GOOD morning.

Welcome to Russell Offices staff indoctrination training for 2021.

This training will be accompanied by a short PowerPoint presentation and a break for morning tea.

The most important word you will learn here today is “no”, which should be the standard response to most submissions.

Indeed some issues predate the defence records move to Canberra from Melbourne and Ms Gladys Throgmorton, who was promoted to OIC records following forced redundancies of the tea trolley dollies, has produced a very helpful annex to your aide memoires listing these issues.

You will also find at appendix 1 to that annex a standard rejection form that simply requires updating current appointments for your response.

In summary – slide six thanks – that letter has a salutation followed by the standard response; “Your submission into <subject> has been thoroughly reviewed by <actioning branch> and after careful consideration by <department head, only officers full colonel and equivalent and above> you are advised it has been< unsuccessful/rejected>.

Should the actioning staff officer feel the need for further explanation, she may choose a generic response from those listed at appendix 2.

If I might pause momentarily, we have chosen “she” to describe actioning officers since that more accurately reflects majority gender balance on most senior HQ.

In a tight situation there’s the old guaranteed comeback.

“The office of the Governor-General has carefully considered this matter and his/her excellency has advised it does not meet the strict criteria for vice-regal consent and that therefore he/she has reluctantly ruled against its approval.”

This of course places no obligation on the actioning officer’s part to actually submit the correspondence to Government House for vice-regal consideration.

The final par states “No further correspondence will be entered into” followed by a closing salutation.

This is best done personally by hand for the senior officer responsible for the issue.

Again, no need to refer up, but you should memorise the chain of responsibility in your section.

Let’s look at some stubborn cases. In the event you receive a persistent inquiry from an individual, particularly one still serving, a word with officer career management can have the correspondent posted into the relevant position responsible for research and response.

This always imposes a convenient delay.

Remember, saying yes requires considering an issue.

No is always the easy way out.

Finally, are there any questions?

No? I thought as much.


VETERANS and their families in Adelaide are a step closer to having a one-stop shop to access localised services and support based at the landmark Veteran Wellbeing Centre at the Repat.

Following extensive consultation with the veteran community, four service providers have been chosen to provide services to veterans and their families through the Veteran Wellbeing Centre:

  • Plympton Veterans Centre – A community of learning where volunteer advocates can learn from each other to ensure the best possible outcomes for veterans and their families
  • Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling – Australia’s leading provider of high quality mental health assessment and clinical counselling for Australian veterans and their families
  • Returned and Services League (RSL) South Australia – Established in 1916, RSL SA has more than 9000 members and a network of 130 sub-branches, and its core business revolves around advocacy, services, mateship, commemoration and sustainability within the veteran community
  • Soldier On – A national not-for-profit organisation that supports Australian Defence Force personnel, veterans and their families to build better futures

Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the service providers’ tenancy will ensure the delivery of dedicated, high quality care to veterans.

“The Adelaide Veteran Wellbeing Centre will house assistance from government, health services, ex-service organisations (ESOs), other veteran services providers and community groups all in the one location,” Mr Chester said.

“The Federal and South Australian Governments are committed to putting veterans and their families first, and it is important we all work together to continue to improve their health and wellbeing, and to provide individualised services based on local veterans’ needs.

“I thank the South Australian Government for their commitment to this project and acknowledge the strong advocacy of the Member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint, in supporting veterans and their families in her local community.”

The new Centre will be based within the former Sleep Studies Centre and Schools Patriotic Fund (SPF) Hall buildings at the Repat in Daw Park. Veterans and their families will be able to access services and programs in a friendly, welcoming environment where their unique experiences are understood and supported, and their military service is respected.

South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the Marshall Liberal Government was committed to reactivating the Repat as a thriving health precinct, which maintains the close ties the site has in providing care to the veterans’ community over eight decades.

“The chosen service providers have significant experience in delivering high quality services to veterans and the veteran community. Having them co-located in the Centre will strengthen relationships, improve service coordination, advocacy and integrate health promotion activities, to achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes for our veterans and their families,” Mr Wade said.

“Veterans have strong connections to the Repat. The Veteran Wellbeing Centre will be an important part of the veteran community and we are looking forward to the establishment of this milestone in veteran care.”

The services available through the providers will include accredited veteran wellbeing and compensation advocacy services, mental health assessment and clinical counselling, and a range of health and wellbeing programs including employment, education and social connection.

