Australian defence chief admits SAS was relied on too much


General Angus Campbell. Photo / Getty images

Australia’s defence chief has “in hindsight” acknowledged a major issue following the release of a war crimes report which detailed horrific allegations.

It comes after a bombshell report into allegations Australian soldiers were involved in unlawful killings and the cruel treatment of prisoners of war.

Appearing on ABC’s Insiders on Sunday morning, Australian Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell was asked if special forces were relied upon too heavily in Afghanistan.

“There were aspects which necessarily had to be done by special forces but there are other elements that Justice Brereton refers to that in hindsight, perhaps that we should have seen rotated to other elements of the force earlier,” he answered.

He said the ADF planned operations, carried out the operations and provided advice to the Government about what was happening in Afghanistan.

“I want the ADF to acknowledge 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,” he told Insiders host David Speers.

The defence chief also said backed a recommendation in the report for soldiers to wear helmet or body-worn cameras.

“It creates a degree of objectivity and propensity for both learning, development and record keeping,” General Campbell said.

The report comes after a four-year inquiry examining the conduct of the special forces in Afghanistan and interviewed 423 witnesses and a review of more than 20,000 documents and 25,000 images.

War crimes are defined as the murder and cruel treatment of non-combatants and persons that are seriously wounded, been captured or are prisoners of war.

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