M1A1 Abrams tanks from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment at Townsville Field Training Area.
M1A1 Abrams tanks from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment at Townsville Field Training Area.

‘Barked like dogs’: Shocking army initiation ceremony

A TOWNSVILLE soldier who helped restrain a colleague in an "initiation ceremony" while he was bound with cable ties has had his actions labelled "stupid" and "thoroughly reprehensible".

Trooper Arthur James Tecson, 26, was at the Townsville Field Training Area with his unit the 2nd Cavalry Regiment for Exercise Eagle Walk when he helped "capture" another junior soldier on May 5, 2019.

Prosecuting officer Lieutenant Commander Nicholas Edgeworth told the defence force magistrate trial at Lavarack Barracks yesterday the junior soldier was told to attach a glow stick to his bedding by a superior as a "safety measure" to make him visible to vehicle drivers.

During the night, Tpr Tecson and a group approached the soldier's sleeping position, told him not to resist and that he would be taken.

The junior soldier was then wrestled to the ground, his wrists bound by cables as members of the group tried to carry him off by each holding a different body part.

The group started to bark like dogs as they chased the soldier after giving him a 30 second headstart to run away.

The group of soldiers was told by a superior the capture drill "was part of Alpha Squadron culture" and that it was their generation's turn to continue the "traditions of the squadron and the regiment".

It had not been approved by the chain of command as a training activity.

Defending officer Captain Mary Chalmers said Tpr Tecson was "ashamed and remorseful" for his actions and had faced significant pressure to comply with the direction.

"He accepts that he did not show moral courage on the night … he feared the consequences of saying no, and he was not as strong as he now wishes that he was," she said.

Capt Chalmers said Tpr Tecson was highly regarded and supported by his hierarchy who described him as a potential leader and well performing soldier in character references.

The hearing heard Tpr Tecson made admissions to military police in March this year because he felt it was right, and as a result had faced hostility from other unit members.

Tpr Tecson pleaded guilty to one count of assaulting another person on service land under the Military Justice System.

Defence Force Magistrate Group Captain Scott Geeves warned the soldier future misconduct would result in the termination of his "bright future" with the ADF.

"It is unacceptable and thoroughly reprehensible behaviour against one of your own," he said.

"We've come a long way since those well reported times of bastardisation and initiation ceremonies.

"They are well behind this organisation as they should be."

Tpr Tecson was fined $1000.




Commander of 3rd Brigade Brigadier Kahlil Fegan. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Commander of 3rd Brigade Brigadier Kahlil Fegan. Picture: Alix Sweeney

In statements to the Townsville Bulletin Commander of the 3rd Brigade Brigadier Kahlil Fegan said the defence force had undergone "significant cultural change over recent decades".

"Any form of intimidating or bullying behaviour is completely inconsistent with our culture and values and perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions," he said.

"I have no tolerance for those whose actions are not aligned with the army values of courage, initiative, respect and teamwork.

"Those individuals who act contrary to our values and standards have failed and compromised the respect and trust of their mates, their chain of command and the public."

Commanding Officer of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Davison said he had referred the incident to the "Australian Defence Force Investigative Service to make sure a clear message was sent that this kind of behaviour is neither condoned nor ignored".

"In this case a concerned soldier came forward to report that something untoward had occurred which allowed me to take prompt action," he said.

"Our investigation at unit level identified that a group of soldiers had been involved in an incident that was not consistent with the values and behaviour I expect of my soldiers.

"The matter is now before the Defence Force Magistrate, and as such I will not comment on individuals, potential sentences or the future employment of the soldiers involved."

Originally published as 'Barked like dogs': Shocking army initiation ceremony revealed