Former SF major attacks CDF over unit citations

A retired special-forces officer hit out at his former boss, CDF General Campbell, today for his “most disgusting demonstration of senior leadership”.

CAPTION: Former commandos Heston Russell and Scott Evenett prepare to lay a wreath at the Australian War Memorial. Screen grab from supplied video.

Retired special-forces officer Heston Russell and fellow retired special-forces veteran Scott Evennett addressed media and paid their respects this morning to their fallen comrades at the special-forces memorial plaque at the Australian War Memorial.

This comes after former Defence Force chief Chris Barrie called for exhibits relating to the SAS in Afghanistan to be taken off display at the AWM – and after the Brereton report recommending the revocation of Meritorious Unit Citations from all 3000-plus special-forces personnel who deployed with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan.


Channel 10 News report on today’s activity at the AWM

Mr Russell said the Brereton report was branding thousands of honourable soldiers who dedicated years of service and sacrifice to noble duty as presumed guilty over the alleged actions of a few and despite the presumption of innocence in our legal system.

“I am calling for common sense and respect to prevail in the treatment of soldiers who are not part of the investigation and to put a hold on any sanction until charges – which are yet to be laid – are decided by the courts,” Mr Russell said.

“Today I visited 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.

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

Speaking to TV news crews at the AWM, former Major Russell took a serious swing at his former boss, CDF General Angus Campbell, for wearing a Distinguished Service Cross for his command of Australians in action, including the Special Operations Task Group, during the time of the alleged war crimes.

“To then turn around and say via this report that he was unable to exercise effective command and control and to abdicate his command responsibility down to senior NCO, junior NCO and soldier level…

“…that’s not the sign of a leader – that is the sign of a politician – and that is one of the most disgusting demonstrations of senior leadership.

“That has made me very disappointed to call myself a military veteran and leader in this whole situation.”

 

Heston Russell recently launched the veteran lobby platform Voice of a Veteran.org and has instigated a petition lobbying to prevent the Meritorious Unit Citation being revoked for all Special Operations Task Group personnel.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

16 thoughts on “Former SF major attacks CDF over unit citations

  • 30/11/2020 at 3:40 pm
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    The Command structure of the SASR was established to support the role of LRRP, CT and clandestine operations, and worked extremely well in those situations. However when the role of the Regiment changed due to political expediency to an elite Infantry, that Command structure failed. I am not exonerating the acts of a few individuals who have possibly committed the most heinous crimes but those in command must surely accept a level of responsibility and accountability for the actions of men who were operating in circumstances of extreme hardship at a level of independence that allowed poor decisions to become obscured and a culture of suppression flourished. Those in command may not have been complicit but most certainly must have been aware of these activities and did at the the time do nothing to restrain or change those responsible. An organisations actions reflect the quality of leadership and to now start finger pointing and throwing NCOs and diggers under the bus is showing a continuation of the failure of leadership. I am immensely proud of those men who had the moral fortitude to come forward and report these crimes and in no way support a blanket punishment by stripping of awards and medals on all SF personnel who have served and sacrificed with honour to protect our Nation and way of life that we enjoy today in Australia.

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  • 29/11/2020 at 9:35 pm
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    The film “Breaker Morant” seems to make much more sense to me now that Brereton’s Afghan War Crimes Report has been released.
    The charges laid against Lt Harry Harbord “Breaker” Morant, Lt Handcock and their Bushveldt Carbineers unit were mostly true, but the British Commanders were complicit in that they knew all about what this unit was doing, but for political expediency Lt Morant and Lt Handcock were executed for the murder of civilians who had been involved in the death of Morant’s Commanding Officer.
    I see many parallels that can be drawn from Bruce Beresford’s film “Breaker Morant” when compared to Brereton’s Report and the blanket exoneration of the Commanders involved in Operation Slipper. Surely if the soldiers involved are going to be charged for the alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan, then their Commanders, the Defence Minister, and the other Politicians who sent them to Afghanistan have a duty of care and thereby a responsibility for these soldiers, and they need to charged for the same crimes. The most disgusting example of the Canberran Old Boys Network in operation – commonly called “arse covering” that I have ever seen. Not much has changed unfortunately since Morant and Handcock were stitched up.

