In this file photo dated Nov 19, 2020, Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) General Angus Campbell delivers the findings from the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry, in Canberra, Australia. (PHOTO / AFP)
CANBERRA – The head of Australia's armed forces has moved to strip medals from soldiers who served in Afghanistan following allegations of war crimes, local media reported on Wednesday.
Angus Campbell, the chief of the Australian Defense Force (ADF), has asked the Minister for Defense to terminate decorations awarded to some soldiers who held command positions during the war in Afghanistan.
Angus Campbell, the chief of the Australian Defense Force, has asked the Minister for Defense to terminate decorations awarded to some soldiers who held command positions during the war in Afghanistan
It comes as the ADF continues to deal with the fallout of allegations that Australian troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
A landmark inquiry found credible evidence that soldiers from the Australian special forces murdered 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians between 2005 and 2016.
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In a letter to several current and former ADF members, Campbell informed them that their medals for distinguished and conspicuous service could soon be rescinded.
"It is then for the minister to independently determine whether he accepts the assessment in my letter after considering the relevant information including your response," he wrote, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
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"If he is of the view that your award should be cancelled, the minister will make a recommendation to the governor-general. The governor-general will then make a decision."
Following the release of the Afghan war crimes inquiry report in 2020, Campbell accepted a recommendation to strip the meritorious unit citation from the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG).
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However, the decision was overturned by Peter Dutton, who was defense minister at the time and is now leader of the Opposition.
The renewed push to terminate decorations has been met with anger by some veterans.