Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Kovco crackdown: Army bans soldier phones

It seems the paranoia gripping the defence force has reached our forces in Timor. Australian soldiers serving in East Timor have had their mobile phones confiscated by the hierachy in a knee-jerk response to the recent Kovco scandal in Iraq, according to independent defence writer Sasha Uzunov.

On previous missions, soldiers have been permitted to use mobile phones during off-duty hours to contact family back in Australia. But the fear is soldiers will be able to relay information back to relatives if any major incident were to occur in East Timor.

"Several family members of serving personnel have contacted me with their concerns," Sasha told The Hugog today. "They have my trust because I'm a journalist and a former Australian soldier."

But it appears our soldiers serving in the latest regional troublespot do not enjoy the trust of the military. This, of course, is the same defence establishment that managed to screw up just about every aspect of the aftermath of Jake Kovco's death last month.

Instead of confiscating phones from the troops on the ground, maybe the military hierachy should be taking a good look at itself. Or would this be too hard?

Sasha Uzunov is a freelance photo journalist who has worked for the British and Canadian media in the Balkans and Iraq. He has been published in the major Australian newspapers as well as appearing on television and radio providing perspective on defence and security issues.


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