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Inquiry finds flaws
in security at base
Report into the murder of three soldiers finds problems with force protection
Investigation complete: The Inquiry Report into the murder of three Australian soldiers at Patrol
Base Wahab in Afghanistan has found force protection measures at the base were inadequate
under the circumstances.
Sgt Dave Morley
THE Inquiry Report on the
murder of three Australian
soldiers at a patrol base in
Afghanistan has found force
protection measures at the
outpost were inadequate for the
VCDF Air-Mshl Mark Binskin
announced the findings on
Spr James Martin, LCpl
Stjepan 'Rick' Milosevic, and
Pte Robert Poate were killed in
an insider attack while serving in
Afghanistan as part of the 3RAR
Task Group on August 29, 2012.
"While nothing will bring
back these brave and dedicated
soldiers, Defence has conducted
a formal inquiry into the circum-
stances surrounding the attack to
develop a clearer understanding
of what happened and to assess
whether any systemic issues need
to be addressed to prevent a simi-
lar tragedy occurring," Air-Mshl
"As a part of the process, I
have spoken with a number of the
families of these men and we have
discussed the Inquiry Officer's
findings and recommendations.
"Additionally, at the request of
the families, a copy of the report
was provided to the Brisbane
Coroner at the beginning of
Air-Mshl Binskin said the
Inquiry Officer made 22 findings,
of which about half related to
"The Inquiry Officer found
the decisions and actions in
establishing and maintaining the
force protection arrangements
were at the minimum level of
authorised force protection to
provide security for soldiers," he
said.The measures did not ade-
quately address the specific situ-
ation at Patrol Base Wahab and
potentially placed personnel at
significant risk to the threat of fire
and other environmental hazards,
enemy action or insider attack.
"The Inquiry Officer stated
that the patrol base had a suffi-
cient number of people to pro-
vide security for the Australians,
however there was a shortfall in
decisions made on the ground
about how they were allocated,"
Air-Mshl Binskin said.
He said the Inquiry Officer
found having a single roving
patrol was not adequate in the
"The Inquiry Officer also
found the decision to adopt a
relaxed level of security meant the
Australians were not in a suffi-
cient state of readiness and was
not in accordance with standing
orders," he said.
"The Inquiry Officer identified
a shortfall in the decision making
and actions that permitted soldiers
to wear gym gear underneath their
"This limited their ability to
react and was not in line with
usual existing standard operating
procedures or orders."
Two Australians have since
been disciplined over the patrol's
inappropriate dress standard.
Air-Mshl Binskin stressed that
no level of force protection could
comprehensively guard against a
person who was intending to com-
mit a crime such as murder.
"Insider attacks remain a com-
plex and evolving threat," he said.
"The Inquiry Officer also
found the self-discipline and
application of the rules of engage-
ment immediately following the
attack to be commendable."
The suspect was apprehend-
ed in Pakistan in February this
year and has been handed over to
Cpl Max Bree
THE former Afghan Army sergeant accused of mur-
dering three Australian soldiers has been returned to
Afghanistan after being held by Pakistani authorities.
Former Sgt Hekmatullah
was captured by Pakistan's
(ISI) agency in February and
was held until an extradition
agreement could be finalised
CDF Gen David Hurley
announced the capture
on October 2 and said
Hekmatullah would likely
be charged with murder.
"We expect him to face
trial for the murder of
LCpl Stjepan Milosevic,
Spr James Martin and Pte
Robert Poate during an
insider attack at Patrol Base
Wahab in Afghanistan," he
said. "Two other Australian
soldiers were also wounded
in this cowardly attack."
It was "bittersweet" news
to families of the soldiers,
according to the CDF.
"On one hand there's a
great sense of relief but it
will not change history," he
said. "This news comes at a
particularly difficult time so
close to the anniversary of
"The families have
expressed their sincere
gratitude for those who
have worked diligently and
relentlessly to ensure the
man accused of murdering
these three Australians faces
The CDF thanked the various government agencies
involved in Hekmatullah's extradition.
He said the Australian Secret Intelligence Service
and Defence Intelligence Organisation had worked
closely with Pakistan's ISI and Afghanistan's National
Directorate of Security over the past six months in
relation to Hekmatullah's detention and deportation.
"We greatly appreciate their efforts to date and we
will continue to cooperate with Afghan authorities as
they prosecute the accusations against Hekmatullah
under Afghan law," Gen Hurley said.
Though Australia had an interest in the case, the
CDF didn't want to draw attention to the case while
the Afghan and Pakistan governments worked out
details of the transfer.
"It would have been inappropriate and possibly
detrimental for Defence to disclose Hekmatullah's
apprehension until the transfer to Afghan authorities
was complete," he said.
"Hekmatullah's capture draws a line under the four
insider attacks on Australian personnel.
"Those responsible for the deaths of four
Australian soldiers and who wounded another 10 have
been captured or killed and no longer pose a threat to
to face justice
Spr James Martin.
Pte Robert Poate.
LCpl Stjepan Milosevic.
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