Minister for Defence Peter Dutton has definitively overruled the Chief of Defence Force’s threat that the Meritorious Unit Citation for Special Operations Task Groups in Afghanistan would be revoked.
FILE PHOTO: Members of Australia’s Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) prepare to fly into Oruzgan’s Baluchi Valley and Chora regions in support of an MTF1 mission, in 2010. Photo by Lieutenant Aaron Oldaker.
Chief of Defence Force General Angus Campbell had already deferred his threat after a strong backlash from people such as former SAS RSM WO1 Kerry Danes and former Commando Major Heston Russell – but, today’s announcement secures the the award for all but a few who may be convicted int he future.
Minister Dutton said in a radio interview this morning that the decision to revoke the Meritorious Unit Citation en masse would be reversed given the vast majority of ADF personnel affected had done nothing wrong.
“Those people deserve our recognition, our praise, our honour, because many of them have lost mates,” he said.
“Families this Anzac Day should proudly wear that medal [sic] in honour of their loved one who passed away in the service of this country.
“This says to people very clearly before Anzac Day that we want to reset, that we want to provide support to those people who have served their country and as I say, who have died in that service.”
He did further clarify, however, that anyone found to have committed a war crime would still lose the honour.
The citation was awarded to the Task Groups for “sustained and outstanding warlike operational service in Afghanistan from 30 April 2007 to 31 December 2013, through the conduct of counter-insurgency operations in support of the International Security Assistance Force”.