27 January 2011

AP reports U.S. Air Force court-martial convicts a Chief Master Sgt of numerous counts of sexual misconduct

The Associated Press reports in this San Diego Union Tribune article that U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant William Gurney - a 27 year Air Force veteran - was found guilty by a six member court-martial panel of two counts of sexual misconduct. He was acquitted on three counts. On Monday, Gurney had pleaded guilty to 13 counts of sexual misconduct and adultery.

Gurney had previously served as the senior enlisted man at the Air Force Materiel Command which is headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He was defended by detailed military defense counsel in a general court-martial held at Scott Air Force Base in Ill. The military judge dismissed an obstruction of justice charge on the grounds that the Government failed to state a claim.

A sentence of 16 and half years imprisonment and a possible dishonorable discharge is what Gurney could receive when he is sentenced tomorrow.

25 January 2011

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!


Happy Australia Day! Today is my 4th Australia Day living in Sydney - I so love our great country.

The 2011 Australia Day Honours List can be found here.

22 January 2011

Washington Post: Lawyer for WikiLeaks Army figure alleges mistreatment

The WaPo is running this article today on U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning indicating that his lawyer has alleged his pretrial confinement at the U.S. Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia amounts to a violation of Article 13 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

This week in Congress (24 January 2011)

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 and in Commissions:

Monday, 24 January 2011

Commission on Wartime Contracting, hearing on recurring problems in Afghan construction, 0930 hours, room 216, Hart Senate Office Building.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

House Armed Services Committee, hearing on DOD Efficiencies, 1000 hours, room 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Senate Armed Services Committee, to receive testimony on the results of the investigation by the Department of Defense and the Department of Air Force into the release of proprietary date in the KC - X competition, 0930 hours, room SD-G50, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (24 January 2011)

[SLOW WEEK]

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 until 8 February 2011 and there are Committee hearings scheduled this week in Parliament but none of which relate to the subject matter of this blog.

High Court of Australia

The High Court is in recess until 31 January 2011 and on that day there will be only a ceremonial sitting in Canberra.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases this week that involve matters pertaining to this blog.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal next sits on 17 and 18 March 2011.


Veterans' Review Board


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

Australia awards SAS digger the Victoria Cross


Today the Commonwealth of Australia has awarded the Victoria Cross to Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, aged 32, in a special ceremony in Perth. An Australian Associated Press report, which appears in today's Sydney Morning Herald, can be found here.

There are just three living VC recipients: Keith Payne VC, Mark Donaldson VC and now Corporal Robert-Smith VC, MG.

Corporal Roberts-Smith is now Australia's most decorated member of the Australian Defence Force currently serving on active duty. In 2006 he was awarded the Medal for Gallantry.

Below are his VC and MG citations which can also be found on the ADF website here:


Australian Army


Awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia

Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, VC, MG

Citation

For the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril as Patrol Second-in-Command, Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.

Corporal Benjamin Roberts Smith enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 1996. After completing the requisite courses, he was posted the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment where he saw active service in East Timor. In January 2003, he successfully completed the Australian Special Air Service Regiment Selection Course.

During his tenure with the Regiment, he deployed on Operation VALIANT, SLATE, SLIPPER, CATALYST and SLIPPER II. Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his actions in Afghanistan in 2006.

On the 11th June 2010, a troop of the Special Operations Task Group conducted a helicopter assault into Tizak, Kandahar Province, in order to capture or kill a senior Taliban commander.

Immediately upon the helicopter insertion, the troop was engaged by machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from multiple, dominating positions. Two soldiers were wounded in action and the troop was pinned down by fires from three machine guns in an elevated fortified position to the south of the village. Under the cover of close air support, suppressive small arms and machine gun fire, Corporal Roberts Smith and his patrol manoeuvred to within 70 metres of the enemy position in order to neutralise the enemy machine gun positions and regain the initiative.

Upon commencement of the assault, the patrol drew very heavy, intense, effective and sustained fire from the enemy position. Corporal Roberts Smith and his patrol members fought towards the enemy position until, at a range of 40 metres, the weight of fire prevented further movement forward. At this point, he identified the opportunity to exploit some cover provided by a small structure.

