The Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General David Hurley, today released details of the death of Sergeant Brett Till, a member of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG), who was killed in action on 19 March 2009 as a result of an insurgent emplaced Improved Explosive Device (IED).
Lieutenant General Hurley acknowledged the delay in releasing the Inquiry Officer’s report. “The Inquiry Officer identified some matters which required further examination and Defence has undertaken a number of reviews in the 18 months since Sergeant Till’s death.”
Sergeant Till was leading an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team as part of a route clearance operation on 18/19 March 2009 when a member of his team located an IED. During the subsequent activity to destroy the IED the main charge detonated, killing Sergeant Till instantly.
“Sergeant Till was kneeling next to the IED when it detonated at approximately 0715hrs. The Inquiry Officer found that there was insufficient evidence to determine what initiated the detonation.
The Inquiry Officer’s report states that Sergeant Till began the process to destroy the IED in accordance with the Officer Commanding the Force Element’s direction. However, after the first controlled detonation, Sergeant Till appears to have adapted his approach to this task.
“This does not imply Sergeant Till acted contrary to his orders. At all times Sergeant Till applied techniques which were consistent with adapted Tactics, Techniques and Procedures.
There are a number of valid techniques Sergeant Till could have adopted to destroy the IED when he reassessed the situation after the initial explosion. There is no clear evidence to suggest Sergeant Till did not intend to destroy the IED.
“The Inquiry Officer stated that there was no evidence of any personnel failing in the performance of their duties,” said Lieutenant General Hurley.
The Inquiry Officer raised some matters regarding the manning and composition of EOD Teams at the time of Sergeant Till’s death. In response the Chief of Army commissioned the Explosive Hazards Review Board to undertake a detailed examination of EOD Manning and doctrine with particular attention to the preparation and employment of EOD Teams.
“The Review Board determined that the SOTG Team construct was appropriate at the time of Sergeant Till’s death and remains robust and consistent with doctrine,” said Lieutenant General Hurley.
The Inquiry Officer found that the circumstances associated with Sergeant Till’s death do not warrant the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry.
The Vice Chief of the Defence Force offered his condolences to Sergeant Till’s family and friends on behalf of the wider Defence Community.
“Sergeant Till was a highly respected soldier and a very capable EOD Technician. His mates remember him as a selfless bloke who made a difference. Brett’s team held him in the highest regard as a professional and dedicated soldier who died protecting his mates,” said Lieutenant General Hurley.
For further information:
A transcript of Lieutenant General Hurley’s speech and an unclassified version of the Inquiry Officer report (pdf-file) is available at: www.defence.gov.au
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,