The Centre will sit within a broader ‘Veterans’ Precinct’ at the Repat site, ensuring the Repat Chapel, Remembrance Gardens, Museum and SPF Hall are protected and preserved as community assets.

Member for Boothby Nicolle Flint said the $5 million provided by the Federal Government to the SA Veteran Wellbeing Centre delivered on an election commitment to provide more localised support to veterans and their families.

“It is so important that our veterans and their families have a dedicated place where they can go to connect with one another and to also access the assistance they need,” Ms Flint said.

“The Veteran Wellbeing Centre is a key feature of the new Repat Precinct and has only come about because of the tireless efforts of our veterans who campaigned to put a stop to the closure of the Repat.

“The reactivated Repat is in the heart of my local community and I worked hard to see the Federal and State Governments join forces to redevelop this important health precinct, including to return a Veterans presence to the Repat.”

The chosen service providers will be the first of a number of organisations to contribute to the development of the Veteran Wellbeing Centre. An Expression of Interest is open until 8 January seeking organisations to register their interest and in supplying services to veterans and the veteran community, within or in partnership with the Centre. The Expression of Interest document and response template can be accessed at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/veteranshealth.

Works are underway for the new Veteran Wellbeing Centre and are expected to be completed by April 2021.

The Australian Government committed $30 million at the 2019 election to develop a network of six Veteran Wellbeing Centres across Australia in partnership with ESOs and state and territory governments. For more information about the Veteran Wellbeing Centres, visit the DVA website www.dva.gov.au/wellbeing-centres.


A South Australian veteran is the first to receive an assistance dog from one of two new providers under the Australian Government’s Psychiatric Assistance Dog Program.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said Xena, trained by the Royal Society for the Blind (RSB) in South Australia, has now been handed over to a veteran to support them with managing their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“These dogs are specially trained to perform tasks that help with the recovery of their veteran handler and are trained to detect signs of distress and perform specific tasks to help alleviate those symptoms,” Mr Chester said.

“We are hearing stories every day of how the program is changing the lives of our veterans and improving their quality of life by helping them manage their PTSD symptoms on a daily basis.

“RSB is a 136-year-old organisation and their experience in training our canine companions will go a long way towards supporting veterans to manage their PTSD, which in turn helps those families that provide vital support.

“The Government’s program continues to deliver positive results by providing a psychiatric assistance dog to eligible veterans with PTSD as part of their ongoing mental health treatment plan.”

Xena and her veteran handler have now completed their training and share each day together.

“Xena has been just wonderful for me. She has made me feel calmer, more settled, and my housemates have already commented on the changes in me,” the veteran said.

“I just feel more grounded, and less anxious with her by my side. When I go to university, she has made me feel more comfortable as a part of a crowd, and better able to engage with my fellow students.”

The program has grown to include four providers across Australia, with 13 psychiatric assistance dogs having passed their all-important training and more than 80 dogs are in training.

“Since the program was announced in September 2019, more than 200 requests from veterans interested in adding an assistance dog to their treatment plan have been received,” Mr Chester said.

“This is just one of the ways we are putting veterans and their families first, and I look forward to seeing more eligible veterans experiencing the difference an assistance dog can make to their lives.”

RSB are one of four providers of psychiatric assistance dogs through DVA, which includes Integra Service Dogs, Smart Pups Assistance Dogs, and the Centre for Service and Therapy Dogs Australia.

The program is available to eligible veterans who have a diagnosis of PTSD and forms part of their current PTSD treatment plan. Veterans currently accessing treatment for PTSD may wish to speak to their mental health professional to see if a psychiatric assistance dog would be a suitable adjunct to treatment.  For more information about DVA’s Psychiatric Assistance Dog Program visit the DVA website.




The contributors named below were junior Officers, NCOs, or Diggers in Vietnam. We served in combat roles with 2RAR/NZ (Anzac) Battalion May 1970 to June 1971, experiencing the horrors and triumphs of armed conflict. We understand the ongoing effects on ourselves and our comrades. We wish to record our disappointment and distress on how the allegations of atrocities in Afghanistan have been addressed by the Prime Minister, and in particular the Chief of the Defence Forces.

