Chairman Don Blackley introduced Bill Westwood to the Club this week. Paul Davine suggested that Bill come and speak. Bill grew up in outback Tasmania, lived in the N.T. and Queensland before moving to Victoria in the 60’s, he has lived in Gippsland since the late 80’s. Bill described himself as the archetypical 60’s rebel and was expelled from Brighton Grammar due to “extreme misbehaviour”.

Bill became a roustabout prior to joining the Army as an Infantry soldier. He was selected for Officer Training graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1977. He served at 8/9 RAR, Kapooka, Monash University Regiment as a soldier, officer, an officer instructor and a staff officer. Bill resigned from the Regular Army and joined VICPOL, where he served in the Special Operations Group until the late 80’s. Bill served as a Special Operations Liaison Officer to the Force Development Group where he worked on the Defence White Papers and conducted threat analysis.

Bill spoke to the group on the threat of terrorism. He said that currently there is constant instability throughout the world today. He stated that terrorism is very difficult to defeat. Early on in terrorism conflicts the “dumb” ones are killed off, leaving the smart terrorists behind. Bill stated these are the most difficult to defeat as they change their persona and their methods of operation regularly.
Bill spoke at length on the Australian soldier. He said that in 2014, our Army was at its highest level of readiness. He says our soldiers are brave – sometimes to beyond the point of belief and the limits of their personal safety. He said our soldiers must be feared by the enemy as our soldiers are there to win wars. Our Special Operations groups are world standard and our 9 Battalions of Light Infantry have a much better understanding of the current type of war than their American counterparts.
Bill went on to say that modern conflicts require discernment and nations must limit their collateral damage. In fighting wars, individuals must be targeted, i.e. a bomb must only take out the intended person. He stated that Intelligence is the prime mover in warfare and soldiers need to know what is happening.

In fighting terrorism Bill said that the terrorist community now has access to world class technology and they have money to buy sophisticated equipment. He said that they have the ability to hide in our communities and we need to develop techniques to quickly identify these people. He suggested that the problems occurring in the Islamic communities occur as a result of religious fundamentalist and zealots and that countries should be working with the moderates in these communities and have them assist in the fight against terrorism.

Bill explained that major problems have occurred with the “have nots” wanting what the “haves” have. This has led to illegal migration in many areas of the world which has changed the nature and culture of many countries, especially in Europe. He spoke of the “Donald Factor”. He said Donald is doing well economically however as a leader of the Western World his unpredictability may well cause another Cold War to come about.
Bill finalised his talk by speaking of what he sees as the legacy of 20 years of military operations for Australian soldiers. He says this will impact on Veteran’s welfare for the next 60 years. Some soldiers have done up to 8 tours which is more action time than World War One soldiers undertook. Bill strongly emphasised the need for the community to care for these soldiers who went to conflicts so we could live the lives we do today.

Don thanked Bill for an interesting and highly informative talk.