A person with knowledge of the
operation said links had already been found between
military personnel and known civilian
The source said Defence was
now taking the warnings seriously with the aim of
weeding out service personnel with the wrong
“If they find a picture on
Facebook of a soldier with a Bandido or something,
(the investigators) will follow up.
“There might be a brother
or an uncle who’s a gang member. That’s enough to
get them to look into it.”
The investigators have
interviewed a small number of military personnel,
although this has in some cases resulted in the
person being eliminated from further inquiries after
establishing that the links were benign.
Defence would not confirm
details of the operation, saying “these are
But a spokesman said that since January 2016 “a
small number” of Defence personnel had been
“reported as potentially having an association with
Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs”.
“Some of these reports have
warranted further investigation by Defence and
civilian authorities,” the spokesperson said.
“All known and confirmed
members with Outlaw Motorcycle Gang associations
have been dealt with administratively by Defence
and, where relevant, by civilian police.
“Defence has a
zero-tolerance for personnel who engage in unlawful
or criminal activity, or engage, promote or espouse
behaviours that are inconsistent with Defence
“Any members of the ADF who
are found to have committed criminal acts are
subject to administrative action, including possible
termination of service.”
Defence introduced a
service-wide “joint directive” - a form of military
order - in 2014 that warns of the risks of service
personnel associating with “groups or organisations
who engage in unlawful or inappropriate activities
such as those who engage in criminal activity” but
has not publicly revealed which groups this applies
The ADF’s military personnel
policy manual warns that members are “not to be
involved in any capacity with any groups or
organisations involved in any form of criminal
activity, including being associated with activities
that may be linked to criminal activities”.
Fairfax Media understands
the crackdown follows repeated warnings to the
military by the Australian Criminal Intelligence
Commission about the extent of such links and the
danger they present.
“ACIC told Defence that
unless they did something about, they would do it
themselves, and they would write Defence into their
report as having done nothing about it,” the person
with knowledge of the operation told Fairfax Media.
The ACIC declined to comment
on the operation.
“The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission
works with a range of partners, including Defence,
in the fight against serious and organised crime,
however we do not comment on operational matters,” a
spokesperson for the organisation said.
Fairfax Media understands
Defence is considering further expanding its ban on
personnel associating with motorcycle clubs to
include military motorcycle clubs, because of a
perceived risk that these connections will lead to
contact with so-called “outlaw” clubs.
This would be a
controversial move, particularly among veterans who
have established clubs as support networks for
There has been a string of
embarrassing and worrying military security lapses
involving bikies in the last 10 years.
In 2008, former Army captain
Shane Della-Vedova was jailed over the theft of
rocket launchers from the Orchard Hills weapons
depot in western Sydney, one of which found its way
to the Bandidos bikie club. Five ended up with
notorious Sydney Jihadist Mohamed Elomar. Only one
has ever been recovered by police.
In 2013, a former sailor with
connections to the Rebels was jailed for stealing
handguns from the Larrakeya base in Darwin.
A senior ADF officer
reportedly joined the Rebels bikie club after
leaving the service and another, the Bandidos.
Canada's military issued an
order banning personnel from contact with biker
gangs earlier this year, and has conducted a series
of official probes into such links since the late
There are long-standing
connections between the military and outlaw clubs.
The Hells Angels were set up in the 1940s in the US
by returning US Army Air Force servicemen and club
members still celebrate this heritage, with USAAF
memorabilia on display in the group’s Brisbane
Other clubs were formed by