Senior Army Official Blames Poor Moral Leadership for Australian War Crimes In Afghanistan

Major-General Findlay admitted that the war crimes may have been hushed up during a private briefing to Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) soldiers in March

Acknowledging the war crimes committed in Afghanistan by some elite soldiers, Major-General Adam Findlay, the Special Operations Commander of Australia, blamed "poor moral leadership" as the reason behind the atrocities

Major-General Findlay, admitted that the crimes committed during the war may have been hushed up during a private briefing to Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) soldiers in March.

Failure In Leadership

He blamed the incidents on a failure in leadership, which he described as "one common cause". "It is poor leadership," Findlay said. "In fact, it is poor moral leadership."

The report said the government will face a difficult choice over how much to tell the public about SAS misconduct after Justice Paul Brereton delivers his long-awaited report to Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell in the coming weeks. Findlay said in his briefing that Brereton has identified "trigger pullers" and "names that come up beyond the trigger pullers" who enabled war crimes.

A soldier stands guard next to a military helicopter
Representational Picture Reuters

Whistle Blower Soldiers Showed "Moral Courage"

He said that one positive out of the inquiry was the "moral courage" of SAS soldiers who have blown the whistle on war crimes. "There is strength here. There is a moral code. The reason we got the (Brereton inquiry) is because people came forward (to expose war crimes)," Findlay said.

"(Winston) Churchill had a great saying: 'When you are walking through hell it is best that you keep walking.' That's what we are going to do. This is going to be a tough 10 years. And we have to rehabilitate the reputation and the capabilities and everything of this command ... we can't wallow in it."

Last week, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed that two Australian special forces soldiers were under investigation for killing an unarmed intellectually disabled Afghan man known only as Ziauddin in 2012.

(With inputs from agencies)