|Army Boss General Rhys Jones|
“He screamed for help as he sank”…
So said a witness to the drowning of Private Michael Ross… Yet another unnecessary life lost, taken away, so it would seem by lackadaisical and appalling planning by our defence force.
Private Michael Ross fell from an inflatable boat into
near Waiouru last September. His body was found by Navy divers a week later. Moawhango Lake
- He was in a inflatable craft that was not correctly inflated
- He and others in the inflatable had crossed the lake without a safety boat which was a breach of Standing Orders,
- The gas canister used to inflate his lifejacket was empty
- The boat could not return to pick him up because of engine problems.
- The lifejacket being used was on loan from the Navy and no training on its use had been given.
A newspaper [Sunday Star Times] report says an internal Defence Force investigation, which has not been made public, found several safety failures led to Private Ross' death, including a faulty lifejacket that failed to inflate.
Michael had joined the Army to expand some life skills, but instead his life was cut short and the skills he was forced to undertake were without doubt the opposite to life skills. He was 29 years old.
It would also appear that either the Army is simply becoming super sloppy or is being under funded to such an extent that cost is over riding safety.
But more serious than the lack of planning and operational readiness has been the attitude of the Army after this and other tragic and senseless losses of life.
The Defence Force says it will make any improvements necessary to its operations after an investigation into the drowning of a soldier during a training exercise last year.
A newspaper report says an internal Defence Force investigation, which has not been made public, found several safety failures led to Private Ross' death, including a faulty lifejacket that failed to inflate.
The Defence Force said it will make necessary improvements to its operations following the outcome of the investigation.
The Defence Force said the court of inquiry, which is nearly complete, has specifically looked at the lifejacket he was wearing, as well as other systems and processes.
Defence Force Chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said the investigation has left no stone unturned in identifying the Defence Force's role in the incident.
He said the organisation will make improvements to its operations if needed.
The Military Police and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are also investigating Private Ross' death.
A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesperson said there has also been a health and safety inquiry which is nearly complete.
But he said the ministry cannot comment on whether it will prosecute anyone until it receives the finished report.
This death coupled with the death of Doug Hughes in
through extremely poor man management practices and rushed training and the deaths of three service men in a helicopter crash on ANZAC day in 2010 brought about by poor operational processes and attempting to save cash simply proves that our defence forces are being inadequately managed. We must not forget that remuneration is being restrained at the lower levels; staff have been laid off and then rehired at lesser rates of pay. This is a deplorable state of affairs. Afghanistan
The question we must all ask ourselves is, ‘Does this government really give a hoot about our armed forces, other than making them available to fight ‘Other People’s Wars’…