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Old 18th November 2020, 05:21 PM   #1
arthwollipot
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The Brereton Report

Source - I expect that there will be permanent links to this later.

Quote:
The findings of the Brereton report have just been released. They are truly shocking.

Australian special forces were allegedly involved in the murder of 39 Afghan civilians and cruelly treated two others.

In some cases, they allegedly executed prisoners to “blood” or initiate junior soldiers, giving them their first kill, before inventing cover stories and planting weapons on corpses to hide their actions..

Brereton’s report describes the special forces’ actions as “disgraceful and a profound betrayal” of the Australian Defence Force and all it stands for.

His report details 23 incidents in which 39 Afghans were unlawfully killed, either by special forces or at the instruction of special forces.

None of the killings took place in the heat of battle, and they took place in circumstances which, if accepted by a jury, would constitute the war crime of murder, the report found.

All the victims were either non-combatants or were no longer combatants, the report finds. A total of 25 perpetrators have been identified either as principals or accessories. Some are still serving in the ADF.

In all cases, the report finds it “was or should have been plain that the person killed was a non-combatant”. The vast majority of victims had been captured and were under control, giving them the protection under international law.

Brereton has been investigating shocking allegations against elite Australian troops since 2016, when he was tasked with examining dozens of incidents in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.

His work involved reviewing 20,000 documents and 25,000 images. His team interviewed 423 witnesses.

“We embarked on this inquiry with the hope that we would be able to report that the rumours of war crimes were without substance. None of us desired the outcome to which we have come,” he said. “We are all diminished by it.”

Aside from criminal prosecution, his recommendations include paying immediate compensation to victims and their families, revoking the meritorious unit citation to the entire Special Operations Task Group, and potentially cancelling the individual medals for those concerned.
I expect that these war criminals will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. General Angus Campbell, the head of the Australian Defence Force, has indicated that he has accepted all of the report's findings and has announced a comprehensive action plan to address all of the report's 143 recommendations. He has also apologised to the people of Afghanistan.
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Old 18th November 2020, 05:37 PM   #2
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In some cases, they allegedly executed prisoners to “blood” or initiate junior soldiers, giving them their first kill, before inventing cover stories and planting weapons on corpses to hide their actions.
No verbiage should be spared to stress how sick and depraved this kind of thing is.
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Old 18th November 2020, 06:42 PM   #3
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The redacted report is available here.
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Old 18th November 2020, 06:45 PM   #4
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That's very troubling.
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Old 18th November 2020, 06:47 PM   #5
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The report has recommended that 36 matters be referred to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation, relating to 23 incidents and involving 19 individuals.
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Old 18th November 2020, 08:49 PM   #6
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Permalink:

Australian special forces involved in murder of 39 Afghan civilians, war crimes report alleges

Quote:
Brereton report finds prisoners were executed to ‘blood’ junior soldiers and unlawful killings were deliberately covered up


Australian special forces were allegedly involved in the murder of 39 Afghan civilians, in some cases executing prisoners to “blood” junior soldiers before inventing cover stories and planting weapons on corpses, a major report has found.

For more than four years, the Maj Gen Justice Paul Brereton has investigated allegations that a small group within the elite Special Air Services and commandos regiments killed and brutalised Afghan civilians, in some cases allegedly slitting throats, gloating about their actions, keeping kill counts, and planting phones and weapons on corpses to justify their actions.

Brereton describes the special forces’ actions as “disgraceful and a profound betrayal” of the Australian Defence Force.
Absolutely awful. I'm just waiting for someone to use the phrase "a few bad apples".
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Old 18th November 2020, 08:55 PM   #7
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Really hope Australians don't just pardon their war criminals.
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Old 18th November 2020, 08:58 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Really hope Australians don't just pardon their war criminals.
Right now it looks like this is being taken VERY seriously by both the military and the government. But it's early days yet - we'll see how it pans out over the next few weeks and months.
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Old 18th November 2020, 09:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Absolutely awful. I'm just waiting for someone to use the phrase "a few bad apples".
Could you clarify? I'm not familiar with Australian military (ETA and this is the first time I've heard of this incident). Your phrasing suggests to me you think an initial murder is typical of soldiers in your military and that doesn't sound right to me.

