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Battle casualties in Afghanistan

Definition of ‘battle casualties’

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) defines ‘battle casualties’ as personnel who are killed, wounded, missing or captured as a consequence of action against the enemy.

Definition of ‘wounded’

Any ADF member who is serving in war-like conditions and is hurt during contact with the enemy is said to have been ‘wounded’.

Definition of ‘injured’

An ADF member hurt in an incident that has not been the result of enemy action in warlike conditions is said to have been ‘injured’.

Treatment and management of battle casualties

Australian force protection measures are designed to minimise our casualties in a combat area. However, when they occur, Defence takes very good care of its people. ADF members who are wounded on operations and suffer minor physical impairment are treated and, once fit, return to service.

Where the impairment is serious, members are transferred as rapidly as possible and provided with appropriate treatment at the nearest hospital. On occasions, additional treatment at a specialist facility in Germany may be required.

For the more seriously wounded, once stabilised, the member is returned to Australia for additional treatment and rehabilitation. Within five to ten days of returning to Australia, the member is placed in the ADF rehabilitation program to manage all their health and rehabilitation requirements.

The ADF rehabilitation program aims to:

  • Reduce the impact of injury or illness through early clinical intervention;
  • Reduce any psychological effects of the injury;
  • Return the member to suitable work at the earliest possible time; and,
  • Provide a professionally managed rehabilitation plan tailored to individual needs.

For more information on rehabilitation, see:

ADF members who are killed in action are repatriated to Australia for funeral arrangements in accordance with next of kin wishes.

ADF personnel deployed to Afghanistan wounded in action

Since Operation SLIPPER commenced, 261 ADF members have been wounded in action in Afghanistan. The breakdown for wounded by year from 2002 onwards is:

Year Number
2002-04 4
2005 2
2006 10
2007 19
2008 26
2009 37
2010 65 (64 soldiers and 1 sailor)
2011 50
2012 33 (32 soldiers and 1 sailor)
2013 15 (14 soldiers and 1 airman)
Total 261 (258 soldiers, 2 sailors and 1 airman)
as at 28 October 2013

The types of wounds sustained can be broadly categorised as:

  • Amputations,
  • Fractures,
  • Gun shot wounds,
  • Hearing loss,
  • Lacerations/contusions,
  • Concussion/traumatic brain injury,
  • Penetrating fragments, and
  • Multiple severe injuries.

Defence continually reviews and consolidates available information and processes to ensure that all ADF personnel wounded on operations are accurately recorded. As a result these figures could be subject to adjustment in the future.

2013 Wounded in Action incidents in Afghanistan

Fifteen Australian Defence Force Personnel have suffered wounds as a result of battle: two were wounded in an improvised explosive device detonation, ten were wounded in small arms fire incidents and three were wounded as a consequence of the conduct of operations.

For the types of wounds sustained three have suffered gun shot wounds, six have suffered fragmentation wounds, one suffered fractures, three have suffered lacerations / contusions, and two have suffered other injuries.

ADF personnel deployed to Afghanistan killed in action

There have been 40 operational deaths in Afghanistan. Further details about each is available on the battle casualties pages. Soldiers killed in action are:

