Long a source of national pride, the moral integrity of Australia's military is now at stake
November 20, 2020 at 08:55
The Afghans were allegedly murdered, the Australian army itself detailed in its official enquiry Thursday , by elite Special Operations Forces -- the Diggers that were supposed to be the liberators and protectors, the best to wear an Australian military uniform.
"I am sincerely sorry for their loss," Australia's chief of the Defense Force, Gen. Angus Campbell, said Thursday of the Afghan nation.
For now, the 19 accused of committing war crimes are unidentified to the public.
Campbell announced Friday that a review would be commenced into all honors that Australian soldiers received for fighting in Afghanistan.
A detail of the flag of Australia on an Australian Army soldier on May 09, 2019, in Seymour, Australia.
Former soldiers who witnessed alleged war crimes told the four-year inquiry of the difficulties in speaking out about patrol commanders treated as "demigods."
More than 39,000 Australians have served in Australia's longest war, which continues with the ongoing deployment of 80 personnel to the Afghan capital, Kabul.
After the exhaustive IGADF inquiry conducted more than 510 witness interviews and reviewed more than 45,000 documents and photographs, 25 Australians were alleged to have committed war crimes.
The bulk of Australia's war against the Afghan Taliban took place in central Uruzgan province, known to be one of the most difficult and dangerous theaters of the war.
The Afghan Army began to withdraw from Uruzgan in 2016, ceding vast areas to the Taliban.
This will be an important step in rehabilitating Australia's international reputation, in particular with Afghanistan, and it is simply the right thing to do."
But as Thursday's damning report states, Australia's "moral integrity and authority as a nation" is at stake.