"The Army has to be an inclusive organization, in which every soldier, man and woman, is able to reach their full potential and is encouraged to do so. Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this Army. ... If that does not suit you, then get out."—Australian Army chief Lieutenant-General David Morrison, in a video address "to the Australian Army following the announcement on Thursday, 13 June 2013 of civilian police and Defence investigations into allegations of unacceptable behaviour by Army members."
The "unacceptable behavior" in question is the circulation of a series of "explicit and repugnant" emails and images demeaning women. At least 17 personnel, including officers, are under investigation.
Australian Army chief Lieutenant-General David Morrison, a middle-aged white man, speaking directly into the camera in a terse tone which I can only describe as tightly-lidded simmering fury: Earlier today, I addressed the media and, through them, the Australian public, about ongoing investigations into a group of officers and NCOs whose conduct, if proven, has not only brought the Australian Army into disrepute, but has let down every one of you and all of those whose past service has won the respect of our nation.Embedded in this statement is some of the same "axiomatic honor" stuff that is a problem in the US and pretty much everywhere else with a standing military. I'm guessing there are a few female veterans of the Australian Army—or soldiers from any marginalized population—who could quite reasonably argue that exploitation and degradation are also values of the Australian Army, even if they're not the ones to which the Army publicly professes to aspire.
There are limits to how much I can tell you, because the investigations into this network by both the New South Wales Police and the ADF Investigative Service are ongoing. But evidence collected to date has identified a group of men within our ranks who have allegedly produced highly inappropriate material demeaning women, and distributed it across the internet and Defense's email networks. If this is true, then the actions of these members are in direct contravention to every value the Australian Army stands for.
By now, I assume you know my attitude to this type of conduct. I have stated categorically many times that the Army has to be an inclusive organization, in which every soldier, man and woman, is able to reach their full potential and is encouraged to do so. Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this Army.
Our service has been engaged in continuous operations since 1999, and in its longest war ever in Afghanistan. On all operations, female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian Army. They are vital to us maintaining our capability, now and into the future.
If that does not suit you, then get out.
You may find another employer where your attitude and behavior is acceptable, but I doubt it. The same goes for those who think that toughness is built on humiliating others. Every one of us is responsible for the culture and reputation of our Army and the environment in which we work.
If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show moral courage and take a stand against it. No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others enhances capability or honors the traditions of the Australian Army.
I will be ruthless in ridding the Army of people who cannot live up to its values—and I need every one of you to support me in achieving this. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. That goes for all of us, but especially those who by their rank have a leadership role.
If we are a great national institution, if we care about the legacy left to us by those who have served before us, if we care about the legacy we leave to those who, in turn, will protect and secure Australia. then it is up to us to make a difference. If you're not up to it, find something else to do with your life. There is no place for you amongst this band of brother and sisters.
But here, Lt. Gen. Morrison does not pander to members of the Australian Army by assuring them that they are decent people among whom are a few bad apples. He challenges them to live up to the values they profess, tasks them with accountability for nurturing and practicing those values, and tells anyone who doesn't like it to get to fuck.
His tone is not apologetic. It is angry. As well it should be. And that anger is reassuring.
Would that anyone in the US military be as angry about endemic sexual violence, as Lt. Gen. Morrison is about demeaning emails.
[H/T to Shaker Erin M.]