Exercise Talisman Sabre incident | Defence | Fitness tips of the day

Transcript of media conference at Holsworthy Barracks, Sydney

Chief of Army Lieutenant General Simon Stuart

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIMON STUART: Thanks for your time this afternoon. As the Chief of the Australian Army, it’s my sad duty this afternoon to share with you the names of our four missing soldiers. My thoughts and prayers are with their families and their mates here at the 6th Aviation Regiment as they wait for more news about their loved ones. We’ll continue to support their families and their mates in the coming days and weeks, months and years, no matter the outcome.

​Importantly, all four families have consented to me sharing the names of their loved ones with you this afternoon. So, it is with their express permission and in accordance with their wishes that I do so. The names of our four missing soldiers are Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph Laycock and Corporal Alexander Naggs. All four soldiers were members of the 6th Aviation Regiment. Today I’m focused on three things, the first and most pressing is to bring Danniel, Alexander, Joseph and Maxwell home to their families. The second is to support their families and their mates. And third is to support the important work of the Air Safety Investigation Team as they work out what went wrong and why.

The work that your army, your navy, your air force does every day is inherently risky and we work hard to ensure that we’ve mitigated those risks. I’m very, very proud of the way in which our people, our soldiers, our sailors and our aviators engage with that risk every day and their achievements. I’m also very proud of the way that the 6th Aviation Regiment, our aviation community in general, has responded to this event. And I’m also deeply grateful for the incredible support that we have enjoyed from our teammates, particularly from our Navy, from our Air Force, our Joint Operations Command, the Queensland Police Service, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and indeed our many international partners and allies. The messages and the practical support has been absolutely outstanding and we can’t thank you enough for that.

I’ve just spoken with our team here at the 6th Aviation Regiment and I know that over the coming days and weeks and months, they will work together as a team, they will rely on one another and we will rely on our community to support us and their families in that time of need. I’d certainly encourage anybody who is feeling this loss today to reach out and seek support, either from your mates, from your family, or from the many services that are available. Thanks very much.

JOURNALIST: Sir, can you tell us a bit more about these soldiers, their experience, how they were regarded by their colleagues and, of course, how their families are holding up?

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIMON STUART: Yeah, look, you’ve really got to feel for their families and their mates, and I would ask everybody to keep that in the front of their minds as they think and comment and speak about what has occurred. They’re part of a really tight team in a very highly professional, highly skilled aviation unit. This is the aviation unit that supports and performs our special operations set of missions. I couldn’t be more proud of them as professionals, as soldiers, and as people.

JOURNALIST: Sir, can I ask you about software upgrade issues on the Taipan helicopter? Is that going to be part of this current investigation that you’re talking about? And also, is it part of the previous probe into the Jarvis Bay crash, similar with the Taipan helicopter?

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIMON STUART: Alright, so the Air Safety Investigation team arrived in Queensland today. They will do their work. It’s very thorough investigative work, and the aim is to understand exactly what happened and why it happened. Speculation between now and them doing their work is really unhelpful. I’m not going to speculate, and I would ask others just to consider the families, the other aviators that are involved, and let’s let that team do its work. We will find out what those outcomes are in due course. And the aim of being armed with that knowledge is to ensure that we understand what happened and we can prevent it happening again. As you probably know, we are not flying the MRH today, and we wait until we think it is safe to do so.

JOURNALIST: Just a follow up question on that, does that push the timeline to stop flying the Taipan or take them out of service? Does that push it forward? It was going to be taken out of service in 2024, is that now being considered 2023?

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIMON STUART: The aim is still 2024. What happens between now and then from what we learn from this incident is yet to be determined. We just need a bit of time. But today we’re focused on bringing them home, on supporting their families and getting to the bottom, which I expect is going to take some time, given the difficulties of the site.

JOURNALIST: Sir, would any pilots ever want to fly these helicopters again?

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIMON STUART: Well, our people are incredibly professional. We make sure that we’ve mitigated the risks to the greatest extent possible. Our people are committed and we don’t take unnecessary risks.

JOURNALIST: Lieutenant General, on that, there’s been well documented issues with these helicopters before. Why are they still currently in use?

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIMON STUART: Because we’ve understood those issues and we have worked to ensure that we’ve mitigated those risks. We don’t fly if we don’t think it’s safe, and that continues to be the case. Going back to the previous question, trying to surmise, trying to suggest things at this stage again is really unhelpful. And I just ask people to wait until we understand what has happened. And right now, let’s be focused on bringing them home, on supporting their families and their friends, and then we’ll get to the underlying cause of factors.

JOURNALIST: And on that, just to confirm, so none of the four men as of yet have been located? The searches are [indistinct]?

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIMON STUART: That’s my understanding. I’ll get a brief later today. The team that are undertaking those operations, I’ve got to say, are just really doing a phenomenal job and we want to support them and make sure that that’s done safely and that we can bring these four young men home to their families.

JOURNALIST: Can you talk a bit more about these men, who they are?

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIMON STUART: Look, we’re going to continue to work with the families to make sure that they have a say in those kinds of things. I know that Australians will want to know who they are as they seek to remember and appreciate them and their service and that will all be available in due course, but I want to make sure that we’re doing that in a way that their families are happy with.

JOURNALIST: Are they fathers? I mean, can you tell us anything about that?

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIMON STUART: All I can tell you today is who they are. In due course, we’ll certainly be able to share more of that. But again, really important that we respect the agency and the privacy of the families, they are who really matter today to me, and I hope to everybody else. So, let’s have a little bit of time, give them a bit of breathing space and then allow them to share in who they were as people and I’ll certainly add to who they were as soldiers.

JOURNALIST: Thank you.


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button