Friday, April 28, 2006
Peter Carlisle writes:When I heard about Jacob Kovko's death I was at first suspicious – how the hell could anyone shoot themselves while cleaning an Steyr (standard issue rifle used by Aust army). Made no sense whatsoever – almost impossible error to make especially after years of regular intensive training good habits and as a sergeant he'd be training both his subordinates and superiors. So I started to imagine potential suicide. Now I hear pistol and I remember training on the Browning (WWII vintage by the way) and thinking at the time "holy sh*t I never want to have to use this in operations – so easy to accidentally shoot someone". Any short muzzle weapon is inherently more risky, however the Browning has the most appalling safety catch imaginable, and the training/familiarity soldiers get? F*ck all in comparison. If they're still using Brownings (and I wouldn't be at all surprised) then Dept of Defence is culpable in my opinion – plenty of easier to use (safer) pistols available only, oops, more expensive
A few hours later the military situation worsened. Speaking on the Alan Jones radio program, the Defence Minister revealed that Private Kovco did not die from a gunshot injury sustained while "maintaining his weapon" – the official reason given by Defence after his death last Friday. "He wasn't in fact cleaning his weapon," Dr Nelson told Jones. "It was near him in his vicinity and he made some kind of movement which suggests that it discharged. There was obviously a live round in it which there should not have been and that's as much as I should probably say at the moment
The Federal Government and the military maintain the two soldiers in the room with Private Kovco at the time did not see the weapon discharge.
A former soldier with experience in Iraq said the standard gun-handling procedure for Defence personnel on deployment involved discharging all weapons and removing the ammunition magazines upon entering the perimeter of a fortified barracks.