The ADF’s new head Air Marshal Angus Houston may find it easier to fix bastardisation and bullying than he thought. It appears his predecessor, Peter Cosgrove, solved the problem almost five years ago when he was head of the Army – and tweaked the military justice system – if this extract from The World Today can be believed:

FIONA REYNOLDS: General Cosgrove, 17 paratroopers reportedly received medical attention for assault-related injuries. Is suspected theft an excuse for vicious bashing and what amounts to vigilantism?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL COSGROVE: Absolutely not. The whole episode that’s alleged there is reprehensible – just in the telling of it. And of course we’re vigorously – and have been for a long while now – pursuing down these allegations to see that there is justice brought to anybody involved.

FIONA REYNOLDS: It’s understood that a company Sergeant Major told soldiers that if they caught anyone stealing to “beat them to within an inch of their lives. Drag them bleeding in front of his desk, and nothing would be said about their actions.” What does that say about the Army culture?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL COSGROVE: What that says is that we really need to look very carefully at the behaviour of people like that. But that’s got to be done by a court. And that’s got to be done in a way which, tested as evidence – look, one of the things it’s really – you know, quite strange in all this is that the reporter for Time is alleging that he’s uncovered it. The military has been investigating this and testing it in courts in an open way. So, I mean, it wasn’t much of an uncovering, especially when one looks at the inaccuracies that are included in that report. But let’s get back to the main point. The sorts of things you are talking about are reprehensible, they are not condoned. We are investigating them and we are moving as quickly as the legal system will permit to getting some resolution of it…

Note that “as quickly as the legal system will permit”?

Peter Fray

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