An SAS commander has unleashed on the small proportion of soldiers in the Australian Army’s elite unit accused of carrying out war crimes during the war in Afghanistan.
Australian Special Operations Commander Major-General Adam Findlay hit out at those he claimed had let the SAS down in an hour-long speech to the regiment in April, according to sources who heard the speech.
Major-General Findlay’s fiery address comes as the Brereton Inquiry – convened to investigate alleged misconduct in the country’s special forces – prepares its final report.
Findlay said those who served in the SAS between 2006 and 2014, the period being probed by the Inspector-General’s ongoing inquiry, should not feel ‘validated’ by the unit’s work during that time.
An SAS commander has unleashed on the small proportion of soldiers he claims have besmirched the unit’s name Pictured: Australian Special Operations Task Group Soldiers in Afghanistan in 2013
‘I spent two years in my life in Afghanistan and I don’t feel validated and you shouldn’t either,’ he said according to WAToday.
‘There are new people in the regiment who had nothing to do with this. I imagine this is tainting the regiment you love.’
So-called ‘trigger-pullers’ have been accused of murdering defenceless prisoners as part of allegations against SAS soldiers.
Findlay also hit out at those he claimed made the military’s IT systems penetrable to attack by using USB drives to move information around the network.
In particular, savaged the special forces staff who put pornographic material on military disk drives.
Australian Special Operations Commander Major-General Adam Findlay (pictured) hit out at those who had let the SAS down in an hour-long speech to the regiment in April
‘At that point, they had lost the f**king plot,’ he said.
Findlay also reportedly said the SAS would need 10 years to make the Australian public trust it again.
He added that by the time trust was rebuilt, younger members of the SAS would be patrol commanders and they should prepare for a long period of self-evaluation.
In his speech, Findlay spoke of how the Australian military transformed its culture to prevent alleged misconduct from happening in the future.
An earlier leaked report claimed Findlay told SAS soldiers at Perth’s Campbell Barracks ‘there are guys who criminally did something’ and ‘poor leadership’ is to blame.
General Findlay said the inquiry showed some SAS soldiers were brave enough to break the iron-clad code of loyalty and blow the whistle on crimes, an act which he described as ‘moral courage’.
But he stressed it could take a significant amount of time for the force’s reputation to be restored, The Times reports, citing other sources present at the meeting.
General Findlay said: ‘There are guys who criminally did something. But can you tell me, why was that? It is poor leadership.’
The long-running inquiry was launched in 2016 by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force.
Special Operations Task Group soldiers in Afghanistan in 2013. ‘I spent two years in my life in Afghanistan and I don’t feel validated and you shouldn’t either,’ Major-General Findlay said
NSW judge Paul Brereton, who is heading the inquiry, will deliver the long-awaited report to Defence Force Chief General Angus Campbell.
The SAS were deployed to the province of Uruzgan – and later to other areas – as part of a special forces group for various missions between 2005 and 2013.
There were five casualties during the operations which included combat patrols and surveillance.
One of the 55 alleged war crimes was the case of Haji Sardar, an almond farmer whose sons claim was stomped to death by a member of the special forces.
SAS medic Dusty Miller, a decorated former warrant officer who served in Afghanistan, made an emotional apology to his sons after Mr Sardar was taken away from his care by a superior and was dead shortly after.
Hazratullah Sardar, 22, (pictured left) and Abdul Sardar, 34 (centre) sit with a tribal elder (right) in Afghanistan as they listen to Dusty Miller’s grief-torn apology for their father’s death
Mr Miller made the heartfelt apology from Melbourne over video link to two sons of the almond farmer in Kabul.
‘I am very sorry by what happened to your father and I wish I’d have done more,’ he said.
‘You shouldn’t have lost your father that day and I am so sorry that that happened.’
Mr Sardar’s sons were not angry and instead thanked Mr Miller.
Abdul Sardar, 34, said he was grateful that Mr Miller had helped his father in the final moments before he was allegedly killed.
‘He has done as much as he could do and when things were beyond his ability then no-one can hold one accountable for,’ he said through an interpreter on 60 Minutes.
‘He didn’t die of his wounds, I can promise you that,’ Dusty Miller (pictured) told 60 Minutes
Mr Sardar’s other son Hazratullah, 22, said he, too, was thankful for Mr Miller’s help.
‘I am very thankful to Dusty for his help and getting in touch with us and telling us what he did, and the help he provided to my father,’ he said.
Both sons, however, asked Mr Miller to help them get justice for the death of their father who was from a small village deep in the badlands of southern Afghanistan.
Mr Sardar, a father-of-seven, had been shot through the thigh as the SAS approached his village on March 14, 2012.
Mr Miller, a medic recently deployed to Afghanistan with Australia’s SAS Regiment, was given the injured farmer to care for as soon as he arrived.
Mr Sardar was lucky as the bullet had passed clean through and Mr Miller said the injury was not life threatening.
He treated Mr Sardar’s wounds and made him as comfortable as possible.
The Army medic told 60 Minutes that under the Geneva Convention it didn’t matter if the patient was a combatant or a non-combatant, once a wounded person was under his care, he would be treated.
Dusty Miller (pictured on duty) has broken his silence on alleged war crimes by Australian troops in Afghanistan, and apologised to the sons of farmer allegedly killed by the SAS
Mr Miller believed he was to take the wounded man to the base at Tarinkot, in the capital of Uruzgan province, for medical treatment.
Instead, he recounted how one of his superiors approached him and said ‘this person’s coming with me’.
Because he could not walk, the soldier piggybacked the bleeding farmer away.
Minutes later, the same senior officer returned and told him the man had died, Mr Miller said.
‘Straight away I knew that was impossible – absolutely impossible,’ Mr Miller said.
‘I assumed he was killed basically. He didn’t die of his wounds, I can promise you that.’
Mr Sardar’s sons said when they were allowed to see their dead father, six hours later, he had boot marks all over his chest, as though someone had stomped him to death.