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Australian Defence Force investigating secret ‘Three-Ringed Wranglers’

Australian Defence Force soldiers prepare to conduct morning physical training (Photo unrelated to ADF investigation). Photo: CPL Jonathan Goedhart

The Australian Defence Force is investigating reports of a secret officers-only WhatsApp group glorifying sexual conquests.

The Australian Defence Force is investigating reports of a secret officers-only WhatsApp group glorifying sexual conquests.

Inquiries were raised about a rumoured “Three-Ringed Wranglers” WhatsApp group used inappropriately by ADF officers, in a recent Senate foreign affair, defence and trade legislation committee meeting held on 14 February.

It’s alleged that male military officers used a WhatsApp group to brag about “female conquests” (seduction resulting in sexual intercourse) made by group members.

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It’s understood reports of the group have been referred to the Joint Military Police and are under investigation.

Royal Australian Navy Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mark David Hammond, speaking at the Senate meeting, said the ADF is conducting an ongoing inquiry into the matter.

“I have heard it refers to a group of Australian Defence Force members and unacceptable behaviour,” he said.

“I had it referred to me third-hand, and I’m not sure of the source.

“We are taking it seriously.”

Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell, speaking at the Senate estimates this week, said the matter is under investigation and will be dealt with by military police unit.

General Campbell has not currently briefed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles on the matter, until relevant advice is issued by military police, he said on 14 February.

According to information previously published by the Department of Defence in February 2018, members of the Australian Defence Force are allowed to participate in relationships within the ADF.

“Defence policy with regards to such relationships is clear and focuses on potential conflicts of interest within the chain of command,” a department statement said.

“It does not preclude relationships between members of the ADF of different ranks or between members of the ADF more generally, except in a trainee/instructor situation.

“Further to this, all members of the ADF and the Australian Public Service in Defence are required to undergo security clearances and must report any significant changes to their personal circumstances.

“Generally, details of such changes are not made public because to do so would breach personal privacy and undermine the confidentiality in which personal information is provided to the Defence Security and Vetting Service.

“Public confidence in the integrity of Defence personnel is vital to the proper operation of government. Defence personnel need to be aware that their private interests, both financial and personal, could conflict or reasonably be seen to conflict with their official duties. Defence personnel need to know how to recognise a conflict of interest and what to do when a conflict arises.

“Conflicts of interest, whether perceived or actual, are part of the broader issue of public sector ethics. Defence personnel are subject to a range of legal obligations, directive requirements and policy expectations in relation to avoiding and managing conflicts of interest and are required to conduct themselves accordingly. Defence has affirmed its commitment to being a values-based organisation. One of the Defence values is ‘integrity’. This value requires Defence personnel to behave honestly and ethically and to demonstrate the highest standards of probity in their personal and professional conduct.”

Robert Dougherty

Robert Dougherty

Robert is a senior journalist who has previously worked for Seven West Media in Western Australia, as well as Fairfax Media and Australian Community Media in New South Wales. He has produced national headlines, photography and videography of emergency services, business, community, defence and government news across Australia. Robert graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Public Relations and Journalism at Curtin University, attended student exchange program with Fudan University and holds Tier 1 General Advice certification for Kaplan Professional. Reach out via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via LinkedIn.
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