ADF war crimes allegations ‘mar Campbell’s legacy’

RHIANNON DOWN – The Australian

SAS Association chair Martin Hamilton-Smith says outgoing Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell’s legacy would be marred by accusations of war crimes levelled against ADF personnel serving in Afghanistan.

Mr Hamilton-Smith said General Campbell “spent a lot of time” focusing on issues relating to the last war in Afghanistan which subjected veterans to a “circus of accusation”, but the blame also lay at the feet of the Morrison government, including former Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

“I think we’ve learned a lot from the way government and the ADF handled allegations regarding possible war crimes in Afghanistan,” he said.

“And I think that we have to ensure when such matters arise as they will, that they’re handled in accordance with due process.

“And we don’t have we don’t have a circus of accusations and media speculation impacting on the physical and mental health and well being of hundreds of courageous and solid soldiers who put their life on the line for their country and then sort of find themselves caught out in in a controversy that has not been tested in a proper due process.

“It’s guilt by accusations, and I just think the way it was handled, not not just by General Campbell by the way, but I think by Minister Reynolds at the time, on reflection it would have been nice if those matters had been handled quite differently.”

Mr Hamilton-Smith said the ADF’s capabilities ultimately fell on the government, warning that in its current state the defence force was not adequately prepared for a future conflict.

“At the end of the day, it’s the government that is responsible for making sure that our defence forces are ready and properly resourced,” he said.

“The CDF can only work with the resources and the leadership that government provides.

“And I think successive governments need to reflect on the current capabilities of the ADF and ask themselves whether they’ve made sufficient investment.

“What’s very clear is that the ADF is a long way from being ready for a future conflict in the short to medium term.”

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  • Alan Foyle April 10, 2024   Reply →

    Campbell just needs to far cough and hopefully the ADF can recover from his piss-ant, woke bullshit he has shoved down the throats of our warriors. BRS needs this maggot to apoligise for the shit storm he has thrown his way.

    • Roger Edmonds April 12, 2024   Reply →

      Could not have said it better myself . Maybe he could donate a proportion of his exorbitant salary ( was rumored to be in excess oh 1mil) to Soldier On .

  • Stephen Wise 4410965 ex 1Fld Sqn RAE April 10, 2024   Reply →

    We are all of us aware of the Government (all of them) being peopled mainly by lying snakes.
    Do we expect our officers of any rank to pee in the same bottle ? I think not.
    Do we expect our most senior officers to sup with those snakes ? I think not.
    Come a time when our senior officers and government may have to smell the swamp by them selves.
    Disgusted by them all. Anyone remember the Atomic Poms ? we are still working with Veterans for compensation.
    As Advocates we are called liars when we present the facts of a case for a War Widow.
    Time we replaced their DSO’s with a little PTSD.

  • Ken.T. April 10, 2024   Reply →

    One can only hope and pray that the Sailor Boy coming into the Job is more attuned to the needs of the Defence Force then the last miss fit. The Military needs a good leader and a sound pound of Hardening up. I except that times change, methods change, and equipment change, but the man/woman on the ground is still the same. Red Blooded, and has vulnerable flesh, along with a manipulative brain and self conciseness. Trained and taught to respect and respond to threats large and small our Troopers will come through, and out the other side vectorially. But abused and condemned no one is going to put their hart and soul into any thing. When the Digger see and witness Hero’s being condemned and left to ponder their fate for years on end after the action, along with Units being condemned and taken of line at a whim, they will reflect on one thing, “There but for the Love Of God go I”. and it comes down to a case of “Stuff this I am out of here.” The country has Lost Millions of Dollard wroth of Hard Core Trained Men and Woman. We can’t afford this type of Leadership again.

    • J Ryk TRAEGER April 12, 2024   Reply →

      “One can only hope and pray that the Sailor Boy coming into the Job is more attuned to the needs of the Defence Force then the last miss fit” …. Campbell could not lead a starving Biafran to a free banquet, so I have serious doubts that he will be much different as I believe he was Campbell’s understudy for 6 years.

