Defence is yet to determine its response to the Inspector-General of the ADF’s inquiry into alleged war crimes perpetrated in Afghanistan, but has committed to developing an implementation plan.
Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, has announced that Defence is developing a “comprehensive” plan to implement the recommendations outlined by Inspector-General of the ADF (IGADF) Paul Brereton’s Afghanistan Inquiry report.
GEN Campbell stressed that “no decisions have yet been made”, despite reports that Defence has committed to revoking honours awarded to Special Forces units with personnel accused of committing war crimes.
The Chief of the Defence Force noted that given the complexity and sensitivity of the issues raised in the report, Defence’s response would “take extensive and considered deliberation”.
“Any further action in response to the Inspector-General’s recommendations will be considered as part of the implementation plan, which is being developed with the oversight of the Minister for Defence and the independent Afghanistan Inquiry Implementation Oversight Panel,” GEN Campbell said.
“Key issues of public interest such as accountability, referrals to the government-established Office of the Special Investigator, compensation, honours and awards including citations, ethical development of the force and command, and control of the Australian Defence Force in coalition operations, will all be addressed through the implementation plan.”
GEN Campbell added he would update the public on the progress of the implementation program as new developments emerge, noting the importance of transparency in the process.
This comes just days after Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, revealed that administrative action notices have been sent to 13 special forces soldiers identified in the report.
Such individuals will now be given the opportunity to plead their case by providing a written response within 14 days of receipt of the notice.
An administrator will then consider their written response before determining whether to dismiss the individual, with each matter considered on a case-by-case basis.
ADF members and their families can contact the Defence All-hours Support Line, a confidential telephone service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 1800 628 036. Defence families can also contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
Safe Zone Support (1800 142 072) is also available as a free and anonymous counselling line for current and former ADF personnel and their families. The service is available 24/7 and provides access to specialised counsellors with an understanding of military culture and experience.
Defence personnel, veterans and their families can also access free and confidential counselling 24/7 through Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling Service (1800 011 046) or online at www.openarms.gov.au.