Release of Inquiry Officer’s Report into previously reported 27 March civilian casualty incident
16 May 2013
Defence has released a redacted version of an Inquiry Officer’s report into the death of an Afghan man and a child during a partnered Afghan National Police Provincial Response Company and Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) patrol in Uruzgan province on Sunday, 27 March 2011.
Defence regrets that during an engagement between insurgents and the partnered force an Afghan man initially suspected of being an insurgent was killed and an Afghan boy was seriously injured. Unfortunately, despite best medical efforts, the boy succumbed to his injuries and died at a medical facility on 2 April 2011.
On 12 April 2011, the previous Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Mark Evans, appointed an inquiry into the incident to determine whether it was possible to identify how the child was injured and to better understand the full circumstances of the incident.
The Inquiry is complete and the report has now been authorised for public release.
“The Inquiry Officer found that the actions of the Australian personnel involved in the incident were lawful and in accordance with the rules of engagement,” the current Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Ash Power, said.
“The child's fatal injuries and the death of the Afghan man were the result of the partnered force being engaged by insurgents."
The deceased man was originally reported by Defence to have been an insurgent, based on the results of a test to ascertain exposure to potential explosive materials. Based on all the evidence available, the Inquiry Officer found that the deceased Afghan man was a relative of the deceased child and was not actively taking part in hostilities at the time of the incident and that he was, in the Inquiry Officer's assessment, not associated with the insurgents who engaged the partnered patrol on 27 March 2011.
The report did raise some issues regarding the post-incident analysis in this matter that had initially determined the deceased male was an insurgent through tests for explosive residue.
The Inquiry Officer recommended:
1. Processes and procedures be reviewed to ensure adequate mechanisms are in place to check the identity of suspected insurgents.
2. Improved training be implemented to ensure adequate understanding of interpretation of chemical testing for exposure to potential explosive materials.
3. Patrol medics carry additional equipment to assist in the treatment of small children.
4. Family of the deceased male and child being contacted and advised of their rights to make a claim for compensation.
Lieutenant General Power accepted the first recommendation and agreed to the second recommendation in principle.
"The fifteenth SOTG rotation had completed its rotation before the Inquiry Officer’s Report was finalised. As such, this recommendation could only fully be implemented with the sixteenth and subsequent SOTG rotations.” Lieutenant General Power said.
The third recommendation was not accepted.
“I do not believe that we should further burden already heavily laden patrols with paediatric medical equipment when the ADF already has robust measures in place to treat casualties at the scene and evacuate them to appropriate medical facilities within mandated timings,” Lieutenant General Power said.
“It is appropriate that paediatric medical supplies to treat children are held at the Role 2 Medical Facility in Tarin Kot.”
Lieutenant General Power did not agree to the fourth recommendation.
“The inquiry was not able to determine whether the deceased Afghans were killed by insurgents or the partnered force and it remains unclear whether the ADF was responsible for the deaths. In the circumstances, I determined that to seek out the family and make an offer under the Tactical Payment Scheme, was not warranted,” Lieutenant General Power said.
While not dealt with in the Inquiry Officer’s Report, prior to the completion of the report the issue of payment had already been raised with the family in relation to the deceased child. No claims have been received.
The release of the report was delayed while Defence gave consideration to the issues and recommendations contained in the report.
The delay in the public release of the report has not prevented the ADF acting to implement the recommendations from the report where appropriate.
A redacted version of the Inquiry Officer report is available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/coi/docs/RedactedIOReport27March2011CIVCAS.pdf
The report has been redacted in order to preserve operational security and protect Australian Defence Force’s tactics, techniques and procedures.
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999