29 April 2010

Fresh allegations of inappropriate behavior on board HMAS Success are investigated

Today the Australian Defence Force ("ADF") announced that it was investigating fresh allegations of a small number of incidents of "inappropriate behavior" involving members of the crew of HMAS Success.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said the alleged incidents occurred whilst members of the crew were ashore in Singapore from 23 - 24 April 2010. The allegations first surfaced to ADF leadership after they were initially reported to the ship's commanding officer on 28 April.

"In accordance with standard procedures, ADF Investigative Service ("ADFIS") is now conducting an investigation. Of course, we take any instances of inappropriate behavior seriously," said Air Chief Marshal Houston in an ADF press release.

The ADF press release is unclear regarding what exactly what type of "inappropriate behavior" has been alleged.

Incidents of sexual harassament on board the HMAS Success has been recently investigated by an Australian Senate inquiry. This blog has previously discussed this case here, here, here and here.

With respect to previous incidents of inappropriate behavior, ADF has made available to the public the instrument of appointment in the Commission of Inquiry into the HMAS Success on the alleged incidents of unacceptable behaviour involving sex betting. The 7 page ADF document, dated 9 March 2010, can be found here.

A report on the past incidents was due to be furnished to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade no later than Thursday, 18 March 2010, according to the recently released ADF instrument of appointment. An interim report can be found here. The final report is now expected to be issued by 30 June 2010.

A webpage has been setup by the Senate committee titled "Inquiry into an equity and diversity health check in the Royal Australian Navy - HMAS Success" which can be found here. The terms of reference for the Senate inquiry can be found here. According to the Senate Committee's webpage, it expects to be in a position to report to the full Senate on or about 2 September 2010.

The Acting Chief of the Navy, Rear Admiral Davyd Thomas, said Navy Policy supported the immediate reporting of the new incidents and sailors were encouraged to report any concerns.

"The matters subject to the ADFIS investigation were brought to the Commanding Officer's attention through proactive management action and are being dealt with appropriately," said Rear Admiral Thomas. He also noted that it is important to stress that these allegations are yet to be proven and the presumption of innocence applies.

ADF will not comment any further on the new alleged incidents until the ADFIS investigation is complete. But it is unclear how long that will take.

27 April 2010

Pam Murphy, wife of Audie Murphy and who cared for soldiers and Marines at Sepulveda VA hospital, passes away

As I was perusing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website I ran across this link on the passing of Pam Murphy who was the wife of Audie Murphy - the most decorated soldier in WWII.

For 35 years Pam Murphy, who worked for the VA, gave the VIP treatment to any soldier or Marine who walked into the Sepulveda VA hospital and care center. It has been said that no one in America could cut through the VA red tape like Mrs Murphy.

Mrs Murphy passed away peacefully in her sleep a couple of weeks ago at the age of 90.

What an extraordinary lady who helped so many veterans over the years.

26 April 2010

This week in Congress (26 April 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Senate Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Personnel, to receive testimony on military compensation and benefits, including special and incentive pays, in reivew of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2011, 1000 hours, SR-222 Russell Senate Office Building.

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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (26 April 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Parliament is in recess. Both the Senate and House will reconvene on 11 May 2010. There are still Committee hearings occurring this week during the recess but none involve issues pertaining to the subject matter of this blog.

High Court of Australia

The High Court next sits on 18 May 2010 in Canberra.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases involving the subject matter of this blog are being heard by the Full Court this week.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently has no scheduled sittings for 2010.

Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

19 April 2010

Congressional subpoenas issued regarding Fort Hood shooting

Last Friday I mentioned here that U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) was planning to issue subpoenas to the Department of Defense if it did not turn over documents relating to the Fort Hood shooting. Today, a press release from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, indicates that subpoenas have been issued to both the Department of Defense and to the Department of Justice.

The Congressional committee has waited five months for the Obama administration to turn over requested documentation but had no other option other than issuing the subpoenas. The Congressional subpoena to DoD can be found here and the DOJ here.

"The purpose of the Committee's investigation of the Fort Hood attack is to answer questions that are critical to our government's ability to counter homegrown terrorism," Senators Lieberman and Collins wrote in this covering letter which can be found here. "Given the warning signs of Major Nidal Malik Hasan's extremist radicalization and growing hostility toward the U.S. military and the United States in general, why was he not stopped before he took thirteen American lives, and how can we prevent such a tragedy from happening again? In order to answer those questions, we must assess the information the U.S. Goverment had prior to the attack and the action it took in response to that information."

DoD and DOJ must respond to the subpoenas by Monday, 26 April 2010 at 1000 hours.