Prior to the release of the report the Prime Minister created an expectation of horror, with at least an impression that the contents were proof of criminal conduct by members of SAS Regiment. On the release of the report his obvious rage supported the impression he had given the week before. To confirm that impression he advised that he had formally apologised to the Government of Afghanistan. It is not unreasonable to conclude that the various addresses adopted a ‘Presumption of Guilt’, contrary to Australian Law and the UN Charter.

The Chief of the Defence Force essentially echoed the words of the Prime Minister. He compounded the issue by not only adopting the ‘Presumption of Guilt’, but by announcing outrageous initial retributions that would be imposed. The Chief of the Defence Force then offended many veterans and current service members by restating the unfortunate observation in the report that ‘no officers were involved’ in the various activities. No mention of the other 26,000 armed service personnel who served there, many of whom sacrificed life and limb and mental health, and insulting many officers who consider that they are an integral part of the unit they serve or served with. His address was insulting, inappropriate, self-serving, and extremely poor leadership. The Chief of the Defence Force may well be a person to bear part of the responsibility for the numerous failures obvious in the conduct of the conflict.

The Prime Minister and the Chief of the Defence Force were intense in their moral indignation, clearly intended to represent their responses and behaviour as virtuous. Having clearly adopted and encouraged the Presumption of Guilt, then promised all accused an independent investigation and a fair trial.

It may be the case that no officer has been identified as being involved in any of the events. To suggest that for a period of more than five years and thirty nine atrocities, not one officer was close enough to his troops, or had access to the usual boozer gossip to at least be aware of some allegations, is simply not credible.

Official reports inform that in the period 2001 – 2016, a total of fifty six Australian service personnel were killed in action, and three hundred and seventy three of the veterans who served in that period committed suicide. The suicide rate was seven times more than battle casualties. What more warning was required to the Government and the military hierarchy to thoroughly investigate the causes of suicide and develop appropriate responses?  To our national shame the suicide rate has increased and is more likely to be ten times above battle fatalities, with another nine suicides in the last few weeks. If the same proportions applied to all wars we have been involved in, we would have experienced over one million suicides. Unimaginable.

It may be that with the retirement of General Peter Cosgrove, the army lost the last Commander who had any serious and life-threatening battle experience. Those who followed were undoubtedly qualified academically, but may not, and probably could not, have a meaningful understanding of the psychological impacts of battle, including the impact of over exposure to traumatic experiences, the initial paralysis of fear, the horror of loss or mutilation of comrades, and the images that will never be erased.

It is a simple reality that soldiers dehumanise their immediate enemy combatants. Any one of sound mind could not callously take the life of another non-combatant human being, yet innocents have been massacred in every war in history. It is only when the perpetrator dehumanises an entire country or a section of a country, that this will happen, and has happened throughout history, and continues in many conflicts today. The focus for Australia, at least from 2016, should have been on the origins of mental health issues, starting with the initial recruitment, basic and corps training, leadership, tolerance assessment, and over exposure to battle.

Many SASR soldiers have served multiple tours of Afghanistan. Up to six or eight tours is not uncommon, with one reported as having had sixteen tours. In time spent in actual operations on six tours, it would equate to the actual time spent in operations that a digger would have served in the entire WW2. Sixteen tours would equate to the total time spent in operations in all wars since Federation. How the hierarchy could have approved and encouraged that level of multiple tours, especially after the 2016 report, is incomprehensible and requires explanation.

The Australian Defence Forces senior management, including the Chief of the Defence Forces, will eventually have to answer for their failures.

We do not in any way condone any violations of the Geneva Convention, notwithstanding that in both Vietnam and Afghanistan our enemies were not distracted by any such niceties. We are however determined to ensure that all relevant matters required to give a complete perspective are canvassed, and that the accused are not sacrificed at the altar of the bureaucracy.

Any of those accused who are of sound mind and are found or plead guilty will have seriously diminished the proud reputation Australians have earned in battle since Federation. They will receive no sympathy.


D.W.Horrigan DCM                                               Rifleman

P.M.Wood MID                                                      Section Commander

B.R.Seeley MID                                                       Platoon Sergeant

R.G.Franklin                                                             Platoon Commander

T.H.O’Neill                                                                Platoon Commander

P.D.Savage MC                                                       Platoon Commander



Morrison insists war crimes will be dealt with by justice system

Prime Minister Scott Morrison insists disturbing allegations of war crimes by the ADF troops in Afghanistan will be dealt with by Australia’s justice system.

