Green on blue inquiry looks at top command

An inquest into the deaths of three Australian soldiers killed by a rogue Afghan soldier in 2012 will investigate allegations into commanders' decisions and high-level army procedures.

In June, Queensland Coroner John Lock will hold an inquest into the deaths of Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, 40, Private Robert Poate, 23, and Sapper James Thomas Martin, 21, at Patrol Base Wahab in Uruzgan province, on August 29.

Defence is understood to have engaged two barristers but has rejected a request to provide legal representation for the families of the dead soldiers on the grounds there is not enough funding, one source close to the case said.

The families of the men have declined to comment, but it is understood they are keen to see the role of leaders examined as opposed to low-level leaders who were in the front line at the patrol base.

One issue likely to be investigated relates to intelligence available at the time about the threat of attacks by rogue Afghan soldiers.

Fairfax Media has sighted the frago, or fragmentary order, from top-level commanders that was sent out just over two weeks before the attacks, warning of a high risk caused by Ramadan. The Frago 13 - created on about August 13, 2012, at Regional Command South - was sent to Command Team Uruzgan at the main base in Tarin Kowt. The orders were then supposed to be sent to the soldiers in the field.

The orders warned of a heightened risk of green on blue (Afghan on coalition forces) attacks and contained a reference to possible attackers who believed they would go straight to heaven should they kill an infidel during that period.

It is understood the shortened version of these orders, known as Frago 67, which was transmitted from the Tarin Kowt-based task group to soldiers in the field, has not been obtained and key concerns are likely to be raised about how commanders interpreted the orders.

The actual attack took place several days after Ramadan, which low-level commanders might use as an excuse for not being at an upgraded security position.

So concerned were high-level commanders in southern Afghanistan about the threat of attack at the time they required soldiers to detail what their force protection actions were. But the performance sheet did not lead to any specific instructions about changes to base security at Wahab.

Another issue likely to be raised is the ''guardian angel'', whose job it was to act as a sort of bodyguard for Australian troops while they were in the field with Afghan troops. The guardian angel that night was posted from a fixed position to do the job of roving picket or sentry, and was therefore away from where the Australian soldiers died.

Fairfax has been told the decision to move the guardian angel was taken after gear was supposedly stolen the night before the attack.

A low-level commander given the pseudonym Soldier 3 and commanders up the chain are expected to be called before the inquest.

Sergeant Hekmatullah, the rogue soldier responsible for the attacks, escaped but was captured last year and jailed. He has been appealing a death sentence.

This story Green on blue inquiry looks at top command first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.