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Old 18th November 2020, 09:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Could you clarify? I'm not familiar with Australian military (ETA and this is the first time I've heard of this incident). Your phrasing suggests to me you think an initial murder is typical of soldiers in your military and that doesn't sound right to me.
No, it's not. But whenever people who are in a position of power with insufficient oversight are caught abusing that power, people say "oh but it was just a few bad apples" in an attempt to excuse those in authority who ought to have known about and prevented the abuse. It happened for Abu Ghraib and it happened for some of the BLM circumstances. I am hoping it doesn't happen here too.
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Old 18th November 2020, 10:19 PM   #11
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My instinct upon hearing about this is that the SAS (Special Air Services Regiment, for those who don't know) should be disbanded, if not the whole Army.

This says

"Many people spoke of how widespread the knowledge of wrongdoing was, making it very difficult to believe that the lack of oversight can be put down to simple disinterest."

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Right now it looks like this is being taken VERY seriously by both the military and the government. But it's early days yet - we'll see how it pans out over the next few weeks and months.
I am disturbed that Brereton has been looking into it since 2016 and nothing sounds like it has been done to stop it till now.
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Old 18th November 2020, 10:39 PM   #12
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If past experience is anything to go by then my guess is that eventually some private soldier will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law while nobody in the higher ranks will even be named.
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Old 18th November 2020, 10:58 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
No, it's not. But whenever people who are in a position of power with insufficient oversight are caught abusing that power, people say "oh but it was just a few bad apples" in an attempt to excuse those in authority who ought to have known about and prevented the abuse. It happened for Abu Ghraib and it happened for some of the BLM circumstances. I am hoping it doesn't happen here too.
Thanks. I primarily have the BLM incidents on my mind in regards to the "just a few bad apples" argument. In BLM it's being used to deny a rather obvious widespread/nationwide systemic problem. I thought you might be suggesting a similar scale for this problem. Hopefully, as bad as this is, it's not as pervasive.

Originally Posted by Orphia Nay View Post
My instinct upon hearing about this is that the SAS (Special Air Services Regiment, for those who don't know) should be disbanded, if not the whole Army.
I'm of the opinion that "special"/"elite" (scare quotes meant to be scary) forces should be disbanded on a regular basis. They should only be formed for special purposes. Keeping armies and police forces representative of the population is key to keeping them from becoming tools of oppression. Ideally they be would randomly conscripted from the population with short terms of duty and limited "career" positions.
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Old 18th November 2020, 11:02 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Really hope Australians don't just pardon their war criminals.
I think it is important to prosecute these criminal acts to the full extent. Australian troops need to be see as having clean hands and legal governance, so they can go into difficult situations and work with the locals A proper trial is required.

Dad was a Group Captain and psychiatrist in the RAAF in Vietnam and other campaigns. He discussed the problem that if you train elite soldiers to be killing machines that's what they become. We don't want killing machines
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Old 18th November 2020, 11:48 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
If past experience is anything to go by then my guess is that eventually some private soldier will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law while nobody in the higher ranks will even be named.
No, this will not happen. Not this time. The behaviour of the SAS is beyond belief and can’t be swept under the carpet.

I tend to agree with Orphia. Get rid of the SAS, retire and/or charge anyone near the chain of command during those years and completely revamp training. Throw the book at each and every one of the SAS savages.

What many people outside Australia probably don’t realise is how deeply he “ANZAC spirit” imbues the nation. It was a cornerstone of the early days of our nation (we became a nation in 1900). ANZAC Day is our National day of remembrance. We have always been proud of our soldiers and their (before now) reputation for bravery and integrity.

I’m incredibly angry and saddened.
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Old 18th November 2020, 11:50 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Matthew Ellard View Post
I think it is important to prosecute these criminal acts to the full extent. Australian troops need to be see as having clean hands and legal governance, so they can go into difficult situations and work with the locals A proper trial is required.

