Ian Langford - Mission preparation

Running time
2 min 8 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


My experience is where you condition yourself through mission preparation, when you're exposed to things that are genuinely traumatic to include comrades getting wounded or killed, there is an immediate protective function that training and preparation brings that enables you to operate through it. Where there is risk is when you're exposed to those situations that you weren't expecting and often that can involve civilians and non-combatants, or indeed, where you are not sensitive to your own warning signs in terms of how you process both sorts of incidents, exposed after the fact.

That's where I think risk sort of metastasises as it relates to people and their well-being, it's the situations you don't expect that you perhaps didn't try and fall that are traumatic that you don't have a protective or defensive mechanism for, as opposed often to the horrors and traumas of close combat where you have thought a lot about it, you're still processing it but to a point where it hasn't interrupted or interfered with your ability to still function. And so you can still do the mission but it's horrifying in terms of what you've done and then that becomes an issue in terms of processing and decompressing after the mission has been complete.

So there's different phases and stages of where there is risk. Again, these are really unusual circumstances, they are not something that we would expect our people to not be emotionally triggered or affected by because they are humans, they're compassionate. They are, you know, Australians who, you know, do react to people who are suffering whether it be their own or others. And so in that context, it's about understanding how this process might affect individuals and then being able to build protective functions on one hand, but then also support mechanisms on the other. And that starts again, with leadership, and with trust, and with the ability for comrades to, again, look after each other.

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