- FBI help police swoop on accused terror aid
- Bike found with woman's body found at Benalla
- Government puts pen to paper on East West contracts
- Woman assaulted, abused on train
- Out-of-control driver smashes into Hawthorn home fence
- Labor leads election polls
- Body found after Mt Helen house fire
- You could be at home right now
- RSS Syndicate this blog (XML)
What we're talking about
- Mick on Labor leads election polls can't believe there are that many stupid people in the state, I was a regular Labour voter, not any more, all labour want to ... more
- PJ on Labor leads election polls i simply cannot believe Victorians think a socialist will provide economic security and do nothing other than increase CFMEU ... more
- Willow on Labor leads election polls I can't believe that people would prefer Dopey Danny as Premier. Then again this was published in THE AGE which is a wing of ... more
- David T. on Labor leads election polls How soon people forget the incompetence and spending waste of the previous Labor governments. more
- mylene on Labor leads election polls No surprise. The Liberals are cheerleaders for big business sacking workers and avoiding taxes. Their record on public ... more
- Gazza on Labor leads election polls Bring on the election more
- Joy of Clayton on 'I'm gutted': Teen upset after pic error What a stupid comment "Seriously" has made. Some people will recognise this young fellow as the person who lives next door, ... more
- Seriously on 'I'm gutted': Teen upset after pic error Yes it was a stupid mistake but the the guy they mistook him foreveryone knows is no longer walking around. And who ... more
- Sam on 'I'm gutted': Teen upset after pic error As David T commnted above one wonders about the research and verification process related to such an important news ... more
- David T. on 'I'm gutted': Teen upset after pic error As if the decent Muslims don't have enough problems caused by these Isil thugs; now the Fairfax press is causing them ... more
- Factsseeker on Police put on high alert Every country has its violent extremists. Our prisons are full of these people. Each bikie gang seems to have a small number ... more
- pete on Police put on high alert make muslims pay for extra security via taxes also families of young terrorists to be charged with facilitation more
- PJ on Police put on high alert Your interview with Krayem was disappointing. He basically said this murderous maniac was our problem and not his ... more
- Stephen james on Police put on high alert Abbott really needs to cut down on the fear and loathing rhetoric,stop this silly Team Oz stuff, and start talking in more ... more
- Jane on Police put on high alert "A little disappointed with Victoria Polices' immediate reaction". Well Mr Ghaith, I am disappointed with Muslim community ... more
- John on Police put on high alert Islamic Council - you are kidding right? Where is your condemnation for the youth that took a knife to the meeting and ... more
- karen on Police put on high alert The Islamic council was disappointed by police reaction? Are you kidding me? They will always find an excuse! It's really ... more
- Ed Niemiec on Police put on high alert Well done Vic Pol!! more
- Jackie on Police put on high alert I hope both officers, recover well. Feeling very much for them, their families, friends and colleagues. more
- John Thompson on Police put on high alert our brave defenders of law and order once again probabley having to pay a price for just doing their job and what a job they ... more
Outside the wire
It’s not something we thought we’d get the chance to do – go outside the wire. Simply, it means leaving the relative safety of the Tarin Kot base and going on patrol.
We got the invite to head out with a platoon of men in Bushmasters for a security check on a new road being built out to the northwest.
There comes that sinking feeling in the gut. The genuineness of this war is strong enough inside the wire – with the barricades, bunks and stocked mess – but it seems to get a little too real when you start travelling the roads.
Producer Tom Andronas and I were told to meet the platoon ‘through the blue gate’ first thing in the morning. We finished up all our broadcasts across the Fairfax Radio Network, grabbed our combat body armour, helmets, ballistic goggles and knocking knees and went on through the gate.
The phrase I’ve picked up through training and dealing with the soliders – warry. When someone is armed to their gritted teeth, when bullets are whizzing and when steely looks are walking patrol, then it’s ‘warry’.
As in a couple of troops discussing a situation, one might say ‘Geez mate, that sounds a bit warry’.
Well, through the blue gates, things were very bloody warry.
Enormous blokes with battle-rubbed guns were gathered. They were loaded with radios, ammo, cables, labels stating their blood groups, dog-tags, pockets, and other hidden things that were for them to know.
But under the helmets, there were plenty of smiles and cheek. They poked some fun at each other and chatted about the footy – the merits of AFL over NRL (or the other way) seems the usual tussle.
I realised that this exercise – that was making me bite through the nails and skin on the end of my fingers – was a day job for these guys. They could have been standing around in an office kitchen, or at a building site unpacking the tools. Instead they were at war and preparing to deal with danger.
We loaded into the Bushmaster. These beasts of the army are getting a good name. They’re saving lives and letting the troops get into some tough areas with increased safety. To me, I can’t figure out if it’s like a ruddy big 4WD or a small tank. Either way, I was thanking heaven for every precious metal plate that sat under my bottom.
The boys chatted more about the footy. We took off and rolled through gate. Then boys flicked the serious switch. Everything was watched. Everything was checked. Nothing was an accident.
It’s a great thing when you get the chance to watch people good at their jobs.
We went through the town of Tarin Kot. Poor shop fronts and poor people. I could tell the homes from the businesses.
Then, along the road they were laying down, and into the country side. It was beautiful. At the start there was more green than I would have thought. It became more unfruitful as we went along.
There was a stunning mix of pink and purple flowers. Field after field. I commented on it the digger next to me. He pointed out they were poppy fields – supply the world with 90 per cent of its opium. An incredible figure.
The growing of drugs is complex business in Afghanistan. These farmers having been living off the trade for years. For the army to roll in and stop it would give the Taliban a chance to come back in.
But it made us think about all the people killed by drugs every year across the world. More victims of the Afghanistan War.
We rolled. Children ran out to wave, following and stumbling as kids should behind their parents. A littlest and sweetest of girls gave a thumbs-up to our driver. He returned it.
We chatted to some locals and got out for a good look. And the more you look the more you know that the problems are complex and the solutions are slow and dangerous.
Back inside the wire, I’m still trying to figure out what to make of it.
Regardless, we’re the ones who put that new road there – may it carry food and medicine, and get the kids to school. Hope seems to be as big a part of the solution as anything else.
I'm interested to know what foreign language skills the soldiers feel they need to have to communicate with the locals. Also what intercultural awareness training they have had and whether they felt it was adequate.
Thanks Justin. Think it's great what you are doing in showing us what an enormously skilled group of people we have in the ADF.Sue Wednesday 24 April, 2013 - 11:47 AM