Dad was a Group Captain and psychiatrist in the RAAF in Vietnam and other campaigns. He discussed the problem that if you train elite soldiers to be killing machines that's what they become. We don't want killing machines
I totally agree with every word of this post.
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Old 19th November 2020, 01:46 AM   #17
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It looks to me as though the rinsing of this has already begun.

Australian special forces were allegedly involved in the murder of 39 Afghan civilians...

becomes:

The report has recommended that 36 matters be referred to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation, relating to 23 incidents and involving 19 individuals.

Halved during the course of the report, which then ends up with the encouraging note:

In particular, it can be anticipated that, in the light of the frequency of deployments, and conditions not dissimilar to those relied on in Blackman, mental health defences including adjustment disorder will be invoked

Maybe just stop joining wars thousands of miles from home that have zero to do with Australia. We're guilty of the same ********.

But pacifism is bad...
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Old 19th November 2020, 01:47 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Source - I expect that there will be permanent links to this later.

I expect that these war criminals will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. General Angus Campbell, the head of the Australian Defence Force, has indicated that he has accepted all of the report's findings and has announced a comprehensive action plan to address all of the report's 143 recommendations. He has also apologised to the people of Afghanistan.
That is bad! I get the impression that the kind of person you need in order to train him(/her?) to the level of a special ops soldier is also likey the type of person to develop a "by all means necessary" attitude. And with that the rule book disappears. Objectors get drummed out because they're not team players. It becomes a self-perpetrating monster that jealously guards its domain.
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Old 19th November 2020, 01:59 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
It looks to me as though the rinsing of this has already begun.

Australian special forces were allegedly involved in the murder of 39 Afghan civilians...

becomes:

The report has recommended that 36 matters be referred to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation, relating to 23 incidents and involving 19 individuals.

Halved during the course of the report, which then ends up with the encouraging note:

In particular, it can be anticipated that, in the light of the frequency of deployments, and conditions not dissimilar to those relied on in Blackman, mental health defences including adjustment disorder will be invoked

Maybe just stop joining wars thousands of miles from home that have zero to do with Australia. We're guilty of the same ********.

But pacifism is bad...
What nonsense. 23 events involving 19 individuals (ie SAS soldiers) caused 39 deaths. Have a look at the redacted report posted earlier.

You won’t though.

It seems that you and psion are saying the fix is in. You are wrong. The consequences on Australian military leadership and training will be epochal.
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Old 19th November 2020, 02:22 AM   #20
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Elite Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghan civilians amid a culture of 'blood lust,' report alleges (CNN, Nov. 19, 2020)
Australske elitesoldater myrdede 39 afghanere med koldt blod (Jyllands-Posten.dk, Nov. 19, 2020)
Rapport: Australske soldater har dræbt civile i Afghanistan (Politiken.dk, Nov. 19, 2020)
Australiska soldater mördade civila – försvaret ber om ursäkt (DagensNyheter.se, Nov. 19, 2020
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Old 19th November 2020, 03:35 AM   #21
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I feel sick.
I will never wear my service medals again as I am in the process of parcelling them up and sending them back to the Australian department of Veterans affairs.

I have no words. The stories I have heard so far are appalling and apparently this is just the tip of the iceberg.
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Old 19th November 2020, 05:21 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Permalink:

Australian special forces involved in murder of 39 Afghan civilians, war crimes report alleges

Absolutely awful. I'm just waiting for someone to use the phrase "a few bad apples".
It might well be "a few bad apples", but that in no way excuses it or explain why it was allowed and/or ignored by the seniors.
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Old 19th November 2020, 05:26 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
No, it's not. But whenever people who are in a position of power with insufficient oversight are caught abusing that power, people say "oh but it was just a few bad apples" in an attempt to excuse those in authority who ought to have known about and prevented the abuse. It happened for Abu Ghraib and it happened for some of the BLM circumstances. I am hoping it doesn't happen here too.
It also requires the complicit approval of the entire institution or organisation for these types of behaviours to become embedded. As humans we tend to give loyalty to our organisation/institution, many of these institutions indeed encourage a “loyalty at all cost” attitude, which creates a “us” and “them” attitude and means we will defend “us” even if only by turning a “blind eye” to what is happening. Protecting the organisation as much as individuals.

