Booze bust for Aussie soldiers
A GROUP of Townsville-based soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan have been thrown into a military jail after they admitted to drinking alcohol in the Middle East.
The Bulletin understands four soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment were last week sent to the Defence Force Correctional Establishment at Holsworthy Barracks in New South Wales.
It's not clear when they are scheduled for release.
It's understood the soldiers were returning from their deployment in Afghanistan as part of Force Protection Element 9, and were caught with alcohol in their system at Camp Baird after consuming it off the base.
The soldiers were initially going to be detained in cells at the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment headquarters at Lavarack Barracks, but were sent straight to Holsworthy.
A Department of Defence spokesman confirmed members from Townsville who recently returned from deployment had been found in breach of a lawful order.
Defence declined to confirm details of the breach or the exact number of soldiers involved other than stating the affected members had received punishments under the Defence Force Discipline Act.
"Defence will not comment on the individual punishments or the disciplinary process undertaken for these soldiers," the spokesman said.
Defence also confirmed they were aware of a soldier who was detained by Queensland Police Service on the night of August 30 who has now been released.
On August 31, four other 3RAR soldiers were involved in a serious car crash, with one left in a critical condition after being flung 20 metres from the car upon impact.
Defence has refused to comment on the updated medical conditions of those in the crash.
"Defence is providing support to the members and their families," the spokesman said.
"Defence will assist local authorities with their investigation into the incident as required."
Former army officer and Bulletin defence columnist Ross Eastgate said these incidents proved soldiers needed a buffer period before being integrated back into civilian areas.
"They're living in high-stress, intense environments, on adrenaline and on edge," he said.
"They need to be given a period of decompression, a good unit understands that and provides that.
"I guess there needs to a quarantine period for soldiers before they come back."
Mr Eastgate said personnel serving in previous conflicts had the ability to readjust because of the long periods of time spent travelling back to Australia.
"The system is very unforgiving at the moment," he said.
"They're under stress and once they leave they look for a release, but it doesn't justify bad behaviour."