Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 3 December 2020

Australia defence chief vows changes after Afghanistan report

The report detailed Australian senior commandos forcing junior soldiers to kill defenceless captives

Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) General Angus Campbell delivers the findings from the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry on November 19, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. Getty Images
Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) General Angus Campbell delivers the findings from the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry on November 19, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. Getty Images

Australia’s top military official said on Sunday the country’s defence force must ‘own’ a recent report on soldiers committing crimes in Afghanistan and pledged changes to ensure that atrocities do not happen again.

The report, published on Thursday after an inquiry into the conduct of special forces personnel in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016, found that senior commandos forced junior soldiers to kill defenceless captives in order to “blood” them for combat.

Defence Force Chief General Angus Campbell said on Sunday he would be held to account to ensure the report was dealt with thoroughly, as well as for duty and performance as the commander in the Middle East in 2011.

“I want the ADF (Australia Defence Force) to acknowledge that this is something we’ve got to own because if we don’t own it, we won’t fix it and if we don’t fix it, this horror may appear again and I just cannot accept that,” Mr Campbell told ABC television.

The report, which recommended referring 19 current and former soldiers for potential prosecution, caused shame and anger in Australia, a country that usually honours its military history with fervour.

“I see layers of responsibility here,” Campbell said. “I’m determined to see deep, comprehensive and enduring change where it is needed.”

Updated: November 22, 2020 01:04 PM

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