The military art of evading questions

This article states that Chloe Wootten was a Commander in early 2014, based on publications in the Navy website. Navy has since amended its website to show that Chloe Wootten was not a Commander at that time. She was promoted to ‘Temporary Commander’ in September 2015, three years and nine months after becoming a Lieutenant Commander. Navy policy is that promotion to Commander cannot occur until after four years service as a Lieutenant Commander. I have kept the original text of the article, as it explains what was known at the time based on publicly available sources.


The Vice Chief of Defence Force, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, has an interesting history.

He has been recognised by DEFGLIS as an ‘LGBT Champion’.

He gives up his busy time as 2IC of the Australian Defence Force to ‘Wear it Purple’.

He appointed Mona Shindy to be the Navy’s Islamic Advisor and allowed the hijab to become part of the uniform of the Royal Australian Navy.

Ray Griggs Mona Shindy

Ray Griggs poses with Mona Shindy before she was announced as the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year in 2015. Ray Grigg’s future wife, Chloe Wootten, was promoted rapidly and authored the article that went with this picture.

And he’s defended the more than $1 million spent by Defence on transgender surgeries and medications.

So with Griggs’ interesting background it was also interesting to read an article in The Australian this week that led to some rather interesting questions about Griggs in Senate Estimates yesterday.

The Australian’s story began with these lines:

Defence is refusing to make public a 271-page investigative report examining events associated with a change in the marital status of Australia’s second highest ranked military officer.

Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs, the Deputy Chief of Defence, separated from his wife Kerrie several years ago and in 2016 married ­fellow naval officer Chloe Wootten. Commander Wootten is the current director of communications and media for the navy. In 2014 she was a lieutenant commander and in 2015 she was promoted to commander, according to navy publications.

The Australian understands that after their separation, Vice-­Admiral Griggs’ former wife Kerrie was asked to leave navy supplied accommodation in Canberra.

That last sentence is interesting too, especially as I forgot to mention that Griggs is also an ambassador for the pro-abortion-for-any-reason-until-birth lobby group, White Ribbon. And the White Ribbon website states that this is a sign of abuse:

‘locking a woman out of the house or in the house’

I’m guessing that the ex-Mrs Griggs was probably happy to see the back of her virtue-signalling husband but, unlike the White Ribbon definitions, do not infer abuse in any way. Rather, I do believe we need a good rethink about the dollar-filled trucks that are sent by the government to organisations like White Ribbon courtesy of blokes like Griggs.

According to its ridiculous definitions, almost everything can be classified as violence against women, including buying the wrong sort of ice-cream. However, this definition of including everything does have its limits. Aborting a child just because she happens to be female is not an act of violence against women according to White Ribbon.

Anyway, Defence claims that Griggs has done nothing wrong. Indeed, the Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin, told Senate Estimates that two separate inquiries were held into Griggs and both made no adverse findings.

You can watch the evidence presented below (apologies for the technical glitches in it):

However, it is not clear what these inquiries were asked to investigate and they seemingly focused on the issue of Ray Griggs’ housing entitlements after his marriage breakdown.

The Chief of Defence Force refused to answer any questions about whether Ray Griggs’ relationship with his new wife (and current Director of Communications and Media for the Navy) began while he was Chief of Navy.

The question is an important operational one and goes to the heart of confidence in the Chief of Navy’s office and its ability to effectively ensure our nation’s maritime security.

In the military, command is important and sexual relations between commanders and other Defence members (especially those in the chain of command) can (and often do) lead to tensions and conflict of interest. That’s why the Australian Defence Force has policies to prevent relationships within the command chain, as detailed briefly before Senate Estimates by the Chief of Defence Force.

One can see why questions about this relationship are being asked. And one can also wonder why they are not being answered transparently. And that’s a pity because if nothing wrong has been done it’s likely that this approach will give a far different impression.

Between 4 July 2013 and 19 November 2015, Chloe Griggs (nee Wootten) authored at least six stories for the Navy that featured her future husband prominently. There is no information publicly available about whether Griggs, who was Chief of Navy from June 2011 until June 2014, gave any direction in relation to these stories or what role Chloe Griggs may have had in other publicity provided by the Navy’s media division for Ray Griggs. No one will answer any questions about the command chain, the relationship timeline or what measures were undertaken to prevent a conflict of interest in these circumstances.

I should point out, however, that it is not uncommon for one Defence ‘partner’ to use Defence resources to promote the other ‘partner’. Let me know if you can find the example in the 14 March 2013 edition of the RAAF newspaper.

But one of Grigg’s last acts as Chief of Navy was to post this to Twitter:

And there was this earlier exchange in 2013 about the International Fleet Review:

Chloe & Ray Griggs

Chat discussion between Ray Griggs and the then Chloe Wootten on a fundraising page for ‘Ocsober’.

Furthermore, the Navy newspaper detailed that Chloe was a Lieutenant as at 13 October 2011:

13 October 2011 Chloe Griggs

Screenshot taken from the 13 October 2011 Navy newspaper showing the then Chloe Wootten held the rank of Lieutenant.

By 19 July 2012, Chloe was promoted to Lieutenant Commander:

19 July 2012 Chloe Griggs

Screenshot taken from the 19 July 2012 Navy newspaper showing the then Chloe Wootten held the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

And then she appears as a Commander on 13 January 2014:

13 January 2014 Chloe Griggs

Screenshot taken of the Navy website showing that Chloe Griggs held the rank of Commander on 13 January 2014.

That’s two promotions in two years and three months, equating to a pay rise of about $40,000 per year.

There is no information available as to who promoted Chloe or for what reasons. I make no inferences about these promotions and remind readers that two investigations have made no adverse findings.

But I was advised by an administrator of the Royal Australian Navy’s official Facebook page today that:

For promotion to Commander, four years seniority as a Lieutenant Commander is required.

Talented high-flyers might be promoted to Commander after four years. The average time is usually far longer, as demonstrated by the many biographies of Commanders on the Royal Australian Navy website where it often took a decade to achieve promotion.

Given the publicly available information in the Navy’s own newspaper and Defence’s refusal to answer questions, I would not expect this issue to go away.

And I will raise this point of comparison between Ray Griggs and Barnaby Joyce.

The former Deputy PM was rightly criticised as being hypocritical for publicly defending marriage while walking away from his own.

But the virtue signallers of the Left have no leg to stand on. They are not disappointed that those high standards were not kept. Rather they rejoice in the face of failure. There is nothing virtuous about that position at all.

Ray Griggs, on the other hand, is an LGBT champion. But are his actions hypocritical?

I think not. He has chosen to wallow in a sea without standards. His earlier marriage breakdown is not a fall from high standards but fits right in with the monogamy-is-an-optional-extra and marriage-equality-is-the-first-step-to-the-abolition-of-marriage-altogether crowd that he chooses to champion…


Here are some selected tweets from the official Twitter account of Vice Admiral Ray Griggs. It’s always interesting when an admiral speaks…

Given all all of this, one can hardly be surprised that both Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds (who wants front-line female infantry and women in NRL teams) and Labor Senator Kimberly Kitching were quite happy to see questions in Senate estimates shut down. Ray Griggs is the kind of admiral that has leftists salivating at the mouth.

Chloe & Ray Griggs Wedding

Ray and Chloe Griggs on their wedding day in 2016. Source: Facebook.


Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of eight children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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