A small win against the Chief of Defence Force

I am pleased to report a small win against the Chief of Defence Force, General David Hurley.

In late February, General Hurley decided that he was going give effect to his decision to terminate my commission before a full review of this decision could take place. He was upset by the fact that I had continued to highlight the double standards within the military and that he was seeking to terminate my commission because I had publicly expressed my Catholic faith.

For example, he told me that this press release posed an unacceptable risk to discipline, morale and the reputation of the Army. I’m inclined to agree with him. Terminating the commission of Christian officers is not good PR for the military and it doesn’t sit well with the soldiers.

But I did notice that General Hurley’s letter did not dispute the facts as I outlined them. He just got all huffy because I was letting the public know what was happening under his command. And, of course, General Hurley can’t really get upset at officers expressing views about the ADF hierarchy since he stated last year that Lieutenant Colonel Paul Morgan would not be disciplined for going on national television, in full uniform, to complain that the entire hierachy of the military does not care about its soldiers. I’m still trying to work out if General Hurley let Morgan off the hook because he was right, or because he was openly homosexual. At this point in time, I’m inclined to think that it’s a bit of both.

Anway, these are the concluding words that General Hurley sent to me on 24 February, which I received on 28 February:

“I propose to direct that the termination of your service is to become effective 14 days from the date of this Minute. You have seven days from the date of receipt of this Minute, or from the time that you are advised of the content of this Minute, in which to provide any material you wish me to take into consideration before I make a final decision concerning your termination date.”

So I did just that.

And on 7 March, I wrote to the Chief of Defence Force and informed him that there was a penalty of up to three months jail for any officer who sought to prevent a Defence member from having a decision reviewed. I also let General Hurley know that his inclination to terminate my commission before his decision was reviewed was pretty much just that: a jailable offence against Defence Force Regulations (1952).

Clink, clink.

You can find that law right here.

Not surprisingly, General Hurley has now backed down.

And on Friday, the military informed me that General Hurley’s letter was no longer under investigation because it was ‘only a proposal’.

I’m not used to receiving proposals from the highest-ranked military officer in the land. And normally, when people do propose something to me, it involves a bit of give on their part and a bit of take on mine. Considering General Hurley’s ‘proposal’ involved him telling me that he was planning to terminate my commission on 10 March, 2014, unless I provided some reason why he should not, it felt like it was all give on my part and all take on his. That means his letter doesn’t fall into the idea of proposals, as they are normally understood.

But now it appears that General Hurley’s decision to terminate my commission will be fully reviewed by the internal machinations of the Australian Defence Force.

That’s good news. It’s small win, but a win nonetheless.

The not-so-good news is that this means the Chief of Army is now looking into his boss’s decision. There’s a small problem with bias there. In the normal course of events, subordinates are not put into the uncomfortable position of being asked to review the decisions of their superiors.

Of even more concern is the fact that it was the Chief of Army who originally wrote to the Chief of Defence Force to suggest that my commission be removed.

Again, it’s hard to see how there can be an unbiased review process when the bloke who kickstarted administrative action to terminate my commission is now the judge over whether that termination notice is lawful or not. And considering that Lieutenant General David Morrison’s suggestion that my commission be terminated was based on his incorrect assumption that I had broken service law, I have no confidence whatsoever that he has the ability to make an objective or correct decision when reviewing my situation.

As a reminder to the Chief of Army, his May 2013 Notice to Show Cause against me made mention on at least 10 occasions that I could reasonably be held to have breached military law. The Director of Military Prosecutions, who is the judge of what can reasonably be held to have breached service law, begged to differ. That’s a little embarrassing. And not for me. The Chief of Army is the one who rushed to judge me as guilty before the military’s disciplinary process found that I had no case to answer.

And that’s not the end of it. The Defence Force Investigative Service found way back in March 2013 that charges against me would fail. That was before they were even laid. Charges fail because the person in question is innocent, or because evidence cannot be found to prove a case. Considering that I have been upfront and honest in all my dealings with the chain of command, in my case the whole story is pretty much that I am innocent. And that’s also the end of the story.

That is why I have requested that this entire saga be placed in the hands of the only person who can make an objective decision: the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).

By law, the power to remove commissions rests with him. And he is the only person who is not subordinate to the Chief of Defence Force. If the hierarchy is interested in justice, rather than pursuing political objectives, it will refer the matter of my commission to Sir Peter Cosgrove.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of nine children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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  1. Someone needs to commission a study to determine how many of the ADF’s top brass are themselves involved in buggery, and how many are freemasons. When Father Luigi Vila was commissioned to conduct a similar investigation within the Roman Curia and College of Cardinals (initiated by his good friend Padre Pio of San Giovanni Rotondo), the findings were very disturbing. No-one would have believed Father Vila 50 years ago (despite his meticulous documentation with accompanying photography), but now that we have seen the devastation they wrought, it’s clear that he was not exaggerating the scale of the problem.

