Letters: In praise of Serongby David MilesNews Weekly
, September 8, 2001
I have studied Ian Spry's review of Dr Anne Blair's "biography which is not a biography" of Ted Serong with great interest, and indeed, appreciation. The review is masterly. The book itself, worthwhile as a data source for future historians, sketches perhaps 20 per cent of Serong's work in and out of Vietnam. The missing 80 per cent would require more books; but would be well worth the effort for some writer, aspiring or established, to tackle - if he or she could persuade that very quiet person to speak.
If Serong would talk, or better still, write the book himself - his professional writing is rated in authoritative quarters as "the finest military literature in the English language" - the product would leave The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
The first half of the last century produced Monash; the last half produced Serong. Dare we hope for others such to take us through the 21st Century?
It now seems we face several generations of politicians with no military understanding and military with no political understanding, both at the mercy of Canberra's self-perpetuating academic bureaucrats who value nothing except their own career prospects.
The old Duntroon is gone - unlamented, unjustly, for it served its purpose. Its joint-service successor has yet to prove itself. The aim was to provide a generation of Serongs - leaders who understand modern war, with its none-too-delicate blend of political and military, transcending the strategic and reaching down into the field level tactical, restoring us to the international leadership gained for us by Monash and Serong.
Meanwhile, let me commend the nation, and most particularly its elected leaders (present and possible future) Serong's analysis Defence of Australia
- a national blueprint for the 21st Century.David Miles,