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Posted by Franz Huber on Dec 16, 2017
It might have been a few moons ago when Ross Eastgate graduated from Duntroon and was assigned to the Signals Corps. Still, his dedication to his (now former) profession of being a soldier and an Army officer becomes quite clear when he states that, "when Whitlam withdrew from Vietnam, it was devastating for us". How come? Because this would, in the view of the recent graduates, rob them of the chance of seeing "real" action. But that didn't stop Ross being despatched to a number of different overseas postings.  For example, the Middle East, Jerusalem to be specific, with the UN peace keeping forces.  It was called an "Interim Force"...  but they are still there!

"Defence of the olden days was different to what it is today", Ross explained. "After Vietnam, we enjoyed a 20 years of 'Great Peace' - Australia didn't go anywhere".  Then came the various engagements: Namibia, Cambodia, PNG, Bouganville, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan. For the last 20 years, and in particular post 9/11, there have been constant overseas operations. "The current Australian soldier is the most experienced in history", Ross explained. Whilst today's soldiers are all volunteers,
their training is very hard, they are trained to survive. "Defence Forces are all about training to fight".
 
Ross emphasised the stress which modern soldier's families are under: It is not just the separation from their loved ones. It is the constant worry about a potential ambush.  Most affected are the members of the Special Forces - some have had up to 10 tours.  And what will the future hold? Nuclear? North Korea is only one of the worries. With the Chinese stamping their authority on the region, now with their own Aircraft Carrier... Japan is no longer restricted...  By his assessment, "we now live in the most dangerous era of recent times."
 
These days, in addition to his job as President of Surfers RSL Club, Ross is also a journalist with the Townsville Bulletin. One of his recent blogs had the headline "Diggers need another Rout" - no, not a spelling mistake. He was referring to a lady by the name of Ettie Rout who, in WW1, organized a Safe Sex campaign for soldiers.  Sorry, space does not permit to further elaborate. You should have been there!