We need to create organisations and institutions that understand this tendency and hardwire in safety mechanisms, procedures etc. that stops the “one bad apple” corrupting the entire barrel.
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Old 19th November 2020, 06:30 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
It also requires the complicit approval of the entire institution or organisation for these types of behaviours to become embedded. As humans we tend to give loyalty to our organisation/institution, many of these institutions indeed encourage a “loyalty at all cost” attitude, which creates a “us” and “them” attitude and means we will defend “us” even if only by turning a “blind eye” to what is happening. Protecting the organisation as much as individuals.

I don't think that "as humans we tend to give loyalty to our organisation/institution," but it is very easy for the institutions to encourage that attitude. Very few institutions encourage rebelliousness. Armies certainly don't. I agree with Matthew Ellard's father on this: "if you train elite soldiers to be killing machines that's what they become."

Quote:
We need to create organisations and institutions that understand this tendency and hardwire in safety mechanisms, procedures etc. that stops the “one bad apple” corrupting the entire barrel.

Safety mechanisms against the idea that the enemy needs to be killed?! Or is your point that 'the enemy only needs to be killed when we say so'? I.e. that soldiers should obey and follow orders.
But that already seems to be the ground rule of the army, doesn't it?
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Old 19th November 2020, 06:37 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
No, this will not happen. Not this time. The behaviour of the SAS is beyond belief and can’t be swept under the carpet.
If may not be swept under the carpet but it will take years before anybody is prosecuted. The federal police will have to re-interview all of the witnesses (since most of the Brereton report is confidential) and the the DPP will have to decide if a prosecution is likely to result in a conviction and then the minister of defence will have to make the final decision.
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Old 19th November 2020, 07:01 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I don't think that "as humans we tend to give loyalty to our organisation/institution," but it is very easy for the institutions to encourage that attitude. Very few institutions encourage rebelliousness. Armies certainly don't. I agree with Matthew Ellard's father on this: "if you train elite soldiers to be killing machines that's what they become."




Safety mechanisms against the idea that the enemy needs to be killed?! Or is your point that 'the enemy only needs to be killed when we say so'? I.e. that soldiers should obey and follow orders.
But that already seems to be the ground rule of the army, doesn't it?
If the training of the army is such that what they produce are killing machines, then that is a fault of the institute.
But the fact that the soldiers in question hid their crimes by placing weapons on the corpses, shows that they knew that what they did was wrong.
Throw the book at them as hard as is possible.

And also look into the organisation, which made it possible for them to commit these crimes. Did they hide it so much that nobody at the time knew? In that case it is indeed only a 'bad apple' case. Were there people who knew or suspected at the time, but was no action taken? In that case there is also a serious issue within the unit and does this need a reorganisation as well.

During my little stint in the Army in the 90's, we got a lot of very serious lectures about what was expected from us as soldiers, what we could do and when we had to disobey orders.
And for me this was even while not being send abroad. Those soldiers got some extra instructions in this department.

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Old 19th November 2020, 09:52 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
It also requires the complicit approval of the entire institution or organisation for these types of behaviours to become embedded. As humans we tend to give loyalty to our organisation/institution, many of these institutions indeed encourage a “loyalty at all cost” attitude, which creates a “us” and “them” attitude and means we will defend “us” even if only by turning a “blind eye” to what is happening. Protecting the organisation as much as individuals.

We need to create organisations and institutions that understand this tendency and hardwire in safety mechanisms, procedures etc. that stops the “one bad apple” corrupting the entire barrel.
I agree with this.
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Old 19th November 2020, 11:15 AM   #28
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There are many similarities with what became known as the Somalia_affairWP in Canada.

