No Front Line
Australia’s Special Forces at war in Afghanistan
By Chris Masters
Published by Allen & Unwin
RRP $34.99 in paperback • ISBN 9781760111144
Chris Masters is highly regarded in Australia as an investigative journalist par excellence.
This, his latest book, has been ten years in the making with Masters having been given unprecedented access to all levels of Australia’s Special Forces, becoming the first and only reporter to be embedded with Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan.
What he lays before the reader, to use his own words, is “as tough an investigative mission as I’ve ever undertaken”.
His detailed descriptions of engagements are revealing as he recounts each phase of Australia’s involvement in a war in which distinguishing friend from foe is a constant challenge.
By the Australian Defence Force’s own estimation, Masters writes, “not since World War I have Australians engaged in such intense and sustained conflict. If personnel did become desensitized it is not surprising”.
As problems emerged, it was the stories of misbehaviour and misdemeanours that made the headlines. Yet the legacy for those who served, as Masters observes, is carried by “a narrow cohort now largely disconnected from the broad community” in circumstances where “the outcome is not [a matter of] national survival” accentuating “doubts about cost, risk and moral comfort”.
This is an outstanding book which gives the reader a real insight into what it means to be part of an elite force fighting a war where the objectives and rules of engagement are determined thousands of miles away in a political environment into which they have little real input.
Note: There is no connection between Chris Masters and myself.