CDF Intention to Remove Medals From Afghanistan Veterans
The TPI Federation fully supports the Australian Special Air Service Association and reaffirms that any attempt to cancel honours or awards issued to Australian Veterans of the Afghanistan war must not be permitted prior to any formal legal findings of wrongdoing that can be attributed to any specific individual.
“Should an Australian Court find an Australian Veteran guilty of a war crime, then at such a time an administrative review of honours and awards may be appropriate. Until then, procedural fairness and the presumption of innocence are fundamental human rights and especially in the democracy of Australia, and this applies most definitely to our soldiers who are humbly silent in their continued service in the face of unproven accusations.”
APPVA Chairman, Ian Lindgren
The ASASA has advised the following –
“Attention All ESO’s
I write with a heavy heart to inform you that CDF General Campbell has decided to recommend the removal of DSC’s from seven outstanding SF officers who fought with their men on rotations courageously in the Afghanistan war. These awards belong not just to the Squadron or Rotation Commanders but to the soldiers who did the fighting, and their families who waited at home. This follows the egregious treatment, including constructive dismissal from service, of a large number of enlisted soldiers, corporals and sergeants on the basis of a relative handful of yet to be substantiated allegations about possible illegal acts in theatre. Many of the mistreated soldiers were accused of nothing and were not involved in anything other than the fighting, apparently guilty by association.
My view is that the entire SASR, soldiers’ officers, the accusers and the accused were over deployed, overused and caught up in a mismanaged war run by ministers and generals in Canberra, particularly Op Slipper Phase 3 from around 2006 to 20013. The aim for government was to reduce political risk and fight the war inexpensively. If we allow the ANZAC’s of today to be treated in this way by their governments and their generals, it creates a dangerous precedent. I am particularly concerned for the families and loved ones of our veterans who suffer this lack of grace from Canberra in silence. No veteran should be made to feel ashamed of their service, least of all by the generals and governments which sent them to war.
The ASASA has written to CDF (letter above) but by his actions it is clear our advice has been ignored. As National Chairman of the ASASA I have sought meetings with Minister Marles who referred me elsewhere choosing not to meet, and with Minister Keogh. Meetings with the government have not occurred. We will not be ignored, and as a consequence we will take our concerns to veterans and to the Australian people directly in a determined campaign of action. Our people deserve better.
This release below is right to be widely distributed to all veterans and their families through our networks so please push it out as you deem appropriate. SAS veterans and their families would be encouraged to know the broader ESO community are on their side, whatever their views on the details. The CDO Association Steve Pilmore and the RSL led by former SF officer Greg Melick have been magnificent in supporting us to the hilt.
Media release and letter below
Letter to CDF Jan 23 Copy 2.docx
The above has received extensive national media coverage today.
In truth, successive governments and the generals who advised them at the time mishandled this war, including the overuse of our people. The aftermath, particularly the Brereton inquiry and developments running before and out of it have been even more poorly mismanaged. The mishandling of matter generally by ministers and generals is clearly contributing to the ADF’s woeful retention and recruiting problems and will impact on mental health of veterans. The CDF’s action today is in our opinion likely to increase the risk of veteran suicide ideation. We treated our Vietnam veterans poorly on their return from war. This senior ADF leadership appears to have learnt nothing and is now treating our Afghanistan veteran just as badly.
Over time we will reset the national conversation on the achievements of the ADF in Afghanistan. I would be grateful if ESO leaders and members could reflect on this development and canvas their membership’s view? Your organisations may wish to write to Minister Marles and Matt Keogh asking them to reject the CDF’s proposal. We might need to ask you to assist with a letter writing campaign to local MPs in the near future, if your ESO were keen to help? This information can go out to veterans and into newsletters if you wish.
Thank you for your support and fellowship. Better days for our people must surely be ahead. More to follow.
Hon Martin Hamilton-Smith
The Australian Special Air Service Association
PO Box 65 Stirling SA 5152
M: +61 (0) 408854707
Email: [email protected]“
Please show your support for the Special Forces Veterans and the ASASA by writing to your federal and local member and demand that cease until such time that guilt or innocence has been determined.