Added by David Sandercock on March 25, 2011
Defence Minister Stephen Smith has personally apologised to Afghanistan following offensive comments by Australian soldiers on social networking sites.
As a result of the conduct of some soldiers, termed “appalling”, Mr Smith says soldier’s access to these sites, including Facebook, will be discussed. “One of the things that the chief of the defence force will now examine and consider is access to, and use of, social media,” he said.
These soldiers also face disciplinary action and the prospect of being sent back home.
The investigation includes videos showing soldiers referring to Afghan people as “sand coons”, “dune coons”, “niggers” and “smelly locals”, according to the Seven Network.
Soldiers also referred to their employer, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, as a f***ing ranga”.
Although Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has condemned the postings, former defence chief General Peter Cosgrove said soldiers should not be judged on these remarks only, but also by the work they do every day: “Some soldiers who have been silly in posting these silly disreputable comments are also putting their lives on the line for ordinary Afghans,” Cosgrove said.
Defence Minister said his Afgan counterpart, Abdul Rahim Wardakhe, had told him the comments would not damage Australia’s reputation.