News State Northern Territory Digger dies in Northern Territory live-fire exercise
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Digger dies in Northern Territory live-fire exercise

An Australian Light-Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) raises dust at Mount Bundey, where a soldier has died of head wounds. Photo AAP / Andrew Dakin
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The Army has suspended training activities across its combat brigades after the death of a soldier wounded during a live firing exercise at a Northern Territory military facility.

The soldier, identified as Jason Challis, was the second Army fatality in less than a week after a 21-year-old recruit was killed by a falling tree branch during a training exercise near Rockhampton.

The Army says it will review risk assessment processes and training safety management in light of the deaths.

Police from the Northern Territory’s Major Crime Unit and Forensics are investigating the latest death.

Mr Challis was evacuated by helicopter from the Mount Bundey Training area to Royal Darwin Hospital but did not survive extensive head injuries.

In a statement, the Department of Defence said the soldier was injured at the facility about 12:45pm.

“The soldier was taking part in a routine training activity at the time of the incident,” the statement read.

“He received immediate first aid at the scene and was transported to the Royal Darwin Hospital for treatment.

“The soldier was subsequently pronounced deceased.”

It is the second fatal incident involving an Australian soldier in the past week, following the death of Stuart Reddan, who was hit by a tree branch during a training exercise at Shoalwater Bay.

“The Chief of Army and Army commanders acknowledge the gravity of this and recent incidents and take all matters relating to personnel and training very seriously,” the Defence Department statement read.

“As such, [the] Army has instigated a suspension of training activities across its combat brigades to review risk assessment processes and training safety management.”

Mount Bundey is one of the ADF’s key assets in north, often used for joint exercises with US and Singaporean troops.

Mr Challis’ next of kin were being offered every support, an Army spokesman said.

“The Army and ADF community extends its deepest sympathies to the soldier’s family and friends,” the Department of Defence said in a statement.

“It is a deep shock to the organisation and will be felt by the broader Army family.”

The Mount Bundey Training Area is 75km southeast of Humpty Doo, between the Mary River and Kakadu National Park.

– with AAP and ABC