July 7, 2016, an Australian soldier, center left, and a U.S. Marine, right, get ready to raid a building at a mock urban combat training center in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
by Malcolm R Hughes
This article is a response to the statement, dated May 16, 2016, by Jeremy Gormly, QC, that was quoted by Mary Maxwell in Part 18 of this series:
“The ADF had built a mock-up of the Lindt Cafe at Holsworthy Army Base to trial and rehearse forced entry. It offered the facility to the NSW Police for training, although as we have heard in evidence that offer could not be taken up on the night.”
Now that I know of the “mock-up” Lindt Café, and the admittance by the Military that it does exist, I believe that Monis was not the initiator of the Sydney Siege.
Having served in the Army, I suspect that I know a little of their procedures unless those procedures have completely changed, since my service. A project like building a mock-up facility is not decided upon in 5 minutes by a sergeant on the parade ground.
There is a system, the chain-of-command, in which a decision of this sort is made by VERY senior officers, probably at a meeting. Once the decision to go ahead has been made, the order is passed down the chain to less senior officers and then to N.C.O.’s.
In this case, for the facility to be built on the day of the Siege, firstly the ADF would need to be notified of the siege and that would not have been in the first 10 minutes.
The Police would have to decide on what was happening, then make a decision on what their own actions would be, on the ground and also at a meeting at Police Headquarters.
Based on the initial information to this organisation, why would they think that they needed to be involved when the incident was apparently, a one-man show (Monis)?
Further inquiries would need to be made of the Police, before the Army stepped in, in any capacity. All these operations take time before there is a decision to become involved. Then there would be a meeting of senior officers to discuss in what way the Army could and is allowed by law to participate.
Proceeding to Build
A decision to build this “mock-up” building is made by these officers. They then need to pass along the chain of command their plan. However, this is when time is really used up. There is paper work to be prepared before anything can be commenced.
Written orders to R.A.E. (Royal Australian Engineers) who will build and supply material. Then the R.A.E. will have to provide paperwork to their Unit Store to release the materials.
But before that can happen the measurements of the building have to be decided upon. If the size is to be the same as the original, how and where do these measurements come from at short notice? Also who in the Army knows what materials are used in the original construction?
On the subject of materials for shop front or home building, it is very unlikely to be laying around an Army Engineers yard and would need to be purchased. If the building was to be of the same materials as the original, it is unlikely that a civilian supplier could provide large glass panels at short notice.
Where was the “mock up” to be situated? On site at the Engineers yard or elsewhere? If it were to be erected anywhere else but the Engineers yard, transport for materials would have to be arranged, which means more time and paperwork plus other personnel probably from another unit. (Truck drivers.)
Once all this is organized, the time taken to erect the building is several hours. All this supposedly in part of ONE day? Someone is having a lend of us!
Then the ADF tell us that the use was offered to the NSW Police, but they didn’t take up the offer that day. How could they, their hands were already full and how much of the day had passed by the time the building was erected???
Don’t forget Holsworthy is not 5 minutes from Sydney or it wasn’t when I was based at Ingleburn.
Because of the above I cannot believe that the “mock up”Lindt Cafe was built on the day of the Siege, but had to have been built previously. WHY? This question needs to be asked and answered.
Army.gov.au: The role of the Royal Australian Engineers is to provide geospatial, combat and force-support engineering capabilities to enable joint manoeuvre and survivability.
The Mysterious Date
So far I have not tracked down the Report made to a Senate inquiry by Air Marshal Binskin of the ADF. Dee McLachlan has sent a “Please explain” note to the Defence Media Office hoping to ascertain when the mock-up was built.
I did however see, in News.com.au, this item dated May 4 2016 ( about two weeks before Gormly’s statement):
Earlier, the inquest heard that high-risk domestic incidents had prevented police being able to rehearse plans for storming the cafe using a mock-up built by the Australian Federal Police.
“Our resource was fully committed to not only the Martin Place siege incident but we had a number of other high risk domestic-related incidents at the time,” the commander said.
“We didn’t have the capacity. We had the people to go out there but they were actively engaged in high-risk activities.”
The commander is expected to continue his evidence before NSW Coroner Michael Barnes on Thursday.
I also note that in April, 2014 (before the December 2014 siege), Binskin was made Chief of the Defence Force, with an effective date of July, 2014. This write-up is by news.com.au, dated April 4, 2014:
From the streets of south western Sydney to the head of the Australian Defence Force, it’s been a long journey for Air Marshal Mark Binskin.
The avid motorcycle rider, who began his career with a brief stint in the navy before rising up the RAAF ranks, has been confirmed to take over from David Hurley.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott made the announcement in Canberra this morning, “As of July, General Hurley will be retiring. Air Marshal Binskin will be taking over as the Chief of Defence Force,” Mr Abbott told reporters.
I will inform Gumshoe as soon as I find the Senate report.
— Mal Hughes lives in Western Australia.
Top AP Photo: Audrey McAvoy Photo 2: Army.gov.au