Saturday 28 Mar 2020 | 21:21 | SYDNEY
Saturday 28 Mar 2020 | 21:21 | SYDNEY

The decline of the infantry


Sam Roggeveen


27 May 2008 10:21

I've heard this kind of chatter before, but never seen it in print:

There are claims Australian soldiers are ashamed to wear the uniform because they're a laughing stock among allied troops. The Australian army infantry hasn't been assigned to offensive actions since the Vietnam War despite our heavy commitment overseas. In an article in the Australian Army Journal Major Jim Hammett, who's served in several conflicts, says giving all front line roles to special forces like the SAS has weakened morale. "In the opinion of many infantrymen, the lauding of their contributions to recent operations does not ring true," Major Hammett writes in the Australian Army Journal.

One surprising thing I learned recently is that the army is not wanting for infantryman — it's in trades and other specialties that the recruiting shortfall lies. It makes sense; if you want to be a chef or a plumber or mechanic, there are less demanding ways of getting the qualification than to join the army. But if you are motivated to join the army, you would probably do so to get a soldiering experience, and one of the best ways to do that is through infantry. Or at least, it used to be.