The Australian Defence Force (ADF) refutes claims in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Mail Brisbane that members of the ADF are using illicit drugs while deployed on tours of duty in Afghanistan and are returning home addicted.
The ADF had recently provided detailed responses to the journalists responsible for this article and deplores the fact that they chose to omit much of the information provided to them in search of a headline.
The ADF has conducted Prohibited Substance Testing in Afghanistan since 2005.
Since testing commenced all test results for members of the ADF deployed on operations in Afghanistan have been negative.
“On the basis of these results the story is completely baseless,” the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said.
Tests conducted under the Prohibited Substance Testing Program include both random testing (where personnel are randomly selected for testing) and targeted testing (where information is considered and personnel are targeted for testing on the basis of information brought to the attention of the command).
The Prohibited Substance Testing Program is conducted in accordance with the appropriate Australian/New Zealand Standard and tests for the following five drug classes: Benzodiazepines, Cocaine, Methylamphetamines, Opiates (including heroin) and Cannabis. In addition, the Australian Defence Force members may also be tested for the use of steroids.
Between 16 June 2005 and 31 August 2009, more than 35 000 tests were conducted on ADF members, both in Australia and those deployed overseas on operations. The average rate of positive results over that period has been 1.54%.
The Australian Defence Force positive test percentage of 0.98% for the current Fiscal Year (July to August 2009) is lower than that recorded against the preceding FYs (05/06: 1.76%, 06/07: 1.81%, 07/08: 1.52% and 08/09: 1.29%).
The low use of prohibited substances by the Australian Defence Force members is attributed to the selection and recruitment process, education and the culture of non-tolerance.
Pic: Australian troop