Quote:
The Somalia affair was a 1993 military scandal. It peaked with the beating to death of a Somali teenager at the hands of two Canadian soldiers participating in humanitarian efforts in Somalia. The act was documented by photos, and brought to light internal problems in the Canadian Airborne Regiment
Many, many of the issues and causes were similar.

One of the outcomes was the disbandment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment , government inquiries, courts trials, one or two convictions and substantial changes in procedure and training. The story is long and complicated but the Wikipedia article does a good job of wading through the whole sorry mess. For those truly interested it is worth a read and to eventually compare to the resolution in Australia.
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Old 19th November 2020, 11:23 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
It might well be "a few bad apples", but that in no way excuses it or explain why it was allowed and/or ignored by the seniors.
I figure there's two major components to this:

One is, results. If the teams are getting results, management is going to be reluctant to inquire too closely into how, and into what other "extracurricular" activities the team might be involved in. If the team needs to do a bit of hazing in order to maintain unit cohesion and combat effectiveness, it's probably for the best if we don't ask for details. As long as the results keep coming in.

The other is, death by inches. Once management has adopted a "don't ask, don't tell" policy in order to keep getting results, it becomes progressively harder for them to find out about excesses and nip real problems in the bud. Pretty soon you've got a charismatic unit commander with a cult of personality and an amazing record of bringing in results. Now you can't really afford to rein him in, because (a) unit morale will go to pieces and results will stop coming in, and (b) who knows what excesses will come to light and be laid on your desk, once you start asking those kinds of questions.
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Old 19th November 2020, 12:07 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I figure there's two major components to this:

One is, results. If the teams are getting results, management is going to be reluctant to inquire too closely into how, and into what other "extracurricular" activities the team might be involved in. If the team needs to do a bit of hazing in order to maintain unit cohesion and combat effectiveness, it's probably for the best if we don't ask for details. As long as the results keep coming in.

The other is, death by inches. Once management has adopted a "don't ask, don't tell" policy in order to keep getting results, it becomes progressively harder for them to find out about excesses and nip real problems in the bud. Pretty soon you've got a charismatic unit commander with a cult of personality and an amazing record of bringing in results. Now you can't really afford to rein him in, because (a) unit morale will go to pieces and results will stop coming in, and (b) who knows what excesses will come to light and be laid on your desk, once you start asking those kinds of questions.
And that's how things like the crash of the B52 bomber Czar-52 happens, where for too long the excesses of the pilot 'Bud' Holland were tolerated, insteead of acted upon.
Or the Far right issues there were in the German Special Forces, earlier this year. Issues serious enough that it was thought better to just disband the unit.
Or for more present examples, the issue a lot of the US police departments have.

Kudoos for the Germans, by the way, to have the courage to take the final step in just disbanding the entire unit. No better way to signal to the rest of the forces, that things like this simply will not be tolerated. Bit late, that's true, but decisive nonetheless.
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Old 19th November 2020, 12:34 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I don't think that "as humans we tend to give loyalty to our organisation/institution," but it is very easy for the institutions to encourage that attitude.
I strongly disagree, it crops up wherever humans create institutions throughout history, that’s enough evidence for me.

Originally Posted by dann View Post

Very few institutions encourage rebelliousness.
Which is of course one of my points.

Originally Posted by dann View Post

...snip... I agree with Matthew Ellard's father on this: "if you train elite soldiers to be killing machines that's what they become."
Obviously untrue, they are only killers in certain circumstances.

Originally Posted by dann View Post

Safety mechanisms against the idea that the enemy needs to be killed?
Or is your point that 'the enemy only needs to be killed when we say so'? I.e. that soldiers should obey and follow orders.
But that already seems to be the ground rule of the army, doesn't it?
My post was obviously about organisations and institutions in general not specifically an army. How each one can be structured to help minimise the effect of “bad apples” will vary.

In specific to this instance “ that soldiers should obey and follow orders.
But that already seems to be the ground rule of the army, doesn't it?”