ABC Media Watch segment on press access to military

Tonight ABC's Media Watch had a segment titled "Media Access and Afghanistan." The transcript can be retrieved here. It is an interesting piece concerning the lack of freedom of information coming from the Australian Defence Force when Australian media places Freedom of Information Act requests and the limited access given to Aussie journalists.

Whilst I found the segment interesting, I must state that my experience in FOIA shows that the ADF responds much more quicker and tends to release more information than America's Department of Defense. (Perhaps this has changed under the Obama administration as I did many FOIA requests during the G W Bush administration, which were routinely denied by claims of an exemption or languished for months with no response until a FOIA lawsuit was filed.) Though it would seem, that American journalists are given more access to troops versus Aussie journalists in instances concerning embedding reporters with troops in the theatre of conflict in Afgahnistan.

Minister for Defence Senator John Faulkner (ALP-NSW) recently gave an address at the National Press Club in Canberra concerning media access. Senator Faulkner's speech can be found here.

Veterans Affairs announces $200,000 for projects honouring Aussie veterans

Today Minister for Veterans' Affairs Alan Griffin announced approximately $200,000 in funding for projects to honour Australian servicemen and women.

"Saluting Their Service grants help communities build and maintain memorial, capture the wartime history of their towns and preserve memorabilia for future generations," said Mr Griffin.

For a list of who received the grants go here.

Transcript of ADF Strategic Reform Program media rountable available

The transcript of last week's media roundtable on the Australian Defence Force's Strategic Reform Program is available here.

This week in Congress (19 April 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, to receive testimony on implementation of the requirement to provide a medical examination before separating members diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and the capacity of the Department of Defense to provide care to PTSD cases, 1730 hours, B-318 Rayburn House Office Building.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Oversight Hearing: Implementation of the New Post-9/11 GI Bill - Looking Back and Moving Forward, 0930 hours, 418 Russell Senate Office Building.

House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, to receive testimony on Defense Health Program, 1330 hours, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.


Thursday, 22 April 2010

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Examining VA's Fiduciary Program: How Can VA Better Protect Vulnerable Veterans and Their Families?, 1400 hours, 334 Cannon House Office Building.
To view the live webcast of the hearing go here.

Friday, 23 April 2010

House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, to receive testimony on military resale and morale, welfare and recreation overview, 1000 hours, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.

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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

18 April 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (19 April 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Parliament is in recess. Both the Senate and House will reconvene on 11 May 2010, but there are still Committee hearings occurring this week during the recess but none involve issues pertaining to the subject matter of this blog.

High Court of Australia

The High Court hears special leave applications in Sydney on 23 April 2010. None of the cases that will be heard next involve matters pertaining to the subject matter of this blog.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases involving the subject matter of this blog are being heard by the Full Court this week.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently has no scheduled sittings for 2010.

Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

16 April 2010

Senators Lieberman and Collins to subpoena documents on Fort Hood shooting

According to a press release issued today by Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who is Chairman of the U.S. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, subpoenas will be issued to the Department of Defense to gain information regarding the Fort Hood shooting. Senator Lieberman's press release can be found here. A Committee press release can be found here.

12 April 2010

US Dep't of Veterans' Affairs releases draft Gulf War Task Force Report; seeking public comment

The U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs has released a draft of the Gulf War Task Force Report. The 95 page draft report can be found here. This draft report addresses the concerns of veterans who deployed during the Gulf War in 1990-91.

Some of the improvements include the VA reconnecting with veterans from the 1990-91 Gulf War, strengthen the training of clinicians and claims processors, and re-energize its research efforts. VA will also proactively strengthen partnerships and medical surveillance to address the potential health impacts on veterans from the environmental exposures on today's battlefields.

The mission of VA’s Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force is to identify both gaps in services as well as opportunities to better serve Veterans of the Gulf War. Of the almost 700,000 service members who deployed to Operation Desert Shield in 1990 and Operation Desert Storm in 1991, more than 300,000 have filed disability claims and over 85 percent have been granted service connection for at least one condition.

The Chairman of the Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force is John R. Gingrich, Chief of Staff at VA, a retired Army officer who also served during the Gulf War.

“Reaching out to Gulf War Veterans is not only essential to our transformation of VA, for many of us it is also personal,” said Gingrich. “Having commanded troops in the Gulf War, and then knowing that some of these brave men and women have fallen to mysterious illnesses has been both a frustrating and saddening experience. We now have an opportunity to do something about this situation -- with this Task Force, I know that we will improve the care and services these Veterans have earned.”

