Australian soldiers banned from displaying ‘symbols of death’ by new Defence chief Angus Campbell

Australian soldiers banned from displaying ‘symbols of death’ by new Defence chief Angus Campbell. By Rory Callinan.

Defence’s soon to be new chief has banned soldiers from using any display of the “symbols of death” like skulls and cross bones in patches, badges or imagery.

Chief of Army Lt Gen Campbell on Tuesday issued the directive to the Army banning the “display or adoption of symbols, emblems and iconography” which he says are “ at odds with the army’s values and the ethical force we seek to build and sustain”.

He cited the use of “death symbology or iconography such as the pirate skull and crossbones, the phantom or punisher symbols, the Spartans or the grim reaper.”

The skull or cross bones, he stated, was associated with maritime outlaws and murders, the phantom with vigilantes, the Spartans as extreme militarism and the grim reaper as a “bringer of death”.

“Such symbology is never presented as ill intentioned and plays to much of modern popular culture, but it is always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the inculcation of an arrogant hubris and general disregard for the most serious responsibility of our profession the legitimate and discriminate taking of life,’’ he said.

“As soldiers our purpose is to serve the state, employing violence with humility always and compassion wherever possible. The symbology to which I refer erodes this ethos of service.’’

Well, the purpose of the armed forces is to kill people. Is this a baby step in a new direction, or just cleaning out the excesses?

hat-tip Stephen Neil