03 June 2010

ADF Chief establishes Commission of Inquiry into unconscious Australian soldier

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the Chief of the Australian Defence Force, or ADF, announced today that he is appointing a Chief of the Defence Force Commission of Inquiry to look into the facts and circumstances which resulted in an Australian Army soldier being found unconscious in his room in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan last Friday.

“As the investigation is ongoing, no findings are yet available, however, a bottle of pills and, separately, white powder - thought to be an opiate - were found in the soldier’s room. Analysis and medical testing to confirm the nature of the substance that may have caused or contributed to his condition is ongoing,” said Houston.

The soldier involved (whose name has not been released) is an experienced commando currently deployed with the Special Operations Task Group ("SOTG"). The Comanding Officer of SOTG has now ordered prohibited substance testing of all members of the soldier’s sub-unit. The results of the tests will not be available until full analysis is completed. Testing of the remaining elements of the SOTG is currently underway.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said the Commission of Inquiry will also identify any deficiencies in the current Prohibited Substance Testing regime.

Today Minister of Defence, Senator John Faulkner (ALP - NSW) sent this letter to Houston on the matter.

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