Transcript of CDF press conference
MARK BINSKIN: I'm here this morning to inform you that an Australian Special Forces soldier serving in the Australian Defence Force headquarters in Kabul has died overnight in what we believe to be a non-combat-related incident. Around 2pm Afghanistan time, the soldier's colleagues found him in an administration building with a gunshot wound. The soldier from the Sydney-based Second Commando Regiment, was evacuated to the Role Two(*) medical facility in Kabul, where he underwent emergency medical treatment.
Sadly, the soldier's injuries were too severe and he later died surrounded by his mates. On behalf of the Australian Defence Force, I offer my condolences to the family, the friends and the colleagues of this brave soldier. He was a highly qualified, experienced and well respected Special Forces Soldier. His death will impact the nation and we will do all we can to support his family, his friends and his colleagues through the difficult days ahead.
ADF personnel secured the site overnight to allow coalition Military Police to collect evidence and the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service has now convinced - commenced its investigation. As you will all appreciate at this early stage we don't have all the facts. That's why it's critical we let this investigation take its course to examine the evidence and to establish all those facts.
And I'm not in a position to speculate about the details or the circumstances surrounding the incident. The Army has notified the soldier's family and is providing them with the support and assistance that we think that they require at this time. The family has asked the soldier's name and other personal details not be released at this time. Now, I'd ask that you respect their wishes and their privacy, as this is a difficult time for them.
We are deploying a psychological support team to Kabul to provide additional support to the members of the soldier's unit, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his friends as we prepare to bring him home. I'm prepared to take one or two questions, noting that there is not a great deal more that I can add while the matter is under investigation. And out of respect for soldier and his family, I will not be drawn into the speculation about the incident, and I ask that you consider that in your questions and in your reporting. Thank you.
QUESTION: [Inaudible question]
MARK BINSKIN: No, I'll respect the wishes of the family at the moment. They don't want any details of him released.
QUESTION: [Inaudible question]
MARK BINSKIN: No, I won't go into that. He was Special Forces based in the headquarters in Kabul.
QUESTION: [Indistinct] Sorry, Air Marshall, this incident could - well, inevitably raise questions about PTSD and the treatment of it. Are you confident that the Defence Force is doing enough in that field at the moment to…
MARK BINSKIN: In the second part I am confident in what Defence does in the mental health space, but in this particular case I'm not going to speculate. I need to let ADFIS determine the facts of the investigation and then we can make some decisions and see where we go from there.
QUESTION: Air Marshall, can you tell us how many tours he had done to Afghanistan; how long he had spent cumulatively in the country?
MARK BINSKIN: No, while obviously I have those details, again the family have asked us to respect the privacy of the details of what he has done in service and his name. So I'm sorry, I can't pass you that information.
QUESTION: So the headquarters at Kabul, that's the headquarters at the Kabul International Airport?
MARK BINSKIN: Yes. Kayan North is the term. Yeah.
QUESTION: Are the Afghanistan authorities also investigating this?
MARK BINSKIN: At the moment I don't have those details. At the moment its ADFIS has the lead in the investigation.
QUESTION: How many Australians are there currently in Afghanistan with the ADF?
MARK BINSKIN: Totally? There's around about 400 in the various roles, from the Afghan National Officer Academy and the force protection element there. We still have the [indistinct] detachment in Kandahar. we have the 205 corps core advisory team and we have embeds as well as our national headquarters elements in Kabul. So about 400.
QUESTION: [Inaudible] Can you rule out an insider attack?
MARK BINSKIN: Again, Brendan, I think we need to let ADFIS determine the facts in their investigation, rather than speculate or jump to any conclusion.
QUESTION: Do you have any indication how long that investigation will take?
MARK BINSKIN: No, and as you'd expect, this has happened and broken overnight. My aim is to get this information out to the nation as early as we could. But we just need to let the investigation go, and again I want to respect the wishes of the family at this time as well.
QUESTION: [Inaudible] Is there anything - I don't know if this is going too close to what you don't want to talk about. Is there anything you can say about the wound itself, where…
MARK BINSKIN: No. I don't want to go into those details. I really want to let the investigation get to the facts, and I appreciate you want information, but I don't really want to speculate on any of that. Yeah.
Right, thank you very much. Yeah.
QUESTION: Completely separate question [indistinct]. But just about Australia's role in Iraq right now, are you able to give any more information or detail on how many Australians are there, what they're doing, the task [indistinct]…
MARK BINSKIN: Ah, no. I mean, I want to talk about this. But with Iraq, the information is all out there with what we're doing. We don't have any Australian servicemen or women in Iraq at the moment.
Thank you very much.
NICK GRIMM: Okay, we've just been hearing there - oh, another question.
QUESTION: [Inaudible question]
MARK BINSKIN: No. I'm not going to take this opportunity to talk about on-water matters. Thank you.
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