Following the Inspector-General of the ADF’s Inquiry investigation into war crimes, the Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), General Angus Campbell, requested that the Special Operations Task Group’s meritorious unit citation be withdrawn last year.
Between 2007 and 2013, the party of about 3000 people worked in Afghanistan.
General Campbell made the announcement while delivering an explosive report revealing that Australian special forces killed at least 39 hostages and civilians during the Afghanistan war.
The decision drew widespread condemnation from military and veteran organisations, as well as the government.
As a result, General Campbell withdrew the proposal earlier this year, citing a desire not to “be at odds” with the government’s stance on the subject and to escape “negative public attention”
Dutton said today on Nine Radio that the decision will be overturned because the vast majority of ADF staff did 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 in honour of their loved one who passed away in the service of this country.”
Dutton did make clear anyone found to have committed a war crime would still lose the honour.
“My judgement was that we shouldn’t be punishing the 99 percent for the sins of one percent,” he said.
“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.”
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”.
In a speech to be delivered today, Chief of Army Lieutenant Rick Burr will argue his organisation needs to “rely on a culture that is aligned with optimal behaviours”.
“Good soldiering is who we are. We are individuals of good character and sound ethical grounding,” General Burr will tell the Chief of Army Symposium in Brisbane.
“We create strong teams who actively include others and bring people together to be effective and achieve their mission.”