Didn’t seem to be the case with these criminals. Or are you saying their rules of engagement allowed for this type of action?
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Old 19th November 2020, 02:02 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
What nonsense. 23 events involving 19 individuals (ie SAS soldiers) caused 39 deaths. Have a look at the redacted report posted earlier.
My mistake - I was confusing the perpetrators with the victim numbers.

Originally Posted by lionking View Post
It seems that you and psion are saying the fix is in. You are wrong. The consequences on Australian military leadership and training will be epochal.
I hope you're right, but I do indeed expect a brownwash. It's gone too far for a whitewash, but it's going to come down to the fundamental question of "Does Australia want to have armed forces or not?"

I'm betting the answer to that is a resounding yes, and part of sending grunts to fight wars is an admission that they will rape and murder. It's part of our evolution to act that way, and we have for all of human history and beyond. There are no woke warriors, so it becomes a choice of accepting these things will happen or deciding wars are a stupid and anachronistic response and put down the guns.

I don't think you'll go as far as America decorating the perpetrators, and I expect it will end up like UK - PTSD, sending boys to do the dirty work, increase the number of psychologists in the army and they do 3-5 years for manslaughter.

Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
There are many similarities with what became known as the Somalia_affairWP in Canada.
The full report contains a mass of coalition examples, starting with NZ. Fascinating reading if you have a strong stomach.
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Old 19th November 2020, 02:58 PM   #33
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I'll take Buffy's thoughts on the subject:

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE


She first explains how she came to write the song.
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Old 19th November 2020, 03:45 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
If the training of the army is such that what they produce are killing machines, then that is a fault of the institute.
But the fact that the soldiers in question hid their crimes by placing weapons on the corpses, shows that they knew that what they did was wrong.
Throw the book at them as hard as is possible.
If you train elite soldiers to become "killing machines" that does not prevent them from undertaking activities to hide their illegal kills. It's a bit like serial killers being either organised or disorganised. The organised ones still hide their crimes so they can remain killers.

In military psychology, soldiers are drilled with "over-learning" so they undertake those specific activities without hesitation. That does not prevent them thinking slowly about other events which they haven't been trained about. I imagine that's why the soldier who lovingly kisses his daughter for an hour, can kill an Afghani controlled prisoner without hesitation.

However, you are right. This is an institutional and cultural fault of the elite ADF.

It could also be argued senior field commanders are asking juniors to kill controlled prisoners so they are all criminals together and won't dob each other in.
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Old 19th November 2020, 04:02 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Orphia Nay View Post
My instinct upon hearing about this is that the SAS (Special Air Services Regiment, for those who don't know) should be disbanded, if not the whole Army.
The 2nd Squadron SAS has already been struck from the order of battle, and a new squadron will be created with a new name.
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Old 19th November 2020, 05:03 PM   #36
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The military lawyer who leaked the classified documents to the media that led to this report is currently undergoing prosecution. People have now started calling for those charges to be dropped. I agree. Whistleblowing this situation is grounds for praise, not criminal charges.
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Old 19th November 2020, 05:19 PM   #37
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Whistleblowing is not a blank check to publish confidential information in the venue of your choice.
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Old 19th November 2020, 06:41 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Whistleblowing is not a blank check to publish confidential information in the venue of your choice.
Not only confidential, national security classified. By the letter of the law, this man will be in jail for a very long time. But he shouldn't be. He's a hero.
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Old 19th November 2020, 06:48 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Not only confidential, national security classified. By the letter of the law, this man will be in jail for a very long time. But he shouldn't be. He's a hero.
My position is that a real hero would do the time.
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Old 19th November 2020, 07:08 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
My position is that a real hero would do the time.
Note that it's other people intervening on behalf of the whistleblower asking for the charges to be blocked. Does he become less of a hero if other people make a convincing argument that he shouldn't be charged or tried?

At the moment I don't know a lot of things in order to judge him. Such as whether the "official channels" for this whistle blowing are/were compromised.
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