The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has recently undergone the most comprehensive review of its organizational culture since federation. Western militaries across the USA, Canada and the UK are similarly engaged. Military misconduct, including rape, assault and the long traditions of hazing and bastardization, have been increasingly exposed, engaging civil society, agitating government and undermining military integrity. The Skype Affair is described as a particularly important military misconduct scandal that brought these relations, and ruling relations more specifically, into focus. The article describes the contest over democratic control of the armed forces initiated when the jurisdictions and authority of the Defence Minister, the Chief of Defence and the Commandant of the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) converged over the management of this military scandal. This article looks at how relations between Australian civil society, the military and the state are affected by the varying engagements of these sectors with the question of violence in the military and, subsequently, military modernization. The news-mediated discourse is one that highlights the structural split of civil–military relations, between two white masculinized institutions in a context of distinct cultural divergence over the rule of nation.