Bombshell allegations of Australian troops allegedly committing struggle crimes in Afghanistan despatched shockwaves across the nation this week.
However nobody was extra shocked than Chief of Military, Lieutenant Basic Rick Burr, who maintains he had “heard nothing of these allegations” regardless of being a senior officer within the Australian Military.
In an interview with 60 Minutes tonight, Lt-Gen Burr revealed he dismissed two troopers from the Particular Air Providers Regiment (SASR) on the spot after the damning findings of the 4 12 months inquiry have been laid naked on Thursday.
“It was a very sombre occasion as I delivered the news (of the findings) to them (soldiers) personally and made the very decisive action of removing two SAS squadron from the order of battle, both as a practical, but also very real statement of how serious this is as we hold ourselves to account,” Lt-Gen Burr stated.
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On Thursday the conduct of Australian Particular Forces Troopers in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016 was launched, exposing allegations of troopers who had unlawfully killed farmers and civilian prisoners for the aim of “blooding”, whereby a soldier takes a life for the primary time as a ceremony of passage.
Not one of the alleged killings happened within the warmth of battle, and so they all occurred in circumstances which, if accepted by a jury, would represent the struggle crime of homicide, the report discovered.
The inquiry discovered that 25 elite troopers, primarily from SASR, have been allegedly concerned in unlawfully killing 39 Afghani males and adolescent males.
Nineteen present and former troopers have been referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation over 36 issues which contain 23 alleged murders and two instances the place non-combatants have been allegedly handled cruelly.
“I heard nothing of these allegations,” Lt-Gen Burr advised the Channel 9 program. ”If I had, I completely would have reported them.
“This is shocking. As we look back over our history, many commanders at many levels are asking, how did this happen?”
So how did one of the crucial senior officers amongst military ranks not hear about what was occurring?
“The inquiry report makes it very clear that individuals went to (great effort) to conceal these alleged unlawful acts,” Lt-Gen Burr stated.
“Leaders at each degree are asking themselves these very questions … To now uncover that they have been lied to … That the reality was withheld from their very own commanders, it‘s truly devastating.
“It is morally destructive that this behaviour went on in our own organisation.”
Lt-Gen Burr added he was “sickened” when he was briefed about the findings.
“Oh, I was sick. I was sickened. I was shocked by the extent of the alleged unlawful acts that were described in the report,” he said.
“That is absolutely not what I expect of anyone in our army, anywhere in our army at any time, and why I‘m so determined to lead our army through this into a better place.
“We can formally continue the journey that we’ve already been on since 2015, to strengthen our military, to strengthen the tradition, the management and the accountability of our organisation to win again that belief.”
Chairman of Seven West Media Ltd and Australian Warfare Memorial chair Kerry Stokes said in a statement on Friday that he was offering legal support to former SAS troopers accused of struggle crimes.
Nonetheless Lt-Gen Burr didn‘t want to touch upon the matter.
“That is a matter for others. I am focused on leading our army through this very difficult period to ensure that we come out a better, more capable army,” he stated.
“The whole army is focused on this issue … There is a lot that we need to digest.
“We’ll obviously use this as a case study, as we continue to focus on strengthening the fundamentals of our army in particular, again, around culture and leadership and ethical behaviour and reinforce our focus on good soldiering, which is all about teams.
“All about individuals of strong character operating within the law, operating with our values and professional standards at the forefront of everything that we do, whatever we do wherever we are.”