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Defence\'s new propaganda front?

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16 December 2010 09:50

Prakash Mirchandani is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the ANU. He previously worked as a media and communications consultant to the ADF and other Federal agencies.

Canberra Times correspondent Dan Oakes is the latest journalist to be 'embedded' with Australian troops in Afghanistan. It is fascinating to read the interviews given to him by two young officers on the progress of the war and the danger of Wikileaks.

'With so many nations rethinking their commitment here, it can seem like a morass of wicked problems, as opposed to our perception from the ground where you have tangible outcomes as a result of the work we're doing,'' Captain Jim Wallace said.

The soldiers were also disgusted by WikiLeaks' actions in releasing secret cables concerning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying there was no doubt they put the lives of Australian soldiers at risk.

If this is true, it must come as startling news to Defence Minister Stephen Smith, who is quoted in The Australian as saying that Australian interests have not been put at risk by WikiLeaks material on Iraq and Afghanistan examined so far by a Defence taskforce.

More intriguing is that the statements by the two young officers breach the Defence Instruction (DIG 08-1) on comment by Defence Personnel on government policy. In essence, the Instruction directs officers to stick to 'their direct area of responsibility' and 'not take over the Government's role in deciding and announcing policy'.

With the latest leaked cables suggesting the ADF leadership is less confident of success is Afghanistan, are they now using young officers on the front line as cannon fodder in the propaganda campaign'

Photo by Flickr user isafmedia.

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