SAS officers are being given lessons in ethics, morality and leadership ahead of the release of a war report, according to new claims in The Australian.
The report by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force will look into decisions made during Australia’s involvement in conflict in Afghanistan, and determine whether any Aussie troops committed war crimes or battlefield atrocities.
Ahead of the release, however, The Australian says officers are already being given additional training in leadership to ‘strengthen culture’, as well as lessons in making ethical decisions under challenging conditions. The publication claims there’s also been rivalry between units in the past that could have contributed to a toxic culture, and it’s hoped the lessons- first quietly introduced in 2015 – could help dissolve those feuds.
While details of the upcoming report are scarce, it’s claimed it will focus on any alleged war crimes committed while troops were in Afghanistan. It was launched after ex-commanding officer Major General Jeff Sengelman notified Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin of allegations he’d become aware of that Australian soldiers had been caught up in alleged misconduct, abuse, war crimes and poor practices – who in turn asked the inspector-general to launch a formal inquiry.
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“The special operations community has been undergoing a self-initiated period of continuous change and development to improve a number of aspects of the special operations command,’’ a defence department spokesman told the newspaper when questioned on the ethics training.
The Australian claims the biggest reform will be the additional training requirements on special operations officers. While SAS officers and troops previously did the same course, the SAS Regiment will now have the extra morality, leadership and ethics lessons too.
It comes after the Sydney Morning Herald reported around a dozen of Australia’s elite special forces soldiers were subject to intensive questioning earlier this year over the allegations of war crimes, all as part of the ongoing investigation for the report.
According to the Australian Army’s official values statement, it bases its cultural and ethical foundation on the “values and the bonds of trust and respect between each and every person who joins in service to our nation.”
One of its core values is courage – central to its latest alleged reforms – and the statement adds that it’s crucial for officers to have “the moral strength and professionalism to balance the will to win with compassion, and mateship with duty.”
A defence spokesperson told Starts at 60: “The special operations community has been undergoing a self-initiated period of continuous change and development to improve a number of aspects of the Special Operations Command.
“For operational security reasons, Defence does not comment on the training, tactics and procedures of Special Operations Command.”