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Australia army chief vows action over Facebook posts

Australia's special forces exercise during the Australian International Airshow in Melbourne March 2, 2011
Image caption Australia's defence forces have been hit by several scandals, prompting wide-ranging reviews

Australia's army chief says serving military personnel who posted racist and sexist comments on a private Facebook site will face action.

The site came under the spotlight after an investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

It said the site - used by more than 1,000 current and former members of the military - contained comments offensive to women, Muslims and immigrants.

The revelations are the latest in a series to hit the armed forces.

ABC said the site - now reportedly shut down - contained hundreds of "expletive-riddled comments" that were unpublishable.

"The targeting of any person on the basis of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation is repugnant and contrary to both Defence and Army's values," said army chief Lieutenant-General David Morrison.

His staff were "already taking steps to determine if any serving members are linked to the offensive comments. Where they have been, I intend to take action to deal with them," he said.

Australia's military has been hit by a number of allegations of abusive and sexist behaviour in recent months.

A review by Australia's human rights commissioner late last year said women in Australia's top military academy faced "widespread low-level sexual harassment" - although the review said conditions had improved over the last decade.

The review was ordered in the wake of a sex scandal at the Canberra-based Australian Defence Force Academy where two cadets were accused of secretly filming a female cadet having sex and broadcasting it on the internet.

Other reviews into the use of alcohol and social media in the military are under way.

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