VA’s Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force recommendations build on the excellent work and findings of The Gulf War Veterans Illnesses Advisory Committee, VA Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses, the interagency Deployment Health Working Group, and other related sources. Some of the Task Force’s recommendations include:
  • Improve data sharing with Department of Defense to notify Veterans of potential exposures, monitor their long-term health and inform them about decisions regarding additional follow up.
  • Improve the delivery of benefits to Veterans with Gulf War-related disabilities by: Reviewing and, if necessary, updating regulations affecting Gulf War Veterans.
  • Expanding training for VBA examiners on how to administer disability claims with multiple known toxin exposure incidents.
  • Improve VA healthcare for Veterans through a new model of interdisciplinary health education and training.
  • Increase number of long-term, Veteran-focused studies of Veterans to enhance the quality of care VA provides.
  • Transition from reactive to proactive medical surveillance to help better manage Veterans’ potential hazardous exposures.
  • Find new treatments for Gulf War Veterans through new research.
  • Enhance outreach to provide information and guidance to Veterans about benefits and services available to them for injuries/illnesses associated with Gulf War service.
The VA is seeking public comments on the draft written report before final publication. The public notice will be posted at www.Regulations.gov, and the draft written report will be open for comment for thirty (30) days. Comments may also be submitted via mail as described in the public notice. In addition, VA recognizes that a great number of Gulf War Veterans use a computer on a daily basis to socialize their issues and concerns, so VA has also created a public discussion board on the seven recommendations here.

This week in Congress (12 April 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, to receive testimony on Department of Defense Medical Centers of Excellence, 1630 hours, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, Status of Veterans Employment, 1300 hours, 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast of the hearing go here.

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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

10 April 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (12 April 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Parliament is in recess. Both the Senate and House will reconvene on 11 May 2010, but there are still Committee hearings occurring this week during the recess.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Senate and House Public Works Committee (Joint), Construction of housing for the Department of Defence at Muirhead, Darwin, NT, 1030 - 1200 hours, Lyons Community Centre, 25 Damabila Drive, Lyons, Northern Territory. The ADF made a submission for the hearing which can be viewed here. After the hearing a report will be made available and can be found here.

High Court of Australia

The High Court sits in Canberra on 13 April 2010. None of the cases that will be heard next week involve matters pertaining to the subject matter of this blog. To view the cases that will be heard go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases involving the subject matter of this blog are being heard by the Full Court this week.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently has no scheduled sittings for 2010.

Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

05 April 2010

This week in Congress (5 April 2010) - RECESS

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Both the House and Senate are in recess until 13 April 2010. No committee hearings which relate to military justice or veterans matters are occurring during this recess.
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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (5 April 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Parliament is in recess. Both the Senate and House will reconvene on 11 May 2010, but there are still Committee hearings occurring this week during the recess.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

House Petitions Committee, Inquiry into the work of the Petitions Committee, 0930 hours, Sydney. The terms of reference can be found here. A submission was made by Bernard Wright, Clerk of the House of Represenatives, which can be found here. The transcript of a hearing which occured last month can be found here. [Note: This hearing concerns petitions being filed in the House of Representatives, including the effectiveness and adequancy of the current process.]

Thursday, 8 April 2010


Senate and House Public Works Committee (Joint), Proposed construction of housing for the Department of Defence at Voyager Point, Liverpool, NSW, 1530 - 1700 hours, Revesby, New South Wales. Defence Housing Australia has made an 87 page submission which can be viewed here.

High Court of Australia

The High Court next sits in Canberra on 13 April 2010. None of the cases that will be heard next week involve matters pertaining to the subject matter of this blog. To view the cases that will be heard go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases involving the subject matter of this blog are being heard by the Full Court this week.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently has no scheduled sittings for 2010.

Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

01 April 2010

Secretary of Army John McHugh's statement on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"; 3 soldiers asked, and told

Today U.S. Secretary of the Army John McHugh made a statement concerning his comments to reporters yesterday about the Don't Ask, Don't Tell, or DADT, policy and of three soldiers that were asked and told.

"While President Obama has asked Congress to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, it is and remains the law of the land. As I have testified before Congress and Secretary Gates has made clear, the Department of the Defense will continue to apply the law, as we are obligated to do," said McHugh.

But McHugh indicated that "with regard to the three soldiers who shared their views and thoughts with me on Don't Ask Don't Tell, I might better have counseled them that statements about their sexual orientation could not be treated as confidential and could result in their separation under the law. Because of the informal and random manner in which these engagements occurred, I am unable to identify these soldiers and I am not in a position to formally pursue the matter."

The Department of Defense has set up a work group to review the DADT policy. I have previously discussed that here. "The working group is likely to utilize a third party from outside of the department to solicit these views so soldiers can speak candidly and without fear of separation. I urge every soldier to share his or her views and suggestions on this important issue through this channel. This is the appropriate way to do so," McHugh said in a press release.