Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Peter Leahy, was in attendance, which made things interesting at times, especially for senior naval officers.
Got to meet Major General Julian Thompson, of Falklands War fame, who is short and feisty and hates political interference in military operations. an historian presenting a paper on the Falklands War said that it was like presenting a paper on the Battle of Waterloo with Lord Wellington staring at him. General Thompson is planning to take a 4WD trip through the outback afterwards.
The most interesting paper was by Professor Brian McAllister Linn of Texas A&M University, who spoke about the American experience with Expeditionary Wars. This is all the rage in the US at the moment. The thing is, the Spanish American War of 1898 was fought by President McKinley with only a vague idea of what the US was doing and then degenerated into an experiment in social engineering and a long and bloody guerrilla war. It's very hard to talk about such events today without more recent events impinging on our thoughts.
Q (from the audience): How were the opinions expressed in your presentation received in the United States?
A: I'm not stupid enough to express my opinions in the United States.
(laughter from audience)
The American visitors found the headline of today's Sydney Morning Herald fascinating and took copies back with them.