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  2. Bernard as a Vietnam Veteran and one that once wore the uniform with pride I can tell you that there is no way today I would ever again volunteer and serve under the likes of both Lt General David Morrison or General David Hurley.
    I can not find the words to describe how I feel about these two that I feel have put shit on the uniform that I once wore with pride.
    Army Standing Orders clearly states that the uniform is not to be used for political or private purposes yet the pair of them have gone against these orders and given consent for it to be paraded in the Sydney Mardi Gras, for this alone they should both be stript of their commission and thrown out of the army.
    The irony of it all is the fact that they want to strip you of your commission and thrown you out because you have a religious belief and wish to uphold Army Standing Orders.
    These pair of hypocritical wimps are a bloody disgrace to the uniform that I was once proud of.
    You have my permission to forward my thoughts to the pair of them. You may also inform them I am not a Catholic but I support you 100% in your rights to your beliefs, after all you are not parading your beliefs in the Mardi Gras as these pair are.
    Keep up the good work cobber, Angus Mackay.,

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  3. Bernard,

    Whilst I don’t always agree with everything you say, I respect your right to. I have been following you for some time and your case against the CDF and CA is very interesting (to say the least). The way that the upper echelons of the SLG (Senior Leadership Group) have attempted to railroad you towards termination of your commission is unfortunate to see. In my own personal opinion, I see that DEFGLIS has hijacked the conversation and made it political which should never be Defences stance. Regardless of what it stands for, it shouldn’t be allowed anymore than any other interest group within Defence – let alone be given “pole position” in the agenda, just to score “browny points” with sections of society. Yes, I understand that the service chiefs are under pressure to keep recruiting levels high, however, this shouldn’t come at the cost of polarizing the existing serving members.

    I believe that the pressure from certain elements in society has caused the CDF and CA to kowtow in order to “keep the peace” and to be “seen to do the right thing”. All well and good, but they then can’t (cherry) pick-and-choose what they feel like at a whim. If they want to allow DEFGLIS a voice in Defence, then OK, so be it. They then can’t turn around and deny others a similar voice (DEFCAN) just because it isn’t the conversation that has every right to critique DEFGLIS (rightly or wrongly).

    The problem was opening the flood gates in the first place. Whilst it would have been political (and military) suicide to ban DEFGLIS and apply the broad brush of “No Comments Allowed” from anyone in uniform, the sheer fact that the CDF stated that LTCOL Morgan wouldn’t face disciplinary action for speaking out simply set a precedent. I briefly met LTCOL Morgan (then a MAJ) in 2005/06 in Baghdad and he came across as a very professional and upstanding gentleman – I am sure he is still of this disposition. I respect and support his right to speak out – provided it also applies across the board.

    I am NOT against the members of DEFGLIS (although I do not agree with them) and I definitely DO NOT condone the way that LTCOL Morgan was treated by members within Defence. My beef is that the CDF and CA are doing an “about face” when Bernard here is pointing out the INCONSISTENCIES in their logic. The CDF and CA can’t have it both ways, regardless of the conversation. It’s either one-in, ALL IN, not cherry picking the political conversation in what seems to be the prevailing winds of society.

    If the CDF supports DEFGLIS, then DEFCAN should also be supported. If DEFCAN is supported, then what other group should also be allowed? The flood gates are open.

    Good Luck Bernard.

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    • Hi Roger – thanks for your comment. I agree mostly with your position. DEFGLIS did not need to be given approval to command uniformed soldiers at the Mardi Gras. Soldiers could already attend this event, provided they kept to the same rules that everyone else must play by: political activity can be done, but only as a private citizen, not as a Defence member in uniform. Giving approval to DEFGLIS has opened the floodgates. And as I pointed out to Defence when advising them of DEFCAN, I expect to receive the same permission given to DEFGLIS, even though DEFCAN’s favoured position is that Defence return to its previous policy of prohibiting uniformed political activity.

      I would also love to see the recruiting/retention figures, but the anecdotal response I have received certainly raises questions about the wisdom of this support given by the hierarchy. There are a lot of unhappy soldiers and a lot of parents who now are unhappy at the thought of their children in the military. By the way, I am very concerned about this – I have had a very good career in the Army (for the most part) and I certainly think good people of conservative persuasion should join the military, if for no other reason than to prevent it being totally hi-jacked by a rampant secularist, atheistic bunch of progressives without any concept of just war theory.

      Finally, I do not support threats against anyone and if the facts (as I understand them) regarding LTCOL Morgan are correct, then there was (and maybe still is) a problem with some individuals. However, I have also been led to believe that a number of people who were not involved in threatening activity that were affected. And I do note that as he was complainging on national television about how hard it was to be homosexual in the military, the military had already told me I could not parade – and this was before I had spoken publicly about anything in regards to Defence. I had simply said that I did not want homosexuals to teach my children.

