In 2016 the Australian military took the step of asking sociologist Dr Samantha Crompvoets to research the animosity that existed between Australia’s two elite special forces units, the SAS and the commandos.
During her questioning of these soldiers she discovered that there existed a “killing for sport mentality” most especially, but not exclusively, amongst SAS members. When Dr Crompvoets reported these early findings to Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell, the most senior military commander in Australia, he, to his credit, apparently told her to keep digging and “write it all down”.
The result has been a wide-ranging four-year-long war crimes investigation headed by a senior judge, Justice Paul Brereton.
The Brereton Inquiry was investigating alleged war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan between 2005-16, and leaks from its proceedings have already exposed some pretty damning revelations.
In interviews Dr Crompvoets has told of SAS soldiers who were obsessed with their ‘kill boards’, which they openly displayed on their walls for all to see and which included prisoners murdered after surrendering or being captured, civilians randomly murdered to increase the soldier in question’s ‘body count’. Dr Crompvoets reported the disgusting pride of the soldiers in these activities, which were often celebrated in camp.
Dr Crompvoets has unearthed some truly hideous incidents, such as the case of one soldier, who told her while in what she described as a “state of anguish” how two unarmed teenagers had their throats slit and their bodies dumped in a river. Other SAS members, on the other hand, showed absolutely no emotion as they recounted the “normal” mistreatment of prisoners that had become routine amongst Australia’s special forces.
She described torture and murder of civilians as the “blooding” of junior recruits, almost a “rite of passage for some people”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already warned Australians to be prepared for “brutal truths” when the findings of the investigation are officially released (in summary form, of course). Those carrying it out have interviewed more than 350 witnesses under oath and ploughed through thousands of classified files.
Some of the soldiers involved are publicly denying any wrongdoing in advance of the report’s release, in spite of the vast mass of detailed statements and other evidence to the contrary, and in the face of the confessions of many of their comrades.
While some may assert that this is an isolated case in one of Australia’s elite forces – the proverbial bad apple, if you will – these crimes were not committed out of sight of other units, whether Australian or from elsewhere. In all likelihood, this inhuman slaughter of innocent civilians and captured and/or wounded enemies was, and still is, the norm amongst large sections of the soldiery from all of the ‘Five Eyes’ countries (Britain, the US, New Zealand, Canada and Australia) who share information, tactics, military preparations and training.
Imperialism recruits workers with the promise of adventure and money when the alternative they have is unemployment, boredom and poverty, and turns them into unfeeling killing machines to set upon whomever the 0.1 percent sitting at the top of our class system choose as their next victim.
However, the cracks are showing as the victims abroad are fighting back and the victims here at home are wising up to the true cost of their children being sent abroad to kill or be killed.
Our rulers may yet regret the training in weapons and slaughter that they have given to the children of the working class.