Inquiry finds soldier killed by IED blast

A Defence inquiry has found a special forces engineer died when he set off an insurgent bomb in Afghanistan.


Corporal Scott James Smith, 24, a member of the Special Operations Engineer Regiment, died in the explosion of the insurgent improvised explosive devoice during an operation involving Afghan and Australian special forces in Helmand Province on October 21, 2012.

He was the 39th of 40 Australians to die in Afghanistan.

The mission involved clearing a number of residential compounds of interest and was conducted under intermittent insurgent fire. A number of insurgents were killed.

In one large compound, Corporal Smith discovered an IED factory, containing a large quantity of explosives and IED components.

During the search, he detonated a hidden bomb and was killed instantly.

The defence internal inquiry, conducted following every combat death, concluded his death occurred in straightforward circumstances of combat.

The operation was properly planned and he was wearing appropriate protective equipment.

During the search, Corporal Smith was using a hand-held mine detector.

The inquiry acknowledged competing views on different systems but said no single system appeared to be superior in all circumstances.

The inquiry’s report, released on Thursday, is extensively redacted with much of the technical detail blacked out.

It says the mission in which Corporal Smith was killed was successful in reducing insurgent ability to conduct operation in Northern Helmand and Oruzgan provinces.

That included the removal of (blank) insurgents from the battlefield, destruction and capture of numerous weapons including (blank), discovery of a Taliban jail containing (blank) prisoners and destruction of approximately (blank) of narcotics.

In an accompanying statement, Defence said the jail contained 16 prisoners who provided valuable intelligence on insurgent activities.

“Corporal Smith’s courage, bravery and selfless actions saved many lives,” the statement said.

He was recognised in Australia Day Honours, with a posthumous Commendation for Gallantry.