Aussie special ops 'disregarded humanity', committed 'horrendous' acts in Afghanistan – reports
Soldiers from Australia's elite Special Air Service (SAS) allegedly committed war crimes in Afghanistan, according to a leaked military inquiry. The document notes "violence" and a "disregard for human life" by servicemen.
The leaked report, seen by Fairfax Media, includes details of a confidential defense inquiry which was commissioned in 2016 by then-Special Operations Commander Major General Jeff Sengelman and conducted by a defense department consultant.
It cites special forces insiders who stated that soldiers had practiced the "unsanctioned and illegal application of violence on operations" which extend to a "disregard for human life and dignity."
Citing witnesses, the report said there is a "pattern of...cover-ups - real or imagined, and misdemeanors or more serious offenses in the field, as well as a culture of drug and alcohol abuse." It continues to say that at the very least, "there is no doubt that there are major issues of morale or performance..."
In addition to alleged drug and alcohol issues and violence among operations, the report mentions "the perception of a complete lack of accountability at all times."
One person told the inquiry that there were "some horrendous things" that happened over the past 15 years. "Some just disgraceful things happened in Kabul...very bad news, or just inappropriate behavior, but it was pretty much kept under wraps."
The report also states that the Australian government is being faced with "enormous and difficult challenges" to confront behavior that goes "well beyond blowing off steam" and involves "problems deeply embedded in the culture" of the SAS.
Defense Minister Marise Payne has been briefed on the report's contents, according to Fairfax. The media outlet reported on Friday that SAS soldiers have been subjected to intense questioning by a judge over the past two weeks.
It's not the first time the SAS has come under fire for its behavior in Afghanistan. Government documents leaked last year detailed other crimes allegedly committed by servicemen in the country. Those included the unlawful killings of civilians, including a six-year-old girl, and shed more light on the well-known case of an SAS corporal severing the hands of Taliban fighters.