But is he, News.com.au?

Don’t shoot us. Our newest Victoria Cross medallist Corporal Daniel Keighran is, we’re convinced, the bravest of the brave. More convinced than the modest Keighran is, among so many fighting such a dirty war in Afghanistan — including two other medal winners from the conflict. But as Jeff Kennett said on radio yesterday:

“It is the highest decoration that a soldier can be given, and we should always salute the fact that it represents an expression, a deed of such bravery that’s almost impossible to recount. We only awarded four Victoria Crosses for Vietnam, and we had literally thousands of soldiers there. Where you’ve only got 1500 troops on average each year in Afghanistan, I just hope we’re awarding them still for the highest level of bravery.”

On Kennett’s last point, we’re not questioning individual valour. Or even the worthiness of this or any other medal. But the history is interesting. Perhaps greater transparency of our military efforts means we identify more extraordinary acts of war. Perhaps our current crop of soldiers are a disproportionately brave bunch, in a very long war.

Or, perhaps, military brass are looking just a little bit harder for good news in a bad war? Leaders said yesterday Keighran’s decoration would provide troops on the ground with a morale boost. Hopes it might also sway the vast majority of Australians opposed to our continuing involvement in Afghanistan are less likely.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey