Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Ian McPhedran From: Herald Sun March 09, 2011

DRINK-driving, drunk on duty, sleeping on the job and accidentally firing a gun are among the offences committed by Australian military personnel in the Middle East in the past two years.

A total of 160 Australians from all three services faced 167 charges of misconduct in the Middle East Area of Operations between January 2009 and February this year.

It reads like something from a training manual under the heading: "What not to do in a war zone".

There were 14 cases of troops being AWOL, 15 instances of unauthorised weapon discharge and five where troops were drunk on duty.

One person was charged with driving a service vehicle while intoxicated.

The offenders include 35 officers.

The figures do not include three commandos who have been charged with manslaughter over the death of five children during a special forces raid in 2009. That case is due in court within weeks.

"Misdemeanors" were not included in the figures. These include matters that were overlooked or downgraded to a warning and "counselling".

The most common charge involved 65 service personnel who failed to comply with a general order.

Such orders cover issues such as dress codes and appearance.

The next most common, but much more serious, offence was disobeying a lawful order -- committed by 27 Australians. Punishment varies from a reprimand to loss of pay and rank.

The most serious cases can result in jail time in the defence force correctional establishment.

Charges are usually heard by a superior officer who can refer them up the command chain.

During the two-year period about 10,000 Australian Defence Force personnel have served in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, navy ships at sea and other bases across the region.

Others charges included prejudicial conduct (16 charged), insubordinate conduct (six), insubordinate language (two), dangerous conduct (two), destruction of service property (two), asleep on guard duty (one), and creating a disturbance (one).

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