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Retired soldier warns of ‘grave consequences’

RETIRED Brigadier George Mansford has predicted the aftershocks of a damning report into alleged Special Forces atrocities in Afghanistan will be felt for years to come.

Justice Paul Brereton's report into alleged war crimes has found "credible information" that soldiers of the Special Operations Task Group were involved in up to 39 unlawful killings, including 23 alleged murders.

Brig Mansford, who served in combat operations in Malaya and Vietnam but now lives at East Trinity, said the entire military would bear the weight of the report.

Brigadier George Mansford said the report into alleged Special Forces atrocities would have grave repercussions. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Brigadier George Mansford said the report into alleged Special Forces atrocities would have grave repercussions. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

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"It is going to be pretty severe, I don't think they understand the repercussions of this ... it will affect soldiers that are serving at the moment and those that have yet to enlist," Brig Mansford said.

"It will have grave consequences. It will take a long time to get out without the right leadership."

The retired officer laid the blame for a "warrior culture" that had, according to the report, flourished among SOTG operators, at the feet of poor leadership.

"There are no bad soldiers, only bad leaders," Brig Mansford said.

The report did not indicate soldiers ranked above lieutenant "intended to contribute" to the alleged crimes; but echoing the Chief of Defence Force, Brig Mansford said the alleged crimes were committed under a leadership that did not follow battle discipline.

He said innocent soldiers would be punished for the actions of a few.

The 2nd Squadron of the Special Air Service Regiment has been flagged for disbandment in a move that has echoed that of the Canadian Parachute Regiment after 1993's Somalia Affair.

The military scandal peaked with the beating death of a Somali teen at the hands of Canadian paratroopers.

Nine Canadian soldiers were charged in relation to the case.

Belgian paratroopers, also deployed to the humanitarian mission in Somalia, were accused of torturing children, allegedly "roasting" one over an open fire.

Originally published as War crimes report: Retired soldier warns of 'grave consequences'


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