22 Oct 2009

Australian commando killed in army exercise

3:02 pm on 22 October 2009

The Australian Defence Force is defending its counter-terrorism exercises after a commando was shot dead during a live firing exercise on Tuesday night.

A joint police and military investigation has begun into the death of Lance Corporal Mason Edwards, 30, at the Cultana military base, near Port Augusta in South Australia.

Lance Corporal Edwards was shopt in the head. He was a member of a group preparing for a mission to Afghanistan.

The ABC reports another soldier was taken to hospital with shrapnel wounds.

Army Chief, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, says the exercise involved confined spaces and rehearsals of hostage situations.

General Gillespie says Lance Corporal Edwards was a committed soldier and had been deployed to Afghanistan twice before.

Former Special Forces commander Jim Wallace says the training is highly dangerous but there are no alternatives at this stage.

Australian Defence Magazine editor at large Greg Ferguson, says deaths during training are extremely rare.

But he also says live firing exercises are necessary to prepare the Army for real combat.