Following the death of a second Australian soldier in training in less than a week, the Australian Army took the unprecedented step of suspending all combat training until a review into safety protocols was conducted.
Trooper Stuart Reddan was killed at Shoalwater Bay, Queensland, on 4 May by a falling tree branch when the M113 he was travelling in struck a tree.
Private Jason Challis died as a result of injuries sustained during a live-fire training activity at Mount Bundey near Darwin on 10 May.
Following Private Challis’ death on 10 May, the Army instigated a suspension of training activities across its combat brigades to review risk assessment processes and training safety management.
In a further statement on 11 May, Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell said that while it was essential the Army trained for the rigours of operational service, it was very clear to Army’s leaders at every level – from corporal to general – that its training must build and develop its people and capability, but that the injury or death of soldiers in training was fundamentally at odds with that purpose and the responsibility commanders held to those they lead.
“Brigades will progressively return to duty over the next few days as the Forces Commander Major General Fergus McLachlan is satisfied that the appropriate processes are in place to manage risk and the safety of our people,” Lieutenant General Campbell said.
“I have great confidence in our leaders, and our men and women, to work together to reinforce our training standards and return to the level of performance we all expect of ourselves and our nation requires of us.”
Lieutenant General Campbell said he was deeply appreciative of the immediate response to the latest tragedy by all those on the ground, and he knew his soldiers would continue to support each other as they confront the loss of their mates.
“Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of Trooper Stuart Reddan and Private Jason Challis during this difficult time.
“We will work very closely to support Defence, Comcare, State and territory police, and coronial authorities as these incidents are thoroughly investigated.”
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