SAS soldiers dismissed in war crimes inquiry fallout
The Australian Defence Force has begun dismissing Special Forces troops who were silent witnesses to the alleged execution of Afghan farmers and civilians and other barbaric incidents revealed by the Brereton inquiry.
Defence has revealed 10 members of the SAS Regiment implicated in the shocking war crimes report released last week have received "show cause" notices.
The notices do not mean they are automatically dismissed and are more likely to involve disciplinary charges including formal warnings. But the men are not believed to be among the 19 of those who were actually involved in the alleged unlawful killings, executions and murders but rather were witnesses.
Some were also the whistleblowers, compelled to give evidence, who revealed the extent of the alleged atrocities and which Defence used as evidence.
At least two have already looked to quitting the military with the men advised they were likely to face some form of disciplinary action. They were advised their evidence could not be used in a legal court of law as they only gave evidence because as serving personnel they had to.
All are believed to be members of the now disbanded 2 "Sabre" Squadron as well as the SAS 3 Squadron. All of them also had already been warned they were likely to face some form of punishment despite the fact they were providing evidence.
The office of the Inspector General of the ADF (IGADF) last week issued its findings from a four year probe led by NSW justice Paul Brereton into alleged war crimes by Special Forces including the SASR and 2 Commando Regiment.
The findings concluded 25 current or former Special Forces were allegedly involved in crimes in some way, evidence of which was passed to the Australian Federal Police for further investigation with the view to recommending criminal charges to the Commonwealth DPP.
Among the allegation was a practice known as "blooding" were junior troops were told by troop commanders to execute a prisoner or civilian to bag their first kill.
In what is one of the darkest chapters in Australia's military history, in all 25 elite soldiers were involved in unlawfully killing 39 Afghani men and adolescent males.
The AFP is currently looking at 36 specific briefs involving 23 unlawful deaths and two cases where non-combatants were treated cruelly.
Several soldiers were alleged to have been involved in more than one murder.
ADF chief General Angus Campbell described the behaviour as "disgraceful'', General Campbell said a "warrior culture'' with a "misplaced focus on prestige, status and power'' had infected some Special Forces commanders.
"Cutting corners, ignoring and bending rules was normalised,'' he said.
"It is alleged that some patrols took the law into their own hands, rules were broken, stories concocted, lies told and prisoners killed."
Some of the crimes involved planting weapons and radios with their kills so as to change the narrative of who they were suspected of being, such as insurgents.
They have received 'show cause' notices from the Department of Defence after the long awaited the Brereton report found there is "credible information" that Australian soldiers allegedly killed 39 civilians or prisoners "unlawful killings" in Afghanistan.
For those needing support:
· The Defence all-hours Support Line is a confidential telephone and online service for ADF members and their families 1800 628 036
· Open Arms provides 24-hour free and confidential counselling and support for current and former ADF members and their families 1800 011 046, or through SafeZone on 1800 142 072.
Originally published as SAS soldiers dismissed in war crimes inquiry fallout