Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ANOTHER defence equipment bungle

The defence bureaucracy cannot get even the simpest things right. No wonder most of Australia's submarines have been out of service for years

Now we hear that soldiers have to modify their gear with scissors!

Soldiers in Afghanistan have complained their government-issued equipment is failing them during firefights with the Taliban and putting them at risk of injury or death, according to leaked Defence documents.

Four official complaints have been received from the Middle East and training bases in Australia - one on May 7 and three between June 11 and 18 - about the standard-issue ammunition pouches soldiers have to use.

"Soldiers have significant difficulty in removing their magazines from their issued F88 Land 125 pouch due to the pouch simply being too tight," one complaint, seen by the Herald, said. "This could lead to the lack of capability in a lethal environment causing unnecessary casualties or death."

Defence said it is developing new pouches in response to complaints and they should be issued by the end of the year.

Army headquarters has ordered soldiers to use scissors to modify these pouches to eliminate a potentially dangerous defect. In two separate incidents in the past three months, soldiers have misplaced live rounds for blank rounds during training exercises because an internal divider in the magazine pouch can "hide" a loose round at the bottom of the pouch. The rounds were then accidentally loaded into a magazine.

Soldiers have been advised to cut the divider away with scissors, Defence said this week. Troops have also been advised to take more time to check the pouches for live rounds after exercises.

In May last year, the military banned the use of non-issue pouches because a soldier was shot in the shoulder and arm in exactly the same kind of accident. The ban led to uproar among combat soldiers on online forums and official complaints up the chain of command.

In the latest such complaint, obtained by the Herald, combat soldiers in Afghanistan have warned top brass that lives are being put at risk.

The leak follows a Herald investigation in May that revealed troops were being issued with defective equipment because the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) was riddled with questionable tender practices and incompetence.

The Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General Ken Gillespie, and the head of the DMO, Stephen Gumley, put out a statement in response, saying they contained "inferences" that were inaccurate. In his statement, Lieutenant-General Gillespie said the DMO "provides safe, fit for purpose, high-quality clothing and personal equipment to the men and women of the Australian Defence Force". [Bullsh*t, Bullsh*t, Bullsh*t]

On June 1, he told a Senate estimates hearing: "The vast majority of troops acknowledged that they were among the best-equipped troops in the theatre. The inference is that, because we have some issues with pouches at the present time, we have let our soldiers down. I do not accept that."

Five days later, a combat soldier on deployment logged a formal complaint that the "pouches fail to meet the operational usage required by infantry soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan".

In April last year, the commanding officer of a security task group deployed to Oruzgan province, Major Michael Bassingthwaighte, wrote to senior officers that issued equipment "failed to meet the standard required for the deployment". The Herald revealed in May that 90 per cent of Major Bassingthwaighte's soldiers bought their own gear from their salaries.


Tony Abbott still doubts planet is getting hotter

TONY ABBOTT has restated his sceptical views on climate change, and suggested the world may be getting cooler, as the Australian Academy of Science released a new report warning of the future impact of global warming.

The Opposition Leader said he accepted "that climate change is real", but he did not back away from his view, based in part on the work of the Australian climate sceptic Ian Plimer, that the world is getting colder.

Asked by the ABC's Four Corners if he still disputed that humans are responsible for climate change, Mr Abbott said: "Sure, but that's not really relevant at the moment. We have agreed to get a 5 per cent emissions reduction target."

He suggested he harboured doubts about the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body charged with collating global warming research.

"I certainly think that there is a credible scientific counterpoint but, in the end, I'm not going to win an argument over the science, I'll leave that to the scientists," he told Four Corners. "I have pointed out in the past that there was that high year a few years ago, and … if you believe the various measuring organisations, [the temperature] hasn't increased, but again the point is not the science, the point is how should government respond and we have a credible response that will achieve a 5 per cent reduction by 2020 and the government doesn't."

Mr Abbott was referring to global temperatures in 1998, which coincided with a heat-inducing El Nino cycle, and by some measures was slightly hotter than 2005.

Neither the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, nor Mr Abbott, could say when Australia's greenhouse gas emissions needed to peak if the country was to achieve its minimum agreed emissions cut of 5 per cent by 2020.

