The head of the country said on Friday that 13 Australian Special Forces troops are to be laid off due to a report on alleged unlawful killings in Afghanistan.
Lieutenant General Rick Burr, head of the Australian army said the soldiers have been issued with “administrative action notices”. Their service will be terminated in two weeks unless they make a successful appeal.
A four-year inquiry released last week stated that Australia’s elite special forces “unlawfully killed” 39 civilians and prisoners in Afghanistan. Summary execution was done as part of initiation rituals.
The years-long investigation recommended 19 individuals be taken to the Australian Federal Police, compensation to be paid to the families of victims and that the military should implement strict reforms.
The Lieutenant General did not identify any of the 13 soldiers but he mentioned that they were not among the current 19 and former soldiers who would face possible criminal charges.
“We are all committed to learning from the inquiry and emerging from this a stronger, more capable and effective army,” he said.
“Each matter and individual circumstance will be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
The report about the conduct of Australia’s elite forces in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016 may have forced junior soldiers to kill defenseless captives in order to “blood” them for combat, said senior commandos.
James Gaynor, inspector general of the Australian Defence Force, described the nature of the alleged misconduct as “very confronting”, noting there were additional allegations that members of the Australian military had treated people under their control with cruelty.
“None of these alleged crimes was committed during the heat of battle,” he wrote. “The alleged victims were non-combatants or no longer combatants.”
The Australian military was deployed to Afghanistan following the 11th September, 2001 attacks. They were deployed alongside the United States forces and other allies.
Combat troops left Afghanistan in 2013, but the Australian military continues to work in training and support roles.