      I will agree with Morgan on one point though. The military’s review process is a failure.

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      • Bernard,

        Thank you publishing my comment and also for taking the time to reply – it is appreciated. Yes you best summed it up – the review process is a failure. The CDF and CA can’t have it both ways and then hide behind their rank or pontificate on specific “straw man” arguments. I am well aware of how “military justice” works against outspoken individuals. I’ve even had to mildly rebuke junior soldiers for chatting to the media in uniform (circa 1990’s – a regional local paper, where they were referring to defence spending cuts after a reporter bought them two cases of beer – “cans for comment” if you will, so barely worth a mention). The rule still applies though from soldiers through to the CDF, uniformed members should not take a political stance.

        LTCOL Morgans (uniformed) media presence effectively “forced the hand” of the CDF as he knew what the backlash (media, political, recruitment..oh and career wise) would be if he disciplined LTCOL Morgan. I acknowledge the LTCOLs personal need to go public, however, I believe it was wrong (in a military sense) and he should have been disciplined (regardless of his sexual preference).

        Now that you have (correctly) pointed out the hypocrisy of the review process (gay man pipes up – OK. Straight conservative pipes up –umm..not OK), this leaves both the CDF and CA in a bit of a conundrum. Especially now that it has been found that you haven’t committed a service offence. I understand that one opinion is “the umpires decision is final”, however, the military doesn’t quite work that way.

        It disappoints me to see you treated the manner in which you have been for airing your views in the correct (authorised) manner. I would also like to say the same for LTCOL Morgan – albeit he should have done it as a private citizen. As I see it, this isn’t about your lifestyle views or LTCOL Morgans (granted this is your blog and I respect your right to champion it), this is about Defences ludicrous handling and double standards on the matter. All because that DEFGLIS seems to be the “flavour of the year”. Again, I respect everyone’s personal lifestyle decisions – I may not agree with them though. I definitely DO NOT respect DEFGLIS using Defence as a political soapbox. – that’s my beef.

        Indulge me if you will. Both appointees (CDF and CA) will have (conveniently) departed the ADF, post June 2014 – a few weeks from now (8 May 2014). As such, do you think that CDF might try to shoot first (terminate your commission) and ask questions later (let the new guy sort it out)? Maybe he will just leave it in his “in tray” aka too-hard-basket.

        Also do you think that their incumbents will try to suppress DEFCAN or apply a bit of rigorous pragmatism to the debate and accept it on the same equal footing at DEFGLIS? A common tenet amongst new service chiefs is the old adage of “..that was before my time”. Could DEFCAN also be shelved for the time being until the new CDF spreads his wings? (no pun intended given his background). I can’t see the political winds changing too soon though.

        I did work with/for LTGEN Campbell (quite) a few years ago and he was the consummate professional then and a ruthless pragmatist. Granted that was before he made red tab status (full Colonel for the readers), so as my old peers advise me now, once you make red tab, it’s all political from there on up. Unless LTGEN Campbell is looking to be the Governor General (GG) in 15-20 years time (doing a Jeffrey or a Cosgrove), it will be interesting to see how he plays his cards as CA. Of course the aim of every CA should be doing what’s best for Army – a service first ethos (should being the key word here). Unfortunately I think that a different drum might be playing once he steps into the job – and not of his choosing. LTGEN Campbell is obviously driven and if his prize is GG down the track, then the prevailing winds in society these days points to more “soap box” style groups garnering (even) more political clout. This is at the expense of a fighting force that (when it boils down to it) is designed to “kill and capture the enemy”…. These days with the ADF media unit churning out recruitment ads watering down the violence of what is essentially the role of a country’s defence force, it beggars belief that people join, not fully understanding the ramifications of what it is the ADF does..it kills. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.

        I personally would like to see DEFCAN get up, in so much as it at least shows that there are no double standards in these matters and it also gives you a legitimate platform to voice your concerns. If it doesn’t, I am hoping you go to the Mainstream Media (MSM) and cry foul. What I do know is that serving members have their views on DEFGLIS (rightly or wrongly), however, as they all have mortgages to pay/mouths to feed, no one dares speak out less they draw the ire of the military hierarchy and unleash the Internet Kraken aka social media.

        I’ll be following closely the outcome of DEFCAN.

        Thanks for your time and I respect your right to blog on these matters.


    • Say what you like Roger but the fact remains that both CDF CA are a pair of bloody whimps and there is no way I would today ever join the army again and follow the like of them into battle.

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  4. that’s a slap in the face for the transvestite . well done

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  5. Hi Mate, I Salute you and your courage to take on the “Brass”. It is bad enough to be fighting an external enemy but to have to be fighting the enemy within is unthinkable. I believe in you and your cause and I pray for an outcome that is right and just.

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  6. Makes me think about appealing my termination in 2008. I was rail roaded out after being found innocent of any wrong doings. Didnt think to go to the GG.

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