What lucky army bosses! Australian soldiers commit the worst war crimes in our living history but not one of their commanders is blamed. The buck stops with the sergeants, not the officers, who we’re told didn’t know that 25 of their men allegedly murdered 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners in cold blood.

As last week’s shocking report for the Inspector-General of our defence force put it: “The criminal behaviour of a few was commenced, committed, continued and concealed at the patrol commander level, that is, at corporal or sergeant level.” But their officers knew nothing: “The inquiry has found no evidence that there was knowledge of, or reckless indifference to, the commission of war crimes, on the part of commanders at troop/platoon, squadron/company or task group headquarters level, let alone at higher levels such as Commander Joint Task Force 633.” Those Joint Task Force commanders – running our Afghanistan operation from a base safely in the United Arab Emirates – “did not have the degree of command and control” over the special operations soldiers doing most of our killing and 60 per cent of our dying in combat. Pardon? Then what did those commanders do to deserve the Distinguished Service Cross out there in Abu Dhabi for “leadership in action” while most of those 39 alleged murders were perpetrated?

Do you know what it takes to spend months on end in hostile territory, where every unarmed civilian could be a Taliban spotter, and every child a suicide bomber?

Yes, the DSC was given to each of the Joint Task Force commanders from 2009 to 2013 – Mark Kelly, John Cantwell, Stuart Smith and Angus Campbell, now our Defence Force chief. These were medals for “action” which was actually done mostly by soldiers who these commanders were – so we’re told now it’s gone wrong – “not positioned, organisationally or geographically, to influence and control”. In which case, why not? Why were these commanders not “positioned” to control just what was done by the special forces they relied upon to do most of the killings of the Taliban terrorists? There was nothing more sensitive – or more likely to go wrong – in all our operations in Afghanistan than what was demanded from these soldiers, and especially our Special Air Service Regiment. Our politicians didn’t want to get too involved in this war. Just enough to make the US grateful. So most of the 26,000 uniformed soldiers we sent there were kept largely out of harm’s way, while the special forces were ordered out again and again “beyond the wire” to kill Taliban targets.

Do you know what it takes to spend months on end in hostile territory, where every unarmed civilian could be a Taliban spotter, and every child a suicide bomber? Where pity can get you killed? Where your mates have died, and only your mates will save you? Can you imagine the kind of men you need to handle such work? So it’s no surprise that such pressure in an elite unit can produce a “warrior” mentality, particularly under a charismatic sergeant or corporal. But who sent these soldiers out there, under such conditions? Who failed to check closely enough for signs of stress and indiscipline? Who failed to question the high kill rates of one particular squadron, now disbanded in disgrace? Many SAS soldiers were in fact disgusted by the murders. This inquiry would have found nothing had they not spoken out. But it took some of them years to trust that the army would want the truth. That’s one reason this inquiry took four years to investigate. Whose responsibility is that culture of distrust if not that of the generals? This report, by Justice Paul Brereton, does not let off the generals and their officers completely. Brereton said more senior commanders “bear moral responsibility and accountability for what happened”. They too easily accepted lies. Were too protective of their men. But some soldiers say stronger stuff. Even Brereton concedes: “Many people spoke of how widespread the knowledge of wrongdoing was, making it very difficult to believe that the lack of oversight can be put down to simple disinterest.” Former SAS sergeant Mack McCormack is more blunt: “For Angus Campbell to suggest the officers didn’t know and that this was happening on the periphery, and they weren’t aware, that is a total impossibility and that is the Officers’ Club door slamming shut on the guys who do the work.” So let’s not turn only on a few soldiers. This goes higher. It goes to the leaders who put men under greater pressure than almost any of us will know, and now feign shock that some cracked.


Retired special forces veterans are calling on officials to hold off stripping citations from potentially thousands of SAS personnel in the fallout over alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Brereton review has recommended revoking unit awards and individual medals after finding credible evidence that Australian elite soldiers murdered 39 unarmed civilians and prisoners.

However there have been rumblings of disquiet among the ranks over the wholesale punishment, and two former special forces members will publicly speak out against it on Friday during a visit to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Meanwhile Australia’s Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell will on Friday address senior military officers and departmental staff over the growing scandal, the ABC reports.

