2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. To mark the anniversary of Australia’s involvement in the conflict that engulfed Europe, James Brown, Military Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy examines the long-reaching effects of Australia’s military engagement.
As a former Australian Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brown argues that commemoration of the conflict has lost its way. The gap between civilian and military life has never been wider, and this presents its own set of problems. As soldiers return from present-day conflicts, resources for their rehabilitation into civilian life are thinner than ever before. The public preponderance for romanticising a hundred year-old conflict, rather than focusing on the needs of the men and women in today’s armed forces has caused a schism that is preventing genuine understanding and reintegration.