Yesterday, the Australian Army Commander acknowledged that there is credible evidence that Australian Special Forces soldiers “unlawfully killed” at least 39 Afghan civilians, both civilians and non-combatants, based on an investigation conducted by Canberra over the years. General Angus Campbell, after receiving the overwhelming results of a years-long investigation into military misconduct in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016, said that the "destructive" culture of impunity among elite forces led to a series of alleged murders and cover-ups that spanned nearly a decade.
He said, "Some soldiers put the law into their own hands. There are rules that were broken, stories were fabricated, lies were told, and prisoners were killed."
He added, "To the Afghan people, on behalf of the Australian Defense Forces, I sincerely and without any reservations offer my apologies for any wrongdoing committed by Australian soldiers."
He continued: “This shameful record includes alleged cases in which new recruits were forced to shoot a prisoner in order for this soldier to have carried out his first killing, in a horrific practice known as (smearing hands with blood), then young soldiers claim that there were skirmishes to report. About the accident », according to the report.
Yesterday (Thursday), the Army Inspector General announced "a horrific official investigation, large parts of which were withheld, from 465 pages, that clarified the details of dozens of killings (outside of combat)."
The report recommended referring 19 individuals to the Australian Federal Police and paying compensation to the families of the victims.
Campbell went even further, saying that "those involved in the supposed unlawful killing of 39 people have brought a (stigma) to their teams, the armed forces and Australia, and they will be referred to the office of the war crimes investigator."
Campbell also called for the withdrawal of some of the Distinguished Service Medals awarded to Special Units that served in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2013.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, more than 26,000 Australian troops were deployed in Afghanistan as part of the US-led coalition to fight the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other militant Islamic groups.
Australian combat forces left Afghanistan in 2013.
The Australian government had tried to mitigate the results of the investigation, which it pledged to publish a revised version of it. Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on his citizens to prepare for the "honest and brutal facts" that it will contain.
Morrison announced last week the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate alleged war crimes, in a move aimed at blocking the trial of Australian soldiers before the International Criminal Court, and a committee was also formed to bring about cultural and leadership changes in the armed forces.
These events dealt a heavy blow to the army, which is very popular in Australia.
His participation in battles abroad, from Gallipoli to Cocoda, contributed to the formation of the island's identity as a separate entity from the British colonial power.
The government initially sought to close the accounts of whistleblowers, while police attacked investigative journalists who had reported them.
This case was revealed in 2017 when the public ABC channel broadcast an investigation series entitled "Afghan Files", accusing Australian forces of killing unarmed men and children in Afghanistan.