The Chief of Army has partly back-flipped on his controversial ban on soldiers using death style or Spartan imagery just days after his newly announced policy sparked outrage, including condemnation from Australian Conservatives’ Victorian State Director and former SAS soldier Kevin Bailey who said, “a creeping political correctness has infected the upper levels of the Defence Force”.
The Australian newspaper reports, the change, which allows commanders to seek exemptions, has been described as “not good enough” by many veterans.
Army chief Lieutenant General Angus Campbell (pictured), who will be the new chief of Defence, issued a statement revealing the appeal for an exemption scenario would be part of the policy.
An Army spokesman said Lieutenant General Campbell advised commanding officers, “they could write to the Chief of Army to outline their request to retain a symbol or icon” covered by his initial ban.
Defence declined to provide any further context to the decision, which appeared to be a softening of the initial policy that General Campbell originally described as something he was “adamant” about being “right for the army”.
A spokesman for Defence Minister Marise Payne said the minister supported the intent of the policy, “As Chief of Army made clear…he is focused on building a culture that promotes courage, initiative, respect and teamwork. The minister supports this intent, noting applications from unit commanders for exemption of a symbol or icon will be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
Examples of the banned symbols or imagery include the skull and crossbones, the Phantom or Punisher symbols, Spartans or the Grim Reaper.
When the ban became public, former serviceman were outraged and described the ban as politically correct and trying to suppress aggression and the warrior mindset within the army.
One of the most prominent critics, Medal of Gallantry winner Justin Huggett, the writer of a widely circulated open letter attacking the decision wrote to General Campbell saying, “The decision you make, sir, that denigrates the morale of the enlisted, flows on and denigrates combat power.’’
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Kevin Bailey has told Melbourne radio station 3AW this kind of ideological experimentation is killing morale.
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