Thursday, October 11, 2007

Australian Military Hides Truth Of 'War On Terror' Casualties

Most Australians Have No Idea Of The Scale Of Violence Our Soldiers Have Experienced In Iraq And Afghanistan

Australian Defence Force chiefs kept secret the death of soldier David Pearce for some 10 hours, according to this story. It's the latest example of a carefully designed program within the defence force, initiated by the Howard government, of information suppression and control, mostly aimed at keeping quiet, for as long as possible, the truth about the violence Australian soldiers are encountering in Iraq and Afghanistan :

...the Afghanistan and Iraq deployments remain among the most secretive ever undertaken by our forces.

The attack in which Trooper Pearce died was the latest in a six-month barrage involving Australian troops in the Oruzgan Province.

About 25 roadside explosions targeting Coalition forces have been recorded there since June.

It is often days before the Australian Defence Force acknowledges such engagements. Some attacks, especially those involving special forces troops, are not spoken of publicly at all.

At least seven times since August the ADF has failed to release details of hostile engagements between Australian soldiers and the enemy until at least two days after the attacks.

The tactic is to invoke an information blackout on the most serious incidents and release minimal information when it has been rigorously vetted by senior officers and bureaucrats.

Australia has suffered four military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, the conflicts have also produced more than 50 battlefield injuries and more than a dozen soldiers are believed to have been permanently incapacitated as a result.

Along with the hundreds of veterans now suffering the horrors of what will likely prove to be lifelong post-traumatic stress disorder. Some of those who are being hammered by the early stages of PTSD are as young as 20 years old. Unofficially, divorce rates for Australian 'War on Terror' veterans are soaring, as are incidents of suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism and domestic violence.

By downplaying, controlling and outright censoring the truth of what is happening to Australian soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the veterans who have returned from those wars are now encountering a public that can barely comprehend what they've gone through.

How are non-military associated Australians expected to know how horrific many of the veterans tours of duty have been when so little of the facts find their way into the Australian media?

The full impact of this kind of censorship and suppression by military chiefs, under the guidance and encouragement of the Howard government, will become clear in the next decade when the long-term effects and impact of PTSD for these veterans become clearer.

As with the veterans of the Vietnam War, the new generation of veterans will eventually be forced to ask for more help and will be faced with a public that doesn't understand, because they don't know, what the scale of the violence they experienced during their deployments done to their lives and their families.

Let's hope the current generation of youth learn how to look after the needs of 'WoT' veterans better than the Baby Boomers did for the veterans of Korea and Vietnam.

UPDATE : The Australian Defence Force is now denying there was a cover-up, or a failure to reveal details with due haste of the death of soldier David Pearce.