  • Sergeant Andrew Russell, SASR, died of wounds sustained when his patrol vehicle struck an anti-tank mine on 16 February 2002.
  • Trooper David Pearce, 2/14 LHR QMI, was killed when his ASLAV was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device on 8 October 2007.
  • Sergeant Matthew Locke MG , SASR, was killed by Taliban insurgent small-arms fire on 25 October 2007.
  • Private Luke Worsley, 4RAR (Cdo), was killed by Taliban insurgent small-arms fire on 23 November 2007.
  • Lance Corporal Jason Marks, 4RAR (Cdo), was killed by Taliban insurgent small-arms fire on 27 April 2008.
  • Signaller Sean McCarthy, SASR, was killed when the vehicle he was travelling in was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device on 8 July 2008.
  • Lieutenant Michael Fussell, 4RAR (Cdo), was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device during a dismounted patrol on 27 November 2008.
  • Private Gregory Sher, 1st Commando Regiment, was killed in a rocket attack on 4 January 2009.
  • Corporal Mathew Hopkins, 7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, was killed during an engagement with the Taliban on 16 March 2009.
  • Sergeant Brett Till, Incident Response Regiment, was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device during a route clearance task on the 19 March 2009.
  • Private Benjamin Ranaudo, 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment was killed as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device on 18 July 2009.
  • Sapper Jacob Moerland, 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment was killed as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device strike on 7 June 2010.
  • Sapper Darren Smith, 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment died of wounds sustained during an Improvised Explosive Device strike on 7 June 2010.
  • Private Timothy Aplin, 2nd Commando Regiment died as a result of a helicopter crash on 21 June 2010.
  • Private Scott Palmer, 2nd Commando Regiment died as a result of a helicopter crash on 21 June 2010.
  • Private Benjamin Chuck, 2nd Commando Regiment died of wounds sustained in a helicopter crash on 21 June 2010.
  • Private Nathan Bewes, 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment was killed as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device on 9 July 2010.
  • Trooper Jason Brown, SASR, died as a result of gunshot wounds sustained in an engagement with insurgents on 13 August 2010.
  • Private Tomas Dale, 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment was killed as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device strike on 20 August 2010.
  • Private Grant Kirby, 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment was killed as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device strike on 20 August 2010.
  • Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney, 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, was killed during an engagement with insurgents on 24 August 2010.
  • Corporal Richard Atkinson, 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, was killed as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device strike on 2 February 2011.
  • Sapper Jamie Larcombe, 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, was killed during an engagement with insurgents on 19 February 2011.
  • Sergeant Brett Wood MG DSM, 2nd Commando Regiment, was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device during a dismounted patrol on 23 May 2011.
  • Lance Corporal Andrew Jones, 9th Force Support Battalion, died of wounds as a result of a small-arms fire incident on 30 May 2011.
  • Lieutenant Marcus Case, 6th Aviation Regiment, died of wounds sustained in a helicopter crash on 30 May 2011.
  • Sapper Rowan Robinson, Incident Response Regiment, died as a result of gunshot wounds sustained in an engagement with insurgents on 06 June 2011.
  • Sergeant Todd Langley, 2nd Commando Regiment, was killed during an engagement with insurgents on 4 July 2011
  • Private Matthew Lambert, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, died of wounds as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device strike on 22 August 2011.
  • Captain Bryce Duffy, 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, was killed as a result of a small-arms incident on 29 October 2011.
  • Corporal Ashley Birt, 6th Engineer Support Regiment, was killed as a result of a small-arms incident on 29 October 2011.
  • Lance Corporal Luke Gavin, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment died of wounds as a result of a small-arms incident on 29 October 2011.
  • Sergeant Blaine Flower Diddams MG, from the Special Air Service Regiment was killed during a small arms engagement with insurgents on 02 July 2012.
  • Sapper James Martin, 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment was killed as a result of a small-arms incident on 29 August 2012.
  • Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (QMI), was killed as a result of a small-arms incident on 29 August 2012.
  • Private Robert Poate, 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment was killed as a result of a small-arms incident on 29 August 2012.
  • Private Nathanael Galagher, 2nd Commando Regiment was killed in a helicopter crash on 30 August 2012.
  • Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald, 2nd Commando Regiment was killed in a helicopter crash on 30 August 2012.
  • Corporal Scott Smith, Special Operations Engineer Regiment, was killed as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device on 21 October 2012.
  • Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird, VC, MG, 2nd Commando Regiment, was killed by small arms fire during an engagement with insurgents on 22 June 2013.

Public information during incidents

  • It is not appropriate for Defence to provide more specific details on injuries due to medical-in-confidence and privacy reasons. The Minister for Defence will provide broad categories of injuries sustained by our troops in his regular Ministerial Statements to Parliament.
  • Defence aims to provide public information on every operational incident involving battle casualties (wounded and killed in action). Operational tempo, ongoing operations and special operations are three factors which may lead to occasional inconsistency in reporting. However, media information about casualty figures is updated as appropriate when operational circumstances permit.

