After two years of answering questions not always specific to his role, gender adviser for land operations Lieutenant Colonel Tim Manton likes to keep things relatable.
A big part of this means understanding the Australian way of doing things is not necessarily how other cultures do things.
Lieutenant Colonel Manton was talking after the launch of a new Defence Gender, Peace and Security mandate on October 28.
The launch, by Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell, marked the 20th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325.
“It’s about understanding the human environment, then applying the most appropriate measure in our actions to achieve lasting, not just immediate success,” Lieutenant Colonel Manton said.
“Meaning hopefully we do not have to deploy to that region again.”
He said this involved understanding possible flow-on effects of something as simple as giving children a football on a humanitarian mission.
“For example, someone gives a ball to the local kids, hoping to cheer them up, no harm right?,” Lieutenant Colonel Manton said.
“The sporting equipment goes home with the kids, a parent might take the equipment off the child, sell it on the black market, use the money to buy alcohol, get intoxicated, then contribute to violence.”
Lieutenant Colonel Manton’s role involves helping get the right force structure in place for the mission, ensuring human terrain considerations are included and operating procedures can be reviewed, based on human terrain and a desire to do no harm.
He said in this situation, it might have been better to give sports equipment to a local school.
“The kids might have been more interested in going to school, furthering their education and potentially becoming a more valuable member of the local society,” he said.
We are making vast steps in the right direction but we still have steps to go.
“My role is about understanding, it’s not just about one aspect, it’s the right force structure and the right approach to achieve the best outcomes for the country we are deploying to and by default ADF’s reputation.”
Lieutenant Colonel Manton hoped to impart a simple message about why gender perspective is important for force preparation and preservation.
“It’s about making sure the troops we are deploying understand the environment they are going into, how they can best interact with the population to achieve their mission and what they might see,” he said.
“It’s about understanding; not being afraid of what they might see, reporting where it’s appropriate and looking after themselves.
“If they come back and they have seen something they found extremely hard to understand they get the right assistance they need.”
He said the new Defence Gender, Peace and Security mandate was a simple document with six lines of effect.
“I noticed [at General Campbell's launch in Canberra] senior officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers all nodded their heads in agreement,” he said.
“They are advocates of it and I’ve seen first-hand during my appointment, that they are applying it.
“We are making vast steps in the right direction but we still have steps to go.
“It’s time to understand it and embrace it, let’s get passionate about it.”