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Secret shame file on military

| 12.01,12. 06:32 AM |


Secret shame file on military

January 12, 2012

SECRET military documents reveal dozens of unreported incidents involving alleged sex assault, child pornography, drug abuse and attempted murder by Australian servicemen.
They also document misplaced landmines and near-fatal training mishaps.

A machine gunner in an army Chinook helicopter opened fire on ground targets during a training exercise near Townsville in 2010, without knowing there were troops in the area. No one was injured.

The release of the "hot issues briefs" (HIBs) come after four major inquiries prompted by the so-called "Skype sex incident" at the Australian Defence Force Academy in April last year.

Most of the alleged sex assaults contained in the files took place after the public outcry and the Gillard Government's pledge to crack down on poor behaviour.

HIBs from all three services were obtained by the Seven Network under Freedom of Information laws.

They highlight serious cultural problems within the Australian military.

The most serious HIB involves a sailor from the minehunter HMAS Yarra who was charged last May with aggravated sex assault and strangulation with intent to murder.

Also in May a soldier at the Puckapunyal artillery school was quizzed about child pornography.

The most common "hot issue" was sex assault, with more than a dozen cases reported in just eight months.

On Remembrance Day a soldier was charged with rape, stalking and deprivation of liberty against a female civilian at Enoggera barracks in Brisbane.

In September, an air force member was charged with seven counts of indecent assault against a minor.

The worst of the three services was the navy with numerous counts of sex assault or inappropriate behaviour.

One HIB involved a navy officer accused of inappropriate relationships with junior sailors and filming them in the shower.

Other "hot issues" included the loss of an anti-personnel landmine by an army reserve unit at a training ground in Queensland. The mine has a kill radius of more than 100m.

Defence said it expected its members to uphold the highest standards of personal behaviour.

"Defence has responded promptly to these incidents, including referring criminal matters to relevant civil authorities."

Herald Sun

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