Inquiry Report released into the combat death of Special Operations engineer
18 December 2013
Defence has released a redacted Inquiry Officer's Report into the circumstances surrounding the death of Special Operations engineer Corporal Scott Smith in Afghanistan on 21 October 2012.
Corporal Smith was a member of a Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) Force Element assisting the Afghan Provincial Response Company-Uruzgan (PRC-U) on a clearance operation in Helmand province when he was killed in action.
Corporal Smith and another engineer were searching a suspected insurgent compound when they discovered a large quantity of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and components within the compound.
The team was subsequently engaged by insurgents with small arms fire.
Corporal Smith and a fellow Special Operations engineer cleared several routes in the compound to ensure other members of the partnered force could move to positions where they could observe and return fire on the insurgents located outside the compound.
Corporal Smith was using a hand held mine detector to clear a path for himself when an IED detonated, killing him instantly.
Corporal Smith's courage, bravery and selfless actions saved many lives.
Corporal Smith was recognised in the 2013 Australia Day Honours, with a posthumous Commendation for Gallantry for his actions in warning his team commander about the IEDs, and clearing safe areas and routes for his fellow soldiers in the face of significant threats.
The Inquiry Officer also commended the team commander's strong and effective leadership throughout the incident and noted the professionalism of all personnel who carried out their duties to the highest level while under enemy fire.
This highly successful clearance operation destroyed an IED factory and seized numerous weapons, ammunition, home made explosives, IED components and narcotics.
It also removed several insurgents from the battlefield; uncovered a Taliban jail with 16 prisoners who were subsequently freed and provided valuable intelligence on various aspects of insurgent operations.
The Inquiry Officer recommended that Defence take a balanced approach to any further testing and doctrinal development on the selection and use of hand held mine detectors; and review how a pre-deployment administration form is completed, classified and stored.
The final recommendation was that a Commission of Inquiry into Corporal Smith's death was not warranted.
Defence has agreed to and is implementing all three recommendations.
A copy of the redacted Inquiry Officer Report is available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/coi/index.htm
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999