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Army moves on foul Facebook comments

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David Ellery

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Army boss Lieutenant-General David Morrison will personally carpet serving soldiers proved to be members of a sexist and racist military Facebook page to spell out the error of their ways.

While such action would have to work its way up through the chain of command, an angry General Morrison made his feelings plain at a breakfast to celebrate the army's 111th birthday yesterday morning.

''I am certainly going to try and find [the] people who are doing this and spend some time with them to tell them - and show them - why they are wrong,'' he said.

The page, RAR Buddies, was first drawn to Defence's attention eight months ago.

It is still up and running but can only be accessed by authorised members. Posts refer to Muslims as ''rag heads'', say Australia has no room for immigrants (''f---off, we're full) and describe all women as ''filthy, lying whores''.

The page was drawn to the attention of first Defence and then the ABC's 7.30 report by Flinders' University academic, Ben Wadham.

While the ABC had, at his request, not named Dr Wadham as their source of access, it aired images of documents that identified him.

He told The Canberra Times yesterday he had been subjected to hate mail and a ''whistleblower witch-hunt'' since the report went to air on Wednesday night.

''If this was indeed you, you are a sad pathetic little man, and should have your military history and Defence Service Medal Stripped, then [be] publicly named and shamed, as you have done to others,'' one hate mail read.

Much of the content on the page is clearly objectionable even though it also pursues charitable causes, including raising funds to support serving members of the ADF.

Pornographic images proliferate and posts made at the time Defence announced plans to open up combat roles to women are particularly childish.

''If you had a nice, soft, warm pit f---buddy in the shape of a woman you could have got rid of that stress,'' one post read.

''The RAAF gets the best looking ones, the navy gets second dibs and the army - as usual - gets what's left,'' read another.

Asked if free speech was an issue when it came to his plans to crack down on members of the 1000-plus page site with the full force of the army regulations and the law, General Morrison said they had left themselves open to constraints when they branded their page ''RAR''.

''That, for us, stands for Royal Australian Regiment,'' he said.

''The question has to be asked, 'Those views under that title? Is that appropriate?' The Royal Australian Regiment of which I've been a proud member since 1979, stands for nothing like that.

''It stands for the democratic values the army fights for now.''

Dr Wadham questions Defence claims a succession of letters he had written to the Chief of Defence Force, the Defence Department Secretary and the Minister for Defence drawing attention to the RAR Buddies site had been dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner.