Diggers to face grilling
THE Defence Minister will consider restricting soldiers’ access to Facebook and other social networking sites after the posting of offensive remarks by Diggers serving in Afghanistan.
Minister Stephen Smith has personally apologised to his Afghan counterpart for comments posted by some Australian soldiers on Facebook.
It has been reported the soldiers referred to their Afghan Taliban enemies as ‘‘sandniggers’’, ‘‘dunecoons’’, ‘‘ragheads’’ a nd‘‘ smelly locals’’.
When a l ocal man was shown running away from an explosion, a soldier was heard to say that the blast ‘‘ scared the f... out of that mufti’’.
A number of soldiers list their employer as a ‘‘ f... ing ranga’’, in reference to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Mr Smith described the conduct as ‘‘ appalling’’.
A number of soldiers are now facing disciplinary action and the prospect of being sent back to Australia.
Acting Chief of Army Major General Paul Symon said the private comments of a few soldiers could cause deep offence to Australians and partners in Afghanistan.
He said the army would take appropriate disciplinary or administrative action against the individuals involved following an investigation.
‘‘ The army is appalled by this behaviour. It is totally unacceptable and does not represent army values of courage, initiative and team- work,’’ Major General Paul Symon said.
‘‘ The material posted by these soldiers discredits the overwhelmingly positive culture demonstrated throughout our deployments in Afghanistan in the last decade.
‘‘ These soldiers have demonstrated a lack of decency and professional judgement, and brought discredit t o themselves and disrepute to the army and the Australian Defence Force.’’
However former defence chief, General Peter Cosgrove, said the issue needed to be kept in proportion.
He said the soldiers respon- sible and the defence force should not only be judged by the comments, but also by what they did every day.
‘‘ Some soldiers who have been posting these disreputable comments are also putting their lives on the line for ordinary Afghans,’’ he said.
‘‘ Remember that these kids are actually, by their deeds, s howing t hat t hey see a worth while mission for which they’re prepared to accept that great danger.’’
General Cosgrove said the soldiers involved in the slurs should be counselled and reminded that the defence force did not condone intolerance.
ILL-CONSIDERED: Soldiers’ Facebook comments have caused grave concern among defence ranks but the Diggers do have their supporters