At least 10 SAS soldiers have been given termination notices as a result of the horrific Brereton war crimes report that was handed down last week.
Within just days of the report surfacing, the Defence Force has quickly taken action to respond to the allegations made again a number of soldiers.
“Defence can confirm it has initiated administrative action against a number of serving Australian Defence Force personnel in accordance with legislation and Defence policy,” a spokesperson told the ABC.
“As the Chief of the Defence Force [CDF] said publicly last week, findings by the IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry of alleged negligence by individuals in the performance of their duties have been accepted by the CDF, and allegations will be managed through the ADF’s administrative and disciplinary processes.”
All 10 of the suspended soldiers are lower-ranked members from the Perth regiment, reportedly from the now-disbanded 2 Squadron, as well as the 3 Squadron. The ABC reports that the soldiers in question are suspected to be witnesses or accessories to the alleged war crimes, but are reportedly not among those set to be investigated for alleged murder.
Basically, each of the soldiers were given notices to “show cause” as to why they shouldn’t be sacked from the force. They have two weeks to respond to the notice in writing, however, the Defence Department has confirmed that soldiers can apply for an extension if necessary.
“Each matter and individual circumstance will be considered on a case-by-case basis,” a spokesperson said.
The move comes after NSW Supreme Court Judge Paul Brereton found “credible evidence” to support the allegations that up to 25 members of the SAS were allegedly involved in the murder of innocent Afghan civilians. If found the allegations prove to be true, the soldiers would be guilty of some pretty serious war crimes.
Although the report – which you can read in full here – is heavily redacted, it paints a pretty clear picture of what the allegations are, including a practice known as “blooding” – in which junior soldiers were reportedly instructed to shoot prisoners as a sort of kill-for-sport situation.
For obvious security reasons, no soliders have been named in the report. However, Australia’s most decorated living soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has identified himself as a subject of the report, but denies any wrongdoing.