An Australian solider who fought along side fallen Queensland Digger Jared MacKinney has accused the Army of failing its troops.
He claims better support may have prevented the death but the Defence Force say the allegations are “ill informed”.
Dani Luck reports.
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This is the footage filmed by Australian troops just outside Tarin Kowt last month.
And an email from an un-named Australian Solider to his friend about the battle and leaked to the media claims the Army let them down.
He believes the death of Lance Corporal MacKinney may have been avoided if they’d had more artillery and aerial support.
It has the Defence on the defensive.
Lt General Mark Evans, Chief of Joint Operations: “Allegations made in the Australian media that the MTF did not have the required support for this engagement are wrong and ill-informed and quite frankly not helpful.”
It’s one of many differing accounts from the forty diggers involved.
Lt Tim Hurley, Australian Soldier: “It was quite a successful operation because we did kill a large number of the enemy but at the same time we lost a really good friend.”
The email claimed the Mentoring Taskforce should have “realistically lost five to six soldiers” blaming poor intelligence about the size of the enemy force and inadequate support.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lt General Mark Evans: “It’s caused some consternation with the unit and has undermined some excellent work down at a tactical level with our troops.”
The Defence Minister told the ABC he’s unable to comment on operational matters but force protection is constantly under review.
Stephen Smith, Defence Minister: “We’ve now suffered 21 causalities and many have come in the more recent weeks and months and that is a tragedy.”
Rejecting claims Australian troop numbers are too low.
Stephen Smith, Defence Minister: “The number of personnel we have in the province is appropriate and sufficient for that purpose.”
The Minister says the email will form part of the investigation into the Lance Corporal’s death and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
Stephen Smith, Defence Minister: “The views of soldiers on the ground are always taken into account on these matters.”
Dani Luck, QUT News.