Lieutenant Michael Fussell turned 25 on 17 November 2008. He was appointed an officer cadet at 18 years of age. He completed a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in 2004. He was commissioned in 2005 after a final year at the Royal Military College – Duntroon, and corp assigned to the Royal Australian Artillery (RAA). He marched into Bridges Barracks, Puckapunyal in early 2006, location of the School of Artillery, where he received basic trade training. He immediately deployed to East Timor following this training. He returned to Bridges Barracks in late 2006 for more advanced trade training. He deployed a second time to East Timor in 2007 before returning to the School of Artillery as the first of his cohort to receive specialist training as a Forward Observer.
Fuss, as he was commonly called, with a big heart and an infectious laugh, deployed to Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan as part of a Commando Team in late 2008. Ten days after his birthday the Commando Team was conducting a dismounted patrol against Taliban insurgents when an Improvised Explosive Device took his life.
Zalmay Khalilzad was appointed US Special Envoy, the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation in September 2018. He has had several rounds of talks with the Taliban, independent of the Coalition supported Afghanistan Government, in efforts to further the Trump Administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal plans. He sought to brief the Russian Presidential Envoy, the Chinese Envoy and the EU’s Special Envoy on these Taliban talks. Khalilzad asserts that the Taliban talks are a stepping stone to intra-Afghan talks. The worst scenario for the Afghanistan Government would be peace on the current Taliban terms, a peace that does not recognise the Afghanistan Government at all. In these circumstances, the Afghanistan Government will go the way of the South Vietnamese Government, Kabul falling to the Taliban similar to the fall of Saigon in April 1975.
Captain Bryce Duffy was a year younger than Fuss, he also joined the Army immediately after high school, entering ADFA in 2003. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2005, commissioned from Duntroon in 2006 and was also assigned to the RAA. He conducted his basic training at the School of Artillery in 2007, returning to Puckapunyal the following year for specialist training as a Forward Observer. Here he ran into Fuss on pre-deployment leave, who was visiting his brother Dan conducting his basic trade training, before his fateful deployment to Afghanistan.
Duffy with his dark mop of hair and big friendly smile deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 as part of a Mentoring Task Force against Taliban insurgents. In 2011 he passed the SAS selection course, although not selected, before deploying again to Uruzgan with a Mentoring Task Force. He was deliberately killed with others by an Afghanistan National Army member at 26 years of age. Duffy’s killer was eventually tracked down in Pakistan.
When Al Qaeda terrorists flew jets into the World Trade Centre, on September 11 2001, Kim Beazley’s Labor Opposition looked set to win Government. The current member for Canning, Andrew Hastie was a 19 year old first year Arts student at UNSW.
A year later Jemaah Islamiyah (Salafists) blew up a bar in Kuta, Bali. Hastie had joined the Army Reserve and was appointed an officer/staff cadet with the University of New South Wales Regiment while continuing his studies. He transferred to ADFA at the end of the year, joining Fuss and Duffy.
Hastie also completed his year at Duntroon in 2006. He too went to Puckapunyal in 2007 for basic trade training, but over the hill at the School of Armour, Hopkins Barracks. He deployed to Afghanistan in late 2009 with a Mentoring Task Force. In 2010 he completed the SAS selection course and went on to be a Troop Commander. He deployed to PNG and Afghanistan in 2012 and again to Afghanistan in 2013.
Hastie deployed to Iraq in late 2014 for the fight against ISIS.
The Abbott Government introduced the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill in the second half of 2014 to deal with Australians travelling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS or those who would support them financially.
Captain Hastie resigned his commission to be elected in the 2015 Canning by-election at 32 years of age.
Not all Muslims. Islamic State (ISIS), Taliban, Jemaah Islamiyah and Al Qaeda are all Sunni Muslim groups, and yet: Not all Sunni Muslims. The adherents of all these groups are all Salafists, extreme Sunni Muslims by Western standards, and yet we have learnt; not all extreme Sunni Muslims (Salafists) need be our enemy.
It is often said, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The Taliban is not our enemy when they are fighting ISIS and other Salafist Jihadists. In short, if Salafists can keep their faith to themselves peacefully and help us find and eliminate those who are intent on doing us harm, we seek peace with them.
National Towheed Jama’ar, including those responsible for the Sri Lanka Easter Sunday attacks, have apparently pledged allegiance to ISIS joining the jihadist cause, broadening the threat in the Indian subcontinent. This group joins jihadists in the Philippines and Africa, ensuring the ISIS insurgency that follows the defeat of its caliphate is global and deadly.
The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 and the Counter-Terrorism (Temporary Exclusion Orders) Bill 2019 were before the Parliament when the May federal election was called. Andrew Hastie was Chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security that was conducting a routine inquiry into the proposed legislation.
When the Parliament resumes after the election, these Bills must deal with the current threat posed by Jihadist Salafists. They must also deal with the unqualified defeat of the territorial caliphate and those fighters who surrendered unconditionally and their wives and children with connections to Australia. They must also look to prepare Australia for the possible unilateral withdrawal from Afghanistan if the Trump Administration does come to terms with the Taliban that meet US National Security objectives. This could include many Afghanistan citizens Australia currently supports left extremely vulnerable to retribution from the Taliban.
Australia already provides special consideration for military interpreters; there will be whole new classes of people seeking help if a withdrawal occurs. This could include the Afghanistan National Army and Police who Australians have trained and who now have lethal skills.
There is only cursory comment about the new counter-terrorism complexity that Australia faces in this election campaign with regard to the Salafist Jihad threat, the complete defeat of the territorial caliphate, and Trump’s potential unilateral intentions in Afghanistan.
Wouldn’t Australians be interested in what a Morrison or Shorten Government would do differently in these circumstances?
They shall never grow old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn …
Vale Fuss & Duff Man, never forgotten. Ubique.