Inquiries finalised into the combat deaths of two commandos

29 June 2012 | Media Release

Defence has finalised inquiries into the combat deaths of two Australian commandos. Sergeant Brett Wood and Sergeant Todd Langley were killed on operations in Afghanistan last year.

SERGEANT BRETT WOOD

Sergeant Brett Wood, MG, DSM, was a member of a Special Operations Task Group force element conducting clearance operations in southern Afghanistan on 23 May 2011.

He was killed and two of his fellow commandos were wounded when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), laid by insurgents, detonated.

Sergeant Wood was a distinguished and highly experienced soldier. He deployed to Afghanistan on three occasions and was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for leadership in action as a Team Commander. Sergeant Wood was also posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for distinguished leadership in action and the United States Meritorious Service Medal.

The Inquiry Officer appointed to examine the circumstances surrounding Sergeant Wood’s death noted that the initial treatment the patrol medics provided to Sergeant Wood was exceptional, especially considering they were also wounded in the explosion.

In his report, the Inquiry Officer made a number of recommendations relating to doctrine and procedure which Defence is taking action to implement. Details of the report’s recommendations may compromise operational security or the Privacy Act and cannot be publicly released.
 
The Inquiry Officer also recommended that a Commission of Inquiry into Sergeant Wood’s death was not warranted.

The Minister for Defence weighed the wishes of the Wood family and any public interest in the release of the Report and decided not to publicly release the report into Sergeant Wood’s death.

SERGEANT TODD LANGLEY

Sergeant Todd Langley was an Australian commando who was serving with the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) when he was struck by small-arms fire during an engagement with insurgents in southern Afghanistan on 4 July 2011.  Sergeant Langley was killed instantly while coordinating support for a fellow soldier who was wounded.

Sergeant Langley was an exceptionally experienced soldier on his fifth deployment to Afghanistan. He had also undertaken two deployments to East Timor.

The Inquiry Officer appointed to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the death of Sergeant Langley commended members of the SOTG for their actions during highly stressful circumstances involving the death of a member of their team and another serious casualty.

The Inquiry Officer made only one recommendation which was that a Commission of Inquiry into his death was not warranted.

The Minister weighed the wishes of the Langley family and any public interest in the release of the Report and decided not to publicly release the report into Sergeant Langley’s death.

Defence asks that media respect the Wood and Langley families’ request for privacy.

Media contact:
Defence Media Operations 02 6127 1999


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Issued by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, ACT
Phone: 02 6127 1999 Fax: 02 6265 6946

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