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  • 29/11/2020 at 1:53 pm
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    What now to taking orders in the field that do not align directly to the theatre task? Now every drone pilot will be very reluctant to fire a live round at a target without some legal bod asking the target of their weapons status.
    Collateral damage has been a buzz word for civilian casualties for years and nobody sent anyone to court for that one.
    Bomber Harris should have been in the dock with all the German generals and Field Marshals if that was the case.
    I have a bucket ready to collect every medal given to those of senior rank if they take one bit of service recognition from a soldier without a crime being proven.

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  • 29/11/2020 at 1:50 pm
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    One of the best examples I have seen in my life of the Old Boys Net Work. Arse Covering by mates and Associates. If Campbell couldn’t control his area of responsibility then he was totally out of his depth and totally inefficient in the command of troops. He should have been removed. But the Old Boys Network saw him promoted beyond his capabilities. Nothing to see here, move along. There is fare to much enthuses being put on the Politically Correct Agender and to much neglect on the proper Military’s Needs.

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  • 29/11/2020 at 10:42 am
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    How can Angus Campbell on the one hand pre judge SF members based on ‘credible’ information (as yet unproven allegations) in the Brereton report, which also states that he was unable to exercise effective command and control, and then on the other hand accept and hold on to his DSC, “For distinguished command and leadership in action”?
    Smacks of hypocrisy

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  • 29/11/2020 at 10:23 am
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    We send our troops in harms way, have done so since Federation, on their return they’re often treated as pariahs or worst, ignored. The SF troopers from SASR have been grossly misemployed for a decade, surprise surprise a few rotten eggs have emerged, even they have probably been suffering from well masked PTSD, little wonder they ran of the rails.
    Why denigrate and persecute the all for the sins of a few, a kangaroo court.
    QC’s of Australia put your hands up and defend these guys…

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  • 29/11/2020 at 10:02 am
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    Thanks and a big Bravo Zulu to Contact for publishing this article and championing the issue.

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  • 29/11/2020 at 9:16 am
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    Nothing new here. You don’t get to be CDF without playing the game and decorating yourself, to look important. Why are folks so shocked! I have come to understand that this all starts at ADFA, it’s location in Canberra should tell you the real objective of that place and the mindset it instills in officer cadets.

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    • 29/11/2020 at 9:34 am
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      On a point of relevance to this story, Peter – Angus Campbell didn’t train at ADFA. In fact, he joined the military in 1981 and ADFA wasn’t opened until 1986.

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      • 29/11/2020 at 9:39 pm
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        Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? How can medals and unit citations be stripped from personnel who have performed their duties in an exemplary fashion? If these are taken will ALL ranks lose them or just the ones of lower rank? Also, presuming there are a number of members who have allegedly committed crimes, either their leaders were incompetent, lazy and/or complicit. Take your pick!

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    • 30/11/2020 at 11:42 pm
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      Fair call, I was talking about my experiences with training those people over the years and their attitudes and talk of postings and promotions.
      The CDF would surely be a Duntroon graduate? He has probably blown his chance to be Governor General now, as has Chief of Army General Rick Burr. Time for a navy women anyway. Preferably non white and non Christian. Openly lesbian and with a disability, even better. It’s the Australian Defence Organization (use to be force) agenda.
      Yes I know I am very cinical, but you all know there is true in what I say.

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  • 28/11/2020 at 12:26 pm
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    Branding all SF troops who fought in Afghanistan as war criminals whilst presiding over the neglect of returned veterans that are suffering from PTSD and the effects of being used as guinea pigs for experimental drugs?
    Campbell is a disgrace.

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  • 28/11/2020 at 11:49 am
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    Ask these heroes about Kevin Frost.

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    • 29/11/2020 at 8:46 am
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      Point of correction, the CDF was awarded the DSC, not the CSC “For distinguished command and leadership in action as Commander Joint Task Force 633 on Operation SLIPPER from January 2011 to December 2011 (even more of a reason for him to hand it in!)

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      • 29/11/2020 at 9:42 am
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        Thank you for the pickup Waku – that was an editor’s error – my error – now corrected.
        Brian Hartigan
        CONTACT Editor

        Reply
        • 29/11/2020 at 5:07 pm
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          I’ll make it quick, with the sheer number of allegations made I am quickly getting over the line “Only a few were involved” I am sure a hell of a lot more than just a “Few” knew what had and was still happening.
          The Unit as a whole failed.

          Reply

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