I yesterday read the article by Mark Willacy and Josh Robertson titled “Inside the drinking culture of the SAS”.
Since the beginning of time when nomadic families came together to form tribes for their survival and prosperity, cultures have emerged, those behaviors, values and beliefs that a group accepts, generally without thinking about them.
Waxing lyrical as to ‘the broken, arrogant culture of the SAS, a culture of elitism where the rules did not apply’, the story depicts images of wild parties artfully pieced to song lyrics of James’s ‘Getting away with it’.
To suggest that a song sung in an army boozer was an anthem condoning murder is not only presumptuous but insulting to those who risked their lives on a daily basis.
Combat is a chaotic and complex environment, one that can easily take your life if you’re not on your game. When you work, live and lead in an environment outside your control it creates stress.
A beer and a song has more to do with relieving stress and surviving in the lethal chaos of war than breaking any rules.
Every time we flew into Afghanistan we didn’t know if we would be coming home again. Every time we went out the gate to face the enemy, we didn’t know if we would be back; if we would see our wives, children or families again. We were accepting that we might die for our country. The thing we were trying to ‘get away with’ was our lives.
An SAS culture did exist, a culture of excellence and it was necessary. So that we could face our enemy suppressing our fear. To do our job and survive, because in a combat zone, defeat can mean you or one of your mates is dead.
To me, these lyrics signify mateship, courage and sacrifice. It represents the mates I fought with and surviving in the messed up world where we lived.
And if you watch Afghanistan on the news today you will see it’s still messed up.
Were errors in judgment made, yes. However as humans, not one of us is without flaws and one of life’s greatest lessons is learning from your experience. And I will proudly play that song on ANZAC day and toast my mates who didn’t ‘get away with it’ for the rest of my life.