Opinion: Comment on the Afghanistan Allegations

I have been following the public debate on the allegations that our soldiers have committed criminal acts whilst deployed on operations in Afghanistan. I feel compelled  to take a moment to comment on the Brereton report and its allegations the SAS committed war crimes in Afghanistan over a period of 10 years.

In my opinion, the government has botched this in a most spectacular fashion.

The Prime Minister publicly released the report with a tag line of it containing brutal truths of criminal offences. This statement was quickly followed by equally condemnatory statements by the Defence Minister and CDF.

With such sensationalist statements the press reaction was inevitable and trial by media is well and truly underway. It’s no wonder we now have leaders of other countries using our own Prime Minister’s words to attack Australia and the integrity of its service men and women. 

These untested allegations against our soldiers are now being used as tools by the CDF and Chief of Army to publicly vilify those who served in Afghanistan. Worse still some Army members are being punished before any due process has taken place.

How on earth are the targeted soldiers supposed to get anything like a fair trial with the media calling them murderers and politicians calling them a national disgrace?

Additionally, if those who have been issued show cause notices are dismissed they will be out on their own with no ADF legal assistance to support them during the coming investigation and possibly trials in a court of law (and mind you I understand no officers are included in this action)

The CDF and Army Chief have failed as leaders and should be offering support to their troops, not throwing them under the bus before a verdict has even been rendered in a court of law. 

The only verdict which has been handed down is that of unqualified public opinion!

 I also have grave concerns over the veracity of the report itself with the investigating officer publicly canvassing a population in Afghanistan which has a hostile view of justice which is completely at odds with our own.

The reception given to the Brereton report, the commentary of Australia’s Leaders and the actions of the CDF and Army Chief cast a damper on the motivation and morale of the armed forces of this great country and it is a truly disappointing way to honour the bravery, camaraderie and loyalty shown by our serving members.

I hear also that there have now been 10 suicides since the release of the report – when will this tragedy end?

Colonel D K Jamison AM (Retd)
President
Ringwood RSL Sub Branch