BETRAYED AFTER ALL WE’VE DONE
After years of untested war crimes allegations, many of our SAS have had enough. Now they give their story to Simon Heath & Charles Miranda
Former elite Special Forces soldiers have broken ranks to make a public plea for understanding as more than two years of police investigations is destroying their marriages, careers and mental health.
Since the Brereton report into alleged war crimes was released in 2020, a wall of silence has largely existed around the 23 men directly accused of wrongdoing and dozens more who served around them.
Only one man has been charged, briefs against two others are in preparation for the DPP and the rest have been living in limbo with regular Office of Special Investigator calls, visits, phone taps and offers of immunity if they roll on others.
Now several of the former SAS have agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.
“We did hundreds of missions, some guys for almost 20 years, I did nine tours. It was the SAS out there, very few others went outside the wire, the Commandos also did some stuff up the valley,” one former soldier said.
“In 2011 and 2012 we stopped Australians getting killed, we shut down the guys making IEDs and Aussies lived because of that. We were getting shot at on every mission, we had mates die, we saw our mates die,” added another. “A lot of people don’t realise what Afghanistan was like … none of the fighting was out in the desert, it was all in the Green Zone, where people lived, mostly in farmland. We were fighting guys who’d be farmers and then they’d be Taliban, and then go back to being farmers. The Taliban bosses had f--ked off to Pakistan and hid out there, we knew that, and then as soon as the Yanks f--ked off they came crawling back.”
Despite fighting in a war r with no clear frontline, the e men claim the bureaucracy cy overseeing them did not allow ow them to take the upper hand. d.
“Hamid Karzai (Afghan han President) told the bosses that hat the villages were getting upset set that we were doing night raids, ds, the Yanks told them to f--k off and they kept doing night ght raids; but our bosses did what hat Karzai said,” one said.
“So we were having to head off in full daylight and do missions that should have been done at night … they’d see our helicopters take off and know we were coming. It was like going into a boxing ring, one hand tied behind your back. We had to slip the Yanks a few cases of beer if we wanted support from their attack helicopters … they had everything there, we had nothing.”
They believe justice delayed is justice denied and the war crimes allegations have dragged out for years, hanging over the men as a constant source of stress. They revealed they had gone for government jobs but, being ex-Special Forces, they get rejected before interview.
“The guy making many of the accusations wasn’t even one of us, he didn’t wear the beret,” they said. “The investigators got to him and he said whatever they wanted … all of them, they’ve never been in combat, they might have heard a bullet tick by once … and then they’ll call PTSD. We were out there on hundreds of missions. And these (expletive) are telling us what happened out there … all of what was written was bullshit. My ex-wife hasn’t spoken to me because of what these socalled experts wrote. Lucky I still see my kids, they get me through it all.”
The ADF commanders come in for particular criticism. “They weren’t even in Afghanistan, and they still all got medals … medals for sitting in Dubai, what a joke”.
“Most of the guys have now had to leave the SAS. One guy tried to stay, and they just pushed him to leave, now he’s really f--ked up … mate, it’s hard to take your skills from 20 years in the SAS and find a place for that.”
Last week it was revealed ADF chief General Angus Campbell did take action on commanders, writing to seven of them advising he had proposed they be stripped of their distinguished service medals related to time in Afghanistan.