As he approached the structure, Corporal Roberts Smith identified an insurgent grenadier in the throes of engaging his patrol. Corporal Roberts Smith instinctively engaged the insurgent at point-blank range resulting in the death of the insurgent. With the members of his patrol still pinned down by the three enemy machine gun positions, he exposed his own position in order to draw fire away from his patrol, which enabled them to bring fire to bear against the enemy. His actions enabled his Patrol Commander to throw a grenade and silence one of the machine guns. Seizing the advantage, and demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry, Corporal Roberts Smith, with a total disregard for his own safety, stormed the enemy position killing the two remaining machine gunners.

His act of valour enabled his patrol to break-in to the enemy position and to lift the weight of fire from the remainder of the troop who had been pinned down by the machine gun fire. On seizing the fortified gun position, Corporal Roberts Smith then took the initiative again and continued to assault enemy positions in depth during which he and another patrol member engaged and killed further enemy. His acts of selfless valour directly enabled his troop to go on and clear the village of Tizak of Taliban. This decisive engagement subsequently caused the remainder of the Taliban in Shah Wali Kot District to retreat from the area.

Corporal Roberts Smith’s most conspicuous gallantry in a circumstance of extreme peril was instrumental to the seizure of the initiative and the success of the troop against a numerically superior enemy force. His valour was an inspiration to the soldiers with whom he fought alongside and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.


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Australian Army

Awarded the Medal for Gallantry

Lance Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith

Citation


For gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances as a patrol sniper in the Special Operations Task Group – Task Force 637, whilst deployed on Operation SLIPPER Rotation Three Afghanistan, May – September 2006.

On the night of 31st May 2006, Lance Corporal Roberts Smith was employed as a patrol scout and sniper in a patrol which was tasked with establishing an Observation Post near the Chora Pass in extremely rugged terrain overlooking an Anti Coalition Militia sanctuary. Early in the patrol, after an arduous ten hour foot infiltration up the side of a mountain, the patrol was required to coordinate offensive air support to assist a combined Special Operations Task Group and other Special Forces patrol who were in contact with the Anti Coalition Militia in the valley floor to their north. Following this engagement the patrol remained in the Observation Post to continue providing vital information on the Anti Coalition Militia in the area. This comprehensive reporting had a significant effect on shaping the local area for the subsequent coalition forces operation.

On the 2nd June, the Observation Post had become the focus of the Anti Coalition Militia force and repeated attempts to locate and surround the position ensued. In one particular incident the Militia attempted to outflank the Observation Post. Lance Corporal Roberts Smith was part of a two man team tasked to move out of their relatively secure Observation Post in order to locate and neutralise the Militia and regain the initiative. This task was successfully achieved.

In another incident, two Anti Coalition Militia attempted to attack the Observation Post from a different flank, Lance Corporal Roberts Smith again moved to support and neutralise one of these Militia. Lance Corporal Roberts Smith then realised that the forward edge of the Observation Post was not secure and made the decision to split the team and take up an exposed position forward of the patrol so he could effectively employ his sniper weapon. Whilst isolated, and in his precarious position, he observed a group of sixteen Anti Coalition Militia advancing across open ground towards the Observation Post. Lance Corporal Roberts Smith effectively employed his sniper rifle to stop their advance whilst receiving very accurate small arms fire from another group of Militia to his flank.

Through his efforts, Lance Corporal Roberts Smith maintained the initiative and ensured that his patrol remained secure by holding this position without support for twenty minutes. He was eventually reinforced by his original team member and together they continued to hold off the Militia advance for a further twenty minutes until offensive air support arrived.

Lance Corporal Roberts Smith’s actions on the 2nd June 2006, whilst under heavy Anti Coalition Militia fire and in a precarious position, threatened by a numerically superior force, are testament to his courage, tenacity and sense of duty to his patrol. His display of gallantry in disregarding his own personal safety in maintaining an exposed sniper position under sustained fire with a risk of being surrounded by the Anti Coalition Militia was outstanding. His actions, in order to safeguard his patrol, were of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of Special Operations Command Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

21 January 2011

Australian Army to deliver better communication system for diggers

Defence today signed a $69 million contract to deliver faster and more reliable communications on the battlefield.

Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare said the contract with Raytheon would provide more than 1000 radios, which will be mounted on Army vehicles, primarily Bushmasters and M113 armoured vehicles, and handheld portable radios to be carried by soldiers in the field; equipment needed to mount and operate the radios; and maintenance and support services for three years.

“These new radios will give frontline soldiers and the Commanders directing them instant information on where they are, where they need to be and what is happening around them,” Mr Clare said a press release today.

“Right now, the Army is using an older, analogue system which is fast becoming obsolete. It’s served our troops well, but it’s time to move the Army forward into the digital age. This new system will be faster and more reliable, allowing troops to communicate instantly with the central command post. It will help Commanders plan better by giving them more accurate and timely information about what is happening on the ground," he said.

20 January 2011

GAO releases report on costs associated with DoD's policy on gays in the military

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, or GAO, released this report today entitled "Personnel and Cost Data Associated With Implementing the DOD'S Homosexual Conduct Policy."

The report was originally requested by Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) who was chair of the House Armed Services' Subcommittee on Military Personnel in the last (111th Congress).

According to GAO’s analysis of Defense Manpower Data Center data, 3,664 servicemembers were separated under DoD’s homosexual conduct policy from fiscal years 2004 through 2009. Of the 3,664 separations, 1,458 of these separated servicemembers held a critical occupation or an important foreign language skill as determined by GAO and the services. More specifically, 1,442 (39 percent) of the servicemembers separated under the policy held critical occupations, such as infantryman and security forces, while 23 (less than 1 percent) of the servicemembers held skills in an important foreign language, such as Arabic or Spanish. Seven separated servicemembers held both a critical occupation and an important foreign language skill.

Using available Department of Defense, or DoD, cost data, GAO calculated that it cost DoD about $193.3 million ($52,800 per separation) in constant fiscal year 2009 dollars to separate and replace the 3,664 servicemembers separated under the homosexual conduct policy. This $193.3 million comprises $185.6 million in replacement costs and $7.7 million in administrative costs. The cost to recruit and train replacements amounted to about $185.6 million. In calculating these costs, GAO included variable costs, such as recruiting bonuses, and excluded fixed costs, such as salaries and buildings, to the extent possible because according to service officials there would likely be no significant increase in fixed costs when recruiting and training a relatively small number of replacement personnel.

The Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps provided GAO with administrative cost estimates; however, Navy officials explained that changes in separation processes from fiscal years 2004 through 2009 prevented them from providing an accurate administrative cost estimate in time for the data to be included in GAO’s analyses. Because the Navy did not provide these data, GAO’s calculation is an underestimation of DoD’s likely total administrative costs.

17 January 2011

Aussie veteran imposter pleads guilty

Australian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, welcomed the outcome of the case against veteran imposter Arthur Rex Crane handed down in the Brisbane District Court last month.

Back in October 2009 I wrote about Mr Crane, that post can be found here.

“Mr Crane has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Commonwealth and ordered to pay back more than $413,000 for falsely claiming he was a prisoner of the Japanese during the Second World War,” Mr Snowdon said.

Mr Crane has been sentenced to four years jail and can be released after serving six months upon entering a good behaviour bond for four years. He was also ordered to pay the Commonwealth more than $413,000 in falsely claimed pension.

“The Australian Government takes very seriously the recognition and respect of those who have served our country and has no tolerance for those who fraudulently claim that recognition,” Mr Snowdon said.

The DVA has a dedicated compliance section that investigates all suspected cases of fraudulent activity. Other ongoing measures that act as a deterrent are proof of identify checks, and departmentally initiated reviews. To report any incidents of fraud or if you suspect that a person is a veteran imposter you can report it to DVA here.

09 January 2011

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (10 January 2011)

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 until 8 February 2011 and thus there are no hearings scheduled this week in Parliament.

High Court of Australia

The High Court has a newly designed website for 2011 . . . check it out here. The new website looks cool.

The High Court is in recess until 31 January 2011 and on that day there will be only a ceremonial sitting in Canberra.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases this week that involve matters pertaining to this blog.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal next sits on 17 and 18 March 2011.


Veterans' Review Board


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

We're back to posting . . . Happy 2011!

After a much needed break . . . we're back to posting. Many things are going on both in Australia and the States concerning military justice and personnel issues that we'll be discussing in the upcoming weeks.