombarded by the media that the world was destined for nuclear holocaust because of the Cold War showdown between the United States and the Soviet Bloc. The then US President Ronald Reagan, a former B-grade Hollywood actor, was painted as a loopy politician who could not differentiate between reality and an old film script.

But with hindsight, was the 40th President of the United States (1981-89) correct in his handling of world events, namely the dismantling of Communism and confronting Middle East and North African “mad dog” leaders?

Teddy Roosevelt, US President from 1901-09, believed in “speak softly and carry a big stick” in foreign policy. But could we summarise Reagan’s doctrine as “speak loudly and carry a medium sized stick?”

Some have credited Reagan with “winning” the Cold War (1947-89) by draining the Soviet Union’s resources with his elaborate but science fiction Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), commonly known as “Star Wars.” Star Wars would see the US use satellites to block Soviet Nuclear missiles from hitting the US. In order to counter Star Wars the Soviets would have to spend billions in acquiring the technology.

In a 1983 speech with Biblical overtones, Reagan preached:

So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride - the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

Moreover, Reagan supported covert aid to Islamic resistance fighters or Holy War warriors (mujahaddin) in Afghanistan, which was invaded by the Soviets in 1979. The Soviet’s Afghan War lasted nearly a decade and finally ended when the reform minded Mikhail Gorbachev pulled the plug on a disastrous intervention.

The downside of US support to the mujahaddin was the inadvertent growth of Al Qaeda, now fighting a war by terror against Washington. America as well as its two allies, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, provided money, training and weapons to those groups whom later evolved into Al Qaeda.

Reagan came unto the political scene when an America was perceived as being impotent on the foreign stage, after the debacle of the Vietnam War (1962-72), the 1979 kidnapping of US diplomats in Iran during the Shiite Islamic revolution led by cleric the Ayatollah Khomeini, which overthrew the Shah, and the subsequent but failed US military attempt to save the diplomats.

To shake off the Vietnam syndrome, Reagan authorised the military invasion of neighbouring Caribbean island of Grenada in October 1983 to overthrow a ‘Marxist’ government aligned with arch nemesis Cuba, an ally of the Soviet Union.

No doubt the former actor would have appreciated how this was reflected in popular culture at the time. In a 1987 war movie, Heartbreak Ridge, Clint Eastwood plays US Marine Gunnery Sergeant Highway, who bemoans the fact he has a 0-1-1 record. That is one draw in Korea and a loss in Vietnam and would want to retire with one victory, Grenada, under his belt.

Days before Grenada, the President’s act tough foreign policy backfired when 241 US Marines were killed by a suicide bomber in Beirut, Lebanon. Despite pledging to stay on, Reagan later withdrew the troops. The spectre of body bags from an earlier Southeast Asian war would have played on his mind.

Pulitzer prize winning American journalist Steve Coll, in his book Ghost Wars, reveals that Ramzi Yousef, an Islamist terrorist, had “come to the conclusion that only extreme acts could change the minds of people and the policies of nations. He cited as one example the suicide bombing of the US Marine barracks in Lebanon.”

But behind the sledgehammer approach, Reagan had a subtle, cunning plan, bordering on the illegal. During his Presidency, the Ayatollah’s Iran and the Soviet Union were regarded as America’s main enemies.

So much so, that this, once again, permeated popular culture of the time. The World Wrestling Federation (WWF), professional wrestling shown on American and international television had an enormous following in the mid 1980s. To reflect the political currents, two bad guy characters appeared: The Iron Sheik and Nikolai “The Bolshevik” Volkov. The Iron Sheik wore traditional Persian pants and shoes and would wave the Iranian flag as he came to the ring. He would shout to the hostile crowd “Iran number one, America, haaak p-too (simulate spitting). “

Volkov would wave the Soviet communist flag of hammer and sickle and then sing the Soviet national anthem. Eventually, both bad guys would get their comeuppance when a “Corporal Kirchner” a Vietnam veteran would defeat them in the wrestling ring during pure ideological theatre.

But Reagan saw through the good guy, bad guy rhetoric. From 1980 to 88, the US gave covert aid to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as it waged a war with neighbouring Iran. In 1986, the Iran-Contra scandal came to light, when two US officials close to the White House, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and Admiral John Poindexter, were caught illegally selling arms to arch enemy Iran and using the proceeds to fund a covert war in central America. However, no direct link was ever established to Reagan and North and Poindexter’s subsequent criminal convictions were later overturned on appeal.

In the current crisis affecting Libya, the dictator Colonel Muammar Qaddafi is ruthlessly trying to put down a popular rebellion. Both the US and its allies have launched air strikes against the Qaddafi regime. At one time the Libyan strongman was a darling of the radical left in the west. But now is seen as a bad guy by these very same elements.

However back in 1986 in response to Libyan sponsored terrorism against US targets, Reagan bombed Qaddafi. Heexplained:

'Colonel Qaddafi is not only an enemy of the United States, his record of subversion and aggression against the neighboring states in Africa is well documented and well known. There is no security, no safety in the appeasement of evil.

'This mad dog of the Middle East has a goal of a world revolution... I find he's not only a barbarian, but he's flaky.'

Reagan’s doctrine of “talk loudly and carry a medium sized stick” was with hindsight the correct course of action in an imperfect world. Bearing in mind he had to shake off the shackles of Vietnam, avoid nuclear holocaust with the Soviets and navigate unchartered waters to deal with middle-east terrorism.