The recent killing of diggers by Afghanistan military personnel is tragic and disturbing.
Having someone open up with an automatic weapon at close range in a base situation is horrific, and inevitably results in multiple casualties.
I recall the procedures used in Vietnam to ensure weapon discipline, and wonder whether there is anything to be learned from them. It was a long time ago, and the situation was very different, but I still wonder.
My memory of the drills we used forty years ago –
All soldiers returning behind the wire cleared weapons and removed magazines.
This was closely supervised at section level.
Whilst behind the wire (unless on picquet) you carried your personal weapon with a loaded magazine in the thigh pocket of your greens.
Unless you were moving out of your sub unit lines you left your weapon in its stand in your tent.
These procedures were universal in my unit at the time I was there. They may not have held all the time and across all units, but that is what I remember.
A quick visual check of someone approaching was all you needed to see if the mag was on the weapon or pocketed. I can remember diggers being bawled out because they’d left a mag on.
Someone with hostile intent could conceivably be detected simply by the state of his weapon. An AK47 with a mag on looks very different from an AK47 with a mag missing.
Perhaps if a similar regime applied in base in Afghanistan the risk might be managed more effectively. Or perhaps these drills would be a complete anachronism in 2012.