A former SAS sergeant spoke of his “shock” and “devastation” following the discoveries of alleged war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan.
Mack McCormack served in the SAS from 1980 to 1993, including the Second Squadron of Special Air Services, which was disbanded following the explosive Brereton report.
Mr McCormack said the report – which recommended that 19 soldiers be investigated by police for the alleged murder of 39 prisoners – was a “stain” on the squadron.
But he hoped it wouldn’t erode the legacy of the entire squadron and tarnish the reputation of the vast majority of SAS alumni and serving members, who he said served their country with ” professionalism and discipline ”.
“For the majority, who are full-fledged professionals, they will be devastated,” said McCormack.
“The guys who serve in the regiment don’t serve for money or medals, they serve for their country.
“Service in the regiment is a lot like the Olympics or the AFL, and when you have a small group doing something wrong, you don’t tarnish the entire AFL or anything.
“Holding the whole squadron in charge of a small minority group, I think it’s quite difficult.
Mr McCormack called the findings revealed in the report “unprecedented”, saying they did not match the “absolute professionalism” he experienced during his 13 years at SAS.
“When you are there [on duty], our lives depend on our discipline, and if what we read in the reports has happened, it is unruly conduct, ”said McCormack.
“And if it’s true that it’s a culture, then it wasn’t a culture that was there during my time in the regiment.
He said the findings had deeply shaken former SAS members.
“We are in shock, like the rest of Australia, we had no idea about these allegations,” he said.
“We are extremely proud of the active members and like in a relay race we transfer our skills to the new guys who come in and they carry the baton, and in this case it looks like the minority has dropped the baton.
But Mr McCormack said many SAS members felt “betrayed” by politicians and senior members of the Australian Defense Force who had to take responsibility for the finds.
“The majority have dedicated their lives and careers to the defense of their country. They are sent to war by politicians; it is not the SAS that starts the wars, ”he said.
“There is a whole chain of command and you are a dedicated team that works together to accomplish a task.
“It is utterly ridiculous in a modern army to suggest that these are a few rogue troops doing their own thing.
“For Angus Campbell, to suggest that the officers did not know and that it was happening on the periphery, and that they were not aware, it is a total impossibility and it is the door of the officers’ club that slams shut about the guys who do the job.
“Senior officers must assume their responsibilities.”
Mr McCormack said it was crucial that defense personnel and their families be supported while being subject to “public embarrassment”.
“Right now I feel the most for families,” he said.
“If you think it’s hard to be in the SAS, try being married to one.
“My heart goes out to the wives and children of the current serving members of the regiment and I would like them to know how much we respect their father and the sacrifices their families made to defend our country.
“They sacrifice so much – I used to be away nine months a year and then I left because my three kids were growing up without me.
“Every time we step on the field, we put our lives at risk for our country and you are playing the numbers game.”
Likewise, Mr. McCormack applauded the soldiers who exposed the alleged war crimes.
“At the same time, can I say how proud I am of the guys who came forward and made ADF aware of this situation, because it must have been incredibly difficult for them with the pressure from the peer groups,” said he declared.
RSL WA President Peter Aspinall agreed that it is essential to ensure the well-being of current and former military personnel and their families.
Mr Aspinall said the emotional impact on the troops would be significant.
“I think it would run the gamut, from absolute disgust and revulsion, to being absolutely devastated by the revelations, and all the steps in between,” Mr. Aspinall said.
He was not aware of any allegations against Australian troops of this magnitude since the case of Breaker Morant who was executed in 1902 for murder during the Second Anglo-Boer War.
Command ‘complete failure’
Former RSL WA chairman Graham Edwards said he spoke to members of the SAS who felt “abandoned” by the government and senior ADF officials.
“Most of all, I feel for the decent, professional, courageous and ethical members of the SAS who are currently in service and who have served and who have gone to this war at the behest of our government and put their lives in danger,” he said. -he told me.
“Many of them were killed in action, they have now been rejected by the government and senior ADF officials, the system stinks.
“If there are people fined, then they should be the culprits and they should be the ones who should be stripped of any medals or praise, not the whole regiment.
“There was a complete failure of the control system in the ADF.”
In a statement released Thursday, Lt. Gen. Rick Burr, the army chief, praised those who “had the courage to provide information” to the Brereton inquiry.
“This alleged serious misconduct has seriously damaged our professional reputation,” he said.
“This action does not reflect any judgment on the current members of 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment, but we must all accept the wrongs of the past.
“It’s a difficult time for all of us. Our army must learn, improve, support each other and together we will get there.