Former special forces commander Heston Russell and fellow retired veteran Scott Evennett want sanctions put on hold until any charges are proven in court.

“I am visiting the commemorative plaques of Special Forces members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country and now stand to lose their citations as they are being punished because of these allegations,” Mr Russell said in a statement.

“The families of our fallen heroes face the prospect of having honours stripped from their loved ones and their ultimate sacrifice reduced to scandal.”

It comes as the ABC reports at least 10 members of the SAS’s now disbanded 2 Squadron and the Regiment’s 3 Squadron implicated in the alleged crimes have been handed “show cause notices”.

Those facing the sack are not among the 19 personnel who Justice Brereton recommended be referred to Federal Police but are considered either witnesses or accessories to alleged murders carried out by other soldiers.

More Special Forces members may eventually be discharged or face a range of disciplinary sanctions, including formal warnings, the ABC reports.

The Brereton review, which investigated rumours of war crimes among Australian troops from 2006-2016, found credible evidence of “grave misconduct”, including war crimes of murder and cruel treatment.

Australian Defence Force chief Angus Campbell has accepted the suggestion to revoke the citations of thousands of SAS personnel and pledged to write to the Governor-General David Hurley.

Following the release of the damning report, Chief of Army Rick Burr said individuals would be held to account “through disciplinary or administrative action”.

A Defence spokesperson confirmed action was being taken against serving members.

“Defence can confirm it has initiated administrative action against a number of serving Australian Defence Force personnel in accordance with legislation and Defence policy,” a spokesperson told the ABC.

“As the Chief of the Defence Force [CDF] said publicly last week, findings by the IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry of alleged negligence by individuals in the performance of their duties have been accepted by the CDF, and allegations will be managed through the ADF’s administrative and disciplinary processes.”

Those subject to administrative action have “a right to respond within a specified time” of “at least 14 days after the individual has received the notice”.

“Each matter and individual circumstance will be considered on a case-by-case basis,” a spokesperson said.

Revelations last week of the alleged horrors shocked Australia’s Army chief Lieutenant General Rick Burr who told 60 Minutes he “was sick” and “sickened” by the allegations.

“That is absolutely not what I expect of anyone in our army, anywhere in our army at any time, and why I’m so determined to lead our army through this into a better place.”

Support Needed

I have signed the petition “Governor-General of Australia His Excellency General The Honorable David Hurley AC DSC : Retain the Meritorious Unit Citation awarded to Task Force 66 (SOTG IV-XX) 26th of Jan 15” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

The goal is to reach 15,000 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here:



How Australia’s leaders loved the SAS to death

How Australia’s leaders loved the SAS to death

Malcolm Knox

It was 2008 when an enemy combatant reached for his gun to shoot Mark Donaldson. In self defence, Donaldson shot first. The man was the first fighter Donaldson saw die up close. Reflecting later, he was affected enough to wonder about the man’s family, where he had come from, who he had left behind, or if, in an alternative life, they have ever met in peace? After some soul-searching, Donaldson concluded that if he had been the victim, the other man probably wouldn’t be sitting around that night wondering about him and his family. The introspection surprised Donaldson, who hadn’t anticipated the full emotional consequences of such an intimate event.

By 2011, his second-last tour to Afghanistan, Donaldson had lost count of how many lives he and his SASR colleagues had been forced to take in combat. His squadron was being rotated in and out of the war at a relentless pace. The tempo of missions had increased from one or two a week to at least one a day. After one mission, he and his team made macabre jokes about the enemy. Having known Donaldson through this period, as the body count grew, I asked him if the humour was a self-protective mechanism. He couldn’t really say.

What he did know was that the intensification of fighting during those four years, and the repurposing of the SASR that he had originally signed up for, had changed him profoundly.

His acts were not war crimes, or anything like it. Donaldson and most of his SASR mates were as effective and honourable soldiers as Australians could hope to have. He received Australia’s first Victoria Cross since Vietnam for a 2008 act of incredibly brave mercy: he ran into a field of enemy gunfire to rescue a wounded Afghan interpreter. Donaldson accepted the VC on the condition that he could keep going to Afghanistan. He went four more times, by which stage there was growing talk within the unit of a small number of their mates losing control, possibly violating the rules of war.

