Inquiry Report on 29 August 2012 insider attack released
25 September 2013
Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, today released the Inquiry Officer Report into the deaths of three Australian soldiers at a small patrol base in the Baluchi area of Uruzgan province in Afghanistan on 29 August 2012.
Lance Corporal (LCPL) Stjepan Milosevic of 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, Queensland Mounted Infantry, Sapper (SPR) James Martin of 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment and Private (PTE) Robert Poate of 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment were murdered while serving on a mentoring mission with the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment Task Group (3RAR TG).
“Although this report does not change the fact that the families of LCPL Milosevic, SPR Martin, and PTE Poate have lost a son, a brother, a husband or a father, it has served its purpose in finding out the facts of the incident,” Air Marshal Binskin said.
The Inquiry Officer concluded the three Australians were shot by an Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier, now known to be former Sergeant (SGT) Hekmatullah, who fired from close range into the Australian administration area inside Patrol Base Wahab.
Based on the Inquiry Officer’s recommendations, the Chief of the Defence Force has referred the matter to the Chief of Army to consider administrative action against three individuals.
Disciplinary action was taken following the attack against two individuals concerning inappropriate dress of the piquet at Patrol Base Wahab.
The Inquiry Officer made 22 findings and six recommendations. Eleven of the findings relate to force protection. The Inquiry Officer found there were shortfalls in the decisions made and actions taken in establishing and maintaining security for our people.
However, on the evidence available, the Inquiry Officer was unable to prove or disprove whether the platoon’s force protection arrangements directly or indirectly created an opportunity for former SGT Hekmatullah to attack the Australian soldiers is unknown.
The Inquiry Officer also found that no Australian Defence Force or ISAF members were aware of any intelligence reports or other information concerning a specific insider threat existing at Patrol Base Wahab prior to the incident.
Air Marshal Binskin said implementing the recommendations began in April this year.
“Australia would continue to work with ISAF and our Afghan partners to find former SGT Hekmatullah who fled the patrol base immediately after the attack,” he said.
“Let me assure you we will not let this go. I would like to emphasise that we will not waver in our commitment to bring former SGT Hekmatullah to justice,” Air Marshal Binskin said.
Defence asks that media respect the privacy of the soldiers’ families.
The redacted report is available at: www.defence.gov.au/coi
The media conference video will be available from the Defence Video Portal at: http://video.defence.gov.au
A transcript will be available at: http://news.defence.gov.au
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999