To the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force
As a deeply concerned Australian citizen, I want to contribute to the inquiry into rumours of possible breaches of the Laws of Armed Conflict by members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Afghanistan, between 2005 and 2016.
Let me introduce myself.
I am a 75 year old Duntroon drop out who subsequently devoted his life to advocacy for peace and social justice, a nomad who travels around Australia in a van equipped with banner rigs and PA.
In many different public places and on many occasions i have been vocal in my opposition to the engagement of the ADF in US wars, first in Indo China and now the US wars without end in the Greater Middle East.
In particular I have been vocal about the corrupting influence on the Australian Special Air Service of extended service in Afghanistan (17 years!) under the command of US Joint Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
Service without accountability!
But while the Australian government has been successful in keeping the murderous business of the SAS secret from the Australian people and its media, enough information has come out from US and UK reporting to give us an understanding of what the Australian SAS have been doing.
In short this so called networked warfare has been murder and mayhem on a more or less daily basis for 17 years.
The best that can be said of the SOCOM strategy of systematic violence against Muslims and their indigenous communities in far away foreign lands is that it had some temporary success in reducing armed resistance to the US led invasion of their country. But it also produced ghastly blow-back, namely the rise of the Islamic State.
Then there is the human cost to consider. It is fantasy and delusion to believe that daily murder and mayhem comes without cost to the minds and spirits of those who perpetrate it.
In some these scars become overt as in PTSD, in others they may remain hidden in a persona of super efficient business as usual, either as commanders in the ADF or as corporate mercenaries and security personnel. Either way the benefit to civil society is negative.
In 2015 I was part of a peaceful protest against the SAS and it’s US war service at the gates of the SAS/ASIS base at Swan Island.
Eight of the protesters entered the base pre-dawn on Friday 10 October. Four were arrested by Victoria Police officers. Four others were apprehended by two ADF personnel in plain clothes (likely SAS) who hooded them, cable tied their wrists, cut off their clothes, assaulted and verbally abused them. See 7.30 Report here.
Raised at Senate Estimates the incident was later the subject of an inconsequential ADF internal inquiry. The assailants were not named. To the contrary they were deemed Protected Persons and as such declared immune from the processes of criminal law. A civil action against the ADF for damages is in train.
In the same way as a single litmus test shows a general acidity, I suggest that this abuse was not freak or abhorrent behaviour but rather an indicator of a general contempt – a SAS culture of contempt – for civilians and their civil law.
This is the war that the SAS has brought home from their long and irresponsible service to the failed US war in Afghanistan.
This violent form of policing has been referred to as “rendition”. It’s a CIA derived descriptor for what happened to Australian David Hicks when he was arrested, tortured and held without trial in Guantanama Bay 2001-07.
Worse I have reason to believe that at the time of the attack on the peace protesters, the Swan Island SAS was training State police counter terrorism units, plus counter terrorism police units from our Pacific neighbours, in just such policing techniques.
From a war of state terror in Afghanistan to training for state terror in Australia, it’s a pernicious consequence.
For this reason I want to address your inquiry.
The Swan Island assault is not a rumour. It actually happened though the perpetrators were protected. But isn’t that the way with the SAS and its cult of secrecy and why your inquiry is in progress?
At core what I want is to inquire of your inquiry what actions might be recommended to re-civilise the SAS into Australian civil society after its extended corruption under the command of US Special Operations Command.
Best we can.