The US told Australia it could stop its joint military activities over Australian special forces’ alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

General Angus Campbell, in charge of the Australian military, said this during the Senate’s foreign affairs, defense, and trade committee on Wednesday, The Guardian reported. He said that in March 2021, the US attaché in Canberra sent him a letter. The letter warned that the Brereton war crimes report could spark a US rule called the ‘Leahy rule.’

The Marines deployed to Australia for bilateral exchange Exercise Golden Eagle to enhance US and Australian interoperability and military-to-military relationships. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jody Lee Smith / via Wikimedia Commons)


The law says the US military can’t work with groups linked to “gross human rights violations.” The Brereton Report found ‘credible’ proof that 25 current or former Australian SAS troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians between 2005 and 2016. Page 29 of the Brereton Report stated that the soldiers’ actions could not be considered incidents involving questionable decisions during intense combat. 

Instead, they involve situations that should have clarified whether individuals were non-combatants, according to The Brereton Report released in late 2020. The US Embassy sent the report to Campbell in March 2021.

US Military Cutting Ties with Australian Special Forces Over War Crime Allegations

During heated questioning on Wednesday, Campbell said that the US might have suspended its military cooperation with SASR for up to a year. He said this as the Australian Defense Force tried to fix the problems. He said the US wanted to know ‘what Australia was doing’ in answer to the Brereton report. The military chief said cooperation between the US military and Australia’s SAS forces might have been interrupted for up to a year. This is after the defense worked to fix the problems in the unit.

General Campbell said there was a time of care during which they looked at their plans. To make the US feel better about violations of the “Leahy Law,” officials transferred the personnel to other departments. They also gave the person an explanation for the relocation. This data was provided to the committee. The Age mentioned that Campbell did not inform the defense minister then. He added that he had yet to tell Richard Marles, the defense minister.