25 May 2008

Army Boots

Keeping with the military theme of the last post, here is one of those "are you kidding me" moments also known as a "WTF" moments. It bothers me that this is a story originating out of Australia. Not least because of its stupidity but because I have a brother who serves in Australia's armed services and I would think that my tax payer dollars that have been taken over the years have been spent on worthwhile things like comfortable and fit for purpose clothing for those people that serve our country while we wrap ourselves in the warm blanket of freedom!

The story goes like this! Australia's armed forces have said that soldiers serving in combat zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan, or Timor Leste are permitted to buy their own combat boots from one of four approved providers in the event that the army issue combat boots are not suitable. The army has recognized that the current issue boot is no longer fit for purpose, particularly in the demanding combat zones that Australian troops find themselves in, and are developing a new boot.

In the interim, the army has said that soldiers may by their own boots and a good pair of boots could cost upwards of AUD 600, which seems like a small investment for what could conceivably be the difference between life and death, literally. Unfortunately, soldiers who do this will not be reimbursed for the cost of the boots they buy.

The Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Defence, Greg Combet, stated that the government's position is that the current issued boots are suitable. By the sounds of it he needs to get out a little more and talk to some people down at the Department of Defence because if these boots are so good then there seems to be no need to develop a new and improved pair!

For me, here is the cold hard reality, we are asking these young men and women to lay their lives on the line for us every single day they are in a combat zone and we are debating whether or not the government should reimburse these brave young men and women for a pair of boots, stupid! If you're not going to reimburse them directly then one would hope that a special provision within the tax law would allow these boots to be claimed back through the tax system.

I am definitely anti-war but I am pro-people. If we are going to send people into the line of fire then we have a responsibility to ensure that they are fully equipped and the equipment is fit for purpose. If not, then we must not send them into that danger, for me there are no ifs, buts, or maybes on this one!

6 comments:

Polar Bear said...

Its much worse than you think. Three years ago the army ordered about 40 thousand fleece jackets. We don’t have much cold weather gear, and they removed our jumpers and gave them to cadets. To promote Australian products these were wool, and a complete disaster. Too bulky to go into a pack, they soaked up water and refused to dry, and had a high infra red signature. They cost a furtune, soldiers were buying cheap copies in thermal fleece in the same colour. Early this year the army removed the damn things, and now THEy are going to the cadets, and we are buying new ones in the correct material. Someone should be in jail for stupidity like that, but it goes on.

Rob Baiton said...

Incompetence...I am not surprised! If you're going to spend all this money on equipment you would have thought someone somewhere would have written a report about the pros and cons.

If the equipment is not fit for purpose then why give it to the cadets? Ship it off to the Salvation Army or the Smith family or something similar.

My argument would be if you are training cadets to understand what it is that they will face in the real thing, then they should be training with the real things as well. Simply, whatever they are going to rely on in the field must be what they train with!

It is sad that this is not a bigger and more pressing issue. I guess in real world terms we are a small country with a small defence force and these are issues to which the general public is not privy or that they just do not care about!

Rob Baiton said...

Then again when you think about it another reason this is not surprising is that any time government gets too involved in defence affairs there is the potential for disaster...

Winston Churchill and Gallipoli for example!

Polar Bear said...

Rob, to fully understand defence purchasing disasters, please read my post "biggles and the case of the expensive F35". you might enjoy.

Rob Baiton said...

will do!

Rob Baiton said...

Polar...

Just whacked a link to your blog into my blogroll (things I read)...