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Norforce in Australia
澳大利亚护林武装组织

Australia's armed forces are scattered far and wide across the world -- from Iraq to the South Pacific. But one regiment is much closer to home -- Norforce, a reservist unit, protects the vast wilderness regions of northern Australia.  Many of its recruits are Aborigines -- the indigenous people who are in many respects disadvantaged in Australia. But in Norforce a number of Aborigine men have found a new sense of direction and self respect, as Nick Squires has been finding out: 

It's another sweltering day in the savannah woodland of northern Australia and I'm sitting in the back of a dusty Landrover waiting to meet members of one of the country's most unusual military units. I hear them before I see them -- their presence betrayed by the faint crackle of dry leaves, which carpet the forest floor. A six man patrol emerges quietly from the bush. They're carrying rifles and enormous packs. Their faces are smeared in camouflage cream and they're drenched in sweat. But, they're surprisingly cheerful.

"I joined up because I wanted to learn navigation and leadership skills," says Lance Corporal Shaun Evans, smiling through the fatigue. "Plus, I like being in the bush." Evans is a soldier in Norforce, a reservist unit whose job it is to patrol northern Australia looking out for poachers, gun runners, illegal fishermen and, potentially, terrorists. What makes the regiment unusual is that around two-thirds of its 600 soldiers are Aborigines. That stands in stark contrast to the regular Australian army, which has very few indigenous troops.

Unlike the weekend warriors of other reservist units, Norforce soldiers can serve for up to 150 days a year, and many do. They use Landrovers, planes and inflatable boats to patrol a massive area of desert, scrub and coastline. It stretches more than 2,000 kilometres from Western Australia to Queensland, and reaches deep into the red desert around Alice Springs.

Aboriginal troops are held in high esteem for their tracking abilities, their stealth and their instinctive knowledge of the land. "You won't get a better set of eyes than an Aboriginal soldier in the north," says Captain Jack Olchowik, a white Norforce officer in charge of training the unit. "Their bushcraft and their foraging skills are second to none."

Those foraging skills include looking for bush tucker whenever there's an  opportunity. Corporal Tommy Munyarryun is a Norforce veteran of 15 years and a respected elder in the Wanguri tribe. He grins as he lists the food which can supplement his normal army-issue rations: wallabies, turtles, witchetty grubs, wild oysters. "The white fellas teach us army stuff and we teach them what bush tucker they can eat when we're out on patrol," Tommy told me.

The origins of Norforce go back to the Second World War, when a rag-tag group of jackeroos, gold prospectors and adventurers teamed up with Aboriginal trackers in what was known as the North Australia Observer Unit. The 'Nackeroos' as they called themselves, took to the bush on horses and camels and in dugout canoes, keeping watch for the anticipated invasion of Australia by Japanese troops. The unit was disbanded after the war but its legacy of small, self-sufficient patrols carrying out covert surveillance was revived with the formation of Norforce in 1981.

The regiment's most recent success was in February, when they came across nine Indonesian fishermen and their grounded boat on an isolated beach in the Northern Territory. The vessel was one of dozens intercepted in recent months suspected of fishing illegally for shark fins, which command high prices in Asian restaurants.

The soldiers' most challenging adversaries, however, are northern Australia's stifling heat and its dangerous wildlife: from giant crocodiles and fearsome feral pigs to dingoes and poisonous snakes. "The crocs can grow up to six metres long, which is bigger than our Zodiac inflatable boats," one soldier told me.

Despite such hardships, there's no lack of recruits -- Aboriginal elders  recognise the benefit of military service for young men who might otherwise  find themselves struggling with unemployment, alcoholism and welfare dependency.

Norforce's area of operations encompasses more than 100 Aboriginal languages, and many of its soldiers speak English as their third or even fourth tongue. The regiment's white officers have to be sensitive to a whole range of cultural differences among their soldiers. Lieutenant Colonel Parker recalls the example of one Aboriginal soldier who simply disappeared one day, without explanation. A year and a half later, just as officers were despairing of every hearing of him again, he reappeared on parade. "He'd just gone off into the bush," said the colonel. "We call it going walkabout." Not exactly the sort of conduct you'd expect in a regular army, perhaps, but then Norforce is no ordinary regiment.