      Ryk TRAEGER
      Nasho Viet Nam 1968-1969

  • Keith April 11, 2024   Reply →

    Don’t forget that during this mans watch SAS dogs are being taught to be culturally sensitive! Has anyone ever heard of such utter nonsense? Add in all of the priority recruitment, WOKE initiatives and dodging responsibilities of command, this mans legacy will be that the Defence force is now a long way short of its capability before he took charge.

  • Robert O'Connor April 11, 2024   Reply →

    Regarding the quality of military Commanders during my tour of SVN in 1967 – 68 this Nasho tunnel rat was witness to many things that he considered ‘below par’ behavior from our commissioned officers, whom, by and large I believed, were not up to the task of commanding the lower ranks in their charge, particularly the Nashos. Many of whom had a greater education, not to mention life experience, then they did. As someone once observed; “With the advent of National Service the collective IQ of the army tripled overnight.” As a boy growing up in the immediate aftermath of WW2 I had a great respect for our military and held it in high esteem, both of which were dashed on day 2 of my 2-years when I committed the hanging offence of addressing our company commander by his rank. “Yes Captain” I replied to his question. Well, the Academy Award performance he put on in front of the entire platoon an his underlings was really something to behold and to add fuel to an already raging fire he didn’t like me making him wait until I wiped his spittle from my face and neck with my hanky, folding it up, rather slowly I might add, in neat army fashion, and replacing it in my pocket whereupon I resumed the attention stance. (I resisted the natural urge to wipe more spittle dribble off his chin before doing so because by the way his veins were blood – swollen with rage I thought not to push my luck.) But on with the main thrust of this post. I have little faith in this new fellow Johnston to do a much better job than Campbell because all of them are ‘Yes men’ and are trained to be so from the rank of Lieutenant Colonel or equivalent or they just don’t get the job. (Nor promotions to attain such high rank). As far as I’m concerned my respect for the likes of Campbell, Brereton, Morrison and I’ll throw in Lyn McDade (look her up) would need to stand to attention when they addressed me. For the record: In my opinion my boss (Troop Commander) was a competent officer who carried out his difficult job and duties with diligence and I respected him as an army officer. The other one was one Major Ron Wright. Corporals and diggers prosecute wars and do the killing and dying, Officer ranks should stay the f*** out of it and let them get on with the job. Good on you BRS. PS: Readers may be interested to read the book ‘The Power of Love” by Bob Sten. The Power of Love is the first novel in the pentalogy THE CONSCRIPT DIARIES and chronicles the life, love and adventures of a combat engineer before and during the TET Offensive in January 1968 when he is sent into a rubber plantation to search for booby traps and meets the owner. A great story!

    • Jeff Johns April 13, 2024   Reply →

      Campbell, Brereton, Morrison, McDade and several others are fortunate that today’s soldiers have lost of forgotten an old action for getting rid of incompetent Officers who put the troops in the way of totally unnecessary risk. That old action is “Fragging”. While I definitely do not condone it, I can understand why it was used, particularly in WW1 and WW2 where some Senior Officers seemed to have no regard for the lives of their troops. McDade, it would seem, is one of those, as I believe, is Brereton. The answer to the question of “what would they have done if they were in the situations they were prosecuting” is, probably the same as those they were prosecuting, thus prove to be hypocrites, or get killed themselves killed. Unfortunately Aussie commanders like Monash, Vasey, Morshead, Rowell and Laverack are long gone and, it would appear, “on the whole” have been forgotten not replaced.

  • Gino April 12, 2024   Reply →

    Both Campbell and Johnston were appointed CDF and VCDF respectively in July 2018. Johnston has been Campbell’s understudy for the entire period of Campbell’s occupancy of the position of CDF and would have been intimately involved with Campbell in the formulation and design of Defence Policy and once decided responsible for ensuring that policy was implemented in the ADF. Either he agreed with the new policies or any arguments, if any, he may have had against those policies were inadequate to prevent those policies eventuating in their current form.

    To now expect Johnston to overturn or diminish policies that have had his active acceptance for the past six years is wishful thinking!

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