Defence guidance on the release of public information during incidents includes:

  • The ADF will not release the names of casualties until Next of Kin (NOK) procedures have been completed.
  • The ADF will not comment on the circumstances or causes of an incident until any investigation has been completed and if it is likely to be subjected to disciplinary proceedings.
  • In order to align with the civilian practice for reporting patient medical condition without compromising the medical-in-confidence nature of the wounds and injuries, Defence has adopted a nomenclature for public information relating to battle casualties:
    • Life Threatening
      Injury and wounds that will likely lead to death if not immediately treated (e.g. fragmentation and gunshot wounds involving vital organs, head). Also applicable to an illness or injury requiring admission to an intensive care facility.
    • Serious
      Injury and wounds requiring immediate medical care and hospitalisation but not considered life threatening (e.g. fragmentation and gunshot wounds to torso). Also applicable to an illness or injury requiring hospitalisation.
    • Slight/Minor
      Injury and wounds requiring medical care and hospitalisation (e.g. fragmentation and gunshot wounds to the extremities). Also applicable to an illness or injury requiring basic medical care/monitoring and restriction of duties.
    • Superficial
      Injury and wounds not requiring hospitalisation.

Public release of names

  • Names of ADF members (not afforded protected identity status) remaining in an operational area following an announced wounding or injury will not be released.
  • Names of ADF members (not afforded protected identity status) returning to Australia for treatment will remain protected until authorised for release by the individual member concerned. Names of ADF deceased will be released in consultation with the member’s family.
  • Only Special Forces soldiers, who have protected identity status, may have their names withheld when they are admitted into non-military hospitals.
  • There is no policy to hide the identity of other Australian soldiers undergoing medical treatment and rehabilitation in private or public hospitals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the timings for Aero Medical Evacuation (AME)?

  • The ADF will always seek to evacuate wounded members to medical facilities as rapidly as possible. Our people are our priority.
  • The ADF is satisfied that the AME support arrangements provided for our personnel in Afghanistan are appropriate.

What are the mandated timings for treatment?

  • Treatment is based on the severity of wounds or injuries and can be complicated by the tactical situation, particularly if troops are still engaged with the enemy.
  • For life-threatening wounds or injuries response timings are mandated by International Security Assistance Force and endorsed by Australia:
    • All ADF personnel receive advanced first aid training and can provide immediate care within the first ten minutes of wounding.
    • Evacuation assets aim to reach seriously wounded soldiers within one hour of wounding, and provide en-route care based on the clinical needs of the patient. This one hour guidance is not always possible when the tactical situation delays evacuation.
    • All attempts are made to evacuate casualties to a medical facility able to provide surgery within two hours of wounding.
    • For non life-threatening wounds the timings are extended although in many cases the evacuation process is such that the same timings result.

What is a NOTICAS?

Notification of casualty (NOTICAS) is the name for the formal reporting of casualties within the ADF. This reporting informs the chain of command and provides information that is passed to families of deployed personnel. NOTICAS reports are raised for every wounding and the reporting is undertaken as quickly as possible. Where possible, contact with the next of kin takes precedence over all other considerations.

How does the ADF treat a casualty?

  • The casualty treatment process is layered to provide the best possible care for ADF members.
  • Initially, casualties are provided first aid or administer self-aid with combat medical supplies carried within the tactical force.
  • All ADF members are trained in basic first aid.
  • During initial first aid, an assessment is made as to the severity of the wounds. If required soldiers will call for additional medical support or an evacuation of the wounded or injured person.
  • Tactical units may also include combat first aid trained personnel who have received advanced training in the initial treatment of wounds likely to be encountered on a battlefield.
  • Special Forces patrols often include a patrol first aider or advanced combat first aider. These soldiers are trained in advanced first aid procedures and are similar to paramedics in the civilian world.
  • If required wounded or injured personnel will be evacuated to a medical facility for further treatment.
  • Australians serving in Afghanistan rely on teams of highly skilled ISAF medical staff working in well equipped facilities. Australian medical personnel serve in some of these facilities.
  • This evacuation is conducted by the most suitable means, usually a helicopter.
  • The Tarin Kot facility performs initial trauma management similar to the emergency department of a civilian hospital. If required, the facility can perform surgery to treat wounded soldiers.

If required patients can then be evacuated back to more advanced facilities elsewhere in Afghanistan or in Germany once they are stable enough to travel.

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