Ex-serviceman Geoff Pickering is calling for a change in budget priorities.
Ex-serviceman Geoff Pickering is calling for a change in budget priorities. Katie Cameron

Vietnam vet calls for new priorities

FORGET environmental grants, allowing more room in the Federal Budget for defence is essential to our safety, according to ex-serviceman Geoff Pickering.

Mr Pickering will be the guest speaker for Warwick's Vietnam Veteran's Day, which will be held at Leslie Park this Sunday from 10.45am.

He began his career as a teenager in the army reserves, and continued serving in the army for the next 20 years.

Now retired, he moved to Warwick a couple of years ago and said he is "delighted" to be living here.

Speaking as an ex-serviceman for Vietnam Veteran's Day, Mr Pickering says the modern generation needs to remember the lessons from the past.

"We've often heard, "lest we forget" - but we have forgotten", he said.

"We have forgotten the often ill-prepared and ill-equipped men and women of World War I and World War II."

"Looking back at my decades in our regular army, I was most fortunate to have lived and worked with men and women - who by and large, were lions not hyenas.

"Outstanding early Australian actions in Saigon Gia Dinh area are sadly unrecognised; the devotion to duty, high standards of training and determination of all ranks, many of whom sweated on countless patrols or served in loyal support for 12 months."

Mr Pickering said people should remember that the success of the army was based on the support of the government, which is not as prevalent today.

He said the service men and women of the Vietnam War were "dependent upon not just their splendid training, but upon each other and supporting arms and services".

"The strong point of Long Tan is that while the junior ranks had limited experience, they had trained correctly and followed those procedures on the day".

Still keeping up-to-date with our country's security status, Mr Pickering is worried that we are now unable to defend ourselves due to budget cuts.

He is a firm believer in history repeating itself, and said we are too distracted nowadays.

"If we value our remaining liberties...we need to take a serious attitude to history and politics," he said.

"After a busy decade of operations overseas, our defence force needs critical modernisation."

Mr Pickering said he agrees with the view of General Jim Molan, retired senior officer, who said the security of our country depends on stability in areas such as the Middle East, Indonesia and China.

"I am most concerned about the lack of defence and whether we are prepared to deal with threats, especially on short notice," Mr Pickering said.

"You can spend the budget money on frivolous environmental activities, but that doesn't matter two hoots if we can't defend ourselves properly."

"Defence should be our number one priority."



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