CANBERRA, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Australian troops have revealed the intense pressure of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Australia's media reported on Saturday.
The troops have criticized the Defense organization and their allied counterparts as the troops detailed the hidden trauma of life on the front line.
According to The Australian, in descriptions of overworked pilots addicted to Stilnox and other prescription drugs, an underground trade in illicit substances and sex, complaints about a lack of support, poor leadership and the constant fear of death, troops have provided a raw and disturbing account of Australia's involvement in the Middle East.
The Weekend Australian has obtained an extraordinary selection of transcripts from 120 serving and former troops from the two Iraq offensives, dating back to the early 1990s, and the ongoing Afghanistan war in which they reveal the threats faced on deployment, not only from the enemy, but also from within.
"Their frank and often disheartening comments, made in a supposedly confidential environment for researchers preparing Australia's largest-ever Defense health study, were so controversial that Defense has removed the transcripts from a research website and threatened reprisals over the apparent breach of information security," The Australian wrote.
Defense on Friday night vowed to investigate many of the allegations raised by the focus groups, but insisted some of the members' concerns were dated and had already been addressed. The study itself was being conducted with a view to improving overall support and health-care.
"Some of the comments raised serious issues of concern, and Defense will look into those and take appropriate action," the department said in a statement.
The focus groups confirmed revelations in The Weekend Australian that specialist members of the defense force, such as pilots, were struggling to maintain the operational tempo.
Several members of the focus groups, mainly medics and air force personnel, highlighted the challenge of repeat deployments and, for some, working constant night cycles.
Aircrew expressed concerns about their use of prescription drugs and one Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) medic said crewmen had become dependent or even addicted.