Orders about insider attacks not passed to platoons

IN THE month three Australian soldiers were gunned down in Afghanistan, an international security force issued vital orders about possible insider attacks.

But this information was not passed down to platoon bosses. Weeks after the orders were made, a rogue Afghan soldier killed Sapper James Martin, Private Robert Poate and Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic.

Queensland's Deputy State Coroner John Lock on Tuesday handed down his findings into the deaths.

At about 9.45pm on August 29, 2012, Zabet Hekmatullah was in the Australian camp when he collected an assault rifle, took cover and fired 30 rounds into the group of Australians who were only about five metres away.

Sapper Martin, 21, and Private Poate, 23, died immediately and Lance Corporal Milosevic, 40, died while being evacuated for medical treatment. Two other soldiers were wounded.

Mr Lock said there had been an increase in insider attacks throughout Afghanistan in August that year; a threat that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) thought was "real" and "serious".

On August 13 ISAF issued an order requiring troops to take protective steps to force separation and between Afghanistan and coalition soldiers and assess the risk of missions and infrastructure.

But Mr Lock said there was a "failure" when supervisors did not ensure the platoon commanding officer Lieutenant Dominic Lopez was aware of the increased insider attack risk.

He said the platoon bosses "did not have those orders, directions or even guidance, and simply put, they should have".

Hekmatullah was later captured and sentenced to death but it is unclear whether this sentence has been carried out. His motivation behind the attack is still unknown.

As part of his findings, Mr Lock recommended the Australian Defence Force review training for insider attacks, how orders are communicated and storing intelligence.

- APN NEWSDESK



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