Rudd orders security review for army bases

How did such a crazy system originate? The army can't guard its own bases? If there are any troops at all on the base, why can't some of them be rostered for guard duty?

THE defence forces are facing calls for armed soldiers to replace unarmed civilian guards outside the country's main military bases after the arrest of four terror suspects in Melbourne allegedly planning a full-scale assault on Holsworthy army base in Sydney.

Opposition defence, science and personnel spokesman Bob Baldwin said that if the alleged plot had been carried out, it was likely civilian guards at Holsworthy would have been killed in cold blood. "Unarmed civilian guards would have been slaughtered, absolutely slaughtered," Mr Baldwin said yesterday. "Now is the time to be proactive. Events overnight have shown that now is the time to introduce armed defence personnel to guard our bases."

The federal government today ordered a review of security at all military bases, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced. The review will also consider whether the practice of using private security firms to guard military installations is suitable.

Defence force chief Angus Houston had advised the national security committee of federal cabinet that, based on "current knowledge", security arrangements were adequate, Mr Rudd said. "On top that, however, I have requested that the CDF (chief of the defence force) and the defence department undertake an immediate and comprehensive review of adequacy," he told ABC Radio.

The prime minister said he wanted to be assured security at each base was in order and that it was "calibrated to our security needs". "Obviously one of the terms of reference for this investigation will be a continued suitability of those sorts of security arrangements at our bases involving private security contractors." There is concern that security at some military installations is provided by unarmed private guards, not defence personnel.


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