Tres galant. Men who wear the Medal for Gallantry have earned the right to be heard on Angus Campbell's death ban
1.courageous behavior, especially in battle."a medal awarded for outstanding gallantry during the raid"
synonyms: bravery, courage, courageousness, valor, pluck, pluckiness, nerve, daring, boldness, fearlessness, dauntlessness, intrepidity, heroism, mettle, grit, stoutheartedness; More
2.polite attention or respect given by men to women.
synonyms: chivalry, chivalrousness, gentlemanliness, courtesy, courteousness, politeness, good manners, attentiveness, graciousness, respectfulness, respect"she acknowledged his selfless gallantry"
When Justin Huggett learned of incoming defence chief Angus Campbell’s ban on death-style icons, he thought it was a hoax.
When Justin Huggett learned of incoming defence chief Angus Campbell’s ban on death-style iconography in the army, he thought it was such a farcical idea that it must have been a hoax.
“The decision you make, sir — that denigrates the morale of the enlisted — flows on and denigrates combat power,’’ Mr Huggett subsequently wrote in an open letter on Facebook to Lieutenant General Campbell.
“The fact you yourself are an infantry soldier, my head spins with confusion. But now I am just left wondering as to the levels of stupidity, that this order can be interpreted or enforced.”
General Campbell last week issued a minute to commanders banning symbols such as the Spartans and the grim reaper, skull and crossbones, and the Phantom or Punisher symbols, saying they were at odds with “army values and the ethical force we seek to build and sustain”.
The directive has been incorporated into the army dress code and is also thought to apply to displays by sections or units.
Having spent 14 years in the military, including a stint in Afghanistan where he earned the Medal of Gallantry for leading a counter-attack on a group of Taliban militants that had ambushed an Afghan army patrol, former sergeant Mr Huggett knows the value that such symbols can hold for Australian soldiers.
“There’s a lot of history with this. There’s the spirit and pride. I’ve had Vietnam veterans tell me about the emblems from Vietnam. This is a tradition that has been around for years. They are going to be lost to history,’’ Mr Huggett told The Australian yesterday.
Mr Huggett has highlighted some uncomfortable contradictions that the military’s top brass will be forced to confront as more and more soldiers take to social media to express their opposition to the ban. Photos were last night being circulated of posthumous Victoria Cross winner Cameron Baird, a commando who was killed in Afghanistan in 2013, going into battle in that country wearing face paint in a pattern associated with one of the now-banned death-style images known as the Punisher.
Mr Huggett said the Baird face-paint issue showed that the decision to implement the ban had not been properly thought through.
“How far do you go to enforce the ban on certain designs? It just shows the stupidity of it,’’ he said.
Mr Huggett went on to detail the numerous symbols used by various army groups, including his own former unit which appropriated the “beloved Mortar Platoon” that used the grim reaper as an emblem with the words “dealers in death”. And he noted other Australian units “proudly” displayed “the Immortals, the Rebels, the Body Snatchers, the Dirty Dozen and the Morticians”.
“Is Campbell going to ban every one of them,” he asked.
He also questioned whether there would be a ban on the infantry combat badge that General Campbell himself wore, “a badge based around the bayonet, the most feared and gruesome up-close-and-personal weapon on the battlefield”.
He said any respect General Campbell hoped to garner during his tenure as Chief of Defence “is gone with this terrible idea”.
And in a further indication of the difficulty in policing the ban, General Campbell’s own Twitter account on April 15 retweeted a congratulatory message to Duntroon cadets who had won a silver patch for navigation by night or day at a West Point competition in the US.
The tweet was accompanied by an image of the US patch, which is of a Spartans helmet pierced with a sword, under the heading “Sandhurst”.
General Campbell’s minute had specifically mentioned that Spartan imagery was considered militaristic. A Defence spokesman said death symbology demonstrated a general disregard for the army’s profession.