Some SAS members acted like “self-righteous, entitled pricks.”

After a long-running investigation looking into war crimes reportedly committed by Australian troops, Major-General Adam Findlay, the commander of Australia’s Special Forces, has admitted that some members of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) indeed committed war crimes in Afghanistan. He blamed these atrocities on “poor moral leadership” during a private briefing to dozens of Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) soldiers at Perth’s Campbell Barracks in late March.

The briefing’s leaked comments also contained the staggering admission that war crimes committed in Afghanistan may have been covered up. The general added that Australia’s special forces will probably take a decade to recover from the long war crimes probe. The investigation was conducted by Major-General Paul Brereton, a judge in New South Wales and a senior officer in Australia’s army reserve.

SOFREP has previously reported on the issue.

Australian Special Forces troops, including SAS, began deploying to Afghanistan in 2005 and served there until 2013. They conducted a range of different operations working in five-man teams, mainly in Uruzgan province. But allegations of misconduct dogged the SF, particularly the SAS. Thus, an inquiry was initiated in 2016 by General Brereton. The inquiry specifically looked at 55 cases of unlawful conduct, mainly related to the killing of unarmed persons, including handcuffed prisoners and children. There have been more than 330 witnesses interviewed thus far.

General Findlay said that MG Brereton had interviewed hundreds of SAS personnel under oath and he had a “very strong evidential basis of what is a fact.” But he did say that the vast majority of troops acted appropriately. He lauded the men who saw what was wrong and had the “moral courage” to report what they had seen to authorities and to the inquiry. 

“There is strength here. There is a moral code. The reason we got the Brereton inquiry is that people came forward [to expose war crimes],” he added.

General Findlay pulled no punches and said that besides “trigger pullers” there were the “enablers” who allowed this to happen. He went on to blame the war crimes on what he described as “one common cause.”