I got to know Donaldson while helping him write his book, The Crossroads. Later, I had a similar relationship with Anthony ‘‘Harry’’ Moffitt, another SAS operator. He was a more introspective character who did not enthusiastically embrace the change in the regiment’s purpose from long-range reconnaissance to a kill-capture, warfighting, commando-style unit. He spent his last years in the SAS trying to leaven what he saw as a ‘‘warrior’’ mentality creeping in, after the sharp rise in targeting missions between 2008 and 2012.

Neither Donaldson nor Moffitt, or any other of the SAS operators who had been selected and trained into the unit in the 1990s and early 2000s, had made it because they were killers. The SAS’s reputation as the fabled ‘‘phantoms of the jungle’’ in Vietnam rested on their unconventionality and ability to think outside the military box. Uniquely in the Australian Defence Force – and in clear distinction from today’s reality television spectacle – operators were selected for their temperamental and psychological strengths.

The unit’s tradition was secret squirrel work, getting in deep behind enemy lines and gathering intelligence without being seen and then getting out. If an SAS patrol fired a shot, it failed. The type of people brought into the unit were independent-thinking individuals who didn’t fit into the disciplined army model. Some of them were very unusual freethinkers. Informed rule-breaking, or individual initiative, were, like nowhere else in the armed forces, valued.

During the Afghanistan conflict, however, Australia’s political and military leadership fell in love with the SAS. One of the key recommendations of the Brereton report – with its finding of 39 alleged murders by our special forces

– is one of the less conspicuous: that they no longer be treated as the default ‘‘force of first choice’’. That they had become so, at the direction of Australia’s highest political and military leaders, set the preconditions for what followed.

So effective was the SAS at what it did in Afghanistan, our leaders very quickly came to believe it could do anything. It was transformed from the phantoms of the jungle (or desert) into just another commando unit, working under the ‘‘Big Army’’ command, overlapping with the purpose-built 4RAR commandos.

Was this what the SAS was for? Was this the personality type that had been chosen for its ranks? No, but adaptability was one of the unit’s many strengths. By 2008, SAS patrols were conducting endto-end targeting missions several times a day, their reconnaissance purpose overtaken by openly combative work. Unprecedentedly, two SAS squadrons were in Afghanistan together in 2010.

Moffitt and Donaldson came from backgrounds in which they had developed a strong individualistic streak. This might not have suited them to most military work, but it made them perfect for the SAS’s mission of unconventional reconnaissance. In Afghanistan, they had to adapt into warfighters. Some adapted better than others. It would seem almost inevitable that among such unique personality types, there would be a few who, exposed to the constant stress of war-fighting, lost some sense of perspective.

Responsibility always lies with the individual and there is no passing the buck up the chain. But Moffitt, who built connections during each of his foreign deployments through games of cricket with locals, also sees a cricketing analogy. He mentions, though with much less at stake, with Sandpapergate, the scandal that enveloped Australia’s cricket team in 2018: ‘‘Pressure from above to win at all costs, exalted individuals feeling that they could get away with anything and make up their own rules as they went along, younger members being coerced to overstep the line, internal voices expressing concern being silenced or blocked, ‘performance’ being valued over ‘character’, and the rare cases of transgression not being passed up to the leadership, or being ignored by higher-ups.’’

Moffitt believes the SAS now has no option but to confront what Australians expect of them and how to regain the confidence shaken by the alleged actions of a few. ‘‘One of the hardest working organisations over the past decades will now have to work harder than ever to rebuild trust,’’ he says.

As a consequence of the Brereton inquiry, brave whistleblowers and also the investigative journalism of Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters at the Herald along with the ABC’s Mark Willacy, soldiers accused of war crimes will be held to account. The consequences for all SASR members and their families are severe. The consequences for innocents in Afghanistan were worse than severe.

Yet there still seems no consequences for those higher up whose decisions set the preconditions for criminality. Their blind admiration, which turned into dependence, changed the character of the SASR in the middle of a conflict, and resulted in the rulebreaking ingenuity of SASR thinking being twisted, in some cases, into free-thinking of a darker kind. Accountability will be borne by those who carried out the acts. When will there be accountability for those leaders, including our elected officials, who loved the SASR to death?

Malcolm Knox, a regular columnist, collaborated in writing The Crossroads (2013) with Mark Donaldson VC, and Eleven Bats with Anthony ‘‘Harry’’ Moffitt.