参考译文:

澳大利亚的武装部队遍布全球——从伊拉克到南太平洋。但是有一个组织离家乡很近的,这就是“非武力组织”。“非武装组织”是一个预备役军人组织,它保护着澳大利亚北部的大面积的野生丛林。团中的大部分人员都是土著人——就是那些在澳大利亚处于弱势的本土人。但是在“非武力组织”里,这些土著人找到了他们的方向感,找到了他们的自尊,正如尼可·斯奎尔斯所说:

在澳大利亚北部丛林的一个炎热的夏日里,我坐在一部满是灰尘的越野车的后座上,等待着同这个国家最非同寻常的一个组织的领导人见面。他们人没到声音倒先到了,铺满地面的枯树叶劈啪的声音告诉我,他们来了。六个巡逻者从丛林里悄然出现。他们手持步枪,还背着很重的背包,脸上涂了一层油作为伪装,而且浑身是汗。但是,他们的情绪却十分高涨。

“我参加这个组织的目的是为了学习航空知识和领导才能”,一等兵肖恩·依凡斯说话时脸上显露出疲倦的微笑,“而且,我喜欢生活在丛林里。” 依凡斯是“非武力组织” 的一个成员。该组织的主要任务是在澳大利亚的北部丛林中巡逻,寻找偷猎者,持枪者,非法渔民以及潜在恐怖分子。“非武力组织”的与众不同之处就在于它的600多个成员中有三分之二都是土著人。这种情况和澳大利亚的普通部队形成强烈的对比,因为普通部队中很少有土著人。

和其他那些预备役部队里那些只有周末出来活动的人不同,“非武力组织”的战士每年可以工作150天,而且很多人就是工作150天。他们乘着越野车,飞机和气垫船对澳大利亚北部的广大沙漠,灌木丛和海岸线进行巡逻。他们的巡逻路线从澳大利亚西部到昆士兰州,而且深入艾利斯泉城地区的红色沙漠,长达2000公里。

这个土著部队由于跟踪能力很强,行动秘密,而且十分了解这个地区的地理情况,所以很受尊重。“没有人比这个地区的土著人眼睛更好使的了。”杰克·奥尔乔维克上尉——一个负责人员训练的白人军官这样说道,“他们的追踪能力和寻找食物的能力是天下最棒的。”

寻找食物的手段包括在任何有机会的时候寻找丛林中的猎物。托米·穆雅云下士是一位有着十五年经验的倍受尊重的一个老兵。他微笑着列举了一些能够充当部队配给粮食的食物:小袋鼠,海龟,木蠹蛾幼虫,野牡蛎。“我们巡逻的时候,白人教我们一些部队的知识,我们教他们什么样的丛林食物是可以吃的。” 托米这样对我说。

 “非武力组织”的历史可以追溯到二战期间,那时候一群衣衫褴褛的新手、淘金者、探险者同土著人一起组成了所谓的澳大利亚北部观察者小队。他们自称“那可鲁”,骑着马,骆驼,乘着独木舟,来到这片灌木丛,时刻注视着有没有日本军队入侵。该组织在二站结束以后就解散了,但是遗留了很多小的,自足的巡逻队,这些巡逻队也随着1981年“非武力组织”的形成而复兴。

该组织的最近一次成功行动是在二月份。那时他们在澳大利亚北部一个独立的沙滩上遇见九个印度尼西亚渔民以及他们停靠在岸边的船。他们已经监视这艘船很久了,因为他们怀疑在这艘船进行了非法的鲨鱼捕捉活动。而这种鲨鱼在亚洲的餐馆里价格是十分昂贵的。

这些战士们最大的敌人,却是澳大利亚北部的酷热以及危险的野生动物:从巨大的鳄鱼,到凶猛的野猪,再到澳洲野狗和毒蛇。“鳄鱼可以长到六米长,那可比我们的气垫船还要长啊。”一个战士这样对我说到。

尽管困难重重,但是这个部队从来不缺乏新兵。上了年纪的土著人认为这个部队有利于他们的孩子的成长,因为如果不加入部队,他们可能在失业中挣扎,可能整天喝酒,依靠救济金生活。

 “非武力组织”的活动区域内有一百多种语言在使用,很多战士都是把英语作为他们的第三语言甚至第四语言来使用的。该组织的白人军官必须对士兵内存在的文化差异十分敏感。帕克中校说起了一个例子,一个土著士兵突然有一天就消失了,没有留下任何解释性的话。一年半以后,当军官们已经对找到他不报有任何希望的时候,他又大摇大摆地回来了。“他当时只是跑到灌木丛中去了,”中校说道,“我们把这种行为称作离队出走”。这种现象在正规军队中是看不到的,也许这也是“非武力组织”不寻常之处吧。

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