It is with much sadness that one of the places I call home on the internet has been folded up and shut-down.
Fire Support Base has reached the end of it’s useful life.
FSB was the follow-on from the highly controversial Military Kit Review that initially ruffled a few feathers in the Australian Defence Force high command.
Much criticism of ADF procurement practices was made at the time. Given the gag order that most serving members are forced to live under, this led to some severe consequences for many who dared to speak out about the deficiencies in personal combat equipment such as boots, packs and other essentials to a soldiers continued survival and comfort whilst performing their job.
How bad was the reaction from the Headshed towards these allegations?
The original founding member of MKR was forced out of the Army – that’s how severe it was!
Other members of MKR also had their careers and families threatened.
In many cases, the things that the members of MKR were highlighting were severe systemic issues and perpetrated by certain individuals in the ADF procurement system. There was some allegations of corruption and fraud that were later confirmed by independent parliamentary enquiry.
Due to the pressures exerted by elements in the ADF at the time, Military Kit Review was forced to shut down, since the website was owned and operated by serving members of the ADF.
The means exerted by certain individual’s by misuse and abuse of Commonwealth powers was simply staggering.
From the ashes of MKR, rose Fire Support Base.
FSB was owned and operated by a former Viet Nam veteran, Bill Stoate also known by his screen name of Caligula. A very well travelled, well read, highly educated, published author, and what became well known as a grumpy old bastard with very little to lose conducted his own one man campaign against several government entities who had never been brought to account for dodgy and highly suspect activities.
Efforts were made to shut down FSB. They failed. Direct threats were made against my friend Bill.
The old bloke was tickled pink that “they” couldn’t get him. Mia-appropriated Commonwealth assets were expended to knock down an old man who was in a wheel chair and sucking on an oxygen bottle – classified as TPI (Total Permanent Incapacitation) due to his service and injuries sustained in Viet Nam.
When Bill passed from this mortal coil late in 2010, it was the first time that many of the FSB stalwarts actually gathered together in real space. It was a big moment.
Bill was a bloke who recruited several bright minds, both young and eager, and the old and bold to aid him in his quest to fight dragons. A General, gathering his command team for a long campaign as it were.
To be quite honest, I still wonder just what he saw in me. I don’t classify myself as anywhere near as bright as the rest of the crowd from that place. Maybe he needed a tea-boy? After all, Old Bill always did have an enigmatic, black sense of humour and lived up to the reputation of his namesake, Emperor Caligula.
Fire Support Base has achieved a first for this country: changing ADF policy by social media. Not just by braying emotion, although there was a fair bit of that – but by reasoned explanation from professionals who were stuck at the coalface attempting to deal with the impossible ivory tower policies whilst trying to maintain their sense of humour.
In fact, the collective membership behind FSB has managed to instigate some real change benefiting their fellow service members, the ADF and Australia.
Much needed change has been brought about in ADF procurement systems and equipment.
My only hope is that the tipping point of this meaningful change has been achieved, and that it’s a self-sustaining movement. Whilst I consider it somewhat conceited and egotistical, I still consider it part of my duty to maintain a watchful eye over proceedings and ensure Bill’s legacy continues.
It’s been a bloody hard slog lately for me though, since I’m doing this with my own resources, and with the usual (and not so usual) obstacles that real life, the Dark Gods and an uncaring universe can throw at me.
I haven’t been able to contribute as much as I’d like, having to concentrate on higher priorities as work to keep food on the table, and the lights on.
Hopefully, most of you old FSB stalwarts keep in touch. I worry about you mob otherwise.
It’s been a hell of a ride, and I’m rather proud to have played a small role in it all.
Fire Support Base and the people behind it has achieved much, but ultimately, time and tide waits for no man.
So, once more I’m living up to my old Regimental motto: FORWARD!
Posted in Blog by 22F with 1 comment.