Australian Navy Orders Sailors Not to March in the Dark at Pre-Dawn Memorial Service

The Australian navy waits for the rain to stop after the ANZAC Day march in Sydney on April 25, 2008. The march accompanied by thousands of Australians around the country, marked ANZAC Day, one of the country's most revered national holidays, with parades and services to honour war veterans. AFP …

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has ordered its sailors not to march in pre-dawn darkness on the way to a traditional ANZAC Day commemoration service because of health and safety concerns.

A small town in the state of New South Wales which traditionally hosts an April 25 commemoration to remember those who have fallen in all wars has been told that concerns for the welfare of RAN participants precludes them from marching to the event in the dark.

Instead they will be required to form up at the ceremonial service site and wait for it to begin.

The South Coast Register reports a highlight of the ANZAC Day dawn services at Greenwell Point comes when sailors join other ex-service personnel in making the solemn 450-metre march from the nearby main street to Anzac Park. Along the way they are applauded by locals in honour of their service to their country.

The Australian Defence Force has now decided to ban the practice.

According to the Register, defence said nearby naval establishment HMAS Albatross was providing a guest speaker, catafalque party and flag bearers for the Greenwell Point Dawn Service and that would have to suffice. Captain Fiona Sneath from HMAS Albatross Nowra defended the decision, saying the “no marching” edict stays:

The instruction to HMAS Albatross personnel, while different to what may have occurred in the past, has been provided cognisant of procedures traditionally observed by service personnel attending dawn services, and the particular physical and environmental conditions expected at Greenwell Point on April 25, 2019,”

Local commanders are responsible to ensure that risks to members on duty are reduced as reasonably practicable for dawn services across Australia.

A representative of the local Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL), Mr. Fred Dawson,  told the Register he and his members had been left “dumbfounded” at navy’s decision not to allow personnel to march. “It is disappointing but it’s not really my place to comment on defence protocol. But isn’t the armed forces about risk?

“To say we were dumbfounded was really an understatement,” Mr Dawson continued. “We were all gobsmacked. We were in disbelief.”

“It’s beyond a joke,” he added.

Such has been the local response to bureaucratic decision that an urgent meeting for Friday has been called by representatives of the Australian Defence Force and the local Nowra community to explain the move.

The “no marching in the dark” controversy comes in the same week members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) were told to think of women and take a “gender perspective’” during bombing operations in war zones.

As Breitbart News reported, the “Gender in Air Operations” doctrine informs pilots what they should do before dropping bombs in war zones to ensure women aren’t placed in danger.

One hypothetical example included in the RAAF guide highlights how destroying a bridge, being used by enemy forces, could force local women to walk further to perform basic domestic chores.

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