The Coalition has pledged to meet the commitment principally by paying farmers to absorb more carbon dioxide into the soil, though it insists that its payments do not constitute a "carbon price".

The Labor Party will also attempt to soak up more carbon in the soil, but says its preferred mechanism for cutting emissions is still an emissions trading scheme, which it will consider introducing in 2013.

The renewed argument over the science of climate change comes as a study of 300 federal, state and local government political leaders, by the University of Queensland, suggests sharp differences in beliefs and understanding around global warming between the Coalition and Labor parties.

Coalition MPs were less likely to believe climate change is happening, and showed less trust in scientists, although the results reflected only those who decided to take part in the survey. Forty-one federal MPs, 101 state MPs and 69 local government representatives took part.

The results showed 38 per cent of Coalition politicians believed the world was getting warmer because of human-induced carbon emissions, compared with 57 per cent of non-aligned politicians, 89 per cent of Labor politicians and 98 per cent of Greens.

"This difference is unlikely to have occurred by chance," said Dr Kelly Fielding, of the university's Institute for Social Science. "What it shows is that a much higher proportion of Liberal-National politicians are uncertain in their views, whereas on average the Labor politicians are more likely to agree with the statements made by scientists."


Hurt boy waits days for surgery

NSW government hospitals in their usual form

HIS face is so badly broken that doctors have warned him not to cough or sneeze but teenager Blake Wells has been forced to wait an agonising four days for surgery. Despite needing emergency facial reconstruction after a blow to his head during a rugby league match, Blake, 14, was sent away from a busy hospital on Sunday and told to return today.

Staff at Gosford Hospital informed Blake's family they had only one operating theatre in use at the weekend. And despite being prepared for surgery on Sunday, two life-threatening cases were admitted, meaning that Blake's operation had to be delayed until today.

Gosford Hospital management yesterday said that appropriate care had been given to Blake but blamed a "breakdown in communication" with the family.

Blake has loose fragments of bone floating around under his cheek. He has been told not to sneeze or cough in case the bone fragments became lodged in his nose.

"We are absolutely livid. We feel so frustrated, so angry, and so disappointed," his father Peter Wells said.

A hospital spokeswoman yesterday apologised to the family and said Blake's operation would go ahead today. "The standard approach for dealing with [his] fractures is either to operate on them early before swelling or delay surgery for at least three to four days to allow the swelling to resolve," a spokeswoman said.


Big burger causes do-gooder freakout

Looks yummy and seems to have lots of good stuff in it. Don't believe the crap about fat being bad for you. See the sidebar of my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog for the evidence on the matter

A burger branded a heart attack on a plate by dietitians is being billed as Brisbane's latest tourist attraction. The 21 burger - created by chefs at Treasury Casino's Cafe 21 - features 21 ingredients including a 250g meat pattie and a new super-sized bun to "support" its heavy load.

"It's definitely a monster," sous chef Anthony Swanson said. "We really just wanted something that would set us apart from the competition and give people another reason to come here."

He said the burger was easily Brisbane's biggest and would hopefully become something of a tourist attraction. "It's our new signature dish," said Mr Swanson.

But dietitian Nicola Fox said the burger was gluttony at its best. "The meat, salad and bread would be suitable as a meal, certainly not a snack," Ms Fox said. "Brisket, cheese, egg and bacon increase the calories significantly and the mayo, sugar, butter, onion jam and sauces add more calories without providing any nutritional value."

She said adding beer-battered fries and aioli on the side would make the ``ridiculously high-fat, high-calorie meal even more horrendous". "It's scary, a heart attack on a plate."

Mr Swanson said at $17, the burger was more expensive than its fast-food chain competition but "still good value".

The 21 Burger's ingredients: Rangers Valley beef, Wagyu beef brisket, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, mayo, chives, cream chees, bacon, Spanish onion, onion jam, egg, lettuce, tomato, smokey BBQ sauce, white damper roll, bread crumbs, parmesan, sugar, salt, pepper, butter.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"What it shows is that a much higher proportion of Liberal-National politicians are uncertain in their views, whereas on average the Labor politicians are more likely to agree with the statements made by scientists."

Uncertain? Healthy skepicism maybe?