Australia army slams Facebook page
Sydney - The Australian army vowed on Thursday to track down and punish any serving members who posted offensive comments on RAR Buddies, a Facebook page that contains racist, sexist and abusive material.
ABC television revealed that more than 1 000 former and serving soldiers belonged to the site, providing a disturbing insight into the culture that exists inside the ranks.
It said the Facebook page had now been closed but was extremely active, with Muslims referred to as "ragheads" and one post saying: "All women are filthy lying whores."
Hundreds of other crude, expletive-riddled comments were not fit for publication, ABC added.
Army chief Lieutenant-General David Morrison said an investigation had been launched to find out if any of the obscene posts were by serving members and those responsible would be reprimanded if so.
"Army recently became aware of the Facebook group and some of the offensive comments that have been posted to the site," he said.
"The targeting of any person on the basis of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation is repugnant and contrary to both Defence and Army’s values as well as those of the wider community.
"My staff in Army headquarters are already taking steps to determine if any serving members are linked to the offensive comments. Where they have been, I intend to take action to deal with them."
The revelations are the latest in a string of scandals to rock the defence force, including a case in which a young female cadet was unknowingly filmed having sex and the images were broadcast to her classmates.
That incident prompted a series of reviews of the armed forces, and the military has taken steps to overhaul its culture.
Naomi Brookes, a former cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy, said the disparaging views on the Facebook page were commonplace within the defence force.
"Comments like the ones on the Facebook groups aren't all that unusual," Brookes, who quit the academy in disgust at the way a friend who had been raped was treated by her peers, told ABC.
"And because they are not all that unusual as time goes on they seem less and less obscene. So it feeds back into itself."