'To defend Australia and her interests, Sir?' the Air Force First Year Defence Force Academy cadet said in answer to my question.
'Yes, but no, ' I said nodding towards the Navy Midshipman with her hand up.
'To protect Australia's sea lanes, Sir?' she said.
'The main aim. What's the main aim of the Australian Defence Force,' I repeated.
Only two hands remained in the air. I picked them off.
'No - not to assist in natural disasters. We do that, sure, but that's not why we exist. And no, not to assist in Peacekeeping. Again, we do it, but it's not the primary role of the military.'
I scanned the young faces staring back at me, barely clean of their mums' lipstick on their cheeks as they were farewelled into the arms of the Navy, Army and Air Force as Midshipmen and Officer Cadets.
'Those answers got you through the recruiting process, but none of them defines the job that you've signed up to for the next nine years. So let me tell you:
'To apply the maximum amount of violence permitted by law upon the enemy.'
Some faces froze. Others began to grin.
'That's the aim of the Australian Defence Force,' I said, looking at each of their young faces in turn. 'To apply the maximum amount of violence permitted by law upon the enemy.' The job of an Officer is to ensure that those under your command use their weapons violently and lawfully. Which is why it's been said that, as Officers, you are a 'Manager of Violence'. Other people here will teach you about the management and the violence. I'm here to teach you about Military Law.'
It's obvious why the military fudges its advertised Widget. Organisations camouflage their Widget for many reasons. Most are to do with marketing and recruiting.
This is where most of the difficulty applying Widget Thinking begins. If we don't advertise, recruit, contract, orientate, train, promote, manage, terminate - make decisions - using the Widget as our reference point, then we're navigating with a swinging compass without a True North.
The latest scandal to hit the Australian Defence Force has had the talkback lines buzzing. 'We don't want our daughter joining the Army after we heard about this behaviour,' one father called in to say. 'We don't think it's safe for her.'