Inquiry report released into the combat death of Special Forces soldier
6 March 2014
Defence has released a redacted Inquiry Officer report into the circumstances surrounding the death of Corporal Cameron Baird VC MG in Afghanistan.
Corporal Baird, a member of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG), was killed as a result of small arms fire during an assault on an insurgent compound in the Shadhid-e Hasas District, Uruzgan province, on 22 June 2013.
Corporal Baird was commanding a team from an SOTG Force Element during a partnered operation with the Provincial Response Company – Uruzgan to clear known insurgent locations.
Under heavy fire, at close range and with minimal visibility, Corporal Baird coordinated and led attempts to neutralise an insurgent position within the compound.
On three separate occasions Corporal Baird charged the enemy-held building within the prepared compound. Sadly, he was shot and killed on this third attempt.
The compound was later found to hold insurgents with a range of ammunition, weapon systems and equipment.
The Inquiry Officer highlighted Corporal Baird’s leadership and actions, which directly contributed to protecting his team members’ lives, regaining the initiative, neutralising the enemy threat and successfully clearing the insurgent position.
The actions of two other soldiers in Corporal Baird’s team were also highlighted, for their contribution to the mission’s success and their courage in retrieving Corporal Baird from the compound despite threats to their own safety.
The inquiry did not identify any weaknesses or deficiencies relevant to the circumstances surrounding Corporal Baird’s death.
Based on his investigation, the Inquiry Officer made one recommendation, that a Commission of Inquiry into Corporal Baird’s death was not warranted. This recommendation was subsequently accepted.
Corporal Baird was a highly experienced Special Forces soldier who had deployed to Afghanistan five times (2003, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013), as well as to Iraq (2003) and Timor-Leste (2001). He was awarded the Medal for Gallantry while a Lance Corporal for gallantry in action during close quarters combat in Afghanistan in November 2007.
Corporal Baird was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia posthumously for his actions in the same engagement that resulted in his death. The Governor-General presented the award to Corporal Baird’s parents, Doug and Kaye Baird, at a ceremony at Government House in Canberra on 18 February 2014.