Australian military says 380 sacked over past two years for misconduct

SYDNEY (AFP) - The Australian military has sacked more than 380 members over the past two years, official figures showed Tuesday, as the alleged ringleader of a group of soldiers pleaded guilty to swapping sex images.

The terminations were for misconduct or unacceptable behaviour, the use of prohibited substances and civilian offences, the Australian Defence Force figures from July 2012 to June 2014 showed.

"There is a zero tolerance to any conduct in the Australian Defence Force which falls below the standards required," a defence spokesman said.

The Australian military has been rocked by allegations of sexual abuse and cruel initiation rituals in recent years.

After the so-called Skype scandal in 2011, when footage of a young male recruit having sex with a female classmate was streamed online to other cadets without her knowledge, a series of reviews followed.

The defence force said it dismissed 182 members in the 12 months to June 30, 2014 and had terminated the service of 204 others the previous year.

Almost 300 were from the army, 65 were from the navy and 25 were from the air force, according to the figures which were released to the media following a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The figures showed the majority of dismissals across the three branches of the military were in relation to "prohibited substances", which include the use of unapproved medications.

Some 203 personnel from the army, 49 from the navy and 12 from the air force were sacked over the two years for such offences.

The defence statement came as Hastings Fredrickson, the alleged head of a group of soldiers that swapped footage of their sexual encounters without the women's knowledge, pleaded guilty in a Sydney court to using a carriage service to cause offence.

One of the cadets involved in the Skype scandal, Daniel McDonald, was sacked by the army in November.